Song Inspiration: “With a Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles, 1967
When thinking about what makes a great workplace, what comes to mind? Is it crazy-efficient productivity? Maybe it’s innovation? Did culture appear on your list of “top 10’s?” If it did, you and your company are on the right track. If not, I’d like to bring up the importance of culture, but not the culture that is used as a generic definition of your company’s personality. Culture is much more than that, it’s about building relationships not only while you work, but outside the walls of your cubicle and away from your usual environment.
What do I do when my love is away
Does it worry you to be alone?
How do I feel by the end of the day
Are you sad because you're on your own?
No, I get by with a little help from my friends
Studies show the typical U.S. employee will spend 8.8 hours a day at work. For most employees, more waking hours are spent with coworkers than family. This is one, but not the only reason why creating true friendships with coworkers is critical in forming a strong and genuine culture at work.
Increased productivity is another benefit of having friends at work. Initially, some would think this might actually decrease productivity, however, friends work better together. Friends are more cooperative, have better decision-making abilities and are more committed to the task at hand. While work can be stressful, having friends nearby can actually help an employee cope with stress.
Less stress= happier employees= more productive employees.
Although companies cannot force coworkers to be best friends, studies suggest simply providing an opportunity for friendship with coworkers leads to improved job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, and reduced staff turnover. Humans are social by nature and creating an opportunity for friendships to grow will benefit the organization’s culture into one where employees have a genuine buy in and align their values with that of the company.
After-work group activities like rappelling for example, bring employees together to create great friendships and lasting memories. Other company culture enhancing activities include trivia night, team sports, or attending local events.
At Keller, relationships are the backbone of our organization. To promote our culture, we recently took it outside- to the volleyball courts more specifically. We wanted to create a space where employees could connect and learn more about each other outside the 8:00-5:00 work hours. We didn’t have to organize an entire corporate event with catering and the whole nine yards, it was as simple as sending an email out and gathering a group of employees together to play a few games of sand volleyball. This informal, yet teamwork-enhancing game allowed employees to unwind and enjoy each other’s company. The goal of this event was to help employees foster a sense of belonging and engagement.
Culture is a broad topic and it’s difficult to pinpoint the first steps in creating a positive company culture. The key ingredient to always keep in mind when dealing with culture is engaged employees. These are employees who align their values and visions with that of the company and are more likely to become the productive workforce that every organization desires from their employees.
It may not be the “golden ticket” to creating a positive company culture, but what does your company rely on from customers, vendors, and employees to develop and grow? That is relationships, and developing them not only externally, but internally with your own employees is a great place to start.