Friday, July 3, 2020

CEO Insider

How to Build a Better Company Culture Through Fun and Connection

Success in business depends heavily on offering great products or services, but it also takes great employees to do that. And above all, it takes a healthy company culture to retain those employees. By this logic, a business’s success depends heavily on culture, which can be hard to deliberately shape.

Older companies are likely to have a cemented culture that’s resistant to change. Younger companies are likely to see their culture evolve somewhat independently — despite using their best efforts to shape that culture. Nevertheless, company culture can be influenced, and should be, if long-term success is a priority.

Whatever the age of your company, your culture emanates from the top — so leadership must take steps to mold it. In my decades of experience, I’ve identified a few tips for fostering a healthy company culture. Here are some useful ways to shape your own company’s culture:

Break Bread Together

When a new employee starts, take them out to dinner with the team to welcome him or her. I’ve found this helps to unify the working group and make every new team member feel valued. This is particularly true when senior managers or members of the C-suite participate. It can really send a positive message about each employee’s value, regardless of rank.

Engagement is more important than ever, especially when you consider that the cost of lost productivity in the U.S. from unengaged workers is roughly $1 trillion annually. On the other hand, when people are engaged at work, statistics suggest that a company could see 2.5 times more income growth. It’s a big deal for a young junior member of a team to feel welcomed and validated by the most senior members of the organization. Even just a quick high-five when a person first joins might be enough to secure buy-in for the long term.

Make the World a Better Place

At my company, we don’t just work together — we run together. Charity races are a great way to build camaraderie outside of the office and do some good in the process. A 10K might be a bit much for a non-runner, but most people can at least walk a 5K. And if your company matches personal donations to the cause (as we do at my company), you can really reinforce a positive team atmosphere and a spirit of giving back.

Not only do those sorts of activities allow for a mental break, but they also create valuable bonds that help people feel more connected to the company and their co-workers. At the same time, nobody likes forced fun. These events should be a well-deserved break and a privilege. And ideally, the company should cover any costs. Hardworking team members shouldn’t feel like they’re forced to participate or pay — that comes dangerously close to looking like more work.

Make Membership Something Special

Our leaders around the world enjoy sharing pictures of their teams making the Exela “X” sign when out to dinner or during other group activities. These images help reinforce our “One Exela” mentality and bring our diverse global teams together as a unified whole.

The heads of our various business units and core business functions even go beyond that. Taking on that level of responsibility at our company puts you in an esteemed position that is respected and appreciated.

Another way to create this kind of in-group mentality could be through a unique handshake or a common catchphrase. Anything that contributes to a feeling of pride and privilege to be part of the team can work. We see the benefits of this all over the sports world, and the same principles apply just as well to building team spirit in business.

The key to doing this successfully, however, is to not force it on people who aren’t into it. Additionally, don’t try too hard to make it seem cool. Find something that feels natural and propagate it from the top level and down. Allow it to evolve into something that people might want to do because it’s fun — and not because they have to.

In a company like ours — with people from many different cultures, a wide range of ages, and wildly different backgrounds — it can be difficult to build cohesion and close relationships. By having some fun outside of work, giving back to our communities together, and reinforcing our unity as a global family, we’re able to build a culture that works for us. Doing the same in your organization will go a long way toward creating valuable connections and inspiring unity.

Have you read?

Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP), St. Lucia CIP: Saint Lucia Citizenship By Investment Program, Vanuatu CIP: Vanuatu Citizenship By Investment Program
Montenegro Citizenship By Investment Program (CIP), Moldova CIP: Moldova Citizenship By Investment Program, Turkey CIP: Turkey Citizenship By Investment Program.

Suresh Yannamani
Suresh Yannamani serves as president of Exela Technologies, a leader in business process automation with more than 4,000 customers worldwide. Suresh Yannamani is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. He can be found on LinkedIn.