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Ditch the Trust Falls: Focus on Company Culture and Get the Most Out of Your Employees

Posted on in Growth Strategies

By Collin Brecher, VGM Millennial Employee

At the center of any good company, regardless of the size, is a team of employees that brings its A-game every day. While that’s not a surprising statement, many are at a loss as to how to motivate employees to be the A Team.  

I’ll give you a hint: An A Team mentality revolves around employee satisfaction. And, a healthy culture satisfies.

The right culture can greatly improve your entire business, from customer contacts to the quality of work coming from employees.

Strong company culture is one of the most undervalued assets within many organizations, and it recently has become even more important since millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Millennials tend to esteem mission and causes, working relationships, and work-life balance as much as—if not more than—the paycheck and benefits package. They want culture.

I am a millennial myself with a decent range of working experiences, and I, too, discriminate based on company culture.

My generation has lived through the highs and lows of economic booms, so we do not value a paycheck and benefits package the same way as previous generations. Nor do we expect to find a company to work at for 35 years, because it could all be gone at the blink of an eye. It’s company culture that we value.

You Can Build a Strong Culture

Are you finding that your office morale is low or that your colleagues do not have the collaboration you would like to see? 

There are a few things you can do to begin to shift in a positive direction, but make sure you do it the right way.

The Wrong Way: Outdated “Team Building”

To be blunt, team building has a reputation for being, well…lame.

For many, the phrase “team building” equates to “trust falls” and awkward icebreakers. These outdated team-building exercises are a poor use of time; the majority would rather be doing anything but falling backwards into the arms of their colleagues.

While these exercises may give employees the chance to learn anecdotal bits of information about their colleagues to use in passing conversation, it does not achieve the real objective: building strong connections.

The Right Way: Building Strong Connections

Building these connections and a strong community web within your organization can lead to a greatly improved business environment. “Building connections within your team has to be intentional,” said Clint Geffert, president of VGM & Associates. “Rather than facilitating an occasional exercise when there is a drop in team morale, work to constantly be shaping your company culture in order to build a strong and effective team.”

Here are a few ideas to help revamp your company culture:

Test your teamwork.

Collaboration is the key to any functioning team. When it comes to team building activities, think of something outside of the box office that will get people working together towards a common goal.

Consider a group challenge like taking on an escape room or try your collective hand at curling.

Have some out-of-office fun.

The first step to building strong communication channels is to get people talking—beyond office talk.

One way to do that is to facilitate ways for employees to connect outside of the office on an ongoing basis to strengthen personal and working relationships.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding hobbies that employees might share or enjoy together:

  • Slow-pitch softball leagues
  • Happy hour events
  • Weekly bike rides
  • Professional or amateur sporting events
  • Annual company hunting weekend

Celebrate in-office at every opportunity.

There is always reason to celebrate, and the holidays are a prime excuse. Whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July, people look forward to spending time with their families, and that presents a perfect opportunity for employees to connect as a work family.

Make the most out of your festivities by planning a food day or activity (which could lend itself to a photo opportunity for one heck of a company Christmas card), or even consider closing a few hours early before the holiday.

Bonus opportunities: Sporting events like March Madness, the Super Bowl, and the Olympics, or more personalized celebrations for employee birthdays or major life events like marriages and babies.

Be a beacon in your community by volunteering your time.

Your company’s reputation can shine bright when it comes to the role it plays in the community, and people connect when they unite for a cause bigger than themselves.

There are opportunities to volunteer with local organizations like your community food pantry, or national organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. You could even answer the call to serve during a time of need within your community (think natural disaster or helping an individual in your sphere of influence).

Making a difference, no matter how big or small, will make your group more tightly knit, and it will let your community know that you care about those around you.

Small Investments in Your Team Yield Big Returns

Investing time and energy to organize more than just the annual company picnic will greatly improve office morale, create better channels of communication, and build a culture that will lead to a better experience for your customers.

These team-building ideas do not have to break the bank, but you do need to be prepared to make a real investment in your company’s culture—in terms of resources and getting top-down buy-in to the cause of employee engagement.

The happier employees are, the more willing they will be to go above and beyond to play a role in the company’s success. And, I’m speaking from experience. VGM has a culture unlike anything I have ever seen, and that drives me to bring my A game to the office every day.