One of the most powerful employee woo-ing tactics a company can use is maintaining a unique and rewarding organizational culture. Everyone loves a good story, and as brands compete to stand out from the landslide of content that is posted everyday, traditional storytelling has once again become one of the more effective techniques for converting prospects into customers and engaging job seekers to apply for jobs.
This blog celebrates twelve nontraditional ideas for championing company culture…which is such a huge part of a company’s story.
1 – Make it easy and fun for employees to share the culture story
HubSpot does this especially well. I had the opportunity to hear Co-Founder, Dharmesh Shah, speak about HubSpot’s culture and their wildly successful Culture Code presentation at Element Three’s Go Inbound Marketing Conference last summer. What a fantastic way to celebrate why employees love their company…while at the same time creating a powerful marketing message to earn more business and attract more top talent.
2 – Have a coloring contest
But not just any coloring contest…one in which jerky unicorns are celebrated. Hey, SNL’s bathtub Simon has got nothing on mystical creatures gone fiendish. ExactHire employees recently rolled up our sleeves and peeled the paper back on our crayons. Special thanks to “Unicorns are Jerks” coloring book author Theo Nicole Lorenz for bringing new flavor to our competitive coloring competition! Below you can find entries from those of us cool enough to take time to participate:
3 – Get outdoors and do something active
The extent to which you experience the great outdoors will of course be dependent on the needs of your staff…but just changing your scenery and breathing some fresh air can do wonders. Set up a grill in the parking lot or take it to the next level and plan a group zip-lining adventure! Our team took to the treetops last fall after achieving an internal quarterly goal. We’re all smiling in this picture…which was taken before we stepped off the ledge into the woodsy abyss. Everything was perfect in the end, though, thanks to the adventure provided by GoApe.
4 – Pose for a unique holiday card
Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love the crisp weather, the colorful leaves, everything pumpkin-flavored, and of course, our annual ExactHire Thanksgiving card to clients. We like to get a jump on celebrating the holiday season around here, while at the same time remind our customers that we may be small, but we are mighty when it comes to personalized service from a core group of people.
5 – Have “show and tell” day or a talent show
While you may get to know your workers pretty well after months or even years of working together, do you know their passion for various hobbies? Plan an event where staff members may optionally participate by demonstrating their craft or sharing their creations with the team. Talents could include photography, scrapbooking, woodworking, cake decorating, brewing craft beer or making wine, food preservation, making jewelry, flower arranging and quilting, for example.
6 – Group exercise
It’s no secret that wellness initiatives have increased in the workplace as organizations fight to control health insurance costs and maintain current employee benefits. If your building has a gym on site, then grab a buddy and burn some calories. No gym? Bring a pilates DVD from home and designate an empty conference room as a group exercise spot at lunch on certain days. Just make sure to check on any policies that need to be put in place first, and research potential liabilities with your business insurance provider. Have participants sign releases, as well.
7 – Embrace themed lunches and dress up days
Having a potluck isn’t so quirky or unique. However, not every company puts the effort into planning themed culinary events….complete with suggested coordinating attire. One of our favorite lunches at ExactHire featured Tex-Mex dishes and Western wear outfits. Giddyup! Of course Halloween always gives us an excuse to don a costume, as well. And if food prep isn’t your forte, keep it simple and plan an office Spirit Week! Yes, just like high school…college sweatshirt day, farmer day…but maybe not backwards clothes day (we do have some limits, of course). At ExactHire we chose to relive the glory days last year by bringing in our letter jackets, senior portraits and yearbooks.
8 – Follow the action of big events together
While we certainly don’t stream basketball games from our laptops to the overhead projector in the conference room year round, we do watch the NCAA tournament over a lengthy lunch during a couple of days in March (if any of us care about the teams playing, that is). In addition to dressing up in our favorite team gear (I told you we were into themes, didn’t I?), employees are invited to optionally complete a bracket just for fun. If basketball is a cultural mismatch for your company, consider other spirited competitions such as the World Cup, the Oscar nominations, NASCAR races and the Olympics.
9 – Holiday decorations
Somewhat unconventional holiday decorations are even better. Make sure that however you celebrate the season, it includes representation from all of your employees’ beliefs and preferences. This past December someone in our office got a little stir crazy one afternoon and found some older, eclectic decorations in the hallway closet. Here you can enjoy a collage of some of the displays…
10 – Go to war, but in an altruistic way
If you happen to have any children in school, you likely already know all about “penny wars.” Do your combat the harmless way by arming yourself with loose change to deposit in jars according to which company department you prefer to see as victor. Award some amazing prize (such as an extra PTO day, a coveted parking space or some highly desirable swag) to the winning department members. Then, donate all the proceeds to your company’s favorite non-profit organization or charity.
11 – Head to the fair to hang together
Depending on your office location, a local fair may not always be practical. Maybe you go to a circus or festival instead. My co-workers and I always look forward to the annual office outing to the Indiana State Fair. Where else can you climb on tractors, watch professional log rollers, admire crocheted afghans and eat at least eight different fried items on a stick together? And, don’t forget to get group photos together in front of various landmarks year after year!
12 – Develop your own internal system of communication
Sometimes you hear about twin toddlers developing their own twin language to communicate to one another. Similarly, the cool thing about company culture is developing your own fun set of traditions and communication methods that are unique to your organization. We like to welcome new employees by sharing some of our own common communication quirks:
- A great deal of professional candor and friendly banter that embraces all of our behavioral traits (we live and breathe our employee assessment scores everyday)
- New dry erase wall clings popping up with messages all the time
- Exaggerated hand gestures (yes, I’m guilty of air typing with monster arms)
- Singing your thoughts on a topic
Don’t be afraid to try some unconventional approaches to build company culture. Sometimes the wackiest ideas are the most successful.