As the founder of Social Playground, I help make events fun and interactive for guests and brands thanks to our social technology innovations such as the Social GIF booth. I couldn’t do it without a trusted team around me though, and discovering how to create that motivated team has been a huge learning for me. Here are my top tips for creating a fun, loyal and productive workplace culture.
1. Creating a positive work environment takes hard work and a commitment to being a positive role model, 100% of the time.
The way you talk to clients, suppliers and your team sets the bar for how everyone within your company communicates too.
Leading with empathy and conducting business with compassion will go a long way in building mutual respect with your team and creating a positive environment to do business.
2. Recognise great performance, and pull up the not-so-great
The millennial generation has grown up with an abundance of praise and appreciation. From being applauded for simply finishing the race in school to the instant positive feedback by way of social media likes.
We’re a generation used to being recognised for participation. Can this lead to a culture of entitlement? Certainly.
For this reason it’s important to recognise achievements but also provide constructive feedback when KPIs aren’t being met. Frequent appreciation of great work – whether that be “Rockstar Awards” or “Hey Taco” recognition schemes – sets the groundwork for a positive environment so that when negative issues need to be addressed, the response is constructive and enables your team to grow.
3. Culture means being united around shared values
Having a solid vision and mission that unites your team in their work is the first step. The way that vision and mission are brought to life is through your values. Live and breathe your values in the way you conduct business and your team will follow. Measure performance against values regularly.
Value ratings should be just as important as other performance KPIs in assessing how well an employee has contributed to the team and the culture.
Ask employees to rate themselves from one to five against your values. If they’re not rating themselves with 4s and 5s, it will be a big wake up call that they need to reassess their attitude and how they are contributing to the team.
4. Be a boss, not a best friend
Providing your team with flexibility plays a big part in employee satisfaction and job happiness, but flexibility requires boundaries. It’s ok to say ‘no’ to some requests for time off or other perks. At the end of the day, you’re running a business that’s striving to achieve your vision. If you’ve inspired your team to believe in your vision, they ultimately want to share in the success of reaching it.
The right employees will understand sometimes there have to be boundaries or that the answer might be ‘no.’
In the long run they’ll support and respect your decision if you’re reasonable. Building a great culture is about treating your people as humans; with respect, fairness and some flexibility. But also knowing when to put the “boss” hat on and lay down a few rules.
5. Create shared rituals
Rituals might be as simple as a monthly team lunch, an activity every time a new team member comes on board, or an inside joke shared with the whole team. Company rituals create a sense of belonging for your team.
Work with your leadership team or management to ensure that rituals are always company or team-wide to ensure they are inclusive and benefit of everyone. Celebrate the rituals and what makes your company unique.
Creating a sense of belonging will not only build culture, but also make it less appealing for people to leave.
6. Stop and listen
Create an environment where people feel their voice and ideas are heard. Encourage contribution from all levels of the organisation. Sometimes the best ideas come from junior staff on the front lines of your customer engagement.
In listening to your people, you’ll not only make your team feel important and heard, but you’ll gain valuable insights you would likely miss otherwise.
When employees feel they have a voice or have been heard, they feel more invested in your organisation and more motivated to work hard to achieve your shared goals.
7. Inspire your team to praise each other
What better way to make your team feel encouraged than allow them to hear it from their colleagues. Integrate “praises” into your weekly catch ups and allow your team to recognise each other. This focusses everyone on the achievements of the past week and enables the team to recognise some things that you as a leader may not have seen.
Weekly praises don’t need a monetary or other reward, being acknowledged in front of your peers is enough to make someone feel appreciated.
8. Invest in learning and growth
It’s all well and good to create a great environment to work in, but if your employees don’t feel they are progressing in their career, it will foster resentment. Invest in the continued growth and education of your team. Value the time you have with them and the contribution that they will make to your organisation as well as the contribution you can make to their career. Be realistic – they aren’t going to stay with you forever.
Give them the best opportunities you can to grow and develop and you’ll keep your employees for longer.
When the time does come for them to move on, be confident that you have taught them and given them the opportunities to become the best version of themselves.
I want to help young entrepreneurs by sharing what I’ve learned throughout my start-up journey. And if there’s a last word I can offer, it’s that being kind and being successful don’t have to be exclusive. I think Millennials are showing young people you can be kind, strong and powerful all at once, and that’s what I hope to continue to work towards.