When It Comes to Workplace Engagement, Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

The everyday things that make an organisation great

We take workplace culture seriously. That’s not to say we favour a serious workplace culture, of course – there really is no harm in a little bit of lightness and levity, after all! But we do think workplace culture is a very important factor in what makes an organisation work, and needs considering at a core level.

A successful company culture is moulded and guided by its mission, vision and values – why you’re doing what you’re doing is an absolutely essential part of what makes up the personality and character of the workplace. That’s where we start with our clients. It’s “the thinky bit”, as we call it, because we’re fairly adorable like that – digging into the nitty gritty of what makes an organisation work, and refining those core values to the point where we can begin to build a workplace culture up around them.

But it’s not all serious!

The mission and values, leadership structure, practices and policies, recognition strategy and career development opportunities all play a large part in defining the culture of the workplace, but there are plenty of little extra things that give it its extra sparkle.

Because while an organisation’s values are essential for engaging and motivating staff, they’re really the building blocks. Once you know where you’re going, you can start to add the colourful décor.

On-the-spot rewards

We help our clients to develop recognition strategies as part of their workplace culture – these see employees rewarded for their hard work in a way that’s connected to those all-important company values. This is an essential part of building a great culture, as rewards can really help to reinforce the company’s mission, getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction.

But not everything has to be quite so planned and formalised.

On-the-spot rewards can inject some fun and some competitive spirit into a working day. Employees could win a daily award for any number of things – making the best brews, cheering everyone up on a Monday, best meeting presentation, most helpful customer service – and the reward itself could range from the small and silly to the exciting and valuable.

It could be a crown denoting them the king or queen of the office, exemption from tomorrow’s tea-making or phone-answering schedule, some sweet treats, or a £10 gift card. As long as it’s spontaneous and fun, it’ll add that extra bit of sparkle to a more formal recognition strategy.

Employee ideas

A good culture is one that considers employees’ needs and concerns, and provides them with tools, resources, and an environment that supports them. But assuming what an employees’ needs and concerns – and the best resources to deal with them – are might have the wrong impact, especially if you’re off the mark.

Involving employees in the decision-making process is important – but why not go a step further and encourage employees to submit their ideas for making the workplace better all year round, and not just when deciding on annual strategies or conducting an employee exit interview?

Employee ideas schemes can help staff to get much more involved in their organisation and its culture – and, of course, there’s the added bonus that their ideas might be absolutely fantastic!

We’ve had clients who have implemented over 100 employee-initiated ideas, from tiny tweaks to big changes – and it’s particularly effective when employees are encouraged to suggest ideas that fit in with the organisation’s overarching values.


Get out and about

A workplace culture extends out into the world more than you might think – making sure employees have the opportunity to get out of the office together is one of the most highly visual aspects of a workplace culture, and not only because the people on the table next to yours at the company lunch will see what a great time you’re having. This is the stuff that your employees are most likely to want to share on social media, tagging you on Instagram and Twitter, and giving a great impression of your company to anyone thinking of applying for a position.

So, what can you do? There’s the traditional team lunch or work night out, or you could think outside the box a little bit more. Charity days, where your employees take time out to volunteer for a cause that matters to them, are a fantastic way to breathe positivity into your culture, while also contributing to your CSR approach. You could get out and about for some unique teambuilding, or even offer a holiday for top performers as your biggest staff reward of the year.

Take time to relax

Should work be all work and no play? Those with an eye on targets might say yes, but those with an eye on employee wellbeing – and the odd science journal – will probably say yes! Taking a short break at work can greatly improve focus in the long run, as well as improve our problem-solving. It makes a lot of sense – everyone will be familiar with the brain fog that sets in when you’re sat at a desk all day, and all it usually takes is a quick break away from the screen to get some perspective.

A great workplace culture is one that will encourage employees to work in a way that makes them the most productive, and considers their health and wellbeing. Taking that one step further means providing fun stuff to help people take a break when needed. It could be breakout sofas and beanbags, table tennis, a games console, or even just an outdoor space to enjoy a brew (weather permitting!) – whatever it takes to let people have ten minutes to refresh. Deciding what to get could be a great use for your employee ideas scheme!

But don’t forget the fundamentals!

We find a lot of people will talk about this stuff as though it’s the entirety of a workplace’s culture. Look at this office, with its cocktail Fridays and quirky breakout spaces, they’ll say – doesn’t it have a great culture? But the reality is that staff could be stressed out by poor management and unfocused goals. The small stuff is the cherry on top. It adds plenty of extra fun and magic to the work day – but without covering the fundamentals, it’s really just window dressing.