Establishing workplace culture isn’t easy. It can makes months, if not years, of trial-by-error testing, and even then there’s no guarantee that your staff will react the way you want them to. And this makes sense: individuals have vastly different preferences and comforts. Making them all happy is about as easy as picking a movie they all want to watch on Netflix.
One way to combat the struggles of creating a workplace culture is to let it extend beyond the workplace. Make the culture in your office a lifestyle culture, and bring your staff along with you. The more natural your culture feels in the office, the more comfortable your employees and volunteers will be, no matter how different they are.
If you have a new staff, or an employee or two who are new to the team, more structure is usually better. They might not feel comfortable inviting themselves to hang out with coworkers, but organized staff functions allow them to be around their office peers in a non-work environment. Events like these allow for conversation that might not take place at work.
Official staff functions could include dinner parties, golf or bowling outings, brewery and vineyard tours—really anything planned ahead of time and includes each member of your team. And be sure that you’re tailoring the event to the interests of your staff. It will be harder for them to comfortably interact if they don’t like what they’re doing.
The next logical step after scheduled staff functions is to encourage your staff to hang out after work or on the weekends. These hangouts don’t have to be anything special—just grab a drink or some food together. Once your employees learn each other’s interests, mannerisms and overall personality, they’ll have a much better idea of how to interact with them in at work.
After your staff has developed some rapport, it’s important that you’re being consistent with your behavior and expectations. For example, if a member of your staff behaves in a way that you don’t find appropriate or suitable, try to be consistent with how you react to the situation—whether you’re at work or not. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but make it clear how you expect your employees to behave. After all, they’re representing your organization whether they’re at work or not!
If you’re ever unsure of how to further develop your workplace culture, just ask your employees. They’ll be more comfortable and more excited about coming to work if they’re in a supportive environment.
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