Beyond Happy Hour: Planning Events to Foster Company Culture

By Alexea Candreva
Alexea Candreva spends her days getting clients front and center in the news. After hours, you can find her conquering her next big hike, perfecting her gluten-free baking or brushing up her amateur photography skills.
 

You’ve heard it everywhere, whether interviewing for a new job or at your own workplace, people always say, “We have a really strong company culture here.” Company culture has become almost a cliché phrase these days, it’s hard to know what people are referring to – do they mean the people? The environment? The brand? All of the above?

Company culture is your company’s personality. When it comes down to it, the foundation of strong company culture is camaraderie – and an effective way to build that is by planning strategic, on-brand events.

New to incorporating events into your culture? Here are five tips to consider:

1. Reflect your company’s values, mission and vision

Scheduling happy hours or cocktail parties is great, but do those events speak to your company and tie back to who you really are? Every company has its own values and vision, and it’s important to plan events that foster those ideals. For example, if giving back to the community is part of your organization’s larger mission, plan events where the team can come together for a community project or initiative.

2. Know your team

An important aspect of event planning is to know your team. Every company is different, and sometimes individual locations within the same company have a unique culture.

Know your team, what they like to do, and what makes them feel like a part of something bigger.

If an activity or event feels forced, it will do more damage to a culture than good. If one office loves outdoor activities but a different location would rather have a painting night, plan accordingly. Make sure to match your team’s enthusiasm and passion areas to foster excitement and team building.

3. Build it into the budget

If the events you’re planning have a cost associated, plan ahead of time. Have a quarterly planning meeting to brainstorm which events to prioritize for the coming months, and carefully build them into your budget. This way, when the time comes to book it, cost won’t be a setback.

4. Think beyond boundaries

Many companies operate outside of physical boundaries, whether that means working cross-office or with remote colleagues. Consider events where the whole company can participate, even if everyone isn’t physically together.

For example, at SSPR, we planned an all-company Halloween costume theme in 2018. We asked everyone to dress up as their favorite Internet meme, and we had 100% participation. We were able to share the pictures from every office on our social media channels, and the whole team felt connected – even from across the country.

5. Be consistent, but don’t over-plan

Planning one or two events for the year isn’t really enough to foster teammate camaraderie. Many organizations will plan one big event for the summer and then a holiday party.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some companies plan so many activities that employees get burnt out on participation. It’s important to find the right balance of consistency versus over-planning.

Try starting with one small activity per month, and if that’s manageable and the team responds well, build in additional events.

Sometimes it feels like we spend more time at work than we do at home, which is why more companies are prioritizing their company culture. With consistent, well-planned events, team members not only feel excited to come to work every day, but they feel like they’re a part of something bigger.

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