Want a Killer Culture Like the Top Tech Firms? Start Some Company Rituals.

If your workplace culture isn't alive with positive rituals, you may be losing top talent and street cred.
Want a Killer Culture Like the Top Tech Firms? Start Some Company Rituals.
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Guest Writer
Chief Editor of Under30CEO
6 min read
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A recent Blind survey revealed that LinkedIn has the happiest employees in tech, with 83.25 percent of the company’s employees reporting they’re happy at their job.

It’s worth taking a look at LinkedIn’s corporate culture, which is enlivened by an assortment of event-based company rituals. In addition to hosting regular speaker series and wellness events, the networking giant hosts weekly gatherings for its employees like “Beers for My Peers” in the New York office’s speakeasy. It also hosts a monthly “InDay” for volunteer work, team-building exercises and exploratory projects.

Some of the hottest tech brands in the world rely on internal ceremonies to establish a tight-knit atmosphere and nurture their company vibe. Consider Flipboard’s weekly Mock O’Clock. The food-fueled experience is a chance for employees to talk about innovative projects in a low-key atmosphere. Its popularity even spawned a 24-hour prototype-creation Mockathon at the company.

Another ritual that brings workers closer together is Pinterest’s Knit Con, a two-day binge of classes and workshops that allows Pinterest employees to share their passions with each other. The annual event solidifies the company’s culture by keeping team members jazzed about what they do, both on and off the clock.

Related: How This Company Is Improving Corporate Team-Building, One Smile at a Time

Not every company has the budget of a LinkedIn, Flipboard or Pinterest, but even startups can put energy and modest resources behind events that increase employee engagement. Remember that culture comes before engagement, and culture requires the presence of rituals.

If your company has struggled to boost morale and stifle turnover, consider adding one or more culture-fostering events to your regular workflow to win back workers’ hearts. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Connect employees to the mission.

Personal connection to the company mission is one of Gallup’s 12 elements of employee engagement. In a recent interview with CNBC, CEO Tim Cook summed up Apple’s mission statement this way: “Our mission is to make the best products in the world in those areas that we choose to participate that enrich people’s lives.” Whether Apple is playfully rewarding employees for embracing mindfulness, holding beer bash concerts with headliner acts or hosting the widely anticipated WWDC19 for aspiring techies, it always projects pride in its world-class products and excitement about the ways it can enhance lives -- for both customers and employees. Is it any wonder it landed among the top 100 on Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work?

“Giant organizations such as Apple have created high-impact events by leveraging the power of clear messaging and simple elements,” says Colette May, partner at Kindle Communications. She cites Apple’s “passionate leaders who can’t wait to share the news about their innovative products. The lesson is clear: The message is more important than the money.” To engage employees with your own company mission, Gallup recommends you begin by stating your mission clearly and reminding employees of it often. Key it up on multiple slides during event presentations, and share client stories that show employees the impact your business has on their lives.

Related: 6 Innovative Corporate Event Ideas To Create The Right Impact

2. Adopt a mindset of inclusivity.

An employee’s sense of value and inclusion is another critical element of engagement, according to Gallup. During Adobe’s large-scale events, the award-winning software company makes an unapologetic push for inclusivity and diversity. For Adobe, that means bringing voices from myriad backgrounds to the speaker’s table at gatherings like the Adobe Design Summit. Event speakers, including deaf performance artist Rosa Lee Timm and disability activist and photographer Anthony Tussler, prevailed upon Adobe’s design teams to design for “diversity of ethnicity, ability and gender” rather than enforce compliance after a product has been made. The #AdobeforAll mantra is more than just a marketing hashtag: It's a reminder to employees and Adobe buyers that the corporation is bent on forming and supporting a culture that represents all experiences.

When you plan rituals and events for internal and external stakeholders, look for opportunities to add depth and richness through diversity. As Adobe does, you’ll want to consider how to bring diverse speakers to your events to offer a broad array of perspectives. Focus on elevating your own diverse employee voices and encourage those people to take the stage. “While planning, also try to listen more than you talk and be mindful of how you are taking up space, especially if the topic of discussion is not your expertise,” advises Ruchika Tulshyan, founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy firm. “Constantly being the loudest voice in the room reinforces the social dynamics you are trying to change.”

Related: Do You Need A Corporate Events Planner?

3. Give remote workers a place at the table.

Too often, attendance at corporate gatherings is limited to on-site employees. Remote workers, even full-timers, can only hope to hear about the activity later. This causes a cultural disruption, which can become a source of tension or disconnect later. Paylocity, which is ranked No. 20 on Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work list, has a more than 60 percent remote workforce. The company overcomes the barriers to remote teammates' full participation by implementing boundary-breaking rituals, ranging from virtual donut dates to volunteer days to periodic industry events like the Elevate Conference.

Paylocity’s belief in virtual proximity, buoyed by technology, has netted the company a reputation for embracing all employees. If you have talent working from other spaces, keep those individuals connected to the mothership. Random virtual coffee breaks can spur new ideas among colleagues who may never meet in person. Workplace tours, including those of remote employees’ home spaces, give people a chance to show off their offices. Even making all calls video-based makes distances feel shorter.

Culture will happen at your workplace no matter what. Make sure yours takes shape in a way that fuels employee loyalty by adding well-placed, well-conceived events to the mix.

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