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5 min read

Commuting woes, commitment issues and collaboration hesitation– just three of the things that can make staff bonding tough.

Connecting your people to your purpose, mission and values through effective communications is key to improving employee engagement. On top of that, building positive relationships between all teams and levels of seniority can be a real challenge on a day-to-day basis.

And, despite what some might think, a smaller office doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller challenge! This is especially true if budgets are tight. The truth is, no matter what size your office is, there are thematic challenges that all companies experience at a certain point – maybe you’ve just gone through a merger or acquisition, or maybe you’ve just added new offices around the world.

So, how can you not only grow, but also nurture culture within your own office? In this blog, we’ll tackle the five biggest issues one by one.


1. Growing culture outside of parties

Having a drinking culture can mean that alcohol can form the backbone of many office events; but this can exclude vast groups of staff. Your culture-growing events should always offer balance and variety, and there are loads of alcohol-free alternative options out there. Holding the event during the day – perhaps at breakfast, or lunch time, will inevitably help.

If the weather is nice (ish!), how about a picnic in the park, or maybe a slightly competitive scavenger hunt? In the evenings, if you do go to a bar or restaurant, make sure there are ample soft drinks on offer, and maybe some nibbles or snacks.

Download our eBook to learn how to nurture your office culture by showcasing  your company values in everything you do »

2. Growing culture near and far

Whether you work right in the middle of a city center or out in the middle of a field, chances are at least a few employees won’t live on the doorstep. This inevitably leads to issues with people wanting or needing to get straight home after work. In turn, this means that after-work activities have to be missed, and it’s often the same folk time and again who are no-shows.

Tackle this issue by looking at your workforce and seeing what the issue is. If it’s that people need to get home to kids, do your activities during the day, or stop the working day at 4p.m. once in a while. If it’s that people want their weekends to themselves, stop trying to make Friday events happen!

Here at Reward Gateway we find that Thursday works well for events, as it’s close to the end of the week but doesn’t eat into people’s weekend plans.


3. Growing culture on a tight budget

Office-based challenges are great for tight or non-existent budgets, as you don’t have to pay for transport or a venue to do them. You could do a scavenger hunt around your building or a planking challenge, for example. Save money by asking staff to bring in items they already own. You can make a movie night, as well as a board game tournament. Beer pong is a fun alternative if including alcohol suits.

Think carefully about your teams and do your best to mix things up! If the company budget is low, float the idea of an office piggy bank in which everyone contributes a small amount each month. If you can afford it as a business, you could even offer to match total contributions.

4. Growing culture with planned activities

Rather than guessing when everyone is going to be free, ask them with a survey. Do this far in advance of the period of time you’re hoping for, as this will help in several ways. Firstly, it will mean staff have enough notice to make it so they can come along. It will also mean that you can make your money go as far as possible, you’ll be able to secure the more affordable venues and suppliers before everyone else nabs them!

Be sure to furnish employees with detailed and clear information about their transport options; where can they park, or which buses can they catch. Even better, organize a mini bus, coach or boat!


5. Growing culture with team collaboration

Finally, there are some really easy ways to improve team collaboration and encourage them get involved in building culture.

Four ways to improve team collaboration:
Use collaborative software like Google Docs so that everyone has access to the same, ever-updating information.
Share the organizational responsibility. Having a different member of staff in charge each time makes sure a variety of voices are heard and gives a wider range of events.
If you’re going to ask employees to put their own money or belongings forward, be totally transparent and explain what the plans are and why they are that way. This will allow for total clarity and give people the chance to input their own ideas.
Be tactful with who you group into teams; put new starters or shy individuals with your friendliest and most welcoming staff.

Motivating staff in the workplace is key. If it’s been a rough day, little things can make a big difference. It can be as simple as hosting an ice cream day to help your staff decompress and take a few minutes to sit back and recharge.

Don’t forget that activities can also help with your social media, and position the company as a diverse and fun place that is desirable to work at! So be sure to share what you’ve done on your platforms afterwards, and help your organization build a sense of community.

Kaitlin Howes

Kaitlin Howes is an HR Business Partner at Reward Gateway. Kaitlin loves the dynamic nature of her job and that she gets to wear many hats, but is especially happy when creating a welcoming, fun and supportive experience for RGers. When she isn’t wearing her RG hat, you can find her repelling her sticky-fingered toddler from grabbing her laptop or chasing sunshine that provides the perfect setting for a picnic.

HR Business Partner

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