What word would you use to describe the last two years? Turbulent, frightening, exhausting, heartbreaking, hopeful? It’s hard to sum up the last 700-odd days that have felt like a lifetime. I know one word that I wouldn’t use: “Fun.”
In a tumultuous time of isolation, social division, political unrest, and climate disruption (I’ll stop here so I don’t reach my character limit in the second paragraph), it’s become more difficult to find moments of joy, especially at work. And the numbers don’t lie: 46% of employees report they are largely dissatisfied with their experience at their organization (source: Gartner).
We have a ‘People First’ culture here at LOCAL, which means that we deeply value fostering the happiness and well-being of every employee. Having fun at work is part of that endeavor, and it's been proven that it can be good for business, too. Cultivating a positive culture at work can lead to greater engagement, reduce the risk of stress and burnout, and increase the chance that people stick around at your company (source: HBR).
So, what are some ways that you can create a more positive, joyful culture? Here are five ideas:
1) Create and protect joyful traditions. It’s important to create space for joy outside of day-to-day routines. Here at LOCAL, the strategy team has a meeting every Friday that is sacred, protected time. During the meeting, a member of the team shares a pechakucha, a simple 20-slide presentation on something that they’re passionate about. It gives everyone a chance to authentically share who they are outside of work. Whether it covers an underground supper club that they’ve founded, the art of bowling (which is far more complex than I could’ve ever imagined), or 20 little-known-facts about Minnesota. It’s an opportunity for the team to unwind, take their mind off client work, and create deeper, more meaningful connections with each other.
2) Recognize, recognize, then recognize some more. It feels good to be complimented on a job well done, right? Recognizing your peers should feel just as good. Not only are recognized employees more productive and perform better (source: Forbes), they’re more likely to be engaged at work and feel connected to their team. Don’t limit recognizing your teammates to a successful sales pitch or a beautiful presentation; either take the opportunity to show your appreciation for the little things, too.
3) Prioritize learning & development. Research shows that learning & development has become the second most important factor contributing to workplace happiness (source: LinkedIn). At LOCAL, we invest in traditional personal development (e.g., training, certifications, etc.), but also create opportunities for learning as a team. On a monthly basis, we define a theme that guides the sourcing of books, movies, albums, events, and more that are optional for people to engage with. At the end of the month, we gather as a team and discuss. It’s widely appreciated as an exercise that inspires both cultural and personal growth.
4) Invest in your community. We strive to grow in our neighborhood by literalizing what it means to be ‘local.’ Whether it’s a Thursday team lunch catered by one of our favorite restaurants, or giving time to team members to volunteer at one of the many philanthropic organizations in our community, we want everyone to have the opportunity to give back and gain a broader outlook. As a bonus, creating space for community engagement has shown to increase customer loyalty and drive value for your business (source: LA Business Journal).
5) Keep your work in perspective. Your job is only one slice of the 10,000 piece puzzle that makes up who you are. Make sure to not tie your identity to what you do from 9 to 5, and take the time you need to invest in yourself and your well-being.
Creating a positive, joyful culture at work pays dividends in the long haul if we allow it to. Cultivating authentic moments of intentional connection breeds a more engaged and, for lack of a better word, happy team. It’s been a hell of a year; make sure to prioritize the well-being of your team. Be People First.