How to build a truly collaborative employee culture in your company

How to build a truly collaborative employee culture in your company

diversity, equality and inclusion

The benefits of an improved company culture aren’t just proof of high employee engagement, or about fun and socialising, better morale and positive staff relations, it’s far bigger than that. Negative cultures, excessive stress cultures, beat them with the metaphorical stick cultures, impact the bottom line in a detrimental way. Lift them up, praise, incentivise and reward cultures, well you can see where I’m going here. They are more positive, more infectious and more productive (provided accountability and consequence are part of the motivational mix).

A great chap I worked with generously educated me on a number of important business concepts. It may sound obvious, but there are two ways to make money in a company, or should I say, improve the bottom line. Reducing cost, (waste) and increasing profit (sustainable sales), is well known to most FDs, but Sales maybe look at things a bit differently and so might Operations.

Creating a collaborative employee culture in your company can bring many benefits than might be first obvious, such as improved communication (knowledge, information = improved customer service and ratings) and productivity, (effort and output, increasing ROI/ROE). However, trying to improve such a possibly overwhelming task and ambition such as ‘culture’, may put some people off even starting. I get the overwhelm thing, I overwhelm myself all the time, as I take on too much, too often. Breaking it down and chunking, a known theory in task management (maximum 7 things at any one time) is the way to go. Given we accept it can be difficult to know where to start, here are some tips to help you on your way to building a more collaborative culture in your company.

Define what your company’s values are, make sure people understand and live them

For example, when new employees start you may want to make sure they understand your company culture as best they can before actually experiencing it. How do you define your culture? Describe it, what it is and what it isn’t. Give people examples, bring it to life, tell stories help them have some idea of what it feels like. It’s like providing some extra guard rails of how you and they work within from a behaviour point of view, beyond the expected conduct and HR policy aspects. It really helps sets the tone and the expectation of them them from your perspective as their employer, and their workplace and for them of you personally in the work place and of their colleagues going forward.

You might include statements and communications about this aspect of your company in their very early days such as during the onboarding and induction stages. Of course, your collaborative company culture would be attractive to certain types of people and those candidates that liked what was explained to them about your company when they learn about your job openings, and how you work, and treat each other, would be more likely to be more successful in the recruitment process, and more likely to accept a job offer from your company if you made it.

Knowing that their opinion and thoughts are welcomed, listened to and sometimes acted on, means they are more likely to provide ideas and give feedback and feel they are part of shaping the success of your company, which they are part of.

A more thorough company induction like this (beyond the legal and essential new starter processes and procedures, important as they are) would be helpful to get new employees off on the right foot, it helps them fit in more quickly and easily to. Of course you are looking for individuality and for people to be themselves, though it helps if they know what kind of values and behaviours you as a company support and encourage. You might want to include something like this;

“At our company, it is important to us that everyone understands and believes in our vision and mission. That is why we place so much emphasis on clearly defining our values and making sure everyone is consistently on the same page. Our vision and values act as the pillars for all of our decisions and plans of action, keeping us true to our purpose.

Additionally, we create a common language around how to discuss, demonstrate and live these values, integrating them into everyday conversations and practices. This reinforces accountability and routines surrounding our vision and mission, fostering an environment where company and professional growth is seen as a joint effort and everyone’s’ responsibility.”

Encourage employees to get to know each other outside of work

Striving to create an environment that feels like an extended family or work family, means encouraging employees to get to know each other outside the office as well as in it. Building relationships and fostering collaboration between different departments and individuals is plain common sense for good working practice and beneficial to the whole company. Not only does it enhance productivity and communication, but it also creates a more harmonious, enjoyable work environment. We are stronger together and creating relationships in a relaxed setting, sometimes outside the distractions and pressures of the job, can really help to strengthen those bonds for greater success. Taking time to enjoy each other’s company outside of the regular work duties adds an element of fun and shared experiences than doing socials or get togethers inside work alone can’t account for or replace.

Organising and planning social events, however informal or formal is not only brilliant for staff morale and motivation, and it’s also great for breaking down barriers and helping some staff meet other members of staff, who they may never usually meet through the normal course of their work day. Thinks shifts, working patterns, meeting schedules, repeat days off etc. Some people can work for months or years and never meet some colleagues.

Get-togethers and events don’t have to be expensive, though it’s helpful if some company budget is put towards it and if the company promote, supports and facilitates inclusive and varied socials and team events, more staff are likely to attend and get in to the social side of work. Not everyone likes the same experiences or activities either, think different cultures, age groups, capabilities, locations. So try and do different things at different times and places, that different people might enjoy rather than always the same thing. That way more people get to join in throughout the year.

Not all events or socials have to be outside of work either. Lunchtimes or specific team-building socials during the workday are equally something to consider and can often be impromptu or spontaneous. In the moment celebrations are really powerful and energising. We won that deal or project. Great bosses I knew always had something wet and bubbly in the work kitchen to toast a success to, non-alcoholic drinks were always available too.

A half-hour of energising fun together celebrating a specific event, or just having a mini team building session doing a quiz or activity that gets everyone together fairly regularly, building deeper relationships and friendships is a great investment for creating a culture of collaboration and ensuring the ongoing success of the business.

One company springs to mind that were brilliant at forging a great company culture, their celebrations and team building sessions throughout each week with their staff, bestowing birthday gifts or personal life event milestones 9moments that matter really do matter!) and from joke offs, voted sessions where everyone brought their best joke to the zoom room and were knocked out by every more humorous jokes, to team games online including first to guess what it is, drawing competitions. They truly got workplace culture and did a lot to keep it fun and enjoyable. They excelled in terms of effort and creativity at least, beyond any business I have seen to date!

Foster a sense of transparency, safety and trust among employees

Creating a culture of respect, honesty and collaboration among employees go a long way in creating a workplace where transparency and trust can flourish. Striving to foster such a culture by promoting open dialogue and encouraging feedback amongst team members demonstrates that the opinion and feelings of employees matter to management and leadership.

Ultimately, if you seek to create an environment in which everyone feels empowered to share their thoughts and ideas freely, nurtured by mutual respect, understanding, and trust, it will foster a more collaborative, fulfilling and rewarding culture. You should look to regularly and actively collect and encourage other’s input and views, through whichever informal and formal means. Appreciated and recognising the importance of learning from one another to build a better business, workplace and company culture. I’d like to highlight here that tolerance, understanding and acceptance of our differences as well as our commonalities should be a given approach. Though I recognise that different cultures, ages and experiences may mean some people need more support than others in some of these aspects. We are all on a journey and education, we each have a different internal map of the world and so long as we are kind about our differences, and we seek to understand each other better to get along better, that’s a great aim and intent in leveraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Encourage employees to give feedback to one another

Encouraging employees to offer feedback to one another too, can be a great way to foster team spirit and develop strong relationships between colleagues.

Not only will this foster healthy dialogue among staff members, it can also result in innovative ideas that can help the organisation achieve its goals faster. Feedback doesn’t have to be negative or critical, it’s far better if it’s proactive and positive and with solutions suggested than just highlighting problems only; everyone has something positive to offer and should be encouraged by managers to openly express their thoughts and constructive criticism within an appropriate level of respect, consideration of others and tone of voice.

Creating a warm, friendly environment for all staff members is essential for constructing effective feedback loops, which will ultimately benefit both the organisation and individuals alike. You might like to run online surveys, suggestion boxes, competitions or workshops to address specific issues that need improvements or crowd-sourced ideas. Workshops, employee forums and facilitated sessions where people get to tackle shared issues can be fun and productive.

Promote a healthy work-life balance for all employees

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee mental health and well-being. Show your staff that you truly care about their well-being. And mean it. Actions speak louder than words here.

That you and the company, are dedicated to making sure your employees have the resources they need to succeed both in the office and when outside of it, be that due to remote or flexible working, frontline roles or at another location.

Offer a variety of well-being resources and initiatives, stress management programs, mental health support, flexible solutions where possible to support the sandwich generation (those with dependents on either side of the generation in the middle) or anyone with caring responsibilities. Ensure you have specific professional and confidential support from a reputable Employee Assistance Programme, (ours is brilliant, please ask!) and a mechanism for overall support in an employees day. You want all employees who work for you, to have every opportunity to thrive both professionally and personally and bring their best selves and work to the job.

Many companies value their employees’ mental health above all and do everything they can to promote an environment where everyone has access to a balanced life and the support they might need outside of the NHS and GP services, which we know are hard pushed at the best of times.

Let’s not neglect how important physical safety is at work and near miss reporting, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries. Doing all you can as an employer, is critical to keeping people safe, overall accident risk down and helping avoid or keep the necessary but understandably worrying investigations and interventions to their absolute minimum, for all the right reasons

Celebrate successes together as a team

At the heart of collaboration is celebrating success together–recognising the efforts of everyone involved. It could be a pat on the back after a job well done or a team dinner to recognise a major milestone. Even a shared lunch time or coffee and pastries are just as welcome and appreciated.

In companies, each of us plays an integral role in helping each other reach our personal goals professionally as well as the companies ones. When we collectively come together, great things can happen. The sum is greater than its parts and, because of this, it’s important to remind ourselves that ‘together we’re better’.

Celebrating successes together with your colleagues and teams is a powerful way to build trust among team members and foster collaboration that will lead to future successes for the business.

Investing in your company culture pays dividends, it saves your company money by not having to replace staff that have left, after all, who would want to leave your amazing company, the culture is just brilliant, truly great! It also means you should be attracting the right type of staff from your improved recruitment process and employer brand reputation (marketing speak for people say good things about you as an employer and not just because they have to, or because you pay them to). Candidates applying for your roles, might start being a better fit, provided you market the role and opportunity enough, ask for recommendations from existing well thought of employees of anyone they know who might be interested. Your recruitment applicant evaluations and then those you actually hire should be a better fit.

It’s important that those you bring into your business, and start working for you, are more likely (all things being equal) to want to stay in your business and with you, help your business prosper.

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Engage & Prosper is a UK based privately owned Employee Engagement Consultancy and Social Enterprise. We’re on a mission to help organisations develop a highly productive and fulfilling, collaborative workplace culture, with their people, through enhanced employee engagement strategies, fabulous and effective internal communications platforms and tailored reward and recognition programmes.

For more information on Engage & Prosper or to discover how we can help you achieve your organisational and people goals please call +44 (0) 330 223 0464 or find out more at www.engageandprosper.com