You already know the importance of developing a positive company culture. As Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron write in the Harvard Business Review: Organizations with strong cultures "achieve significantly higher levels of effectiveness--including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement."
Despite the advantages of building an engaging culture, it may seem like a daunting effort to improve yours. That's why you need strategies that don't try to solve every problem--but can be implemented quickly and will lead to positive results.
Here's one such strategy: "culture clubs." Instituted by Landor, the global leader in brand consultancy and design, the clubs have had a measurable impact on the firm's 800 employees in 27 offices around the world.
Before I share the benefits, I'll describe why culture clubs came about and how they work.
Let's start with the fact that one of Landor's service areas is helping clients navigate culture change. As part of that work, the firm offers clients an assessment tool that audits key drivers of culture.
"A philosophy that we hold dear at Landor is that you can't advise clients if you haven't embraced something yourself," says Jane Geraghty, chief executive officer. And when Landor conducted the culture assessment on itself, the firm learned that while senior leaders are strongly connected, newer and younger employees didn't feel that they knew each other--especially colleagues at other offices--very well.
This was especially a challenge, explains Geraghty, because Landor needs employees to work well internationally. "As our clients increasingly become global, they want the work we do for them to be developed by international teams--so that work resonates with customers and audiences everywhere."
Landor launched a number of initiatives designed to foster collaboration and build connections among employees; one was the introduction of culture clubs.
Here is how culture clubs work:
- Clubs have been established in every region.
- Each club is led by mid- and entry-level employees.
- When a club is formed, members facilitate an office-wide conversation, in which they ask every participant to contribute ideas on how to improve the culture and foster collaboration.
- Members often research seminars or events they can attend to learn more about enhancing the culture. Landor purchases tickets; attendeesthen come back and share their experience and learnings with the wider group.
- Teams from multiple offices and regions collaborate to activate initiatives that are globally relevant.
- Culture clubs typically approach to their local, regional and global leaders with ideas about what the firm can do to bring them together and increase shared learning across the network.
Geraghty explains that some of what culture clubs do is quite simple--like encouraging members to have virtual lunches with far-flung colleagues over Skype. "Although that might not seem like a big deal, it's actually quite significant," says Geraghty. "Because it gives people permission to just connect for no reason at all. Employees talk about what it's like in their office. By doing so, they build relationships."
Other efforts require time, effort and planning. For example, one culture club put together a workshop to improve entrepreneurialism across the region.
And the New York City club combined culture and giving back to the community by organizing an afternoon where everyone in the office went to a local school. Employees painted interior walls, some plain and others with striking designs.
The impact of these efforts? Employees are working together to make both immediate and long-term changes to Landor's culture.
Plus, explains Geraghty, younger people now have their own network of people to draw on. "If someone doesn't know what to do on a particular project and doesn't want to ask his or her boss, the employee can ask peers for help. Employees have even formed their own WhatsApp communities, where they are supporting one another. That's so valuable."
For Landor, the investment in culture clubs is clearly worth it. Says Geraghty: "The more you know about each other and demonstrate mutual respect, the more your organization will give everyone a level playing field to contribute, grow and be successful.