Before my current company, Trainual, I consulted small businesses on operations efficiency. Most young companies are running on fumes and the tiniest bit of productivity or new capacity can provide a massive boost.
I remember working with one agency entrepreneur and in our first meeting I asked him, "when is the last time you took a vacation?"
He said, "probably back in high school with my parents."
Hold on. This guy is married with kids and has been running his own business for three years. "What about your honeymoon?" I asked him.
Nope. They had skipped their honeymoon, as it didn't seem practical for a startup to waste money on something so luxurious. In fact, a lot of the wedding presents went toward fueling the new business.
We start our businesses because we dream of the rewards it will bring. But what good is running a business if you never cash in on your accomplishments? Here are five ways to build celebration into your culture.
Celebrate via Slack.
Slack is the perfect place to celebrate every day wins. My team and I have a slack channel dedicated solely to wins and praise, where we take a minute to shout out other team members for their hard work, share a new feature that our development team built, or announce a huge milestone we achieved.
It's a great outlet to express immediate gratitude to your team. Plus, you can customize your own "slackmojis", so that's pretty fun, too.
Host monthly events.
At least once a month, we coordinate a company-wide outing of some sort. But what I think is really important here is that these events or outings aren't always done after work hours when people have other obligations. Many of our team events are during work hours -- like the time we went and saw a matinee movie on a Friday afternoon.
Not every monthly event has to have a monetary component. In fact, a lot of the activities we do as a team are free -- like our team hikes. Nearly everyone at my company has an affinity for the outdoors, so we've coordinated a monthly sunrise hike before the Arizona heat rises.
Go on a retreat.
Earlier this year, we kicked off the start of the new fiscal year by packing up and heading to Lake Tahoe for a week-long retreat. The whole company flew out from Scottsdale and Boston to be together under one roof -- literally.
While one of the major goals of the retreat was to do some yearly and quarterly goal-setting and planning, I really wanted to take an opportunity for team bonding. When your team members connect with each other on a personal level, it makes for better working relationships within the office.
Reward with bonuses.
This year we rolled out a bonus structure for all employees. But unlike many companies whose bonuses are based on individual performance or merit, we opted into a team mentality.
In order for anyone to get a bonus, the whole company has to meet the key growth metrics that we collaborated on at our retreat. This has everyone aligned and motivated together!
Track your metrics publicly.
Accomplishing big wins is awesome, and worthy of celebrating. So, don't keep your milestones in the dark. In our office, we programed an analog ticker that loudly resets our customer count every time a new subscriber is charged. It's a fun way to see that our efforts are paying off, and that we're helping businesses all over the world to simplify their onboarding and training efforts.
Maybe you don't want a ticker around your office, but finding some outlet to showcase your metrics will help your team stay connected and working toward a shared goal.
Start cashing in.
Celebrating your wins is huge for company culture and morale, and worth cashing in on. Before I left the office of that agency CEO, I gave him an ultimatum. "If you don't book a vacation before I come back next time, I can't work with you."
He was a quick learner, took out his laptop right away, and booked his first vacation in years. He carved out time to celebrate all his major accomplishments and has since returned to the same place five times.
Reward yourself, and reward your team. In turn, you'll be rewarded with faster pace and a tighter team, and that can make all the difference.