Exploring culture and creating engaging rituals that set your workplace apart

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Exploring culture and creating engaging rituals that set your workplace apart

Exploring culture and creating engaging rituals that set your workplace apart 1200 800 Flint Change

During Covid, we set up Friday night rituals with our kids. We created a restaurant at home and took turns to cook, wait tables and we all dressed up. It became something that we all looked forward to, and as we didn’t have loads to do. We took time to create new menus, make a shopping list, and cook. We all loved it!

Research showed that the people who created these rituals with their kids were happier with their parenting during the lockdowns. Many workplaces have their own rituals, and research has similar findings.

What IS a ritual?

In his book ‘Rituals for Work: 50 Ways to Create Engagement, Shared Purpose, and a Culture that Can Adapt to Change’, Kursat Orzenk defines it as “Actions that a person or group does repeatedly, following a similar pattern or script in which they’ve imbued symbolism and meaning.”

We looked into the research behind it and our reading was fascinating, backing up our experiences that this is a great way of embedding the culture you want. Tami Kim’s research in 2021 (Workgroup rituals enhance the meaning of work) showed that rituals increase team bonds, boost performance and show an increase in meaningful work and organisational citizenship behaviours. In addition, it identified the psychological underpinnings of rituals, demonstrating how they can lead to increased immersion in experiences, greater feelings of control, reduced anxiety, and increased liking for teammates.

Why are rituals helpful in embedding culture?

Rituals bring people together, enhance understanding and support bringing culture to life. To give you an example, we love the Customer Chair ritual from Nissan Motors (Source: Hussein M Dajani – General Manager, Nissan Motors). There is a customer chair in all meeting rooms to remind everyone that when decisions are taken, they need to be relevant to, add value to, empathetic with and compassionate with customers.

If one of the values in an organisation is ‘customer first’, but employees don’t see that lived out, then it will not be embedded in the same way. By creating a ritual that genuinely puts the customer at the heart of what we do, it is far more likely to be lived out by teams.

Many employee engagement surveys tell organisations that their communication isn’t strong enough. We recently supported a business to create a meaningful two-way dialogue with their teams in relation to their strategy and values. Instead of a traditional tell town hall approach, we created global ‘live’ sessions with both managers and team members providing updates and stories. Once the update is finished, the teams break out into groups with open questions to encourage feedback and conversation.

There is then a follow-up on the feedback via other communications. The new approach has been a game changer in getting more feedback and interaction and people look forward to this global get-together once a month.

Where do I start?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start by looking for any rituals that already exist and relevant ways to bring your culture to life
  • Be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Design rituals that celebrate the impact or behaviour you want to reward
  • Be aware that rituals can have a negative impact if not managed correctly
  • Make sure they are inclusive
  • Don’t overwhelm people

To find out how to create your own practical rituals, check out our FREE resource 10 Rituals to Set Your Culture Apart Guide which gives you 10 examples of rituals and the impact they have and tips on how to apply and choose the right rituals for your business.