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The Importance of a Culture Committee in the Workplace

October 1, 2019 by Christine Summers
TOPICS: Culture

There is a lot of information out there about how to have a positive and cohesive company culture and why it’s important to your workplace. An effective company culture can take an organization from being a good place to work to a great one. Many organizations, including HireBetter, and many of our clients, have formed a culture committee, whose purpose is to drive and nurture an intentional culture. We have seen first-hand the positive impact of this investment in time and money. But before taking this step, you need to consider a few things to ensure the committee will achieve its goals and intended purpose.

Purpose
One of the first things to consider is what you want to achieve. It’s important to have buy-in and direction from leadership about the purpose and goals of the committee; going beyond the statement to improve or maintain a positive company culture. Do you want or expect the committee to organize activities for the team during specific times? Are activities meant to be social, educational, or philanthropic? Do you have a remote team in which it’s important to develop ways to bring a sense of community and belonging? Being able to define your expectations will lend itself to achieving the desired goal of the committee.

After receiving direction from leadership, the Vibe Hive (HireBetter’s culture committee) chose to create its own purpose statement to guide its actions. This was one of the first tasks our committee accomplished and proved to lay the groundwork for working together collaboratively.

Participation
Next, you’ll want to consider who should participate. These individuals will be your culture champions spearheading efforts and activities within the organization, so they will need to have full buy-in and dedication to the vision for the committee. Human resources and leadership have a hard time directing these efforts on their own, so broader team participation will be needed. This means having representation that spans across roles, departments, seniority, and tenure; ensuring a variety of voices and perspectives are heard. The diversity of members helps bring forth ideas that will appeal to and represent the team in its entirety.

Once the committee is formed, the members can decide how often they should meet. To build the framework of the committee and start implementing the first activities, it is a good idea to meet more frequently for the first few months.

Getting Feedback from the Team
Before jumping into the first social activities, the committee should get feedback from the rest of the team about their thoughts on the state of the culture. There are a variety of ways to obtain this feedback, like having open forum meetings, through email, or providing surveys. Use the method that you think your team will respond to openly and honestly. If you aren’t sure which method will work best for your organization, try all of the above and assess your results to determine the best method moving forward. Consider open-ended questions that will provide feedback on the positives and negatives with the current culture, types of activities, and desired cadence of activities. The committee will not be successful without this information to guide their decisions.

Getting feedback at the beginning is important, but you won’t really know how successful you are unless you continue to get feedback from the team. Climate in the workplace changes over time and being able to address those shifts will make for a more cohesive and positive culture.

Activities
Organizing activities is an important part of creating team cohesion and building relationships. It’s hard to organize these activities on a regular basis without having a dedicated group to lead this endeavor. After you’ve received feedback from the team and the parameters are set by management, the planning can begin. Having a variety of activities and varying degrees of participation required is important. This will bring different groups of people together and will also maintain connection when there is not a lot of bandwidth for the team to participate. Happy hours and other group activities outside of the workplace are common because they are effective. Expand those activities to happen during normal working hours. Something as simple as a potluck lunch can go a long way in bringing the team together. At HireBetter, we have rounds of what we call “Coffee Convos” in which team members are paired together and get to know each other over a cup of coffee. The team shares photos and fun facts after meeting with each other. This activity is great for remote teams because meetings can happen through video conferencing.

A common misconception is that the committee will oversee only social and team-building activities. However, activities should go beyond the social aspect. Activities designed to address the areas in the culture that need improving are vitally important to creating meaningful change. These types of activities may even require an educational aspect to help shift behavior or communication patterns. Maybe this requires an outside facilitator, or perhaps it is the committee leading an activity at a team meeting. Only you and your organization can know what type of culture committee will work best to achieve your specific culture goals. But considering its purpose, participation, feedback, and activities when forming your culture committee is sure to set you up for success.

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