Contributed by Chris Kirksey, an EO member in Washington, DC, and the CEO of Direction Inc., a Washington, DC-based SEO and SEO software agency. Chris is a US Army Veteran and mentor for US military service members transitioning into the civilian world.
As entrepreneurs transition and adjust to changes the pandemic caused in their companies, how can they build—or rebuild—not only a business but also a team of like-minded individuals with a common purpose or goal?
The pandemic brought both global physical and mental health concerns. This means that creating a work environment geared toward purpose, creativity and happiness is key to employee retention.
For the first time in human history, we are experiencing how energy moves through populations at large. Creating an island of peace during a time of fear and uncertainty can seem impossible. But it’s not. And as an entrepreneur, I’m sure you enjoy the challenge of “impossible” anyways.
Creating joy and purpose in work
As a company leader, one of your foremost goals is to ignite a vibrant company culture with energy that inspires common goals and overall growth. We have to think not only about what we do daily, but also what kind of human beings we are. You can build a brand, design a product and be the next great innovator, but if you’re not a pleasant and driven human being, what’s the point?
Put aside income for a moment. Assuming your employees are well paid and cared for, let’s examine the root cause of why so many people have difficulty finding meaning in their work and lifestyles.
We all have 24 hours in a day, during which most people are more preoccupied than busy, especially in the age of smartphones. As humans, we have evolved with a fantastic ability to remember and imagine. But if those two gifts control us, we can begin to suffer our memories and allow our imaginations to run in the wrong direction rather than using them to inspire creativity and growth.
We, as business owners, need to put employees’ mental health first. (No, I don’t mean that everyone should hire an office psychiatrist like in my favorite TV show, Billions, though wouldn’t that be nice!)
4 Outrageous ideas to boost company culture
Aim to bring out the inner child within your employees and help them identify commonalities to discuss and explore. It can help spur their growth as human beings so that they can expand their potential―as well as your company’s.
Here are four outrageous ideas that I’ve found to be favorites among my team:
- Surprise Nerf battles in the office. (Great for social distancing. Safety tip: Wear a full face mask)
- Office yoga or guided meditation
- Designate time to play Apples to Apples, Punderdome or Cards Against Humanity (a company favorite, but certainly not appropriate for every work environment) or other card or board games
- Create an office nap room (sleep is more important than you realize, according to Matthew Walker, UCLA professor of neuroscience and psychology)
The benefits of a joyous work environment
Unpacking a joyous work environment can lead to more laughter, teamwork, a sense of belonging and innovation in the office. After implementing these ideas, I learned that one of my employees builds computers at home. Another started creating decorative birthday and occasion cards, and yet another was taking karate classes. A sort of “domino effect” happened as we discovered the unique pursuits of coworkers.
My team created a work-life balance that led to heightened creativity, passion, focus, curiosity and exploration within the company culture and among themselves. As a result, they began to find more purpose in their work, and our collective purpose led to growth.
So, I encourage you—even dare you—to be bold and try out new, creative, out-of-the-box ideas with your team.