Why employee experience trumps company culture

Company culture is a hot topic, but studies on employee engagement suggest perks alone don't translate into happier workers. It might be time to ditch your company culture and focus on your employee experience.

By Sarah K. White
Nov. 10, 2016

Creating a positive employee experience can be as simple as creating workplace traditions to help build rapport and communication. "One of our oldest traditions is an Alabama jacket that gets passed around to someone who closes a big deal. They wear it or hang it on their chairs. You can recognize staff and build team camaraderie without a large budget," says Gimbel.

Embrace a 'work-away' trip

Your typical work retreat probably involves conference rooms, an off-site hotel and team-building exercises. But at Boomerang, Moah says they have reinvented company retreats by eschewing traditional team building trips and exercises, dubbing them "workaway trips."

Since it's a small office, Moah's company will typically rent a big house that can fit everyone comfortably. She says they don't want to book hotels because of the potential for seclusion with individual rooms and out of a desire to avoid "windowless conference rooms when it's time to work."

"We like to choose a house that has a great view and preferably an outdoor area for us to work in. The house we stayed in our most recent 'work-away' trip to Switzerland had a giant outdoor patio with a table where we could all sit to discuss or eat a meal. A lot of our trip involves cooking together and eating together, which also saves money since we're not buying meals out at restaurants," she says.

But if Switzerland isn't in your budget, she says you simply have to find "somewhere you don't normally go." It could be in the same city, or state, but just taking time to get away from the office and your typical scene. Moah says these trips have helped foster team unity and have also been vital in getting new employees comfortable and familiar with the team faster than they would in the office.

Creating a fun, lasting experience that will help employees bond can mean more than a "bring your dog to work day." It doesn't have to be extravagant; it just has to blend the right mix of fun, work and relaxation to leave employees feeling closer and invigorated.

"You'd be surprised at what people enjoy. We've had company-wide sales incentive trips to Miami and San Francisco, and to celebrate our best sales quarter in history we took busses to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. People enjoyed that trip just as much, if not more, than the trip to Miami or San Francisco. When you have the right group of people, it doesn't matter where they go. The fact that you care enough to close down the office for a few days to help develop them says a lot," says Gimbel.

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