Want to improve workplace culture? Promote friendships at work

Are you looking for ways to improve your workplace culture? Your solution might be as simple as friendships.

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Are you looking for ways to improve your workplace culture? Your solution might be as simple as friendships.

Consider this: in a 2022 Gallup poll, employees that had a “best friend” at work were more than twice as likely to recommend their company as a great place to work, 24% less likely to be looking for a new job, and more than twice as likely to state they were “extremely satisfied” with their job.

While I can’t tell you how to ensure everyone has a best friend at work, I can tell you that developing coworker relationships doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes employees get caught in the mundane and need a little nudge to step outside of their work funnel, while others balk at the idea of intermingling and being social while at work.

But with data backing the need for strong coworker relationships, your company needs to provide opportunities for friendships to flourish. Here’s where to start.

Improve Workplace Culture With Company Events

No matter how small (think: cake for a coworker’s birthday), or large (think: company outing), employer-sponsored events are a great way for employees to interact with peers. It also gives them a common bond to talk about in future conversations.

Here are 10 ideas of company events you could implement to improve your workplace culture.

1. Game Day Rivalry

Is there a big game coming up? Have everyone in the office dress to support their team of choice! You could add a potluck lunch to the fun — or better yet, make the losers bring (or serve) lunch for the winners on the next workday.

2. Sports League

In addition to cheering for the local high school, college, or professional team, form your own work team and join a sports league! Have the company purchase required jerseys and league fees and go play with (or cheer on) your colleagues outside of work each week.

3. Service Project

Employees working together to provide some type of giving-back project to the community does amazing things for unity and employee morale.

4. Paint Night

Whether or not you think you’re an artist, a group paint night is a fun experience to share with coworkers. It’s especially good for those left-brain number crunchers to step outside their comfort zones.

5. Company Party

Summer, Halloween, Christmas, or ANY time is a great time for a company party! You could announce a simple potluck picnic, or the company could rent out a Food Truck for lunch. Hosting a costume party with a prize for the best costume (or department theme of costumes) could bring a sense of unity and moments they’ll never forget. Parties could be formal or informal, held in-house after-hours or at a venue for employees to bring their +1 and mingle before and after the event. Whatever you do, everyone that participates will have great memories that connect them with the company for years to come.

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6. Event Tickets

Ball games, concerts, amusement parks, movies – anything goes to boost employee excitement and give employees something to look forward to beyond work.

7. Nerf Gun Wars

You don’t have to be all formal with a company event. Sometimes breaking up the monotony with an unexpected nerf gun war is just the brain break your team needs! Set out the nerf guns and announce a countdown to give employees notice to close out of their current projects. Just make sure it’s not on a day with big deadlines.

8. Ice Cream Social

If you don’t have the time (or budget) for a team lunch and would prefer not to interrupt the middle of a workday, a Friday afternoon ice cream social on the front lawn could foster the social interaction you need to boost morale and improve coworker relationships.

9. Hobby Club

Allow employees with common interests to form a hobby club where they set work aside for a few minutes each week and have fun interacting. Some ideas might include a book club where they discuss the book of the week, a recipe club, an RC club where they race remote control cars, or an early morning yoga club. Have remote workers? This would be a great way to include them by setting up a Slack or Teams channel to participate.

10. Weekend Hike

What’s better than getting outdoor air while exercising? Adding great conversations that help you get to know your coworkers better! If hiking isn’t really your genre (or accessible in your area), perhaps a stroll in the park will be just as good.

Proactively creating opportunities for your team to interact will fuel opportunities for friendships to flourish. In time, this will increase employee engagement, reduce turnover, boost performance, and significantly improve your workplace culture overall.

For more tips or ideas on how to improve your workplace culture, please contact your certified HR expert. 

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