How to Create Workplace Traditions Even in Non Traditional Workplaces

Workplace Traditions

Not every company is lucky enough to have a party planning committee like that led by Angela at Dunder Mifflin.  Traditional 9 to 5 office life has changed since the days of Michael Scott and “The Office.” Today’s workplaces are more likely to have kitchen tables than conference tables. Traditions that once bonded coworkers like secret Santa exchanges, Halloween dress up days, or celebration potlucks may be realistic only for office employees.  Yet, the value of creating workplace community and building culture through tradition remains.  How can companies create workplace traditions even in non traditional workplaces?

The Value of Workplace Traditions

Traditions are valuable because they create a sense of “we” in a company. “When employees are included in traditions, they are shown that they matter to a group and are embraced in the shared social identity,” says Raelynn Randall of Eddy.  “This concept is sometimes referred to as “we-ness,” which is defined as how individuals identify as part or align themselves with a  group. Traditions can shape this shared identity. Companies should place value on maintaining traditions because these traditions create shared experiences.

Workplace Traditions that Work for All Workplaces

Here are some ideas for traditions that can be shared in any work modality.

  • Employee anniversaries: One year employee anniversaries are celebrated in style at Groupon.  Employees are rewarded for being with the company for one year with a Groupon-green track jacket with name embroidery. 
  • Software Lead Weekly has a tradition where the last employee to be hired is responsible for making a welcome package to give to the next employee hired. 
  • Monday Morning Messages: Assign employees a name each week so they can call someone else in the company to leave an encouraging or funny voicemail message to start their week.  
  • Daily Music Jam: A product design team at Microsoft has a tradition wherein someone gets to choose the song of the day that gets blasted through the office at exactly 3 pm every day. Employees dance, sing along, or make fun of the person for choosing a Celine Dion number.  This idea can be shared with at home workers by playing the song through Zoom.
  • Toy Drive: A wonderful idea for any company is to get involved in a toy or food drive.  Donations can be made remotely, and all employees can share in the joy of photos taken when toys are delivered.
  • Gingerbread house competition: Something artistic like a gingerbread house competition can be fun for all employees. The company can give a cash prize to the winner.

The Value of Coming Together in Person

No matter how amazing asynchronous traditions may be, it pays for companies to bring employees together in person at least occasionally.  To do so, companies must incur major expense, but in person gatherings are essential in maintaining bonds with the workforce as a whole.  “Even fully remote companies like GitLab and Automatic rely on episodic in-person gatherings to rebuild bonds among employees and socialize new members,” says Pamela Hines and Elliott of Harvard Business Review. “Organizations will undoubtedly require a mix of practices that enable efficient, inclusive engagement while at the same time preserving aspects of synchronous and in-person activities that strengthen culture.”  Holiday parties that are held in person can be annual or bi-annual and still be effective in maintaining social connection.  Artemis Consultants, whose employees work a hybrid model, has a tree decorating day and annual holiday dinner.  At the dinner, employees play a game of “who said it.”  This bonds employees by recalling a lot of funny situations.

Traditions are important and can be implemented in all kinds of workplaces. As the holidays quickly approach, take a moment to recall the best memories of traditions you have been a part of with a company.  What are some of your best memories with coworkers?  Please share in the comments below.

-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville

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