The office candy bowl: For some, this dish of sugary goodness is a sweet reprieve from the daily grind and an invitation to network with coworkers; for others, the candy bowl poses a temptation that threatens to not only tip the scales, but to hinder productivity. While the workplace candy bowl remains a topic of controversy in offices across America, it prompts a major question that virtually all CEOs, executives, managers, and HR professionals grapple with: What is the best way to build a healthy, productive, and creative company culture?
Before you can explore the various ways of boosting the culture within your organization, it’s helpful to have a true understanding of what “company culture” is and how it’s defined at your place of business.
What is company culture?
Generally speaking, company culture is the personality of the company and the behaviors of the individuals working within it. There are numerous factors that contribute to a company’s culture: the business’ vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits. Typically, higher-ups in the company (i.e. CEOs, founders, managers, etc.) create a framework for how the values, mission, and vision of their company should look, and then they seek employees who fit well within this predefined culture.
How to define company culture
Just as the world of business flexes and adapts to industry demands, so too should your company’s culture. This means defining your culture flexibly and in a manner which allows for modification over time. Determine your company culture by asking yourself three questions:
- What do you think business is really about?
Do you think building a successful business means waging war against your competitors and demonizing them to get ahead? This outlook essentially alienates customers and leaves no room for them to play a role in your culture. Instead, approach business as an ecosystem that works with competitors when needed for the betterment of your company and your customers.
- What is a business?
Do you consider business a machine or a community? Machines break down easily and have to stop doing their jobs to be re-engineered and fixed—something that most businesses can’t afford to do. By seeing your business as a community consisting of people who cooperate and work with each other, you can build a culture that can make successful adjustments and alterations as your company grows, without losing sight of the human side of the business.
- How do you view management?
If you think of management as controlling, superior behavior, you’ll establish a toxic chain of command that prevents employees from taking risks that could benefit the company. By seeing management instead as a service role—something designed to make individuals, the group, and the customers successful—you’ll create a company with shared values full of people who want to succeed because they want to, not because they are being told to tow the company line.
How to improve company culture with candy-bowl-like techniques
If your corporate culture needs a revamp (or if you want to encourage your employees to boost the values and vision of your company), consider implementing some of these office candy-bowl-like techniques:
1. Initiate a wellness program.
Health is one of the biggest concerns with setting out candy in the office. Secretaries, for example, ate anywhere from 2.5 to 3.1 candies per day—and this statistic increases with the proximity of the bowl. However, by implementing a wellness program instead of offering sugary, empty-calorie snacks, you can make a huge impact on your company culture. Studies have found that healthy employees don’t just contribute to higher office morale, they are also more likely to show up for work and improve the positivity of your company.
2. Consider a bring-your-dog-to-work day.
Inviting your employees to bring their dogs to the office might seem a bit excessive, but a study from Central Michigan University found that having a dog in the office didn’t just encourage employees to effectively collaborate with one another, it also made them more productive, happier, and less tense than dog-free workplaces. Furthermore, having a pet-friendly office also buffers employee stress and makes the job more satisfying.
3. Be active in the community.
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of an office candy bowl is that it gives employees a chance to converse, build relationships, and network with their colleagues. By organizing volunteer opportunities and ways for your company to get involved in the community, you can give your employees a similar chance to connect on matters beyond work. More than 64 percent of working Millennials believe that making the world a better place is a priority in their professional lives. Initiating community involvement won’t just aid in inter-office networking and corporate team building, it will also enable your employees to feel good about the work they are doing and the company they represent.
While building a strong company culture isn’t as simple as setting out a candy bowl, you also don’t need to overthink it. By implementing a few well-thought-out initiatives like the techniques discussed in this article, you can begin to create a culture that makes you and your employees proud.