|2nd August 2016
The social side of work has always been one of the most important aspects to me. It adds employee value, recognition and cohesion into the day-to-day running of a company. I started working in the BLH Talent team at the beginning of the year, coming from an event management background. People management, corporate culture, and social cohesion have always been important to me and something that I enjoy improving.
Increasingly over the past few years, companies have seen an emphasis on employees prioritising a great working atmosphere, there’s a reason Google gets 2 million applications a year. There are lots of lists that float around the internet about the “best companies to work for” and 99% of the time, what these companies are offering are: excellent employee packages with away days, socials, and creative office environments. Socials, corporate culture, employee engagement, retention and productivity are all intrinsically linked and collectively improve if employees are looked after.
The new Social Committee was formed earlier in the year and consists of myself, Eva, Victoria and Ditte. First on our list when we were formed was to get a formal budget for the year and develop a process so that we could plan effectively. We have weekly social committee meetings to keep ourselves on track.
Before I started, BLH already had a couple of social events in place, such as occasional Thursday night drinks and the summer and Christmas parties. However, we wanted to mix it up and do much more! Having grown from 20 to 60+ employees over the last few years, there’s quite a bit more planning required to ensure staff events run without a hitch.
One of our first new socials was a classic pub quiz. We know there were a fair few sceptics in the crowd, but this went down a huge success. How else would you learn that some of your colleagues know a surprising amount about the Little Mermaid? The winning team, 505 SOS, will need to defend their title (and trophy!) later in the summer as this social becomes a bi-annual occurrence.
We have a year-long plan that includes one social, on average, per month including seasonal offerings (e.g. Halloween Evening Extravaganza) and lots of festive fun come December. We also try to stay on top of current TV events - just wait for our turn as GBBO bakers - and had a Euro’s football 2016 sweepstake.
Quick to learn that pubs, drinks, and team building were a winning combination, our summer party this year was held at the Star of Kings pub with competitive pub games. Turns out that shuffle board is surprisingly hard, and G&T’s don’t help with coordination. Game nights work well because they’re a chance to mix up project/capability teams and have fun with people you don’t get to work with day in, day out. You get to see people beyond their job titles and work. We can’t say what our plan is for the Christmas Party is yet - that is top secret information even Santa doesn’t know. Watch this space.
Here at BLH, it’s really important to support our colleagues when they’re doing something for charity. Earlier in the year, one of our colleagues did a triathlon. As the Social Committee, we wanted to make a push on fundraising.
Between my hospitality background and the amount of food hygiene certification I had to do in my previous life, for me, I didn’t want to go down the bake sale route. Besides, this had been done before and we are an innovative company! So how could we put the fun back into fundraising? Swearing! Sometimes not everything goes according to plan, and once in a while everyone has a little swear, so we decided to harness this and bring in “Let’s get Swearing for Charity” day. £1 per swear word and £2 for the really naughty words, much less health & safety than a bake sale. One of our founders put in £20 in advance…
To recognise those people going above and beyond (an important part of BLH company values), we decided to bring in Employee of the Month, starting in June. At the end of each month, all employees are asked to nominate two of their colleagues. The nominations are tallied and measured, then the EOTM winner is announced at our Monday Meeting along with a personal gift (tailored to the recipient) and their picture on the wall of fame.
Recognition is a big part of the working day in general, but it’s lovely to hear the reasons for people’s nominations and also see people nominate other team members who they don’t necessarily work with because they did something amazing. After all, who doesn’t like to hear something genuinely nice about themselves?
I think, and hope, we are past a point in business where companies can’t afford to take the social side of working culture seriously. It is time to recognise staff, reward employees and have some fun! We all work hard, but we need to remember to play hard as well. After all, would you really want to work somewhere without a social side?
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