Merge's Blog

A unique employee team-building idea from one of my client organizations

Three weeks ago, I shared a fantastic idea from a client organization about a unique way to acknowledge and motivate employees – to hold “fake” retirement parties.  Well, today I’m thrilled to tell you about another great example of employee team-building and motivation from another client organization.

Monthly culture “moments”

employee team-buildingThis particular company has a very diverse workforce with people from a variety of different ethnicities and cultures.  So as a way to build understanding, to strengthen teamwork, and to have fun, their Corporate Finance team created monthly culture moments.  At their monthly team meetings, over a period of several months, they’ve showcased the different cultures and nationalities represented in their department.  Even though they’ve called it culture “moments”, it is in fact the theme for the entire meeting.

One or two employees (who are from that culture) make a short presentation sharing the background and history of their heritage countries.  They also tell the rest of the team about a core societal value and a common workplace behaviour.  So for example, the team learned that in Thailand, a core societal value is to respect elders.  This drives a common workplace behaviour which is to never directly argue with your boss.  If you disagree, you have to find an indirect way to let them know, since a direct challenge is inappropriate.  Another example, in India, a core societal value is the importance of education, not just to the high school level, but to post-secondary and post-graduate.  A common Indian workplace behaviour that could cause misunderstandings in North America is that employees will always say yes to any request, even if it is impossible to follow through.

In addition to the short presentation at the meeting, the team also orders in lunch from a restaurant that specializes in that country or culture, and often the employees with that heritage host the meal, offering insights into the food and how to eat it.

Canada is a country too!

The Director of the division told me that the person who did the Canadian “culture moment” was not only born in Canada but had also lived in four different provinces, so she was able to offer a valuable perspective to those employees who were recent immigrants to the country.

I am sure you can tell that I think this is a brilliant approach to employee team-building, and so appropriate for this team given their varied heritages.  But now I’d like to hear from you.  What are you doing for employee team-building in your organization?  If you’ve chosen to do nothing, why not?!  Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

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