10 August 2022

Getting EXperimental – building our team culture

Three days. 12 team sessions. One culture experiment.

On Wednesday 13th July 2022, team Synergy gather at Bristol HQ to start our experiment. The whole team together in one office to re-connect, collaborate, be inspired and more.

We called it: SynDig

Rewind: why?

In the post-pandemic world of hybrid working and high employee expectations, a strong company culture is vital.

Ranstad recently found that the “needs and expectations of people emerged as a top priority for companies everywhere” during the Great Resignation. It’s been highlighted by Forbes that companies with strong cultures experience an increase in revenue growth 4 times greater than those that don’t. And in a global survey by Deloitte, 82% believed culture is a source of competitive advantage.

Strong culture is fundamental to the way we work at McCann Synergy. Survey results and feedback suggested that while hybrid had many benefits for work-life balance and autonomy, people were hungry for more opportunities to connect inside and outside their day-to-day teams and frameworks.

After a successful acquisition with McCann, quickly followed by two years of remote and then hybrid, we felt it was essential to keep building great relationships and reaffirm our fantastic culture.

So, we designed a culture experiment that brought us together to work in the same space, at the same time, for three days straight.

Our aims

We wanted to get to know each other better, give newer team members a chance to really immerse themselves in what we do and how we work, and find new and better ways of working together. There were themes and ideas we wanted to explore, and foster conversation about:

  • Unity, integration and connectedness
  • Ways of working in a hybrid world
  • Culture – what is it like to be us?
  • How being together can change what it’s like to work together

Perhaps most importantly, reconnecting with our purpose.

Our approach

As any behavioural science expert will tell you, if you want people to do something, make it easy. We worked hard to make this easy, for maximum attendance, engagement and enjoyment. There was co-creation at every stage, and we made the most of collaboration tools in the planning and execution. There were clear comms before, during and after, and different teams and individuals took ownership of different elements to spread the load and give as many people as possible a stake in running the experiment.

What was the agenda?

Interactive, insightful, inspiring, and social. We planned three days of live face-to-face client work; group workshops around topics like purpose, collaboration and inspirational talks. And, of course, a social aspect to build and nurture those organic personal connections.

Sessions included:

  • Reflections on the business half-year so far
  • Interactive getting-to-know-you sessions from each department
  • Knowledge shares around topics like EX and D&I
  • Activities and workshops led by in house coaches, psychologists and facilitators
  • Social events like yoga, quizzes, afternoon cake breaks and a BBQ.

The impact

The team had an amazing time together and loved getting to know each other better.

Stronger relationships were forged, new connections made, and new ways found to collaborate. We bonded, learned, and found ourselves re-energised around our purpose and our potential.

We conducted a survey before and after asking the team questions about how they feel at work. The results post SynDig demonstrate real growth and overall improvement happiness with the team.

There were significant increases in people’s feelings of connection to their colleagues, connection to the team as a whole, and confidence in the ability to work through challenges together.

“It was great because I could read everyone a little better – particularly folks who are a little less vocal on calls.” – Joe, Strategy 

“It was such a buzz to run through a creative review with everyone in the room. I came out feeling really energised, excited about the next stage, and confident that we really were all on the same page.” – Chloe, Creative

Other highlights were the team activities, simply being and working together and a talk from our guest inspirational speaker, Jon White.

Culture experiment lessons learned

The benefits and impact will continue to show as we keep working and growing together. Here are our five top lessons learned so far:

  • Think about the culture you’ve got, vs the culture you want. We’ve developed a multi-dimensional culture-audit tool (watch this space), which we put into practice to help us build a balanced, rounded agenda.
  • People are keener than ever for opportunities to connect meaningfully face to face. Companies must create the opportunity and make this a new habit within hybrid frameworks.
  • Co-creation is essential. It boosts buy-in, anticipation, collaboration and engagement.
  • Shared experiences build better relationships. Whether learning, working or socialising, doing it together is a powerful way to help teams bond – and connected teams are effective teams.
  • Purpose is energising. The opportunity to reflect, as a collective, on “why we’re all here” gives teams a real boost.

Looking to revitalise your culture?

Most people think you can’t measure culture. At McCann Synergy, we know you can.

With consultancy, strategy, psychology and creativity, we help our clients gain a competitive advantage by understanding what their culture is now, what they need it to be, and how to improve it – and, as a result, drive both employee engagement, and experience and overall business performance.

Leaders across the globe identify culture a key strategic driver. If you’d like to talk more about what this critical asset could achieve for your business, get in touch with our Head of Marketing & New Business, Blair, blair.meyler@mccannsynergy.com

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