4 April 2023

Getting EXperimental – What we discovered from our latest team culture event

Putting what we preach into action

After the success of our first SynDig culture event in summer 2022, we met again in February 2023 to start the year off right and share our direction with everyone, in a way that was collaborative, invited connection, and continued to build our culture with intent.

Big goals in our sights

This time round, our focus was starting 2023 on the best possible footing, and for us, that always comes with purposefully shaping sharing our purpose, vision, plans for the year and re-enforce our values. We also relished the chance to meet face to face, to get everyone behind our focus for the year and feel the power of togetherness.

And with our survey revealing a 200% increase in feeling connected to the team as a whole, and 95% rating SynDig from 7 to 10 (where 10 is great), we’re happy to say we got what we hoped for – and then some.

Our aims

We wanted to unify what we do with a celebration of why we do it. To discuss and explore our clients’ current and future needs and ways of working, while fostering connection, a sense of direction, collaboration and creativity, through moments of togetherness.

Our approach

First and foremost, we knew that SynDig’s success would be down to people power. So we made it as attractive and compelling as possible, with lots of comms in advance to generate enthusiasm and commitment.

There was co-creation at every stage, from our t-shirt design competition to give a personal stamp to the event, to the live briefs and agenda setting. We wanted to bring together the personal and professional, so we balanced work and briefs with socialising and celebrating people’s talents outside the office. All of this didn’t cost the earth in terms of money either – we did it on a small budget, as sustainably as possible, and over one and a half days, to keep it punchy.

What was the agenda?

With an exciting twelve months of growth ahead, our focus for SynDig 23 was to lay the cultural foundation and groundwork for the year together. It all centred around connection, collaboration, co-creation and creativity. We had break out sessions and put together teams across different disciplines to discuss live client briefs, mixed in with sessions led by team members on communication, team priorities and ambitions for the year. And everything was as joyous, collaborative, and fun as possible, to make things stick, and set the mood for every subsequent SynDig.

Sessions included:

  • Overview of business planning and our aims for 2023
  • Communication styles workshop
  • Co-creating our manifesto for the year ahead
  • Collaborative ideation in response to live briefs
  • Sharing our individual team visions
  • Client experience hackathon
  • The social ingredient: morning workout, bring and share lunch, afternoon cake breaks, beat boxing, a chef-cooked dinner and agency-made cocktails and live DJ.
  • Our online culture assessment snapshot for the beginning of the year which we’re running quarterly – our tool to take a temperature check of our culture and open a culture conversation about where we need to evolve

What were we looking forward to?

We sent out a survey in advance: these were just a few responses.

‘Getting to know each other more on a personal level, and our business plans for the year.’

95% feel they know their colleagues better now versus 32% before the event.

 ‘To have fun and feel connected.’

 ‘Strengthening relationships, getting clarity on our goals for 2023, and leave feeling inspired/motivated.’

The impact

The shorter duration of this event really focused the team and gave momentum and pace to the agenda. We packed a lot in to a short space of time, and the energy was palpable.

We created our own manifesto for what we really believed to be important this year. 5 different ideas, all with sponsors, including Measurement Masterclasses and quarterly Freaky Friday day in the life of sessions with another colleague.

Our culture assessment tool results revealed that we need to work better together on our tools and tech, the environment in which we work and that there is more opportunity to work on our social responsibility as a team. This is super helpful in directing our energy and we can assess how we’re doing in 3 months’ time.

One thing that didn’t change was the fantastic feedback post-event. Committed as ever to measurement, we conducted a survey before and after the event. The results underline the difference that Syndig makes to the team’s confidence in their work, sense of belonging and morale.

Some highlights from the verbatim feedback:

 ‘It was the perfect amount of time, and the well-thought-out agenda meant that we really made the most of our time.’

 ‘I enjoyed the briefing sessions, and the opportunity to just sit and have lunch with each other – that was lovely.’

 And, when it came to what people would like to see more of:

 ‘A couple of case studies and maybe a short talk by an industry expert on trends or experience.’

 ‘Sprint sessions to span the time between now and the next day-long versions.’

 ‘Team working together and team building activities that aren’t work related.’

Conclusions and lessons learned

  • Shared experiences continue to build better relationships. Whether we’re problem solving or playing, doing it as a team is a sure-fire way to bring people together for good. And when people feel connected, they’re effective.
  • We’ve found the optimum length. One and a half days is what worked for us, but we’ll check in with this next time around, too.
  • People thrive when they’re together. Whether they’re working, playing, or relaxing together, the energy and collaboration leads to sparks of insight, innovation, renewed commitment and connection.
  • There’s always room for evolution. SynDig works best when shaped with intent by everyone’s ideas, from its duration to activities included.
  • Co-creation is crucial. For buy-in, anticipation, engagement and connection, it can’t be beaten.
  • Culture’s best when it’s kept simmering. Like a tasty dish, we keep our culture on and available at all times with regular events. The impact of SynDig was easy to activate because of our Thirsty Thursdays, Town Halls, and Fish Tank Fridays end of the week celebration video drops from our founder, Gemma (filmed by a fish tank – hence the name.) Having lots of opportunities to connect throughout the year is key.

 With 95% of people saying they felt able to work through challenges as a team together, post SynDig, up from 64% before, that’s a metric that speaks for itself.

Looking to engage people with your ambition?

Businesses benefit from the power of a clearly defined ambition that diverse employees can get behind.  Because when people feel a part of something, they’re more likely to innovate and bring transformative ideas to the table. The most successful brands today are connecting their employees with a unified vision of the future they’re striving for together.

If you want to build a high performing culture for your company, we’d love to chat with you. Start by taking advantage of our culture assessment tool, and get in touch with our Head of Marketing & New Business, Blair, blair.meyler@mccannsynergy.com


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