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Research repeatedly proves culture contributes significantly to employee engagement and morale – and high levels of both translate into productivity, creativity and overall business success. Being socially connected at work helps buffer against the stress of deadlines, overwhelming administrative details and time management issues. Work becomes a little less, well, work – and more enjoyable because you feel connected, energized and appreciated. These are all reasons why companies, big and small, must focus on culture in the workplace through social/service initiatives. We call our public relations agency initiative the “Social Squad.”

During my tenure at Stern Strategy Group, I’ve been consistently amazed by the positive aura in the office. And after experiencing my first agency event, the annual Valentine’s Appreciation Day – a heart-healthy breakfast followed by neck and shoulder chair massages – I knew why such a positive environment thrives here. The event was a simple respite from our normal routine; a thank you from our agency president. It’s activities like this that play small yet vital roles in the workplace culture by fostering happiness and community spirit.

Suffice to say, I was thrilled when asked to collaborate with our director of human resources to establish a “club” to identify and help implement various initiatives – in addition to annual company events – to nurture this infectious, upbeat and dynamic energy. The Stern Social Squad was born, and it continues to be an honor to lead this group, and help foster happiness, employee relations and company morale.

Here’s how you can do the same in your public relations agency:

Recruit Volunteers

An effective club should include staff members with varying personal interests and professional roles to best represent the interests of the larger group. The key to encouraging involvement lies in autonomy and purpose. Our members take pride in and ownership of the events we plan, while also honing their leadership and collaborative skills. Our core team includes employees from various divisions of our public relations agency, and they are all enthusiastic, passionate, creative and supportive of the Social Squad’s mission.

The key to encouraging involvement lies in autonomy and purpose.Click To Tweet

Assess Interests

Host club meetings a minimum of four times a year. This time is dedicated to brainstorming and planning in-house and out of office events. Our Social Squad members act as representatives of their peers and contribute ideas during meetings. However, we also engage the full agency staff with surveys and polls to ensure their opinions, ideas and preferences are represented and thoughtfully considered. For example, we use Slack polls to determine interest in events such as bowling and mini golf or to find out the best time to schedule an event. Survey Monkey helps us decide which restaurant to visit during a Foodie Field Trip.

Spooktacular Halloween 2017!

Make It Special

“Market” events with visually pleasing, detailed invitations. Send reminders throughout the weeks in office newsletters and emails and place signs in the employee gathering areas. We use a mix of evites sent through Outlook and Paperless Post invitations. Invites are created and sent by various members of the Social Squad team, making them more personal and showcasing the team effort. This is more appealing than a standard meeting request from HR.

Have Fun

Revel in the festivities. Get competitive during mini golf. Gobble down delicious foods during a Thanksgiving Pot Luck. Participate in the weekly “Wine Down.” Don’t forget to capture the moments with video and photographs, too. There is something about sharing a cocktail or a meal together that encourages employees to talk and get to know each other better. During this past year, the Stern Social Squad organized eight entertaining experiences, attended by 75-90% of our employees. We’ve had a blast this year! Check out our Instagram account to see us in action.

Sternsgiving 2017

Give Back and Help Others

While monthly pizza lunches and after-hours sporting events have their purpose, don’t forget to share your organization’s warmth and generosity with the surrounding community. Include CSR efforts by determining a societal need and filling the void. Partner with other local organizations to make an impact.

Our Social Squad takes pride in our social responsibility initiatives. We have helped a large scope of people this year through various CSR activities – bringing sandwiches to the hungry, donating money to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief, writing letters of appreciation to deployed military troops through Operation Gratitude and adopting a family during the holiday season through Gifts of the Season with the United Way of Central New Jersey. A little goes a long way – and we always come away more thankful for what we have and are able to contribute to those who need help.

Social clubs work to boost culture in the workplace. Ours is proof. By creating opportunities for staff to strengthen their relationships, we’ve helped forge friendships, strengthen communication and improve engagement, among other benefits. The outcomes are sustainable and powerful. Everyone – including the public relations agency – wins.

Looking to join an agency with a strong, positive culture? We may be the organization for you. Check out our open positions. Or if you’re happy with your company, but are charged with internal efforts to elevate employee engagement in 2018, we can help. Check out our communications planning e-book.
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About Stern Strategy Group

We give voice and access to ideas, institutions and individuals impacting the world. Our public relations, advisory and speakers services build thought leadership and business. Embracing clients’ ideas and mission, our relationships offer empathy, coaching, strategy, connections and influence. Learn more