As a company or organization leader, you’re probably familiar with the growing importance of workplace culture. Studies show that companies with a strong internal culture report having 72% higher employee engagement. Nearly three out of four employees in the United States believe their workplace culture directly influences their performance levels.
At the same time, you’ve likely considered how to make internal meetings more productive at your organization. An effective meeting not only runs efficiently but also creates an open, positive environment where employees are encouraged to participate.
This definition of effectiveness means that meetings provide an actionable opportunity to cultivate workplace culture! To help you get started, here are five ways you can incorporate company culture into internal meetings:
- Set the Meeting’s Tone
- Take Regular Breaks
- Engage All Attendees
- Recognize Employees’ Accomplishments
- Follow Up Afterwards
While the standard tips for good business meetings still apply, like following an agenda and sticking to scheduled start times, these additional steps can help your employees feel more motivated to work to their full potential. Let’s dive in!
1. Set the Meeting’s Tone
How you begin a meeting sets the tone for the entire time your employees are together. If you start by focusing on positives, the rest of your meeting is more likely to run smoothly than if you were to begin by discussing problems or complaints.
To set this positive tone, the meeting facilitator could begin by asking one of the following questions:
- What have you accomplished since the last meeting that you’re proud of?
- What are you looking forward to in the next week or month?
- Have you learned anything interesting since our last meeting?
Or, you could simply open up the floor for employees to share any good news in their professional or personal lives. No matter which option you choose, you’ll foster a more positive company culture right from the start of your meetings. As a bonus, according to RealHR Solutions, encouraging employees to get to know one another and understand each other’s roles can improve employee retention and engagement!
2. Take Regular Breaks
If at all possible, keep your internal meetings to 30 minutes or less. Employees frequently cite meetings as a blocker in their time management strategy, as they have to schedule their independent work and external communications around meetings. So, if you can accomplish everything necessary in less than half an hour, do so by all means.
However, if you can’t accomplish your meeting objectives in 30 minutes, make sure to take breaks. Of course, you want to make the most of your meeting time, and having a few mini-breaks will keep employees focused so they can participate more effectively from start to finish.
Every 20 to 30 minutes, take a two-minute creative break of some kind. Ask employees to get up and stretch, switch seats, or respond to a fun poll to get to know each other better. Additionally, provide a five-minute break every hour for meeting attendees to use the restroom or get water. Implementing these strategies will show employees that you value their time, recognize their needs, and want to create a positive work environment.
3. Engage All Attendees
Virtual and hybrid meetings have become increasingly common at many organizations, which can provide great flexibility for employees working remotely. But this new format brings a new challenge: ensuring attendees participate regardless of how they’re joining the meeting.
Try the following tips to engage employees during virtual and hybrid meetings:
- Request that everyone turn their cameras on if they’re able. Although this may not be possible for all remote attendees depending on their location and internet connection, communication becomes more effective when employees can see each other’s faces. For a hybrid meeting, consider having the facilitator turn their camera on toward those in the room to ensure remote attendees can view the meeting space.
- Adapt your participation requests. In a hybrid meeting, it can be helpful to first see if anyone in the room has questions or comments and then ask the same of any remote attendees. While this format may seem repetitive, it encourages more participation from all employees. Additionally, for fully virtual meetings, keep the meeting chat open so employees can comment in real time about discussion points and ask questions if they’re having technical difficulties.
- Designate an official note-taker for each meeting. Having a standard set of notes creates a reference for employees following up on action items coming out of the meeting, as well as helping in planning the next meeting. Plus, attendees don’t have to worry about taking thorough notes themselves—instead, they can just jot down anything relevant to them and focus on being present.
As technology continues to change the workplace, consider how you can leverage it to involve employees more effectively in your meetings—and your organizational culture—rather than allowing remote meetings to isolate team members.
4. Recognize Employees’ Accomplishments
Another way to create a positive, engaged meeting culture is taking time to recognize employees’ accomplishments. You can do this either at the beginning or end of your meeting, wherever it best aligns with your agenda. It’s also beneficial to designate a particular recurring meeting where recognition takes place, such as a monthly company-wide meeting or weekly meetings for each individual team.
However you decide to format this meeting segment, make sure it includes both leadership recognition of employees and peer-to-peer recognition. Let’s say a very satisfied client sends a thank-you email to you as the organization’s leader, and they shout out several employees by name who provided excellent customer service. One of these employees also feels grateful to another colleague who helped solve a behind-the-scenes problem that led to the client’s satisfaction. Both of these accomplishments deserve recognition in your meetings!
According to eCardWidget’s guide to employee recognition, including both types of acknowledgments in your meetings can strengthen your team as a whole. Additionally, recognition shows that your organization values employees not only as workers but also as individual people, humanizing workplace culture.
5. Follow Up Afterwards
After most internal meetings, there will be actions that specific attendees need to take. To ensure the completion of these tasks, instruct the note-taker to send out a follow-up email containing a brief recap and reminding everyone of their action items.
In some cases, these actions will be simple and apply to the whole group, while others may be more complicated and only need to be taken by a few individuals. For example, if your meeting covered the basics of your organization’s new workplace giving program, the next action might be for everyone to read a document reviewing the program more in-depth.
However, for a meeting about necessary updates to your project management system, one or two team members might be responsible for most of the changes. Either way, if employees know exactly what they need to complete following a meeting, your meetings will continue to be productive after they end.
It’s also helpful to send the meeting agenda, slides, or recording to anyone who was invited but could not attend due to scheduling conflicts or time off. Doing so ensures those individuals can catch up and makes them feel valued.
Although adding these cultivation strategies to your organization’s internal meetings may take some time out of the agenda, it will improve the quality of the time employees spend in meetings. You can infuse a contagious, positive workplace culture into your meetings by encouraging employees to stay engaged, get to know each other, recognize each other’s accomplishments, and complete assigned action items.