Valentine’s Day is globally recognised and celebrated beyond the office – but it is not, however, a holiday that’s on the radar of business leaders and managers. Behind the commercial aspect of this holiday, there’s often a genuine spirit that’s all about spreading a sense of appreciation and gratitude.
Going against convention, many employers are actually using this time of the year to review their culture and bring these values back into the workplace.
Not just a consumer holiday, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to effectively optimise your culture, using the moment to show support and appreciation, whilst bringing the team closer together than before.
But if your business is not sure where to start – here are three simple ways to take advantage of Valentine’s Day and take care of your staff.
Focus on health wellbeing perks
This is less a single activity that you can try, then it is a wholesome piece of advice for business owners: look for opportunities to nurture employee wellbeing in the office. Staff health and wellbeing, as a topic of study, has now become a priority for policymakers as well, with annual reports like the CPIDs “Health and Wellbeing at work 2021” survey. This critical document outlines the practices that organisations use to support employee health goals at work; whether a business deploys a “wellbeing strategy” or it chooses to continue flexible working conditions in relation to the changing world around it.
Cultures lacking basic health and wellbeing support will be under increased stress during Valentine’s Day, where there’s a risk that the wider public spirit of appreciation is unmatched inside the office. But, as the CPID report outlines, there are lessons that business leaders can introduce, such as health promotions (including free gym access, wellbeing days, free eye tests, and many more).
Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to revisit your workplace perks and pull into focus benefits that enhance the health and wellbeing of staff. The theme of “caring” is strong enough to pull through to the office.
Engage staff outside the office
There’s a common misconception that engagement is limited to the time that your employees are in the office. When designing employee engagement programs, business leaders should expand how they plan to work with staff to support their productivity and output.
Rather than build a culture that’s limited to the office and staff working perks, consider outside activities that you can plan that will give employees a break from their usual working environment. This might, for example, include scheduling team building exercises around tasks like charity hikes, or tree planting. This will enable team members to connect, interact and engage one another outside of their usual routine work, helping them create new bonds.
Other activities could focus on nurturing wellness, where employees should be encouraged to detach from their daily working roles. Taking your employees beyond the four walls of the office and introducing them to a different, more relaxing setting that empowers rejuvenation is important. The popular choices for employers, when investing in culture building projects, is to schedule spa days or golfing days.
During the week commencing Valentine’s Day, events and offers are rich and varied, offering employers an opportunity to treat their teams outside of the office. This will help them stay engaged, encouraging staff to connect more closely as a team, and with their employer in a different kind of setting – and ideally one that’s conducive to their wellness.
Employees should inspire activities
Finding the right activities for your employees is no small feat either, which is why they should inspire the kinds of benefits, perks, and activities that you offer. Build a culture around people and enable them to disperse your corporate and social values, embodying what your business truly stands for. Ultimately, plan and map activities that support this – and ones that are inspired by your people.
You could, for example, survey your staff and gather responses. From this data, plan out activities that reflect either their goals and desires, or ones that support them to detach and decompress. Often these won’t be overcomplicated and will reflect a desire to connect as people. Activities like group lunches or frequent walks can help colleagues bond and form meaning friendships outside of work.
Valentine’s Day should be taken advantage of by businesses not only because it’s a chance earlier into the year to reconnect as a team, but you can theme activities around staff appreciation. The size of the gesture does not, ultimately, matter; anything from a quiz to an extra day off can show support.
Businesses who use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to connect with, and engage, employees will stand a better chance of building a strong team. It’s not often business leaders take full advantage of the holidays. But those who do can become something greater than just an everyday employer.
By Caine Bird as published in Real Business on 7th February 2022