I come from the world of physical retail where building a bond was more straightforward. We often celebrated wins with breakfast and champagne (yes, I’m French!) or by simply clapping our hands and making noise of joy.
We would also have lunch together every day, engaging in many informal discussions.
Of course, it bonded us! I knew my colleagues’ dog names and their plumber problems, and I felt really close to many of them.
Employee engagement is one of the primary drivers of productivity, work quality, and talent retention. When I joined Gorgias, where we have a globally distributed team, I wondered how you create the sense of belonging that drives that engagement
Like many companies now, our workforce is distributed. But at Gorgias, it’s a truly global affair: Our team lives in 17 countries, four continents, and many different time zones, which can be challenging.
And yet, I believe Gorgias culture is truly amazing and even better than the one I used to know.
I realize that we achieved that by relying on the critical ingredients of a strong relationship
By repeating these strong moments, you can make the connection between people stronger as well. The stronger the connection, the stronger the engagement.
Speaking of a strong engagement, Gorgias’ eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) is 50. How is this possible? Well, what’s always quoted as one of our main strengths is the company culture, and how it connects our employees.
Let’s take it further by exploring five actionable steps we have taken to make that happen.
While some would push back against events like these falling under the purview of the People team, they are important for building strong culture, team cohesion, and employee happiness — all areas that are definitely part of our directive.
Here’s what you need to know to bring these summits to your organization.
As the name states, it’s a virtual event where the whole company connects.
It’s not mandatory, but it is highly recommended to attend because it’s fun and you learn many things.
It’s a mix of company updates, fun moments, and inspiring sessions. Each session is short, to let everyone the opportunity to breathe.
Typically we have three kinds of sessions:
Due to timezones, some sessions don’t include every country.
Our last virtual summit cost us roughly $13,000, which means $65 per head. Here’s the breakdown:
The first thing you might already have in mind is: It takes time! And you’re right.
The more we grow, the more challenging it becomes to organize these events.
I believe we’ll eventually need to have a dedicated event manager for all of our physical and virtual events. I want to have them within my team, and I 100% believe it’s worth it.
Another challenge can be technical difficulties with your event software choice, so make sure that you find a reliable platform that suits your needs.
Our team is a mix of hybrid and full-remote workers.
Since we don’t want the full-remote people to become disconnected, we highly encourage them to join the nearest hub once a quarter.
And when they do, we organize some happy hours, games or movie nights. Those face-to-face activities help create bonds between employees. It’s simple and doesn’t require a lot of organization, but it creates an incredible moment every time the remote teams join. We call them Gorgias Weeks.
We were fortunate to be able to organize our company offsite and gather a massive part of the crew together in October 2021.
The pandemic created doubt and additional points of stress, but looking back I’m so glad we were able to create an opportunity for everyone to meet in person.
We asked everyone to bring a health pass — full vaccination or PCR test — and we picked a location that allowed for a lot of outdoor activities.
We made sure the agenda for the two days was not too busy. As with our virtual summit, it was a balance of company alignment, learning, and fun. We made sure people had enough free time to relax, talk to each other, play games, or play sports.
This company offsite is surely an essential and strong moment for us and it helps create strong bonds and great memories.
We encourage every team to organize their own offsite for team-building purposes. Since people don’t meet a lot physically, having these once a year is great!
We let each team lead own it. They pick up the location and the agenda. Then, we provide guidelines with the budget.
Needless to say, it helps build stronger bonds and great memories.
In my experience, it was quite tough to create those moments internally with the team. That’s why we decided to start our team meeting with a fun activity of 10-15 minutes, where we are able to share more than just work.
Every week, there is a different meeting owner who has to come up with new fun activities and games. Starting the meeting with this kind of ice-breaking activity brings powerful energy, and people are more engaged and effective in the sessions. I would recommend it to everyone, especially to those who think, “We already have so many things to review in those weekly meetings, we don’t have time for that.” Try it once, you’ll see how the energy and productivity are different afterward.
On top of that, I also believe tools that encourage colleagues to randomly meet together are great. On our side we use Donut. It gives a weekly reminder that encourages employees to make it to their meeting with a colleague.
Overall, we’ve organized six virtual summits, four company retreats, three Gorgias weeks, and hundreds of virtual coffee and fun meetings.
At the beginning there were only 30 people in the company — now there are 200 of them. As I mentioned, it’s becoming more and more challenging to organize these meetups, but it’s also the most exciting part: making sure the next summit is better than the previous one!
Of course, I’m aware that employee fulfillment and connection are not the only ingredients for retention. But they are key ingredients and shouldn’t be forgotten, especially as we all become more remote.
It’s a worthy investment to organize these events and allocate resources to them, because it makes everyone at Gorgias feel included and connected. And I have no doubt, now, that it’s part of our responsibilities in People Ops.