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In high-school one of my jobs was at a little restaurant in the ByWard Market in Ottawa Ontario. The guy who owned it had a serious passion for food. John believed that when you came to his restaurant you should be surrounded by great food and people who love food.
He was so serious about it that he gave us an allowance to go and eat delicious things on our time off. He would suggest restaurants, food stands, markets etc. but we were free to go and try whatever we wanted.
The only catch was that we had to come back and share our experience with everyone.
Before the restaurant opened in the evening, we would share our latest eats and recipes, sometimes bringing in things for people to try. We came to love not just the food but the discussion, the tips, the ideas – many of which made it onto the menu.
And during the evening? We found ourselves chatting with customers about our latest finds and learning about theirs. Sharing stories and sometimes even taking notes!
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John knew that he wanted to build a business with people who were passionate about food, for people who were passionate about food.
He also knew that love of food isn’t something you do only from 5 pm to 11 pm. So he invested in the experience of his team outside of the office. It worked. He built the culture that delivered the experience he was after.
Nurturing and supporting the values of your organization outside of the office makes your vision more authentic to your employees. And it enables them to have experiences that drive new insights and ideas, feeding innovation back into the business.
Want some current examples to help you get started? Here are 2 I think you might enjoy.
The Intercept Group — Learning as a Lifestyle
Andrew Au is the co-founder and President of the Intercept Group, a full-service integrated solutions agency. They believe that people should always be learning, so they fund it – work-related and not.
You can bet this peaked my interest! So I reached out to Andrew and he was kind enough to share the back-story with me.
The Intercept Group leadership team have an annual retreat. It was at one of these retreats a few years ago that they were discussing authenticity. They were talking about their purpose and core values. Their purpose is “Be Better,” and they knew that they couldn’t be better, that the company could not “Be Better” if they weren’t always learning new things.
They decided to create a learning fund. But not an ordinary learning fund. They wanted learning to be a way of being, a lifestyle. So, they started outside the office.
They provided funding for every employee with the ask that the learning:
- Be something that helps them learn something entirely new
- Be unrelated to their day job (think cooking, mindfulness, dancing, sports, meditation etc.).
And to share learning? They created monthly Digital Town Halls where employees could share back what they were learning with the rest of the company. They found people were eager to share back, and attendees were eager to learn.
What did they see inside the office? New ideas and a refreshed motivation to learn inside the office. Better thinking and ideas for their clients.
TELUS – Putting Customers & Communities first
At TELUS we believe in putting our customers first, and we are committed to improving the lives of Canadians and our communities – and not just from 9-5. So we deliberately invest to support and nurture these aspects of our culture outside the office.
- We believe customer experience is a team sport that we all play. So, no matter your role and no matter where you find yourself (neighbourhood barbeque, grocery lineup, kids hockey game etc.) we make sure we can all help a customer who needs us.
Our TELUS Sales or Support platform (S.O.S) allows any TELUS team member to provide support whenever and wherever they are. Team members can easily log a support request from their mobile device (handy in a store lineup!) or their laptop or PC, making sure the customer is connected to a team member for fast support and care.
Having used this myself, I can tell you it feels great to be able to help right there on the spot! And it has helped create service improvements.
- Investing in the communities where we live and work is at the core of our philosophy and a cornerstone of our culture, so we help team members support the causes they care about.
We double their impact by matching charitable donations to up to $2,500 per person, per year. And for every volunteer hour team members record, we make a $1 donation to the charity of their choice.
We also help team members get funding for the causes that matter to them through Community Grants, Corporate Sponsorship, and Community Programming.
And because we like to leverage competitive spirit, we have initiatives like the Social Enterprise Competition (SEC) to help take our passion for our communities to a whole different level.
SEC is an internal competition where TELUS team members develop socially focused business ideas. It gives team members an opportunity to take a leadership role outside of the office, bridges the gap between communities and business, and helps spark TELUS innovations – like Thinkfull, a mental wellness app that helps people better manage their stress.
To get a feel for SEC, here is a 90 sec video that we shared when the initiative launched.
So for 2018 , try something new. Try stepping outside the office to nurture and support your CX vision. You’ll create a more authentic and engaging culture for your team, and enable experiences that can supercharge innovation.