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Why encouraging employees to talk about Game of Thrones is good for your employer brand

By Molly Jones / April 23, 2018

Two CEOs sit enjoying coffee together one morning. One CEO says to the other, “How would you describe your company’s culture?”

In response, the second CEO launches into a shaky ramble about her company’s values, missions statement and the fact that the office has a ping pong table.

When the second CEO asks the first the same question, she responds confidently, “Ask my employees.”

The second CEO understands what far too many of her peers don’t: As a top level executive, if your conversations around company culture don’t actually include your company – you may want to rethink your strategy.

A study conducted by Deloitte found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. But while both employees and employers agree it’s important, a misguided belief has recently emerged that company culture can somehow be brainstormed in a boardroom.

Articles smatter the web touting “The Secret to Building a Better Company Culture” or “8 Company Brand Attributes that Attract Employees.” But what these articles fail to factor in is that employees rarely enter a company as a blank state.

Many of them have already established their own personal brands with unique interests, values and opinions. And it’s those collective attributes that make up and contribute to your company culture. Not some lofty manifesto and a beer fridge.

But with employee satisfaction as low as it is, it doesn’t seem like the majority of employers embrace this ideology – let alone encourage it.

Additional research from Deloitte indicates that 88% of employees don’t feel passionate at work and therefore don’t perform to their true potential.

Employers want employees to give them their all on the job but how can they do that when they only let them bring half of themselves to the office?

It’s time we start allowing and encouraging employees to be themselves in the workplace – infusing their own personalities into the larger collective company culture.

One way to do this is to provide employees an avenue to freely and easily communicate and connect with one another around shared, non-work-related interests.

Some companies like Sprout and Hubstaff Talent have special Slack channels designated for topics that aren’t work-related, such as craft beer selections, restaurant recommendations and the latest Game of Thrones theories.

“This gives our team the chance to get to know one another on a personal level and take initiative with creating and building their own culture within the organization” says Hubstaff’s Jared Brown.

Sprout also has a channel for employee announcements where people can invite fellow coworkers to personal events and report important and exciting news. Acknowledging and celebrating an employee’s existence outside of the workplace does wonders for making them feel known and appreciated.

The more you can learn about your employees as individuals and encourage them to maintain their personal identities, the more appreciated they’ll feel. Which in turns creates company affinity and loyalty.

So maybe 88% of employees don’t feel passionate about their work. But there are things they do feel passionate about. Don’t ask them to leave these pursuits at home.

Encourage people to bring their hobbies and interests to work and watch as that passion spills over into their everyday duties and influences company culture in a way a list of values never could.

When your workplace nurtures a culture that encourages employees to bring their passions to the office, a stand out employer brand is born.

Molly Jones

Molly Jones

Molly Jones is the Talent Operations Lead at Sprout Social.
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