Thursday, February 25, 2021

Don’t give up Super Bowl 2021 squares: Why workplace rituals are important

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When David Honig sits down to watch the Super Bowl 2021 on Sunday, like everyone, it won’t be at an office party. “Not this year,” said the Montville, NJ, resident.

However, Honig, vice president of strategy and corporate partnerships at software provider Dynamic Signal (DySi), will be able to watch the big game with not only his family but also his co-workers. From a COVID-19-safe distance, that is.

The work-from-home team at DySi will “be involved in all kinds of things” via Zoom, said the 50-year-old, including “Super Bowl boxes, taking hourly, real-time polls on commercials, rating the half-time show, sharing videos of our families and pictures of what we’re eating. There’s something in the Super Bowl for everyone. It’s something we do every year.”

In other words, it’s a ritual, as workplace expert Erica Keswin defines it in her latest book, “Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way To Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic” (McGraw Hill Education).

“A ritual is something that you do at your company, in a group, or in life at a regular cadence that you can’t imagine wouldn’t happen,” said Keswin.

They can also be big equalizers. Last year, the biggest football junkie at DySi didn’t win the grand prize in the Super Bowl squares — someone who wasn’t even into the sport was the champ.

But rituals aren’t only about football. At Stash, a digital investing and banking platform in the Garment District, they went big during National Hispanic Heritage Month last September, bringing in a salsa band via Zoom during the weekly meeting. Led by the company’s Latinx employee resource group, everyone was able to celebrate together remotely. Even families and friends were invited to join in.

Events like these speak to a company’s key values. “Diversity and inclusion are very important here,” said Brandon Krieg, CEO and co-founder of Stash. “We’re serious about [employee] mental health, too,” added Krieg, which is why the company hosts roundtables specifically on the subject.

Rituals like these “go beyond the practical” and provide participants with a real sense of belonging. That’s a big deal because, according to Keswin, “70 percent of employees don’t feel engaged in their workplace.”

Author Erica Keswin is encouraging people a sense of normalcy via workplace rituals.McGraw Hill Education

That’s not the case at Chipotle Mexican Grill where early shift workers sit down together every morning at 10:15 to eat lunch together.

“This is when we get to know each other, get to know about each other’s families,” said Carol Moy, 20, who lives on the Upper West Side and is training to become a general manager at the Columbus Square store.

We don’t have time for that when we’re working.”

She and her teammates at the restaurant have formed bonds while chowing down; as a result, they know that they can count on each other as they work. And at Chipotle, there is such a thing as a free lunch, since it’s taken on the clock and the food is free.

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At software-maker Bubble there’s something almost always going on. Aside from Slack-enabled scavenger hunts, the company hosts storytelling sessions once a month. Bubble staffers perform short stand-up monologues on subjects like, “my most embarrassing moment” or “places I went with my family.” Other activities include virtual poker games, Pictionary and Skribbl.io.

In October, Bubblers even used their company’s no-code visual programming platform to build Halloween apps. The idea, from the company’s perspective, is to provide workers who may or may not encounter each other on the job a way to get to know each other, spend time together and laugh.

Isn’t all of this a bit much, you might be wondering? According to Keswin, maybe not, especially if employers are providing “individuals with a way to connect to the collective.” At DySi, the Super Bowl is only one of many events they, or one of their employee-led groups, are hosting this year.

People are asking us to be inclusive, diverse and to give back,” said Honig. “We’ve done that from the start. For us, that’s mission critical.”.

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Meet 7 groundbreaking Black scientists from the past

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