Corporate culture has been a recurrent topic of discussion at Freshtrax. It seems crucial for an organization’s long-term growth, but for many, it can evoke feelings of uncertainty and difficulty initiating organizational change.
I’m currently working as a UX researcher at btrax. However, in my previous career, I’ve been involved in various ways in fostering corporate culture, such as being in charge of human resources or being selected as a member of the culture committee at major multinational companies. So I deeply understand the struggles around building up corporate culture.
Drawing from my experiences, I want to share insights gained from organizing a btrax employee retreat held in Hawaii in the fall of 2023. Hopefully, this case study can be a valuable resource for those seeking to enhance their organization.
This article serves as the introduction to a two-part series. The first part summarizes basic concepts of creating a team-building plan, while the second part delves into the practical aspect with the Hawaii case study.
Three essential elements for building a corporate culture that fosters team unity:
Understanding the Origin of “Company”
Before delving into corporate culture and team building, it’s insightful to explore the etymology of the word “company” in English. Derived from the Latin words “com” (together) and “panis” (to eat bread), it originally meant “a friend who eats bread together.” This shared activity of understanding and belonging, akin to the Japanese phrase “sharing a meal from the same pot,” is a universal cultural experience that transcends East and West.
The act of sharing a meal together offers an opportunity to connect on a personal level, fostering relationships beyond the professional sphere. This shared experience becomes a foundation for team building, emphasizing the importance of not just consuming, but actively sharing.
A trip to Hawaii with the whole team! What are the thoughts behind this plan?
In the fall of 2023, btrax organized a three-day, two-night retreat in Hawaii to celebrate the company’s overall sales target achievement for the previous year. The term “retreat” may not be as familiar in Japan, but in the U.S., it signifies a temporary withdrawal to an unconventional setting for introspection and bonding with fellow group members.
As a part of the project team, I had the pleasure of planning this trip closely with the US team members.
This retreat aimed to achieve several objectives:
- Strengthen Unity
Unify the U.S.-Japan team, typically working separately, by fostering better understanding and human connections.
- Boost Morale
Acknowledge and celebrate the team’s accomplishments, providing motivation for continued enthusiasm in daily work.
- Nurture the Culture
Offer a rare opportunity for team members to experience and appreciate the company’s culture, often overshadowed by daily tasks.
- Strengthen Unity
With offices in San Francisco and Tokyo, this retreat served as a unique chance to bridge the physical, temporal, and linguistic gaps between the two teams.
Positive emotions lead to creativity and productivity! How do we get people to become engaged and not feel like they are being “made” to do something?
Reflecting on the measures implemented during the retreat, the planning team consciously prioritized the genuine enjoyment of participating employees. Rather than adhering to company directives, the team focused on crafting activities that members would sincerely enjoy. This approach led to a well-rounded three-day itinerary that fulfilled the employees’ expectations.
Aligning the company’s goals with what employees genuinely desire proved to be a key consideration. In the latter part of this article, I will delve into specific activities conducted during the retreat and the thought behind each, emphasizing the importance of creating an environment where employees willingly contribute to the company’s long-term growth.
The second part of this series will explore the activities conducted at the retreat and the thoughtful preparations made to ensure participants genuinely enjoyed the experience.
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