As companies around the world continue to navigate the “new normal” of remote work and virtual team building, HR leaders and managers face a slate of new challenges to culture building, employee engagement, and DEI practices. Employees may log on from their own homes, but creating a sense of community is still vital for improving employee morale. With this growing list of concerns, HR leaders in all sectors are searching for creative ways to create community while centering diversity, equity, and inclusion for their employees. So how can a virtual team building activity promote diversity and inclusion? Here are some tips from our event planning and DEI experts:
Hybrid team building activities based around art and creativity provides opportunities for your team members to share parts of themselves and their identities that their coworkers might not otherwise see. Art and creativity focused virtual team building activities (like watercolor or moss art classes, improv workshops, or even a book club) encourage participants to be vulnerable with each other, and to offer support, building stronger connections between team members that help them engage more earnestly with each other. When employees feel safe expressing themselves at work and among their peers, their sense of belonging increases.
There are many options for remote or in person art classes or creative workshops available, including culturally focused activities, like Suminagashi, Origami, or Salsa dancing. Activities like these are especially great for fostering DEI within your company and are excellent options for different celebrations of identity, like AAPI or Hispanic heritage month. There are a wide range of classes and workshops available to celebrate any culture or identity with creativity and authenticity.
In addition, creative activities are proven to lower stress, and studies have shown that people with a creative hobby have better physical and mental health and higher productivity. Choosing a team building activity that centers around creativity is a great way to show your team that they are supported and cared for by the company.
Get your Employee Resource Groups Involved
If your company has established any ERG’s (Employee Resource Groups), working with those groups to plan, host and promote a diversity and inclusion virtual team building activityis a great way to put the focus on diversity and inclusion, and as an added bonus, will help encourage employees to seek out and join ERGs that are relevant to them!
Successful ERGs will have a central role in conversations about building and shaping the culture at your company. One great way to get them involved in a visible and impactful way is to have them plan and host team-building events and activities for the wider employee community. These events validate ERGs in the eyes of the company and also help the groups to broaden their membership and awareness of the work that they are doing. Having relevant resource groups plan activities for celebrations of identity also ensures that those celebrations will be handled in an authentic way.
In addition to validating your employee resource groups and creating authentic DEI content and experiences for your team, these ERG planned-events help to shift the burden of culture-building and event planning off of HR and divide that labor more equitably among a variety of stakeholders, helping to ensure that the company culture is being shaped by everyone rather than a select few.
Check your Calendar
Throughout the year there are days and months of recognition and celebration of various cultural identities. Planning ahead means you can celebrate diversity throughout the year. Study Art History through a Black Lens in February, then host a Women’s History Month Trivia Game in March, and an LGBTQ Cinema Appreciation club in June! The calendar is full of opportunities to celebrate and learn about diversity!
Building a yearlong calendar in advance which makes a point of acknowledging all these celebrations (and more!) means you will be able to build anticipation and excitement throughout the year. Knowing that there is a full calendar of events also means employees are more likely to find an opportunity to get involved in the planning or execution of events and activities. Every celebration of identity is an opportunity for employee engagement and wellbeing. If scheduling events for the whole year feels daunting, forming a “culture committee” or other body of interested employees, or working with your ERGs is a great way to reduce the burden on HR and make it possible to create or source content or events for each of these celebrations.
Leave Room for Conversation
Sometimes the best way to make an event feel inclusive and equitable is to make sure that participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback, whether during the event or in a survey or talkback that is offered afterward. Giving your employees the chance to provide feedback lets them know you are invested in their opinions and providing experiences that they enjoy and learn from.
Remember, DEI is about more than identity groups or heritage – a company that has truly embraced DEI as a central practice makes a point of being communicative and transparent. All employees should feel seen, heard, and appreciated for their unique contributions to the company and the community. Creating many opportunities for candid feedback, and most importantly, responding authentically and consistently to the feedback received is one of the most important DEI practices there is.
As you can see, there are various ways to center Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in your culture and team building activities. The variety of challenges faced by HR leaders in building and shaping culture continues to grow as the future of work shifts. Planning team building activities and culture-building events can be daunting, especially when there are so many factors to consider, from hybrid teams to DEI practices. Working with an experienced virtual event planner (like the team here at Garden Streets) can turn a stressful process into an easy one that results in a memorable experience for your team. If you are invested in creating the best remote culture possible for your employees, talking to an expert is a great way to get started or take your efforts to the next level.