“Whole You” In Review: 3 Company Culture Benefits We Never Expected to See
Sarah Greesonbach | 4 min read
At Wisetail, we’ve long been believers in the benefits of investing in individual team members.
This is part of what inspired us to create Whole You, a regenerative program that connects Wisetail employees with real life —and real local — subject matter experts on topics from financial wellbeing to goal-setting to food preparation. We were fully prepared to hear how these programs helped Wisetail employees set new goals, discover new interests, and meet new people. But we were surprised and delighted to hear what else happened.
Here’s what Courtney Fitzpatrick, Learning & Development Lead at Wisetail and Whole You program sponsor, had to say about the program:
Surprise #1: Improved Cross-Departmental Communication
Many successful creative companies are quick to point out the benefits of getting new people together to discuss new ideas. Just consider Pixar’s careful bathroom placement that encourages employees to cross paths and IDEO’s tea time ritual that brings everyone together over scones. The same chance-encounter brainstorming happened for the Wisetail employees who opted to pause their day to attend a Whole You session.
“When your people sit in different departments day-to-day, they can get siloed,” says Courtney. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the Whole You program help with cross-departmental communication. It gets people out of their seats and talking to people they usually don’t have an excuse to talk to. It’s added an element of unpredictability to our collaboration that has brought a huge value to our team.”
Surprise #2: Impromptu Topics Took Over the Content Calendar
Most company culture programs start out with a strict content calendar — financial fitness for one month, physical fitness for another. But getting locked into a topic months in advance was going to take away the program’s ability to consider employee suggestions and act on new connections within the community. Being flexible about the topics offered a better approach.
“When we first started out, we thought we’d create themes for each quarter,” says Courtney. “But you can’t always foresee what a company is going to be facing when you’re planning that content calendar. It turns out that having the flexibility to identify relevant topics from month-to-month is critical in choosing topics that resonate with the team.”
Surprise #3: Making Time to Learn Something New Is Tough — And Rewarding
In the course of a busy day, it’s all too common for employees to get swept up in something urgent and see professional development as an expendable piece of their day. But while learning and development is rarely ever an urgent matter in the short-term, it’s critical for long-term success. So when Whole You programs were advertised in advance and surrounded by positive water cooler chatter, it became easier for employees to prioritize joining in.
“One of the hardest things about running a culture program is challenging other people to make time in their day to learn something new,” says Courtney. “People are understandably protective of their time, and getting out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable. But as we built trust in the program, more people took a risk on coming, and they enjoyed themselves. Nine out of ten times, people are happy they broke away from their day to learn something new.”
Will your company culture program look like Wisetail’s Whole You? Not unless you run a learning management system company in Bozeman, MT, with our exact roster of employees. But it’s not how you structure your initiative that matters — it’s that you build it with your unique business, company values, and team in mind. Only then can your program engage employees, build collaborative relationships, and develop a stronger company culture.
BY SARAH GREESONBACH
Sarah is a writer for Wisetail. By analyzing and condensing cutting-edge research and data, she helps L&D professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and training. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR.