Obviously communication is an essential ingredient of every company culture initiative. But it is an illusion to assume people leaders are the sole players in helping people adapt to change. Coffee corner talk is more important than top down communications by management. In the coffee corner, stories are shared that greatly influence how people think about culture transformation or any change program. Exchanges between peers that trust each other often outweigh the impact of official communications.
So what can you do with coffee corner talk?
1. Get feedback from the front lines
What is said around the coffee machine is a reflection of your company culture. Culture transformations should start from the top, but company culture is defined by the behaviour of the majority of people in your organization. Use tools such as anonymous employee surveys, focus group discussions or talk to people who have a personal connection to what’s being talked about in the coffee corner. Whatever you do, make sure to find ways to take the ‘coffee corner pulse’ on how people are feeling and talking about your change initiative.
2. Change your perspective on coffee corner talk
Talk in the coffee corner is not idle chitchat or gossip. It represent the authentic thoughts of employees towards your company culture. Identify influencers: people not in a managerial position but that have an informal network and typically enjoy more trust from their peers than people leaders do. Actively involve them in shaping the culture transformation program. And ask for their verbal support. Their talk in the coffee corner will significantly speeds up your implementation. So use this powerful resource to ensure your culture program execution is effective.
You have no coffee corner? Read on about FIKA!
Fika – which roughly translates from Swedish as drinking coffee, eating sweet treats and chatting – is as much a part of the working day in Sweden as having meetings and emailing. Many Swedish firms have mandatory fika breaks and employees are given free hot drinks. At IKEA, it is described as:
More than a coffee break, fika is a time to share, connect and relax with colleagues. Some of the best ideas and decisions happen at fika.
Afraid that all these regular coffee breaks make for an inefficient workforce? No worries, according to the OECD productivity index, Sweden enjoys a very respectable seventh place, well above the G7 or EU average.
Next break, take time for a nice cup of coffee and enjoy the chatter!
Helping HR & Management to boost company culture & engagement