One-half of the human brain is dedicated to processing the experience of our senses.
Short of our thoughts, just about everything we feel or experience comes in through our five senses, from an itch on your leg to a rumble in your stomach.
If you’re considering growing your organization’s culture, you must consider how your people experience it on a granular level. When your people encounter your culture—when they can really see, touch, taste, hear and smell it—they’ll be wrapped up in your message in a way they won’t forget.
Here are some actionable HR tactics to add a sensory element to your employee experience.
The sense of sight is undoubtedly the most advantageous sense to use when building organizational culture and employee experience. Much of our awareness of the world around us comes from sight.
First, an engaging culture brand must be established. A separate, parallel brand will solidify the culture that surrounds your employees and provide a common set of visual and voice standards that every other HR tactic must touch upon and utilize.
To get more mileage out of your culture, the physical space your people spend 40-plus hours in can’t be overlooked. Create bold environmentals that liven up the space and keep your brand front and center: posters, meterboards and more.
Go deeper with your message. By sharing news and events through a mixed-media approach—video, email, print and more—your message will be apparent to all generations.
People are looking at their computers all day long. Why not meet them where they are already? Build a centralized online platform where your people can see what's going on with your company and its culture at a glance.
Sports teams wear uniforms to provide a visual sense of continuity. It’s obvious who is on which team. When you give your people wearables that tie closely to the brand you’ve established, you give your people the same tangible reminder of your team’s unity.
When picking a wearable option, don’t be afraid to think outside the t-shirt. Consider what your people would value and wear most: a jacket, an apron, a baseball cap, a tie—the choices are limitless.
Touch is the only sense that puts you in direct contact with your subject, as writer and neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman explains. We can see the top of a tall building from the ground floor, but we can’t touch it. You can’t touch something without it touching you.
The receptors on our skin help us understand a lot about the world, and a lot about our culture, especially when coupled with sight.
There are countless avenues you can take to engage your peoples’ sense of sight and touch. Desk drops—surprise giveaways left at your desk—can be a great tactic.
When tied closely with your brand, these giveaways can embody your message in a powerful way. More than that, desk drops can be items your people really enjoy using and playing with, building a positive employee experience and keeping your brand and message front-of-mind for an extended period of time.
Another tried-and-true strategic HR tactic that brings together the senses? Games and activities. They can spur serious competition among your team members, all while building an environment they really enjoy.
The old saying rings true: the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. After all, there’s a reason why we go out to dinner on a first date.
Deliver your employee experience to your people in a tasteful way with incredible food and beverages that keep your brand visible to your people.
A cake with your logo on it is fine, but that’s table stakes—get creative! Which foods embody the energy and color of your brand? How do you feel after eating that food? Is that feeling in line with your brand?
Tie some giveaways like coffee mugs and koozies into the mix to grab additional mindshare.
The radio jingle used by the local pizza parlor or car dealership have the right idea: once a song gets stuck in your head, knocking it out can be a herculean task.
Our sense of hearing can be a tool to keep organizational culture stuck in your head, too.
One quick tactic to try out: Spotify playlists. With this wildly popular music streaming platform, users can create and share curated playlists. Think of songs that relate to a core tenet of your culture brand and work from there.
For instance, for the theme of “loyalty,” you could include:
OK, we’ll be honest. We can’t think of anything that smells to impact your organizational culture.
Will piping in a subtle whiff of lavender through your office’s HVAC system create a work environment people don’t want to leave? The jury’s out on that one.
Regardless, your organizational culture will never stink if you emphasize what really matters in your company: your people.
Put your people first and the results will knock you senseless.
A thriving employee experience is especially important for companies expecting or undergoing disruptions such as mergers and acquisitions. In those times, culture must be addressed carefully and strategically and your company must have a unified purpose for your people to stand behind to thrive during these events.