Harnessing a strong organisational culture in any business is crucial, however in small business the impact of culture is undoubtedly amplified.

Working with a small team creates transparency, whether intentional or not. The moods, attitudes, and feelings of staff deliver an impact to the overarching value of the business, and it is important to be mindful of the environment you create and collectively work in.

Particularly in the service industry where individuals become brand ambassadors almost by default, it’s important to create a company culture where their passion for the business and its objectives can lead to longevity and future opportunities (both financial and others). We know from years of marketing reports that word of mouth remains the most powerful and constant tool, and so who better to implement that than your staff?

The positive impacts of organisational culture extend far and wide. Among them;

Why culture is important to JAZ?

Aside from the textbook benefits of creating a strong team culture, what about the sheer fact that as full time workers we spend the majority of our time with our staff? Some weeks, we see them more than our significant others! We live, we breathe, we eat and play together day in and day out. If that alone is not a reason to invest in your company culture, then what is?

Every relationship needs to be nurtured; they need thought and the time to grow into healthy relationships that reflect synergy, respect, and happiness.

As small business owners, how do we create organisational culture?

The biggest challenges we face as small business owners are time and money.  We would love to be on par with companies such as Apple, Google, P&G or Chevron, and be able to invest whole departments in moving towards innovative, organisational development and culture, however, we are bound by size and resources. Not to sound defeated, we are very much of the believe that when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. We might be restricted by time and money, but the beauty about relationship building is that even the smallest drop of water helps the seed grow, and like many things, slow and steady wins the race (aka consistency is key!).

The JAZ Method

Here are a few team building activities we’ve used in our own organisational culture to enrich our team!

This might seem like an obvious one given our industry, but please don’t be deterred, it definitely does not require any type of creative skill (luckily for us right-brained marketing gals!).

This is one of our newest team building activities we decided to have a crack at:


For this project we’ve sourced a selection of cushion covers that require colouring- in. Each team member has been given a different design that reflects his or her personality, nature, and interests. In foregoing the standard Friday night drinks, this month we are going to spend some time in the afternoon unwinding with colour. Watch this space to see how they turn out!

Working in the heart of Northbridge it’s easy to default winding down with after work drinks, however for us it’s also important that we reflect balance. A couple of times a week our Marketing team heads out for 30 minute jog around Hyde Park – sometimes before work, sometimes in a lunch hour, or even after work depending on our schedule or commitments.

This has been a great team building exercise as it exposes sets of vulnerabilities between managers and staff that don’t exist in the workplace. When exercising together you create a platform to motivate each other and instil a sense of accountability. Speaking from personal experience, it was a great trust building exercise as you exposed undesirable qualities of your personality that would never come in to play at work; for example, laziness (such as when it’s cold outside and you can’t be bothered!) It also provides an opportunity for your team members to take the lead, which happens regularly in my case, and to come up with techniques to motivate me rather than the standard other way around.

Regular exercising also provides other positive health benefits and is especially beneficial if you’re in a job that has low mobility.

Working in a deadline-based industry, our team naturally experiences stressful periods that require a high demand of concentration and focus.

Something that worked really well for us in the past was to have a local massage therapist come to the office once a month and give each team member a 15 minute neck and shoulder massage, helping to relive tension and provide a well deserved mini pamper session!

It’s no secret that we love wine! It’s a great common interest that we are all lucky to collectively share and bond over. Throughout the years we’ve held wine tasting nights quite regularly, whether it’s been to celebrate small milestones, immerse ourselves into a new client’s industry, or simply to end a busy week with a favourite drop of red. Wine tastings are really great as they expose subtle differences in personalities in a very non-threatening way. They also provide an informal platform where you’re welcomed and encouraged to have a difference in opinion to your co-workers, which in itself is important in developing confidence (especially with newer employees).

Lunch Club is a great way to catch up collectively. Each Friday (when time permits) we host a ‘lunch club’, where each member of our team takes a turn in selecting a local restaurant and coordinates ordering lunch for the group. We all take our break together, put the workday on hold and enjoy our lunch while chatting about the week (and more importantly the weekend!) It’s an easy, low commitment yet consistent way of making time for your team that’s casual, fun, and inexpensive.

Do you know any local businesses offering services that align with your own? Or simply ones of which you find interesting?

Why not collaborate?

A great way to do this and engage with other small businesses in your industry to have someone come and present to your team. We have done this a few different ways. One particular example we all loved was when we had the chance to collaborate with a local cheese specialist shop and a local boutique bottle shop. The two businesses worked together and paired four cheeses with four wines, and came to JAZ one afternoon to deliver tastings and information on parings. Since then, the two businesses have worked together on a number of projects.

Feed your social conscious and include your team! Over the years we’ve taken part in and supported a number of charity events that saw each of us at JAZ get involved in – from dressing up as super heroes, raising awareness for Red Nose Day, walking for 24 hours straight and even staying up all night to bake cupcakes for the RSPCA – we’ve ticked a few things off the list.

Choose a charity you would like to support and brainstorm ways or raising funds (most established charities have great ideas for you to use).

This one is an oldie but a goodie, and came about when the majority of our work was print. Back in the day, if a file were to be sent off to the printers with even the smallest formatting error, the job would have to be reprinted at our cost. This was an easy mistake to make, so we wanted to create a system that allowed the Project Manager to take accountability yet also make light of the situation, as we all know that mistakes happen and are never something to lose sleep over. The idea behind “You Muff’d It!” was thus invented, where the team member who make a mistake brought in muffins for the team to share, therefore turning the mistake into treats! (We told you – we’re big believers in making lemonade out of lemons!).

We would love to get some input on what kinds of team building activities work for other small businesses. Share your insights with us, as we are always looking for new things to try, and of course be sure to let us know if you use any of our recommendations above!