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Winner of the Company Culture Awards 2021: OSF Digital 🎉🎉

We’re thrilled to announce OSF Digital as the Winner of the Culturevist Company Culture Awards 2021!

The team at OSF Digital shared an inspiring story of building a sense of personal connection, a shared goal, improving individuals’ wellbeing, and ambition!

To help us all learn, here are some snippets of their story, together with our Judges’ comments:

It was apparent that mental health and wellbeing was a massive issue for people in 2020/21, during the Covid period. Something that could not be solved easily unless there was an understanding of the situation from a personal view and not a corporate view.

We identified this as a problem and aimed to do something about this for our team at OSF Digital.

We acquired 4 companies in 2021 during lockdown but never really met the people involved in these teams, except in meetings online. People from these acquired teams were obviously nervous of the larger OSF, not really knowing who their new teammates were, in the organization that had just acquired them. 

We believed we needed a shared goal in some way, something that was NOT work related.

We set the challenge of traveling virtually from our head office in Quebec and visiting every one of our 44 offices globally, within the 31 days of July, using our own power. Any movement that a person did – walking, cycling, paddling, swimming, running etc – was tracked through their mobile phone or Garmin watch, on an application called UNITED HEROES, with the main goal for us to cover 65,000km (combined) in the month of July as ‘One Team’.

To add interest to this we transported our Polar Bear mascot from one office to another (virtually), with each office making a fun video of their surroundings to highlight what it is like where they live and work.

The event was never framed as a competition; instead, it was the opposite – a team challenge to work together to move the mascot from office to office under our own steam in one month. 

Through great communications, support and team spirit we managed to smash our goal of 65,000 km, returning to our head office with 3 days to spare of the target. A great metaphor for us in work and our global goals.

People wanted to show off where they worked and what it was like in their community, having fun with the OSF mascot along the way.

A way of uniting the whole team without one mention of work-related activity.

The only area not to go well was raising money for sponsorship. It was hard to get people to donate, even from the people participating. However, being fair this aspect was not overly pushed, as the priority of this event was the team’s personal health and wellbeing. So to have a goal of everyone raising money may have added more pressure, and therefore would have been contrary to the main purpose. If we run this event again, we are considering how corporate sponsors may get involved to help, to raise awareness and sponsorship without losing the spirit of the event.

Finally buy-in from the senior team, especially the Founder and CEO of OSF, helped immensely. Having him announce his backing of the event in team meetings, added weight to the message that it’s good to take time out and to look after yourself.

What, if anything, would you recommend others try if they’re interested in excelling in this space?

Think what your team is really missing, and aim to create something that satisfies that need.

Ensure senior leaders buy into this and promote it. Without this it’s like pushing water uphill. With the backing of the CEO, his involvement made it OK for others to participate.

Make sure everyone knows what the overall goal is, and what part they can personally achieve in heading to the goal.

But generally have fun – create outstanding experiences and it bonds your team together longer than you can imagine.

Judges’ comments on the Winner – OSF Digital

“This whole venture included the team – it had inclusivity and bond-building woven through the very concept, and moreover, was an optional activity that wouldn’t threaten nor impose upon the individual. In fact, the honest figure of 570 or so out of 1000 people is commendable and gives a great snapshot on uptake which can be used as a future barometer for any other global events they elect to launch.

The humility shown by the organisers saying ‘good enough is good enough’ I found very human and touching and, again, not heavy-handed in their approach to the project. This is a true recognition of ability and inclusivity.

The gentle U-turn made by senior leaders as they began to back the project too felt organic and credible. When teams see opinions change from above, this sends such a deep message, the CEO ‘made it okay for others to participate’, and paves the way for individuals to be their authentic self and feel free with their choices. This is fundamental, foundation-building stuff for any culture.

Using the footage of the event as onboarding material is smart too – this is how rituals and stories become tangible and feed into the fabric of the culture one is nurturing. Good reflection on how the small stuff shouldn’t dominate or take-over the bigger picture event.

It was heartwarming and human and the joy it brought to the staff was infectious.”

“This is an excellent case study in solving multiple challenges at once. I loved that this challenge ticked so many boxes – a real multitasking initiative, helping them to build community, a sense of personal connection, a shared goal, improving individuals’ wellbeing, and the ambition!

An ingenious idea that clearly was super engaging for the team – the videos are so heartwarming! Rolling out an initiative like this is always going to be hard work, and the team did a great job to get so many people involved.”

“There was a warmth to the video and something that showed how much they care about their people. To have such global camaraderie amongst the employees in the middle of a pandemic I think is something a lot of companies have unfortunately lost.

They had a beautiful sense of community which just made me so happy to see, especially during so much uncertainty.

To have that many employees participate is commendable and I think this comes down the trust and respect they obviously have for one another.

We know onboarding new employees the right way is critical to setting that employee up for success so it’s great they use the video as part of their onboarding process. Throughout the the video they remain humble, authentic and by the end of the video I wanted to join them. It was innovative, fun, caring all at the same time”

Our Judges

Maria Campbell

Maria Campbell

A Specialist in building People functions and teams, Maria’s experience includes work in: Hiring, Management, Performance, Progression, Compensation, Values, and much more.

Abi Adamson

Abi Adamson

A Specialist in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Abi’s experience includes work in: Institutional Racism, Microaggressions, Allyship, Cultural Appropriation, Privilege Awareness, Recognising Bias, and much more.

Nic Roome

Nic Roome

A Specialist in Belonging, Nic’s experience includes work in: Environment Design, Core Values, Events, Onboarding, Communication, Operations and much more.