What’s Your Story? How Workplace Storytelling Impacts Culture

April 5, 2016
| ByMadison

"Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today." Robert McKee, award-winning writer & professor

When you go to a company’s website and click on the obligatory “About Us” section, what are you expecting to learn? Perhaps when the company was founded, general information about their products/services, but most importantly you’re probably looking for the company’s story–what makes them unique, their philosophy, why customers choose them, what makes this organization “human” and relatable. This kind of powerful storytelling used in creating a company’s narrative for an external audience is similar in many ways to how you should approach creating a desirable company culture within your own walls.

We know social recognition technology enables you to build or rebuild your culture tailored to your unique goals, but taking a look at how successful companies communicate with their external audiences reinforces some key principles and strategies of employee engagement, such as storytelling.

What’s the #1 thing successful companies do on their websites?

If you’ve ever been in a conversation where the other person’s sentences always start with the word “I,” then you already know the answer to this question. Successful companies avoid talking only about themselves. On the contrary, they focus on connecting with their audience–who they are, what they need, how they operate, how they feel–all relative to the product or service being sold. This establishes a social connection far more impactful than a list of intangible, un-relatable facts on a web page. By communicating in this way, they’re immediately pulling in the reader, allowing the customer to be a part of their narrative.

In the same way, your engagement strategy needs to weave each employee into the fabric of your story. A social recognition solution actually takes this strategy to the next level, giving every employee a role in telling the company’s story with every recognition given and received.

The Power of Well-Crafted Stories

The art of storytelling is undoubtedly one of the most powerful forms of communication used throughout the course of our lives. Whether it’s delivered in a speech, a casual anecdote in the middle of a conversation or on a website, a story has the ability to impact emotions, transform perception and change behavior.

As it relates to employee engagement, storytelling makes good recognition great. Take this recognition as an example:

Jeanette, thank you for coming in early every day last week to work on the presentation. Your ideas for the graphics were great, but it was your execution of those designs in such a short period of time that impressed us all. In fact, several attendees complimented the team for having one of the most dynamic and engaging presentations at the conference, and set up meetings next week to discuss how we can work together. You should be proud of the work you’ve done, and I look forward to working with you on the next project. Thank you again for your teamwork and commitment to producing amazing work.

Rather than deliver a brief “thank you” message, this recognition provides meaningful context to the recipient through a personal story. It reinforces the positive behaviors that led to the recognition, and builds a deeper connection through a shared experience. When others in the organization or department share in this story, they feel connected in a more powerful way, as well.


If you’re asking yourself, “This sounds great, but how do I become a good storyteller?” the answer is simple: be detailed. Not everyone has the gift of colorful writing, but by paying more attention to the behaviors, actions and results that led to the recognition, the details with naturally emerge. In turn your employees will feel more valued, and will learn by example how to start telling the story of your culture on their own.

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