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Rituals in Business

Do you have a ritual?

You know, like the JoBu locker room shrine in the 1989 movie Major League.  Or maybe the rituals of the foes of Indiana Jones.  Or how the Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius scoops up a handful of dirt before engaging in a sword battle in the year-2000 movie Gladiator.


While we may not have a closet of sacred rum, or worry about someone pulling our heart out through our chest, or getting our hands dirty before going into negotiations, we all have some sort of ritual.

Every morning, the alarm goes off. You turn it off. Count to ten. Stretch. Get up. Put the coffee on. Pat the dog. Have a shower. Make breakfast. Turn on the news. Feel stressed. Turn off the news. Go to work while drinking coffee and finishing a jelly toast.

That’s a typical 21st-century ritual.

A ritual is a carefully selected way of doing something that has a sense of purpose and a positive side effect in addition to the straightforward completion of the task.

A daily ritual will provide energy and enjoyment, along with efficiency and structure.

Rituals in Business

Rituals in organizations have been shown to help boost employee morale, increase engagement, and foster a supportive culture. Whether these practices are centered around celebrating individual and team accomplishments or bringing colleagues closer together, they enable the organization as a whole to reach higher goals.

Here are some of the ways rituals positively impact our employees:

  • Rituals help people to feel more deeply involved in an experience, which in turn heightens their perceived value.
  • People who perform rituals report feeling better.
  • Rituals give us a greater sense of control.
  • Rituals help us cope with loss and disappointment.

Here are some examples of workplace rituals:

  1. Reward and milestone celebrations – Pass out gift cards, order pizzas, give out certificates of appreciation, make unique t-shirts,– anything that is celebratory and appreciated by the team.
  2. Pass a trophy to the employee of the week (or month) – Each week, someone on the team who has gone above and beyond receives the “trophy” for that week.
  3. Ring a bell when something is significant is accomplished – When a sale occurs, a deadline is reached, a positive comment about a team member is received, ring a bell, so everyone hears.
  4. Welcome new employees in a particular way – On the first day (or week) a new employee begins work, be sure they are assigned someone to take them out to lunch, decorate their workspace, or hold a special gathering to welcome them first thing in the day.
  5. Schedule weekly, monthly or quarterly team events – This could be over a meal, or might involve doing a fun activity together outside of work, such as an Escape Room or TopGolf.
  6. Recognize birthdays and anniversaries – Decorate someone’s cubicle or door, give them something funny to wear (a hat, shirt, or necklace that says “It’s my birthday!”), sing them a song, or bring in a cake to share with everyone.
  7. De-personalize failures by discussing lessons learned – At the end of each meeting or project, spend a few minutes discussing what worked well, and what are opportunities to improve.  This promotes a ritual of learning and providing positive and constructive feedback to each other.
  8. Sponsor monthly or quarterly lunch and learn workshops – Ask team members to share their skills and talents, or bring in outside specialists to share topics of interest.  Build this around lunch (and provide lunch when possible) to create a fun atmosphere.

The Bible

The use of rituals in Christianity is similar to that of rituals in the workplace.

They are great at building comradery and relationships, but they are not the means to an end.  A ritual in business is not a substitute for focusing on relationship building and quality control.

The various rituals and accouterments found in different denominations of Christianity do not replace the fact that Christ came to earth as both a man and God.  He was crucified, died, and rose again to ascend to be at the right hand of God the Father, all to save us from our sins.

Our devotion is to the Lord Jesus, not to the various rituals, even though many faiths have specific practices that are routinely performed. True Christianity, as derived from an accurate interpretation of the Bible, is not rules-based or ritual-based. Rather, it is relationship-based. The living God, through Jesus, has made those who believe in Christ His own children (John 1:12).

Use appropriate rituals in your business to the benefit of your organization, but do not let them replace the work it takes to be successful and continue to be successful.