The Hidden Power of Workplace Rituals

Employees rightly expect to be able to bring their feelings — big and small — to work. One important way to provide that support is through rituals. The author defines rituals using two important benchmarks. First, rituals go beyond their practical purpose, moving participants beyond transaction and into meaning. For instance, lighting a candle when the lights go out isn’t a ritual, but turning off the lights and lighting a candle at sundown is. Second, rituals are sorely missed when they’re taken away. The author presents a case study from a company that took a risk in real time and created a successful response to a tragedy, and over time, that response became a ritual. Here’s how they did it, and how leaders can better understand their own rituals — both current ones and those that have yet to be discovered.