labyrinth ritual

We tend to think of “rituals” as religious or spiritual events. For example, smudging a space, lighting candles, saying prayers in a certain order. But rituals can also be secular in nature: taking a child’s photo on the first day of school, wearing the same shirt every time you go to a sports game, drinking coffee in a specific mug before you talk to anyone. 

A ritual is simply a repeated set of actions or words done for a reason but lacking direct purpose. For example, stretching before a race might be a routine, but it is not a ritual because the purpose of stretching is to prevent injury. Listening to a specific song or touching a necklace you wear around your neck before a race is a ritual. A runner does these things every time, but not because the action will have a direct impact on the race. 

Organizations can also have rituals.  

Why Create Organizational Rituals 

In her book, Rituals Roadmap, Erica Keswin says that workplace rituals help provide “three ps:” Psychological Safety, Purpose, Performance. 

Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety is the ability to take risks without fear of negative consequences. Organizational rituals help create psychological safety by creating a greater sense of belonging, and safe places to be oneself. 


Employees who find purpose in their work or more engaged and more likely to stay with an organization. One way to help employees see their ritual is to ensure that a company’s values are clear. A ritual can be one way to demonstrate those values. 


Creating community at work is directly tied to employee engagement and retention. Studies have shown that engaged employees who feel a sense of psychological safety results in an improved bottom line.  

How to Create Organizational Rituals 

As with most things, it’s easiest to start with what you already have, and not to try to do too much at once. Does your organization have a weekly or monthly all-staff meeting? You can create a ritual around an opening or closing question not directly tied to the subject matter. If you already have monthly birthday celebrations, make them intentional rituals by saying something nice about the people being celebrated. Before starting new rituals, try and identify rituals that you already have. 

Examples of Organizational Rituals 

Beginnings and endings are times when people might be feeling more anxiety. This makes them a great time for rituals, as the rituals can help people feel more grounded. Examples of rituals around onboarding might include taking a new hire out to lunch the first day or sending them a welcome gift before they start. 

Team lunches or happy hours can also become rituals, as long as they’re done regularly and inclusively. 

Many organizations also have rituals around promotions, retirement, or life events. If you are going to create rituals around personal events, it’s important to remember to do them for everyone. If only some people receive a baby gift or a retirement cake you will create hurt feelings. Frequently, people who plan events or those who have fewer social connections in an organization are accidentally skipped. 

Rituals are just one way to create a more cohesive and engaged team. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to improve your organization’s culture, let us know. 

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