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A key ingredient to retention is making your teammates feel seen and special. Here are a few ways to get it right throughout the year.
A birthday cake and card speak bounds about your appreciation for your teammates, but this simple task is too often bungled at the last minute. No one wants a grocery store cake that sat there for 4 days and a cake that everyone signed in 20 seconds. It's very important to plan ahead in order to make birthdays special and take the guessing out. You should ALWAYS ask your celebratee their favorite flavor and if there are any dietary preferences. A basic chocolate or vanilla might be so off base that you end up having the opposite effect. It's also important not to miss weekend birthdays. Make sure your plan and policies are consistent for the entire team. The same can be used for send-offs, retirements, promotions, and exciting wins!
Covid left many companies reeling on how to spend time together without feeling like the experience is another obligation on zoom. In truth, many found it difficult to be inclusive prior to covid times. The natural pick is to grab a drink somewhere, this leaves folks who choose not to drink for health, religious, personal reasons, and more feeling left out. It can also leave room for awkward small talk that more introverted individuals would prefer to avoid altogether. It's great to choose something like a virtual or in person baking workshop for your teammates. They will have some say on adding their preferences/dietary restrictions in there and will have an activity to foster creativity, conversation, and community. It is easy for all personality types to find a way to be comfortable and enjoy the time together. The online versions don't feel like a zoom call and in person have some direction to engage everyone. Such an experience is very memorable, effective, and will be talked about for weeks and maybe even months to come throughout the company. Guided activities can take the forced nature of parties away to facilitate fun time spent together.
The worst company parties are the ones that feel like the high school homecoming dance in the gym where the committee put some streamers to pretend it's not the gym. It's important to have a venue that your employees and their families will be excited to attend. Having a theme to guide the decor, dress code, and menu can be a great start to pull the event together from invite to the night cap. Be bold in your choices and find ways to make a memorable impact. Instead of telling stories about the holiday party from 20XX, there will be a concrete way to solidify which one it was such as the luau, the great gatsby party, the lake cruise, etc. If you feel overwhelmed, just pick a theme and ask each vendor involved for their thoughts and creativity in their respective fields for it. It is sure to pull together in a memorable and fun way.
Finding the right partners who specialize and can manage each of these facets for you will help make these culture staples sustainable for the long term. Your employees will appreciate these efforts and feel like they are in a company culture that values them. Reach out to Janina McCue of Red Poppy Cakery if you are curious about any or all of these ideas. She would LOVE to let her sweet creativity and slammin' systems make your team feel seen, special, and celebrated to bolster your company culture.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Cate Photography and Linnet Walker