This morning I learned that one of my previous employers has recently suffered some rather devastating financial set backs as a result of the economic downturn. While the news is unfortunate for many reasons, it has caused me to reflect on my time at that company.
I wasn’t actually there for very long in the grand scheme of things, less than 2 years, but it was probably one of the most impactful phases of my career, that in some ways played out like my own personal “Breakfast Club”. A moment in time that left you changed forever. Ok, maybe that’s a tad dramatic…but you get the point.
While that company is far from perfect, I can certainly appreciate, from an HR perspective, the things the company did well. They had the ability to create and develop positive employee experiences for their staff – a key driver in employee engagement. My own personal experience with the company definitely influenced and strengthened my emotional connection to the organization, my motivation, as well as my sense of commitment and engagement.
First, and foremost, we had an awesome team. Team dynamics this good don’t happen by fluke. They are deliberate. They are fostered, nurtured, and developed – yet it felt effortless, not contrived. My manager ensured we had lots of team bonding opportunities – whether it be after work drinks or team lunches; challenging projects that required a unified team effort; an off-site strategy and brainstorming session; learning and development challenges; as well as inter-department and team competitions. All of these things allowed us to bond and connect on a deeper level. We didn’t just get along, we really liked each other; we supported and helped each other; we joked and made fun of each other, and we laughed. A lot. And if you know me, you know I love to laugh.
Second, we celebrated our successes. Not just our team, but the company as a whole. The bar was set high in terms of expectation and achievement, but there was definite appreciation for a job well done. It somehow makes the hard work and long hours ok.
Third, they had one of the best and most memorable orientation sessions I’ve ever experienced. It was a half-day workshop that brought together newbies from every department. They ran through the complete history of the organization; key players; business model; vision, mission and values; goals; etc. – but they did it in a fun, interactive, “game show” kind of way. It was not only memorable, but it also facilitated camaraderie, competitiveness, fun, learning and helped me better understand the company, culture, and connect with members from other departments. After that, I walked the halls and knew people. I was part of the team, and part of something that felt big and influential. It was great.
Lastly, my manager. She was one of the good ones. Having a good manager is everything. She challenged me. She gave me the opportunity to push myself, take risks and give it a go. Along with that came feedback (good and bad), push back and extremely valuable learning. She was supportive and always had your back, but she had no problem calling you out on your crap. She also made a point of getting to know you on a personal level, she cared, and always made sure she said “hi” to every single person on the team in the morning, and “bye” to everyone when they left. And yes, she was usually the last to leave.
Anyway, it was a fun trip down memory lane, and a good reminder of how important it is for companies to focus their efforts on building programs and processes that aim to create positive employee experiences from beginning to end. These experiences help employees to feel more emotionally engaged, motivated and invested in their jobs and companies. Ensuring you create a place where people want to work is a key factor in an organization’s ability to retain their best employees, drive innovation, and produce results.
Explore how Salopek & Associates can support your organization in developing and delivering a positive employee experience. With HR Consultants in Calgary, Fort McMurray, Ottawa and Toronto our team is available to support in person or virtually to develop effective processes and programs that help you attract, retain and develop your team.