Labor Day was initially established in the 1880s to celebrate the contributions of the nation’s workers and to bring attention to labor conditions. While the nature of work has changed since the Industrial Revolution, people are just as important as ever (how could they not be?)
I’m glad I’m reminded of the importance of celebrating our co-workers but we shouldn’t limit it to once or twice a year. (As I am reminded now of Employee Appreciation Day).
At Next Jump we would celebrate people in a wide number of ways. Here are three.
Every Friday at 5:00pm sharp, everyone at Next Jump stops working and gathers for food, drinks and sharing of big company news, followed by the presentation of Coronitas and a fun group activity. During the presentation, any NxJumper can present a Coronita (or soft drink) – a small Corona for which the event is named – to anyone else in the company as an act of recognition for outstanding work and to give thanks. The event adds visibility to the accomplishments of NxJumpers while allowing employees to mentally disengage from their everyday tasks. The group activity can be anything from sharing a hot chocolate bar to a game of competitive Pictionary or even a mini-company dance-off.
We find that this “around the campfire story-telling” which celebrates what others have accomplished rapidly inculcates new hires into the company culture.
See the NxJ video about Coronitas on YouTube here.
Monthly, employees nominate each other with votes and stories to be in the “top 10” employee of the month. An independent committee then makes the final decisions based upon votes and an evaluation of how the stories exemplify our model behavior. When people pick their co-workers for the award, there is genuine shared happiness. Additionally, the nomination stories add to the body of company folklore and help ensure our culture remains a living thing. These stories are then posted on walls, circulated and retold. The winners get $100 – $200 worth of WOW Points. They also receive a special audience with the CEO and founder, and 4 sessions with world-class trainers.
Something interesting happened with the nominations over time. Originally the stories were all essentially outcome and revenue focused – about people who delivered some project milestone or introduced a new concept. In the past several years, however, the nominations have come to predominantly emphasize helping, support, and teamwork within the company and toward our clients.
The biggest award is the annual Avengers award. It’s named to evoke the superhero in all of us. Avengers personify the spirit of “alone we can do good, together we can do great.” This award is focused on the trait of “service for others” and recognizes the Next Jumper who most exemplifies steward-leadership. The ideal candidate is someone who creates an environment that helps others succeed by caring for and serving those around them, someone who is always helping others and putting the group before self — A Next Jumper who lives the example of “officers eat last”.
Similarly to the monthly top 10, Avengers are nominated by other employees with votes and stories. The committee received 192 individual nominations for 62 NxJumpers. These were narrowed to 27, then 10, then 5, then 1. The level of recognition exponentially increased. All 62 nominees were publicized, the top 10 were posted in the company’s 4 offices, the top 5 received awards at the annual ceremony and the winner, who was Gowri Lakshminarayanan this year, received an extra week vacation along with a $30,000 spending package. His parents were flown in from India to the award ceremony.
Taken together, these recurring recognition programs reinforce the company formula of:
While “better me” focuses on your continued development and growth it also ensures you are at your best to help others.
“Better you” provides a sense of purpose and meaning lifting our sights above ourselves and toward the bigger world around us.
Labor Day is a reminder that we should recognize the people that make our success possible but let’s not wait a year to do that.
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