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Activities that Build Culture

by Jeff Gau on September 12, 2018

All organizations have a culture, whether they’re intentionally creating it or not. Is yours as good as you want it to be? I feel we’ve had a strong culture at Marco for decades, but as our company has grown, keeping it that way has become much more intentional.

IMG_2293As we expanded from one location to 53 offices, we had to become more focused on our culture and work even harder to deliver a similar experience across our locations. In the past year, we dusted off our culture playbook, branded our culture commitment to the Gold Standard and implemented new practices to freshen our approach to engage employees.

Here’s a look at a few practices that are gaining traction and worth repeating:

  • Wearable Wellness Challenge
    We want our employees to be healthy and have tried a variety of activities over the years with that goal in mind. But we’ve done a medium job in health and wellness and haven’t been able to get the involvement that we wanted. Then, we launched a Fitbit challenge to employees this year and received a record response to the program. We formed 20 teams of 10 employees. We put $50 toward a purchase program for Fitbits and asked them to get active and have fun doing it as teams. And they did. The results were significant and we are continuing the program throughout the year. This is one wellness challenge that is sticking.

  • Book Club
    The concept seems simple. Each month, we have a different employee host a book group with 10 other co-workers as a way to foster connections between employees and encourage personal growth. The response exceeded our expectations. Managers have been quick to volunteer to host them as a way to meet and interact with employees outside of their departments. After launching in May, we scheduled and filled 100 sessions through September with ease. The biggest win is that we engaged employees across 19 of our locations in just a few months.

  • Traveling Ice Cream
    Sometimes it’s the corny things that make an impact. This summer we decided to surprise customers by showing up at their offices with root beer floats and ice cream sundaes. We saw it as a fun, purposeful way to engage with our clients. We gave out over 500 ice cream treats – each an opportunity to say thank you and celebrate summer. While it may seem soft, it has left a lasting impression.

  • Gold Standard Salute
    We know that our culture is measured each day by the big and small moves that each of our employees makes. Each quarter, we recognize 10 employees in various roles from hundreds of peer nominations who exemplify our culture and serve as a model for others through an award we call the “Gold Standard Salute.” The employees are endorsed by their managers and selected by our executive team. We make a big deal about it every time – their photos hang on our wall for everyone to see, they are recognized in a company-wide video announcement and they receive a $250 gift card for their contributions. We have been very disciplined and consistent with this program.

  • Gold Standard Week
    Culture is created each day, but it has been a good practice to make it a focus for a week. We see it as a celebration and an opportunity to get all our employees to rally around our four pillars (employees, clients, vendors and communities). In addition to other activities, we let employees share how they want us to give back and then randomly select four individuals to choose charities that we will donate $500 to in their names.

Creating a strong and sustainable culture that attracts and retains talent takes a variety of activities. Some of them are softer than others. But they all can play a role in drawing people in. 

I have to admit I was a little skeptical when I first heard of some of the new activities we planned to implement. Will people really become active because we arm them with a Fitbit? Do people want to read for fun with co-workers they may have never met? The answer has been a resounding yes.

I am proud of the work the committees are doing to execute on these plans. They are giving us more reasons why we enjoy working here. If there is anything here that resonates with you, we would be happy to tell you more about it.

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