Employee Appreciation Day: The Blue Compass Way
There’s something deeply powerful about being appreciated.
We all want to matter, add value and have our contributions recognized. Leadership expert Patrick Lencioni said it best: “No one ever leaves the company because they've been recognized too much.” That’s why the best workplace cultures put an emphasis on appreciation.
At Blue Compass, we believe our positive company culture is the secret to our success. In fact, company culture has become a core part of who we are, as giant cardboard birthday cakes, Nerf gun fights and office pets have become common occurrences.
The growth of Blue Compass is rewarding to talk about, but it is hard to discuss without highlighting the biggest reason for our success: our team members. We regularly look for ways to honor and surprise our team members, and Employee Appreciation Day is a great excuse to do so.
How We Celebrated Employee Appreciation Day
This year, we decided to surprise the whole team with a lunch adventure, but made sure to keep the event a secret. While it would have been easier to tell everyone exactly what to expect, we’ve learned that positive surprises can enhance experiences and build more powerful memories.
In his book, “The Best Place to Work,” Ron Friedman explains that unexpected pleasures deliver a bigger thrill. “When something surprising happens, our brains automatically pay closer attention, lending unexpected events a greater emotional weight. We’re motivated to make sense of events we haven’t predicted and devote more mental energy to thinking about them after they occur. In this way, surprises provide an emotional exclamation point, enhancing the impact of any event, good or bad.”
We planned our lunch adventure a few days before Employee Appreciation Day, so as not to raise suspicion. Finally, the day arrived, and around lunch time, a team member standing by a window yelled, “A party bus!”
Yes, we recruited a party bus to cruise the streets of Greater Des Moines (DSM) to celebrate our hardworking team. Work hard, play hard, right? As drinks were passed and the throwback songs boomed, I made sure to soak in the moments and watched my team connect and laugh with one another. At Blue Compass, we believe laughter is one of the most important metrics of a healthy company culture, and thankfully we have a generous dose of it on a daily basis.
We paused the party bus fun to have lunch at The Angry Goldfish. As our team enjoyed their food, I read out loud individual poems we had written for each employee. Every poem included a unique characteristic the team member brings to Blue Compass to make this agency the amazing workplace it is. It is important that we personally recognize each employee’s significance at Blue Compass, as each of them are a unique part of why Blue Compass continues to succeed.
We finished out the day with a team photo at the EMC Overlook and appreciated the beautiful March weather with some outdoor games in our parking lot when we returned from our adventure.
The Importance of Appreciating Your Employees
Appreciating your employees has obvious benefits including elevated employee satisfaction and increased productivity. However, appreciating your employees goes far beyond free drinks, game rooms, catering and other amenities. At Blue Compass, it is important to us that our team members feel included, encouraged, uplifted and fulfilled every single day. We ensure this happens by offering the following:
- Providing a flexible office space that fosters collaboration, quiet and comfort
- Encouraging time-off
- Afternoon brain breaks
- Team walks
- Allowing dogs in the office
- Offering full fitness center access
- Allowing team members to choose their laptop preference (Mac or PC - this seems small, but it's rare)
- WFH Fridays (or as needed)
- Dress for your day
- Cafe to encourage people to congregate and grow relationships
- Random and ongoing games that grow our expertise and foster fun
- Quarterly goals for each team member
- Monthly company meetings where team members are highlighted based on our company values
- Regular one-on-one meetings to check in personally and professionally with our team members
I share this often, as it offers a great visual and an even greater impact: Great leaders sit with the team, not ahead of the team. When leaders serve their employees, work alongside their team and care about people more than profits, the potential of your business becomes limitless.
As a business owner, I know client wins are absolutely essential, but some of the greatest experiences are the memories made with our team along the way. 2022’s Employee Appreciation Day was not about a party bus and grabbing lunch, it was about the memories we made with one another before, during and after those fun activities.
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President and co-founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden has grown and guided the company from a two-person start-up in 2007 to one of the Midwest's leading digital marketing companies today. He's a published author, has been cited by publications like USA Today and PR News, and has led web projects for clients like Spalding Sports Equipment, NAPA Autoparts and the NFL.