Traditions are a valuable way to strengthen families and create lasting memories. Often passed on through generations, many rituals can be quite unique; yet also bridge divides and boost the spirit of a family unit. When it comes to the larger corporate family, traditions are also a fantastic way to drive engagement and strengthen coworker relationships. In fact, Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield agrees saying they’re as “important in companies just as they are in families” and a great way to increase employee morale and motivation.
I quickly realized this when I arrived as a newbie intern at Softchoice’s company-wide, employee conference. Every January this standing experience called Launch, kick starts the year ahead for Softchoice’s employees. What started out as a small gathering of a few employees when the company was founded in 1990, has grown to a 1200-person, weeklong event that has continued even during tough economic times.
Being new to Softchoice, I went on a mission to find out…why has the Launch tradition become so entrenched in the company’s culture?
1.) Brings Dispersed Employees Together
When 1200 employees are spread across Canada and the US; some in large, small or even home offices, it can be a challenge to make everyone feel connected to the same company. Launch helps bring everyone together to share, collaborate and celebrate as part of one big family. Fellow first-timer, Lesley Morris noticed the connection it created among employees far and wide: “There was a sense of excitement about everything! Everyone mentioned how much they looked forward to gathering together.”
2.) Sets the Strategy for the Year Ahead
Launch is an invaluable opportunity to get focused on the year ahead and point everyone in the same direction. Employees have become accustomed to Softchoice’s CEO, David MacDonald, announcing the company’s strategy Wildly Important Goals for the year ahead.
3.) Delivers Industry-Leading Training Sessions
Unleashing the potential of our employees is Softchoice’s purpose as a company. While professional growth and development have been imminent since the company’s beginnings, the training opportunities have grown as the company has expanded. Training sessions throughout the week help build sales reps’ understanding of the technology solutions and capabilities we offer our customers. It gives them the chance to share their thoughts and ideas with each other too!
4.) Celebrates Accomplishments & Creates Energy
Core to the launch tradition is the recognition and celebration of co-workers at various lunches, team events and gala nights throughout the week. President’s Club winners (the company’s best of the best) are announced in front of the whole organization, along with the Jone Panavas Leadership Award winners (named for one of Softchoice’s co-founders and which recognizes employees who demonstrate outstanding leadership). Finally, a long-standing norm for Softchoice’s sales people is the passing of the coveted Tie Jacket Award from the previous year’s Outbound Rep to the new recipient. This is awarded to someone who not only delivers stellar sales results but also embodies Softchoice’s values. A similarly prestigious award – The White Fedora is also handed out to an outstanding Inside Sales Rep.
After experiencing Launch, I now understand why it’s become such a long-standing custom. Another Launch newbie, Richard Carson, Marketing Manager, Services, reinforced my thoughts exactly, saying, “Before launch I worked for a company. After launch I believe in a company”!
After hearing that, it made me wonder…how can other companies create their own traditions to better engage employees and drive belief in what they do? Got some thoughts? Share them…we’d love to hear from you.