Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Father's Day

At a recent visit to my mom and dad's home, I found a small treasure sitting on the kitchen table. It was a vintage postcard of Vancouver, the kind that flipped open to reveal different landmarks of the city. I have seen them before, and have always liked them for their vintage hand-painted look, and it’s fun comparing the images to today's sites. The images show how truly young Vancouver was, from Georgia Street, Stanley Park and City Hall.

I smiled at the postmark, which read, “Postage: One Cent, Without Message.” As I read the familiar handwriting, “Mrs. N. Helm, from your son Elmer”, I realized with amazement (and a few tears) that this card from my dad to my nana must be from the late 1940s!

Wow, how lovely, I thought, as I read how he arrived in Vancouver (from Nanaimo), all is "swell" and that he went to a dance the first night. Knowing my dad and his love for jiving to this day, this made me smile through the tears and did not surprise me at all.

I shared with my dad how much I enjoyed reading the postcard and seeing the images, as well as the kind words to his mom. Knowing how much joy it brought me, he gave me the postcard and I now have it displayed in my kitchen for all to see and read.

With Father's Day just last week, I am grateful and am appreciative for the love and support that I, my husband, and our children continue to receive from my dad and my mom.

Thank you, Dad.
Love your daughter,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Plant from Maxem Eyewear Employee Plant Growing contest

Can you imagine being recognized with a gift for cleaning out your office’s fridge or changing the light bulbs in the warehouse? One of the forward thinking companies we work with, Maxem Eyewear, does just that.

You may not recognize the name of this 30-year old family company, so named for the family’s first two grandchildren, but you probably own a pair of their sunglasses- many brands are under the Maxem Eyewear umbrella.

Maxem's commitment to creating a vital and rewarding work environment was evident when we visited them recently for an art direction meeting. The meeting, in CEO Melanie Martin’s office, was a great success as we learn more about the company’s values, vision and how they build their corporate culture. The office overlooks the rooftop gathering place for employee events and an amazing view of the waterfront in North Vancouver. Their graphic designer, Mike, shared with us that he and some colleagues play a rather competitive game of croquet on a plot of grass outside the office. (Note to self – park on the west side of the building!) We also heard that on occasion they have cleared out the warehouse to make way for a hockey game.

After the meeting, heading down the stairs, we walked past a large south-facing window, lined with terracotta pots. Inside the pots, each marked with employee names, were small seedlings growing to various heights.

Melanie explained that an HR colleague started the very popular plant growing contest. Each year, the employees are given seeds, a pot, and instructions. Hearing about the care the employees take in their strategic placement of the planters-as the plants cannot leave the building-had me noticing terra cotta seedlings everywhere!

From the stories we heard about the contest and how each winner is chosen, it is clear this is an easy and cost effective way companies can have fun, build camaraderie, and a little healthy competition.

Another thing that struck me while walking through their open office space was what looked like a contest/draw of some sort set up on the second floor. Sure enough, it was a draw -to celebrate employees who go above and beyond their regular duties. On a partition board in a central location was a bulletin board decorated with an image of a pineapple with sunglasses and the cut-out letters “EYE SEE YOU”. The small sheets of paper posted to the board were each a personal thank you, written by a peer, recognizing a coworker. Each month a name is drawn from the posted notes and the recipient receives a gift card, say to a local coffee shop. Wow, I thought, being recognized for cleaning out the office fridge, changing light bulbs. I love it, and how easy and cost effective to implement is that!

As Melanie walked us to my car (talk about service), and said good bye, I glanced back at the building to see yet another plant strategically placed way up high (a ladder must have been used), on a different window sill!

I smiled and thought, “Kudos Melanie and everyone at Maxem Eyewear for creating a fun and rewarding place to work.”

Listed below is all you need to implement these fun and easy ideas from Maxem Eyewear that cost just pennies to start.

Do you have a successful employee recognition idea you would like to share? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to email me or leave your comments below.

Call me today if you need your own signature contests designed just for your company, reflecting your vision, goals and values.

What you will need:

  • Title - something catchy, fitting for your industry, company and culture- “EYE SEE YOU” is perfect for an eyewear company!

  • Paper - Small pieces of paper printed with a space for name, date, what they did and/or why, and submitted by.

  • Draw box from a craft store or dollar store

  • Bulletin board to post the winner, specially decorated, of course, as well as all the entries. It's extra an reward and incentive for everyone to be able to celebrate all the fabulous acheivements.

  • A central location to set up the bulletin board and draw box

  • 12 gift certificates on hand, one for each month's draw, so no one is running out last minute to get the prize.

What you will need:
  • Terracotta pots 4” from a dollar store, plant store, or hardware store

  • Soil, from a plant store or hardware store

  • Seeds- pick something easy that chances are will grow: beans grow well and are an excellent symbol for a financial company

  • Sunny spot to put the planters

  • Prizes for Tallest, shortest, no show (didn’t germinate), or... be creative and have fun!

  • Prizes again can be simply ribbons, or coffee cards. The camaraderie and experience for everyone is the reward.