Best Companies to Work For: Dynamic Events

by Sabrina Son on Apr 11, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Best_companies_to_work_for_11-1.pngThe easy way out of a difficult conversation or situation is to avoid it, right? Many organizations just simply sweep these elephants under the rug rather than address them. However, to maintain morale and employee engagement, leaders must be ready to dive into these conversations head on. We chatted with Nanci Meadows, People Champion at Dynamic Events, about how their organizational culture and how they keep their employees happy.

 

Q: Tell us a little about your company and its culture.

A: Dynamic Events (and our in-house sister company, Hubb LLC) has a lively, positive, and passionate culture! We are corporate event planners and technology solution architects who believe that there is no work-life balance, there is only LIFE. Life is happening here as well as at home, and we think it's important that those two places align — that we are able to be the amazing adults here at work that we are outside of the workplace.

Our mission is: To cultivate meaningful and innovative experiences. This mission applies to the events we plan for our clients as well as the lives we live together as colleagues and friends. We are continually in pursuit of improvement of what we do and how we do it. We love the idea of self-managed teams and have taken great strides toward becoming a company where this idea is a reality and everyone has a voice. We encourage real-life conversations where confrontation occurs but in a caring and supportive way.

Our core values are:

  • Team
  • Passion
  • Execution Excellence
  • Intellectual Curiosity
  • Celebrate the Journey

We support our team members through a variety of perks such as:

  • Flexible schedule and work-from-home options
  • Fully stocked kitchen
  • Fitness trainer three times per week, two of those times occurring during business hours (free to all employees and highly encouraged)
  • Birthday off with a $50 cash gift
  • Unlimited PTO policy, which means you take as much vacation as you want or need so long as your team is in agreement and all of your accountabilities have been covered for the time you are taking. (This is actually called our "minimum two week" vacation policy, because we require everyone to take at least two weeks off!)
  • Quarterly and annual celebrations where everyone gets together to eat, play, and celebrate our accomplishments thus far in the year!
  • Morale budget: each team is given $35 per person per month to spend as the team sees fit on activities or items that promote team building (our teams have gone to the county fair, been windsurfing, gotten pedicures, taken cooking lessons, etc!)
  • Education fund: $500 per person annually for continued education

 

Q: What's one thing your company practices that sets its culture apart from everyone else?

A: I think it's our promotion and implementation of total individual ownership in work. We believe that we are all amazing adults who manage challenging lives outside of work (children, homes, budgets, weddings — the list is endless) and that these same people can be trusted to do equally impressive things here at work. Everyone has the latitude to make their role as awesome as they want it to be, but we all acknowledge that this also comes with a great responsibility.

For the last two years, we have given the entire company the two weeks of Christmas and New Years "off." That is in quotes, because the understood condition of closing the office is that all of our client accountabilities will still be covered during that time. So if that means that team members alternate having an "on call" person during the two weeks off to cover email, great. Or if they decide to all cover their own email for a couple of hours a day, great. Whatever they establish to manage the benefit of not having to come into the office for the holiday period, great! So long as our high level of execution is maintained, we're good.

Managing our commitments is all part of being that adult inside and outside work, and the payoff is pretty cool. This last year we also closed the office for the entire week of Thanksgiving under these same conditions. So far, so good! We have created an environment where great opportunities like this are possible because all our peeps understand and agree about what it takes to make it so.

By the way, these three weeks are not included in the "minimum two week" unlimited PTO plan, so team members are easily taking up to five weeks out of the office every year. We think that is pretty awesome!

 

Q: What advice can you give to organizations seeking to close the communication gap?

A: We are still continually trying to improve this ourselves and don't claim to have all the answers, but transparency from a senior leadership team is crucial. We have an all-company meeting every Monday at 9:30 a.m. We have a ton of fun doing highly interactive, cross-departmental activities that get us laughing and opening up to each other. It is during this same meeting that our leadership team takes the opportunity to bring up tough topics — the "elephants" that are in the room. In fact, we keep a stuffed elephant in our main meeting area to remind us to talk openly about difficult things. We openly acknowledge our faults as well as our successes and reiterate the importance of everyone doing the same. We try to create an open and safe environment for genuine and impactful dialog.

Two things we implemented this year in support of that:

  • We invited speaker, Chalmers Brothers, to lead our team in a workshop on "Leadership Conversations: Accountability and Results." This workshop set the stage for the year in regards to how we relate to one another and work together to achieve our goals. Our theme for the year that we presented in that kickoff workshop is, "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" because we view "failure" as a way to learn and move on. We have begun to replace the word failure with "learnings" in our everyday language in the office.
  • We implemented TINYpulse! This is not a kiss-up entry, but a true statement of something we've implemented that we believe has immense value in helping to close the communication gap. We have only been live for a little over a month with TINYpulse, but already we have seen a huge increase in conversations about things that really matter. Some started via Virtual Suggestions and Private Messages and then morphed into in-person conversations. Perfect! Just what we hoped would occur!

 

Q: What's the most common mistake you see companies making with employee onboarding, and how does your organization succeed at the process?

A: We have identified that within our own onboarding process, a positive initial experience is crucial. We have implemented the use of an online onboarding tool for all the paperwork drudgery (benefits enrollment, employment eligibility verification, policy attestations, etc.) so that all of this is completed electronically by our new hire prior to their first day.

We have also created a plan for this year where we celebrate our new hire's arrival — we're turning the going-away party on its head and spreading the message that it's way better to have that party when you arrive instead!

 

Q: What was your favorite Cheers you've ever received?

A: My favorite Cheers for myself followed a Monday morning meeting where I showed everyone what was behind the curtain of TINYpulse and informed them of our plans for its use throughout the remainder of the year. There were some direct questions and candid conversations during that presentation:

"Tough crowd this morning, must be Monday :) You did awesome this morning explaining TINYpulse. I'm really excited we have such an awesome tool at our disposal. You are worthy of the title (The) People Champion, and thank you for everything that you do. Happy Monday!"

My favorite Cheers of all time went to a colleague:

"You are able to have the attitude people talk about but rarely are able to live out."

What a compliment! I would love to receive such a Cheer, and I know it made the day (year?) of the person who did get it!

 

Q: How does your organization help your employees recharge or maintain morale?

A: I'm copying this from a previous question, but these are the perks we have put in place to help our teams recharge and stay motivated (we also offer excellent medical/dental/vision plans, fully covered for employees, and 401(k) and FSA with company match):

  • Flexible schedule and work-from-home options
  • Fully stocked kitchen
  • Fitness trainer three times per week, two of those times occurring during business hours (free to all employees and highly encouraged)
  • Birthday off with a $50 cash gift
  • Unlimited PTO policy, which means you take as much vacation as you want or need so long as your team is in agreement and all of your accountabilities have been covered for the time you are taking. (This is actually called our "minimum two week" vacation policy, because we require everyone to take at least two weeks off!)
  • Quarterly and annual celebrations where everyone gets together to eat, play, and celebrate our accomplishments thus far in the year!
  • Morale budget: each team is given $35 per person per month to spend as the team sees fit on activities or items that promote team building (our teams have gone to the county fair, been windsurfing, gotten pedicures, taken cooking lessons, etc!)
  • Education fund: $500 per person annually for continued education

 

Q: What was the most important or impactful employee feedback you've ever received? And why did it make such a difference?

A: An employee once told me that they heard me admit in a meeting to totally screwing something up. They said that it gave them a sense of relief that they were not the only ones who made royal mistakes (it was a big one!), and they also felt that if I could say something like that out loud to everyone and still feel safe in my job and relationships, that they could probably do the same. I learned that vulnerability and transparency go a long way to opening communication within teams and among colleagues.

 

Q: What's the one advice you have for any organization or leader out there?

A: Be real. Use real language and say real things. Avoid corporate buzz-speak like the plague. Speak as if you were talking to your mom or brother. And totally say those things that everyone is afraid to say, like "I screwed up and I need some help." Being real gives everyone else immediate permission to do the same, and who could ask for better?

 

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This post was written by Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the managing editor for the TINYpulse blog. A Seattle native, she loves her morning (or anytime) coffee, spending her weekends on the mountains, and of course, the famous rain.

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