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A Few Culture “Best Practices” Canada’s 10 Most Admired Cultures

A Few Culture “Best Practices”

I just finished judging for Canada’s 10 Most Admired Cultures program (I am on the Board of Governors of the program, and Nurse Next Door is a past winner, put on by Waterstone Human Capital)

It was great to be exposed to so many other cultures, and through it, I gathered quite a few best practices. Two key themes emerged for me, so let me a share a few that stood out (and a few that I might add to Nurse Next Door)

The first theme that the companies with great culture shared was the work they put into communicating what is happening in their companies. I call this alignment.

The CEO of The Bargains Group, every Friday morning leads a company-wide, open-forum style meeting intended to share her experiences during the week, such as the events that she attended and the business opportunities that were encountered.

Devfacto Technologies has a day they call “Adventure Time”: Every two months, the office shuts down for ½ a day and everybody participates on an exercise in creativity and innovation. The event is mandatory for the entire company.

Achievers, run by my friend Razor (and fellow MIT Birthing of Giant’s alum), on a semi-annual basis, hosts retreats for its employees to align the company and recognize outstanding accomplishments. Retreats are held offsite and last two days. (At their last retreat, all of the employees were awarded iPads for their hard work in exceeding growth goals)

The Great Little Box Company hosts an Annual President’s meeting: all employees meet with the President in small groups, (no larger than 12 people) to discuss the status of the company and ask any questions they may have.

Frima Studio host’s a Presidential Breakfast, a monthly event during which 10 employees from all projects and departments are invited to have breakfast with the president and chat about life and work at Frima.

And of course, there is the daily huddle. Only a few companies actually held a daily communication meeting, which I found surprising. But for those of us who do host daily huddle’s we all know how powerful they can be. At Nurse Next Door, we now do two daily huddles: one in the daytime and one in the evening.

The second theme that the companies with great culture shared was that they were simply GREAT at rewarding and recognizing their employees for the work they do.

The Great Little Box Company has a few great recognition programs, including:

Idea Recognition: A program designed to reward an employee for an idea that improves the company. All ideas are recognized with a $10 gift card and the idea is then investigated to determine if it can be implemented with larger potential payouts.
5’ers: $5 is rewarded to any employee who catches a mistake or offers better ideas for manufacturing. This allows for instant recognition to our employees. (Isn’t this so simple…and cool?)

The North Shore Credit Union has a program called “You Are Valued.” It is an “on-the-spot” rewards program designed to spontaneously acknowledge employees. It’s unique because any employee can recognize any other employee (peer, manager, direct report). If you receive a “You Are Valued” notification, you take a trip to the branch/department Treasure Chest, and select a $15 gift certificate or coupon for one hour of free time. In the last 12 months, there were 2920 trips to the Treasure Chest. (I love the branding of the program)

The Rocky Mountain Soap Company has a “Healthy Living Account”. Every team member is given up to $200 annually as a re-imbursement for investing in something that makes them healthier. Whether that be new runners, a health club membership or a ski pass. They can use it on whatever they like that promotes health.

They also offer all team members the opportunity to participate in 2 hours of weekly activities paid for by the company including their time. (I wonder what is important to this company?)

Achievers has a “Personal Top 1″ program that allows their employees to choose any goal they wish to accomplish within one year. Employees will receive $250 upon completion to pay for any expenses incurred to complete their goal.

Frima Studio has a points system called Frimapoints– Employees with good reviews can earn points to get different types of services that will allow them to have a better work/family balance, such as a personal chef, travel credits or covering the cost of child care. Employees are also nominated by their peers: every year, 50,000 points are distributed amongst the employees, representing a $50,000 investment on Frima’s part

LOGiQ3 publishes an annual “LOGiQ3 Culture Book” to highlight our people and the efforts we make to preserve their culture.

Verafin has a great peer recognition program (see my last post “What Does A Great Culture feel Like” on this topic). Everyone receives “token cards” to give others when they see them displaying the core values of teamwork, caring and innovation. The receiving person brings the card to HR and they receive a $50 gift card. Inside each card is a handwritten description of what they are acknowledging their team member for and this is what holds the most value. They also donate $50 to a charity of their choice.(I thought Verafin also had a unique and simple spin on earning vacation.

Everyone starts out receiving three weeks’ vacation per year. Then for every year they are with the company, they receive an extra day. So simple because we tend to think that we have to give vacation out in weeks, so we often wait for milestones like 5 years before we hand out additional vacation time)