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Celebrating the company anniversary

When Workday wanted to celebrate its 10-year anniversary a few years ago, the software company called on ROI to help brainstorm ideas. Not wanting to suggest something that had been done before, we proposed a number of creative options, including helping them choose 10 unique gifts over 10 days, culminating in a custom pair of Workday-branded Chuck Taylors for every employee.

Of course, not every anniversary is a one-size-fits-all, just as not every company is alike. That’s why when another of our clients, Calico Life Sciences, was getting ready to mark its eighth anniversary this past year, we helped them come up with a celebration that was just right for them, including rarely seen photos and stories from the company’s early days. And when our own major anniversary — 20 years! — was approaching this past September, we knew we had to commemorate it in a way only ROI could do.

A moment made for engagement

Anniversaries are important milestones, not just for customers and company founders, but for employees, as well. Especially for employees. They’re the ones who have turned our companies from the startups they once were to the thriving businesses they are today. They’re the ones who give themselves, day in and day out, to our missions. If it weren’t for them, few of our businesses would be around to celebrate five years, let alone 10 or more.

That’s why it’s important we take time to truly celebrate our major anniversaries — and not just publicly, but internally, too. It’s an easy way to accelerate employee engagement, and it’s a very effective way to recognize the hard work teams do.

Thus, when ROI’s own 20th anniversary was approaching this past September, we knew it had to be an event unlike any we’ve thrown before. Since our people are spread out across North America and Europe, our plan was to bring everyone together for two days of hiking, campfires, and celebration at a beautiful location alongside the Pacific Ocean. All the plans were in motion, but then the Delta variant struck and suddenly our whole event had to be re-imagined, all while the calendar kept inching closer to September.

Camping in the great “indoors”

Determined to not let the pandemic ruin our fun, we quickly pivoted and held a virtual celebration that was just as special, if not more so, than the one we originally envisioned. Spread across six days — in addition to a 20-day countdown marked with nostalgic messages and Workplace posts — and built around the theme of a camping trip, the event focused on the major moments from ROI’s past, with a look forward to our present and future.

There was a virtual session on stargazing with CEO Barbara Fagan-Smith, where we glanced back at our biggest moments and lessons learned over the years; a virtual guided hike with president Sheryl Lewis, who led us in recalling some of our greatest client success stories; a trail mixer where everyone shared their own personal ROI experiences; and a communal campfire celebration involving quizzes about our history, along with a scrapbook of photos and a visual timeline showcasing every employee’s individual milestones (as opposed to the typical corporate highlights). The week then capped off with a celebration of our latest achievement: converting to a 100% employee-owned company.

Other highlights included a virtual family picnic with an acrobatic circus performer, daily raffles with prizes, a Spotify playlist, branded Zoom backgrounds, care packages with goodies sent to every employee home, and employee “beat reporters” who recapped each day’s session for anyone who missed it. And all of it, from the prizes and gifts to the virtual backgrounds and session names, was tied to the anniversary theme, making the entire event — much like our employees — feel truly united.

The proof is in the polling

In the end, it turned out to be the perfect way to mark our 20 years in business, and it led to some remarkable results: since the event, an overwhelming majority of employees reported feeling valued at ROI, affirming that they would recommend ROI as a great place to work. We’ve also seen a 7 percent increase in our latest employee engagement and employee Net Promoter scores, as well as significant increased activity on our company’s internal social channels.

Meanwhile, the event itself was also highly received, with employees rating it 4.7 out of 5 stars. One employee even commented the event “made me proud of all ROI has done in the past 20 years, and optimistic about our future,” while another said, “There was such a strong feeling of togetherness, even though we were miles apart, which is a tremendous accomplishment. I thought it couldn’t get better than last year, but it was EVEN BETTER!”

So if your business is like ours and has a major anniversary approaching, be sure to think about what you can do to make it an occasion for employees to celebrate. And if you need help planning it, let us know. There’s nothing we love more than making employees feel extra special and proud to be part of the company they work.

Contributor:

Rory Macleod

Rory Macleod is a Senior Writer at ROI.

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