March 4, 2022 marks the recognition of National Employee Appreciation Day. At Lulu, we strive to make every day employee appreciation day. The leadership team genuinely practices and understands the value of truly appreciating our employees. Time and again, the research shows that when employees feel engaged, valued, and appreciated, they work harder, stay at their jobs longer, and actually look forward to coming to work.
Employee appreciation isn’t just a once-a-year type of thing at Lulu. Our entire People Strategy is focused on cultivating a culture of belonging, giving, and learning. When someone feels seen, valued, heard, and appreciated, they give back to their colleagues and their organization in a positive way. It’s about people. Period. We work together as a team, from the newest to the most veteran among us. They afford everyone the same respect, no matter their place in the organization.
Employee Appreciation at Lulu
We recently started using the social recognition platform, Bonusly. We wanted a way for our employees to recognize each other for their contributions to our culture and our business. Everyone at Lulu gets 100 Tacos (not real tacos, but a 🌮) and can send recognition to each other by giving tacos! As people give and receive tacos, it goes to a public feed where everyone in the company can see and can add on! Not only is it a great way to appreciate each other, but it highlights the work happening at Lulu. This is great for people whose work is not always visible. The other benefit is employees can cash in their tacos for gift cards, experiences or donate to their charity of choice.
A big part of appreciation is building an inclusive culture that is intentional in creating a workplace community of belonging. One of our core values is #community.
What do we do to build community? We look for activities to highlight the human in each of us. Here are a few examples:
- Boxyard Buddies
- Employees sign up to be randomly paired with another employee to meet for coffee or lunch. It can be virtual or in person. We encourage everyone to take a break from work to talk about anything but work! It’s a built-in “meaningful collision” so we can all know each other better.
- Lulu Jeopardy/Trivia
- Our People Team hosts a monthly activity to come together for fun! Yes, we encourage fun while at work. Taking a 30-minute break to play a game of trivia, have some laughs, and learn something new is good for employees and good for business.
- PowerPoint Karaoke
- This was a big hit over the last year. Every month, three volunteers present to the company about topics they were passionate about. We had presentations on Legos, Memes, Sneakers, Music, Harry Potter, and yes, the television show Survivor. (Can you believe there’s been 41 seasons?!)
New in 2022, every employee at Lulu will have a Well-Being check-in with a member of the People team. What better way to appreciate each other than booking time to take a pause and ask, “how are you doing?” We discover:
- What is going well?
- What could be improved?
- Do you know what’s expected of you at work?
- Do you have the resources you need to get your job done?
- How’s your relationship with your manager going?
- How are you managing your workload?
- When was your last vacation?
- What does support look like for you?
By asking intentional questions, we seek to create a safe space for honest conversations. My goal is always to look for ways to improve work and life when I take part in a well-being check-in. Are you getting the flexibility you need to manage your home life and work life? Are you getting the training you need to take your career to the next level? These are important questions!
Sometimes, an employee just needs time to share how they are feeling. Other times, we have meaningful conversations and take steps to enact changes or improvements at work. At the end of the day, the goal is to hear them out, see where we can make improvements, and coach them on how to talk to their manager about their needs, and step in where needed. It’s about authenticity, trust, and transparency.
We also hold monthly employee engagement meetings. This is open to everyone at Lulu. We discuss company culture and how we can continue to build community. When the pandemic hit, it was even more important I was connecting with the employees at a regular cadence. The pandemic brought on challenges of people feeling disconnected and isolated working from home. Having this meeting once a month gave everyone an opportunity to come together and focus on what we wanted to build at Lulu, how each employee contributes, and be reminded of the wonderful humans at Lulu.
For example, last month, we covered the 2022 People Team Roadmap so employees could see our priorities and offer suggestions and feedback. This also helped them see what they can expect from the People team and leadership this year. We discussed feelings about returning to the office and what topics we wanted for lunch and learns. (We feature outside speakers as a way to take a lunch break and learn something new!)
Not only do we seek input from check-ins and engagement meetings, but we also send quarterly engagement surveys. This allows us to get feedback from everyone in the organization anonymously.
Lastly, we run an upward feedback system once a year. Employees can give anonymous feedback to their managers via a survey. We use this feedback to provide developmental opportunities for our management team.
It’s About the People
Whew! You must think, how are we doing ALL of that? It’s about ruthless prioritization of what matters the most. Us. People. Of course.
We’re not robots, we’re complicated humans with many needs, challenges, and feelings. Understanding our complexity and approaching it with empathy, care, and compassion is how to bring out the best in each other. The way we do this is by automating a lot of our practices so the People team can spend our time working and interacting directly with our people. Investing in HR technology is always my number one priority when it comes to setting a strong people strategy. If something can be automated, I do it.
The things that cannot be automated like coaching, feedback, and meaningful conversations need to be how the People team spends their time. Even though we run regular automated employee engagement surveys, it is also important to get one-on-one check-ins and small group discussions because it is another set of data to be considered. Talking with your employees will never go out of style.
Why Do We Do It?
Because, it is important. It is critical from a business perspective and especially critical for the people. No longer is HR just responsible for payroll and benefits. People Operations are focused on the livelihood and well-being of employees to ensure they feel appreciated, valued, and are productive. The key to our success with this purposeful work is support from the top. The CEO and the entire executive team are aligned on our people strategy and understand why we do the things we do. Without the CEO driving this message home on a regular basis, we wouldn’t be as successful.
So, a moment for me to show my appreciation includes thanking the leadership team at Lulu for setting the environment for this work to take place. I also appreciate our People Team for the time, passion and mental strength it takes to be in the business of people. Last and most important to the employees of Lulu, I appreciate the opportunity to work with you every day. I appreciate your trust in me and thank you for making Lulu a truly special place to be.
Erin is the VP of People and Culture at Lulu.