Blog post

Making celebrations a priority at work

September 21, 2022

At OpenTent, we don't take celebrating or supporting our team lightly.

We have a self-selected and motivated group in place to ensure that no celebration or need for support goes unnoticed - The Celebration Committee.

Chaired by Senior Project Manager, Kara Nic, the committee is highly focused on the larger company goal of "Make Work Suck Less", a hashtag that we also use in describing how we work "out loud" in our blogs and social posts.

Initially, all celebratory/support needs were handled by Co-Owner and Director of Coaching, Kayleigh Collins. As OpenTent continued to grow and Kayleigh was about to take her Sabbatical (see more about that here!), the company realized they needed more support in this area.

Since that time, the committee has formalized some of its work through monthly meetings and a space in ClickUp (a project management tool we use for all our work, internal and client facing) to ensure that everyone is accounted for and no positive life/work event goes uncelebrated! Five teammates operate the committee and ensure that recognition and gift-giving ideas are split amongst members and worked out in a collaborative way.

Kara says that the two main guidelines they were given from the very beginning were simple:

  1. Cultivate a fun atmosphere in a virtual environment
  2. Be intentional and personal in choosing celebration type and gifts given

And they have followed these guidelines even as the company has grown substantially in the last year.

Celebrating folks is important in and of itself, but OpenTent also cares about getting it right when it comes to personalized gifts and get-togethers. We place a high value on building solid and authentic work relationships with each other, which is critical for our project teams to function but also allows for a deeper level of knowledge about who we all are as people. And THIS enables us to give meaningful and personal recognition during times of celebration.

One unique part of the Celebration committee is their goal of sourcing gifts from local places. As Kara says, "We like to work here because we like our (nonprofit) clients and value what they do. In this spirit, we want to be intentional when we can about the organizations we are supporting with money used to buy the gifts. We feel choosing our vendors and how we spend our celebration money matters because we care about where our time and money goes on a larger scale."

Besides physical gifts, the Celebration Committee also creates some very interesting and innovative virtual gifts. One of those is a collaborative 'virtual card' using Miro Boards. They can add collaborators and have everyone sign the card from wherever they are. It gives it the feel of a paper card that has been thoughtfully passed around an office but in a virtual setting.

Another virtual gift is something called 'Highlight Reels' given when someone returns from an extended leave (parental, disability, sabbatical). The Committee curates a highlight reel of "extremely important business related stuff" which is actually strictly culture and relationship related highlights that were shared on Slack during the leave. The returning teammate is able to click on all the 'Headlines' (links) of funny, fun, interesting, and non "work" related posts to see pictures, read comments/threads, and be brought up to speed with current inside jokes to feel a little less like they missed out while they were gone.

They also rely on Team Leads to keep them informed when other celebrations are needed. Many times, teammates are working towards different types of certifications for their specific role and passing those is no small feat. As long as the committee is made aware, they can jump in with Miro cards or even printing the certificate, framing it, and sending it to the recipient for them to have in their remote office space. They might also include a gift card for a study break coffee or treat.

On the support side of things, the committee will often organize around needs if someone is experiencing an acute struggle or hardship. Cards and flowers might be sent along with opportunities for teammates to sign up to send virtual gift cards for local restaurants.

Most important to the committee, leadership, and the overall company, is ensuring that we are taking care of each other; celebrating the milestones, wins, and accomplishments and supporting the harder times. We are working to build the kind of company culture where kindness and joy are front of mind in our interactions with each other and our clients.

To learn more about OpenTent's way of Working Out Loud, get in touch here!

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