By Lisa Pinion
March 19, 2009
A big part of what makes Assurance Agency a great place to work is that all of our employees share in the success of the organization achieving its common goals. One of the ways we’ve gotten everyone singing the same song, so to speak, is to incorporate a yearly company theme. We’ve found that creating a company theme can motivate and unite employees to work towards a shared goal, while creating an enjoyable atmosphere in the workplace. Done right, it can be a very fun and unique way of energizing your workforce.
Over the years, our most successful themes have been quirky, meaningful and definitely memorable. In fact, many of them have been expressed in song. Of course, the rationale behind the chosen theme should have a clear goal for the company that employees can relate to and understand. Having a theme people will remember can inspire employees and keep them focused on the objective. Themes can be incorporated into many aspects of the company, from wellness events to fun activities to even everyday language. Using this strategy will encourage employees to work together to create the specific vision which the theme entails.
At Assurance, each theme is created to communicate a common message and bring employees together. Over the past three years, our diverse themes have included, “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight,” “We Can Be Heroes,” and “Catch the Buzz.”
Just prior to 2007, Assurance went through a tremendous period of change. We moved our company offices, implemented a new computer system and changed the process for issuing proposals. These changes created stress on our people, and we wanted to slow things down a bit and get back to doing what we love - focusing on our clients and having fun. To express this idea, we chose the theme “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.” It refers to a rather notoriously popular and ridiculous song from the 1980s. The idea of using such a silly title for our theme helps to offset the very serious and often hard work we perform. We promoted our “Wang Chung” spirit by randomly playing the infamous song over the loudspeaker, creating a prize wheel for employees called the Wang Chung Wheel, and had an ice cream social where each employee left with a crisp $50 bill and a smile on their face. Eventually, Wang Chung became part of our cultural vernacular as employees began to use the term to describe whether something was fun or not.
We Can Be Heroes
In 2008, we selected the theme “We Can Be Heroes,” borrowed from a David Bowie song. With all the success the company had enjoyed over the past 10 years, we wanted to place a special emphasis on giving back and helping others be successful. Assurance’s president encouraged all employees to go further and “be heroes” to our clients, our community, our families and each other in our daily interactions. Throughout the year, the theme was woven into everyday activities to serve as a constant reminder, including: sharing stories of personal heroes in our newsletter, creating superman-inspired t-shirts with the Assurance logo, and rewarding employees for heroic behavior.
Catch the Buzz
This year, Assurance has launched an external campaign to build brand awareness and encourage prospective clients to learn more about us. The heart of the brand awareness strategy is to expose the excitement of Assurance. Through this campaign, Assurance is encouraging everyone to “Catch the Buzz.” We’ve adopted this campaign as our yearly theme, and are asking our employees to serve as brand ambassadors to help fuel our growth efforts. We are supporting this messaging by creatively rewarding referrals generated by employees. And, our president has even agreed to wear a giant bee costume to work if we reach our yearly goal.
Here at Assurance, we believe a happy and motivated workforce helps lead us to our ultimate goal of providing superior services for our clients. Many of our clients have seen the example we’ve set and want to be a part of it. As they learn from our successes, and even our failures, we encourage them to develop a theme that fits their culture.
If your department or company had a theme song, what would it be?
Choosing a theme can reinforce the culture you want to create. We have experienced this first hand. Our culture is fun and exciting where employees are united under a shared vision. We encourage each company to create their own theme and experience the many benefits of doing so. Good luck!
Lisa Pinion is vice president, human resources, at Assurance Agency, LTD in Schaumburg, Ill., a 2008 winner in Chicago’s 101 Best And Brightest Companies to Work For. She is responsible for developing, managing and administering, all human resource related strategies, programs, policies and procedures for the company. Lisa can be reached at [email protected].