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Love In the Time of the Pandemic – Employee Edition

The first thing we did back in March 2020 when the pandemic got serious was obvious: We closed our offices and carried on with our day-to-day business virtually. It went off without any hitches. We instituted a daily 30-minute “water cooler” call on which we connected, covering personal subjects (who cooked what, watched what, got engaged, went to the dentist, etc.) and business matters (work in progress, deliverables, etc.) The team continued to feel connected.

A more open-ended challenge during this scary and unprecedented time was how to keep employee morale positive, energized and productive. That’s where our creative impulses kicked in and our Employee Engagement group stepped up to the plate. They planned and enacted programming that engendered positivity while the team worked entirely from home for the first time ever.

We focused on some of the typical “life events” first, including birthdays and work anniversaries. In true MKP style, we took time out to celebrate each employee birthday, which we did on our morning calls. Each birthday celebration was unique and focused on something personal about the birthday person: a favorite band, food, travel spot or hobby. We dressed up for birthday calls in sombreros or as rock stars, or we positioned ourselves, virtually, on golf courses or beaches. For one 25-year work anniversary, we created a personalized video in which we all shared things we adored about our colleague. We were in stitches and in tears.

The Employee Engagement team recognized that working from home was lonely for some, and so we instituted a gift exchange. We were each assigned a person to whom we were to send a small and anonymous gift. This initiative was fun with employees reporting on the morning check-in call that they got a case of Kit Kats, aromatic lotion, truffle oils, custom tee shirts and more. It brought joy and fun to our group.

Then the games began. “Show and tells” were set up during which employees shared, virtually, about their hobbies and interests. We learned about house plants and sports memorabilia, treasured artworks, and more. We played virtual bingo more than once, with prizes and all. We learned how to make special cocktails and had numerous happy hours. All the activities were voluntary and some after hours, and yet almost everyone showed up all the time.

And one of the best initiatives so far was the “I appreciate you…” cards. Each employee was sent five note cards with envelopes and stamps, and encouraged to send quick notes in the mail to fellow employees expressing appreciation. Sharing and receiving gratitude was a beautiful concept, filled with optimism and warmth.

Our team has grown closer than ever during the pandemic. We can thank our Employee Engagement group and the activities it planned as well as our executive leadership that welcomed and endorsed it all. We work together better than ever as a result. While the pandemic has been difficult and frightening for many of us, the memories and activities that we shared during these times will be treasured by the team for years to come.