Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pay it Forward, Random Acts of Kindness at Work...

A few weeks ago at work, I implemented a plan to boost morale within the 500+ employees at The-Connection since we are experiencing so many changes within the company right now. I called it the Random Acts of Kindness and Professionalism week, where everyone had Pay it Forward cards that they would pass out to eachother for a compliment, helping hand, new introduction etc. It grew into creating a "Pay it Forward" essentially to our local community center, St. Susans Soup Center in Jamestown. I am so very proud of how much this was embraced, and how successful it became in just two short weeks. Here is the article the Post-Journal wrote about this after my call center manager called them to tell them about this program I started, and the success it generated. I am so very proud of this. It made such a difference for so many people, including me :-) Enjoy...

The-Connection Donates
Call Center Makes Contribution To St. Susan Center

By Robert Rizzuto
POSTED: June 11, 2008

From left, Tahme Ling and Shannon Strong, senior team supervisors, and Jeri Barnes, call center manager, present Kurt Gustafson, St. Susan Center vice president, with a check for $1,025. Half of the money was raised by the Jamestown employees, and the rest was donated by Fred Weiner, CEO of the Connection.
P-J photo by Robert Rizzuto

The Connection call center in Jamestown presented Kurt Gustafson, vice president of St. Susan Center and Soup Kitchen, with a $1,023 check. Tuesday, shortly after a truck came to pick up multiple boxes of food the business raised.

‘‘Right now there is such a need to feed the people of Jamestown,’’ Gustafson said. ‘‘The number of people coming in has grown, and over the next few months, it will probably continue that way.’’

He explained that economic pressures, such as the rising price of gas and food, are putting local families in a position they are unfamiliar with. But said that since the center can offer wholesome meals that cost less than a dollar to produce, the money will go a long way.

Shannon Strong, senior team supervisor at The Connection, said the whole fundraiser started as something else entirely, and quickly grew into a special kind of creation.

‘‘We had a new call center manager coming in and that brings about change. And we though it would be impossible to implement the changes without some type of incentive program to boost morale,’’ she said. ‘‘And that’s where I came up with the idea of the ’Pay It Forward’ system.’’

She explained that in order to encourage the 500 employees to engage the new manager and other supervisors, they implemented a plan where whenever someone introduces themselves, they get a ‘‘pay it forward card.’’

This expanded to include random acts of kindness in the workplace, and eventually encompassed office professionalism.

There ended up being about 3,000 cards handed out, according to Ms. Strong, and they have been pasted along the halls of the office.

At the end of the week, she said that another senior team leader, Tahme Ling, suggested incorporating a fundraising aspect which could benefit a local charity.

‘‘She suggested we do something to contribute to St. Susan’s,’’ Ms. Strong said. ‘‘And everyone here gave, whether it was money or canned goods.’’

The result was $525 in cash and 10 large boxes of non-perishable goods, all earmarked for the St. Susan Center, according to the new call center manager, Jeri Barnes.

‘‘Then I called out CEO Fred Weiner and asked him what he though about matching the contribution,’’ she said. ‘‘And he said yes.’’

She said that for every dollar or canned good a worker donated, they would have their name entered into a drawing to win an assortment of things, ranging from sleeping bags and coolers to basketballs and other sport equipment.

‘‘Fred is really big on rewarding associates for a number of reasons,’’ Ms. Barnes said. ‘‘We really try to create a positive work environment.’’

Ms. Strong said she was pleased with the success of the event because it boosted morale in the workplace, and they were able to help out the community at the same time.

‘‘On both a personal and professional level, it feels really good,’’ she said. ‘‘Everything we did turned out to be a positive thing.’’

Ms. Barnes said The Connection is in a new phase of its life in Jamestown, and the ‘‘Pay It Forward’’ promo is just a sign of what’s to come.

‘‘When we started here we only had about 25 employees and a few clients. But we’ve grown so much, especially over the past year, and now have many clients,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m here to look at the process and procedures and get some more incentive programs like this into place. Hopefully we can do this again in the near future.’’