The PayNW Approach to Employee Engagement

October 10, 2022

“Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” – Get Together, The Youngbloods

Keeping Employees Engaged in a Remote Work World

We’re sure many businesses out there have been presented with the same challenges we had at PayNW when the pandemic hit. What would we do about our office space? How could we successfully transition from primarily working in a single office space to going nearly 100% remote? How do we keep employees engaged without in-person interactions?

Of course, the answers to those questions are different from company to company.

At PayNW we have historically held two in-person celebratory events each year. It is a way to help employees connect and enjoy each others’ company. All work and no play…you know the rest.

After the onset of COVID, we were very mindful of the dangers and uncertainties that came with travel and decided to forego those events until the situation improved. COVID has not been eliminated, but our ability to deal with it has improved over the past three years, so it felt like the time to get together was right.

We wanted to share what happened when we recently had our first in-person, company event since the summer of 2019.

Employee Engagement at PayNW

The day was divided into meetings and team-building activities before 5 pm and a party after 5 pm. We closed our office to payroll processing that day to capitalize on our time together. We appreciate our clients’ flexibility as some minor scheduling changes were made to accommodate this event.

Our party planners -- thanks for a great night! (2)

There was a companywide meeting in the morning, then discussion forums were broken out by department and fun activities that saw us divided into teams. The activities included an office decathlon and teams working to create a prom outfit from ribbon, paper towels, streamers, and tape. In the end, one team member modeled the new creation for everyone.

Our party planners -- thanks for a great night! (3)

We also learned how to mix some classic cocktails, courtesy of our CFO, Dave.

These included an Old Fashioned, a Moscow Mule, and a non-alcoholic Paloma. All of these activities helped us bond and work together while still having fun. After a satisfying and productive (re)integration of all of our employees, it was, of course, time for a party.

Some facts that would make this soiree entertaining and special: first, I must mention our “new employees.” In the three years since our last get-together, we have brought on a number of them, many remote, from states such as California, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Arizona. Until recently, those employees had not met each other or the Washington state employees. Also, someone came up with the idea to make the theme for our party “Prom.” Dressing up for that theme was optional, but knowing our group, many employees would embrace the option. Sure enough, we had characters from Mean Girls, Pretty in Pink, and even a Pink Lady from the movie Grease. Like my senior prom (and perhaps many of yours), most of the attendees came in, made a beeline for the photographer, and then milled around for a bit while the music played. 

Our party planners -- thanks for a great night! (1)

We had games, including an employee identification contest from actual prom photos that had been provided. 

There were also several door prizes, as well as awards for employees whose peers voted them as the embodiment of the principles on which our company is based: high achieving, strategic, agile, collaborative, and reliable.

The winners of the awards are as follows:

High Achieving: Tina Luu, CSR
Reliable: Jenna Robinson, CSR
Collaborative: Angie Stroud, Product Specialist
Agile: Troy Puyear, Acquisition Manager
Strategic: Teresa Muñoz, Director of Product

Congratulations to these team members for being recognized by your coworkers!

What We Learned About Our Company

Dinner was great, the conversations were even better, and the entire day proved to be just what many of us needed to recharge and reconnect.

But, what did we take away from our summer gathering?

We were reminded of how much fun our coworkers are. We got to know new team members. We learned that no matter what age you are, dancing at prom can be awkward and self-conscious.

However, I think the best lesson we took home with us is this: working remotely is a blessing in this brave new world, and it has allowed us to expand our team in ways we never anticipated, but nothing will ever replace being in the same room, talking and laughing with friends and coworkers.

A gathering like this one forges and strengthens bonds that carry us through stressful times. I am already counting the days until we can do this again.

Here is a look at the entire PayNW team (most of us) at prom! (1)

If you are an employer struggling with keeping employees engaged in the new normal of remote and hybrid work, contact us today, and see how PayNW is already helping countless companies manage an engaged and productive workforce. 

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