As many organizations are working from home, many leaders are asking, how can we keep our staff engaged, and maintain our culture through this turbulent time.
We definitely don't have all the answers, and we are continuing to figure out what works for us, however as one of Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For," a two time winner of Inc. Magazine's "Best Workplace," and a six time winner of Crain's Chicago Business' "Best Companies to Work For" we thought we'd share what we have been doing while working remotely in the hopes that it sparks some ideas for other organizations. We will continue to add to this blog as the weeks go on - so come back for more inspiration!
Updated February 12, 2021
Can’t travel overseas? No problem! LaSallians virtually traveled the world to some of the most exclusive spots 😉
Updated January 29, 2021
2021 Kick Off
We kicked off the New Year with a virtual all-company meeting to reflect on 2020, celebrate team and individual successes, and look ahead at what’s to come in 2021. We also recognized a group of LaSallians who stepped up to GSD and support the Briefcase in a year unlike any other with grit and determination, earning themselves promotions and some of LaSalle’s most sought-after accolades.
Team & Individual Goal Setting
As the saying goes, “It’s only a dream until it’s written down...then it’s a goal.” While we have company and team goals, LaSallians put pen to paper to outline what they want to achieve – personally and professionally – in the year ahead. To hold one another accountable to achieving these goals, LaSallians shared their aspirations with their manager and a member of HR to revisit throughout the year.
Teamwork makes the dream work and that couldn’t be truer for our back-office teams! All of LaSalle’s back-office teams gathered for a virtual celebration to cheers one another and kick off 2021 LaSalle-style: together and laughing. Leaders across the organization joined to give special shoutouts for each team’s support and contributions to LaSalle’s successes in 2020. Playing some trivia via Kahoot!, we learned some VERY interesting facts about our fellow LaSallians while sipping cocktails made from recipes sent out prior to the festivities.
Staff Gift Pick Up
Our CEO gifted LaSallians Patagonia and Northface vests as an added thank you for our work this last year. Setting up safe curbside pick-up locations, LaSallians safely gathered and enjoyed warm drinks and treats from the traveling Cookies w/Flavor food truck.
Some LaSallians have teamed up for a step challenge to beat the winter blues: The challenge: whoever first reaches 125 miles in a month wins! Our furry friends will either be VERY excited or exhausted as a result 😊
Updated December 22nd, 2020
Virtual Holiday Party
While we may not have closed down the House of Blues for our annual holiday party this year, we still brought together over 500 LaSallians, clients, family and friends for a night of comedy via Zoom. Hosted by Pat Tomasulo of WGN Morning News, we had special musical guests and local comedians perform for an hour of holiday fun. Event attendees raised $8,000 in donations for Lurie's Children’s Hospital, which was matched by our CEO, Tom Gimbel, for a total of $16,000.
10 Days of Giving Recap
Over the last two weeks, LaSalle Network employees participated in the first-ever 10 Days of Giving where we partnered with causes near and dear to our hearts, volunteering nearly 1,000 hours both in-person and virtually. From packing more than 1,500 food boxes for families in need, to wrapping 300+ presents for underprivileged children, to helping adults with disabilities with job-search coaching, to caroling at residences for adults with special needs, we were able to safely give back to our community when it was needed most. We unpacked all 10 days and lend ideas for ways you and your teams can give back in the year ahead in our recap blog here: https://bit.ly/3mJFpzP
Team Holiday Parties
While in the office, teams would traditionally get together to celebrate the holidays and toast to the New Year. Many teams kept the tradition alive virtually this year with their own Zoom parties and happy hours. Our teams got creative, doing virtual white elephant gift exchanges, murder mystery parties, and ugly sweater competitions!
Extra Day Off
Rather than work our traditional half-day before the holidays, Our CEO decided to give LaSallians a little extra time off to relax and be with family this year. After what was a challenging year for many, a few extra hours to savor the holidays is just what we needed!
Winterns’ 6 Week Sprint
LaSalle welcomed a small army of 17 virtual interns last week, dedicating their winter breaks to learn new skills and advance their career! Spread across various teams like research, recruiting and marketing, these interns are going the extra mile to add vital experience to their resume.
We added a little Christmas cheer into our weekly Townhall! LaSallians showed their holiday spirit with Christmas sweaters, hats, and festive virtual backgrounds.
Updated November 20, 2020
10 Days of Giving
LaSalle is kicking off the holiday season with 10 Days of Giving! With virtual and outdoor, socially distanced volunteer opportunities, LaSallians, friends and family are volunteering for more than 11 causes in the first two weeks of December. Stay tuned next week to learn more about which causes we’re supporting and how!
LaSalle Veteran Network
LaSalle Network is proud to announce its commitment to helping more than 1,000 veterans land employment in the next year through its newest program, the LaSalle Veteran Network. To learn more, click here.
Thanksliving Virtual Cooking Class
In any other year, we’d be having our 4th annual Thanksliving dinner at Manny’s Deli where we’d get together over good food and good company. This year, we put a twist on our tradition to enjoy tasty meals together virtually. Chef Carol, former Capitol Grill chef, hosted a cooking demo on a few of her favorite Thanksgiving side dishes including a cauliflower casserole and apple praline cobbler...we’re drooling!
Canned Food Drive
LaSallians broke out into teams for a friendly competition, raising money for a canned food drive! Teams had two days to gather donations and team leaders used the funds raised to shop for nonperishables, donating 5,061 items to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and $2,200 to Feeding America. As a whole, LaSallians helped to feed almost 80,000 people!
Super Market Sweep
After gathering donations, team leaders brought the whole company along virtually as they shopped for nonperishables during our weekly all-company meeting.
Halloween Contest Winners
The people have spoken! LaSallians, friends, family and followers tuned into our virtual Halloween costume contest and who took first place? The “cast” of Schitt’s Creek! Click here to see the rest of these creative costumes.
Award Winners and Promotions
We celebrated those who went above and beyond in the third quarter, producing great results and growing in their role. Check out which LaSallians earned promotions and titles to some of our most sought-after awards here!
Updated October 23, 2020
Virtual Bridal Shower:
We celebrated LaSallian bride-to-be Jenna Spathis with a virtual wedding shower for her and fiancé, Max. The shower was complete with games and a special champagne and treat delivery!
In-Person Management Meeting:
LaSalle Network’s management team safely came together to brainstorm, strategize, and focus on closing out the year strong! Thanks to our very own LaSallian, Jason Siegel, for hosting us on his family’s farm and pumpkin patch, Cottonwood Farm!
While we have been dedicated to maintaining our culture virtually, LaSallians came together in person for the first time since quarantine for a socially distant Fall Fest. It was not only great seeing one another in person again, but also great to meet the many new puppies and babies of LaSalle!
Halloween Costume Contest:
While in the office, LaSallians get into the Halloween spirit with our annual costume contest and being remote won’t stop us from continuing this tradition! After dressing up for a company-wide town hall, our Facebook followers will decide which individual and which team had the best costume. Cast your vote on October 30!
Canned Food Drive:
As a part of our annual Thanksgiving charitable drive, we have set up boxes at each office for LaSallians to drop off canned goods to donate. In November, teams of LaSallians will then volunteer to package up and deliver the goods to families in need around the Chicagoland area.
Q4 Kick Off:
To kick off Q4, we hosted a virtual all company meeting to recap the last 90 days, share goals, and discuss what’s to come in the months ahead. With so many LaSallians going above and beyond to help grow the business, we also celebrated exciting awards and promotions.
Our very own LaSallian of the Year, Katie Knotts, took over our Instagram for our virtual Q4 Kick Off! We tuned in to watch her cranberry juice challenge (bike edition), see her WFH outfit, and celebrate virtually with all award winners.
LaSalle Themed Song:
What says ‘I bleed green’ better than a personalized, LaSalle theme song? Our song was played for the first time during our virtual Q4 Kick Off and every Thursday since to celebrate ReBirthdays (aka LaSallian work anniversaries). You can make your own song on SongFinch.com.
Team Meet Up at the Park:
For the first time in months, one of our teams all gathered at a park for some social distanced bonding time. We got a mini lesson on jewelry making and put our lessons to work – some turning out better than others :)
Time Off to Campaign:
LaSalle offers every employee paid time off to campaign for a political cause or candidate of their choice. While some in-person campaigning may be limited, click here to read more about how you can get involved.
Contrary to popular belief, working remotely can make it easier to get to know colleagues, especially coworkers who once worked in a different office or on a different team. During our company-wide townhalls, our CEO picks out three LaSallians of varying tenure and teams to interview. Simple conversation starters like where did you grow up, what is something you enjoyed working on this year, and what’s your favorite sports team allows all 200+ LaSallians on the call to get to know them better.
Virtual Poster Board:
While in the office, teams would make posters or cards when celebrating special events like ReBirthdays, and include favorite memories. To keep this tradition alive virtually, LaSallians are using Kudo Board to submit photos and notes for a special occasion.
Sharing Inspirational Videos:
As a company, we watched a short video by Simon Sinek discussing the challenges millennials in the workforce are faced with today, and how it has impacted their career success and networking abilities. The video shared highly relevant advice and tips on how to build resilience and how to form better relationships with coworkers. Click here to watch.
Updated August 22, 2020
August 17, 2020 marks our 22nd year in business! Each year we have a week of celebrations leading up to this special day that we call “LaSallemas” (aka our company’s anniversary), typically filled with surprises, games, performances and happy hours. This year, we had to improvise and recreated the celebrations virtually. We hosted daily virtual competitions hosted by varying LaSallians across all 5 of our offices.
I spy with my LaSallian eye...someone with a Santa hat on! The first 5 people to scroll through their Zoom screens to find the hidden LaSallian were the winners.
Never Have I Ever:
We broke out into Zoom Rooms to play a LaSalle-themed “Never Have I Ever” game. Have you ever...won an award? Met your spouse or best friend at LaSalle? The first person with all ten fingers down definitely bleeds green!
We dove into the archives to find classic photos from the last 22 years. LaSallians submitted their most creative captions, with secret judges voting on whose was best.
We hosted an at-home scavenger hunt via Zoom. LaSallians sought out different items from around their homes like LaSalle t-shirts, something sticky and something that smells. The first one back to the computer with these items was the winner!
We believe that laughing together makes teams stronger! Each team within LaSalle created funny videos to share with the company, from parodies of popular TV shows to reenacting popular TikTok videos with a LaSalle spin.
A champagne toast is a LaSalle tradition to celebrate the anniversary of our inception, and this year, our c-suite traveled to each LaSallian to deliver the supplies for a successful virtual cheers that evening.
We’re a talented bunch! Keeping with LaSallemas tradition, we hosted a talent show via Zoom. Some highlights included an acapella ‘Kokomo,’ stand-up comedy, and song parodies.
Each day in August leading up to LaSallemas, our longest-tenured employees shared their favorite LaSalle memories, from the first day LaSalle opened in a cramped office with a small-but-mighty team, to incentive trips and LaSallemases past. Not only were the stories emotional and hysterically funny, it was a great way for newer LaSallians to learn more about the stories and people who have molded and shaped LaSalle to be the company it is today.
Day of Giving
This year we decided to make LaSalle’s anniversary a day to give back to our community. Every LaSallian was given time off on August 17th to serve either in person (safely!) or virtually, based on their own preference and comfort levels.
With 200 sets of hands-on-deck, we contributed 1,000 hours of community service to benefit charities such as Pitch in for the Parks, Center for Enriched Living, Aspire, Kenneth Young Center, Special Olympics and Cristo Rey.
Updated June 18, 2020
As Chicago begins to reopen, we are finding ways to safely see one another. This week, our leadership team hosted a drive-in cookout for LaSallians to grab lunch and catch up with coworkers...6-ft. apart, of course!
On everyone’s work anniversary, which we call ReBirthdays, the company gets together to celebrate the employee’s hard work over the last 365 days with in-office celebrations that include speeches, decorations, and catered in snacks. While we work remotely, some families have taken the tradition on themselves!
One of our teams spiced up a virtual happy hour with a game of Pictionary! You can do so by utilizing the ‘white board’ function on Zoom or with an app called HouseParty. Could you guess this is a pinata?
Updated June 11, 2020
Diversity & Inclusion Discussion
LaSalle is built on a caring and compassionate culture where we are encouraged to speak openly and embrace difficult conversations. In a companywide Townhall, our CEO Tom Gimbel and CHRO Sirmara Campbell addressed questions submitted by LaSallians regarding the social unrest in our country.
While working remotely, it is even more important to share successes and celebrate one another’s hard work. A few of our teams here at LaSalle have started a daily email chain sharing successes with one another. Another team starts their weekly meetings by each sharing something non-work related that they are excited about or looking forward to.
Have you ever wondered what Friends character your boss is? One of our teams started their weekly meeting with a Buzzfeed quiz to find out!
Virtual House Party
One close-knit team found a way to enjoy one another’s company virtually through the HouseParty app. This app allows the team to video chat and play games like Heads Up, Trivia or Pictionary.
LaSalle's company trip to Vegas may have gotten canceled, but we're bringing the poker table to the dining room with a virtual game night.
Updated June 4, 2020
Country Western Night
While we can't visit our favorite bars and restaurants right now, we brought the ambiance of a LaSalle favorite, Bub City, to a virtual happy hour!
Share your Station
After 12 weeks of working from home, we shared photos of different, creative workstations LaSallians have set up for themselves. By moving off the couch and away from the kitchen table, we’re getting a much-needed change of scenery.
Summer Bucket List for Kids
LaSallian parents swapped ideas with one another for keeping their kids entertained and enjoying their summer. Balloon tennis or outdoor camping, anyone? View the full list here!
Updated May 8, 2020
We hosted a virtual cocktail making class straight from the kitchen of one of LaSalle’s favorite mixologists, Lisa Mosher! The menu included margaritas, mojitos and her signature Sunset Martini. Cheers!
LaSalle’s resident “chef” Claire Challenger gave us a virtual cooking class for lunch on Tuesday. On the menu was chicken tacos with her signature garlic-herb crema.
Teams hosted trivia game nights or guessing whose baby picture is whose. Others have used Microsoft Teams polls throughout the day for fun “Would You Rather” or “Who’s Most Likely to...” questions. Some popular polls included “Would you rather give up pizza or ice cream?” and “Who on this team would be most likely to get a face tattoo?”
We broke a sweat while breaking it down in a virtual hip-hop dance class! Thanks to the LaSallian with the smoothest moves, Jess Rico, for teaching us a few of her signature steps.
Mother’s Day Celebration:
CEO Tom Gimbel typically sends a letter in the mail to thank the mothers of LaSallians on Mother’s Day, but this year he did so over Zoom. We hosted a virtual Mother’s Day Zoom call for employees and their moms to say thank you for their guidance and support during this challenging time.
Daily Town Hall Meetings:
We have a standing company-wide Town Hall meeting every morning, where all employees, we call ourselves LaSallians, log on via Zoom (a video meeting for those who aren't familiar with Zoom). All employees are asked to join via video not just audio so we really feel a sense of connection seeing one another face to face. The Town Hall is led by our CEO, Tom Gimbel. He shares pertinent information and updates, and gives employees an opportunity to ask questions. Tom talks about these town halls with Inc. Magazine here.
Morning Stand Ups & Wraps:
At the start of each workday, each team meets for a Stand Up, they use Zoom to see one another via video, and discuss each person's priorities for the day, and any roadblocks they're facing. This updates the rest of the team on what each person is working on. It not only encourages collaboration and can streamline projects, it also gives the team a sense of who needs help. At the end of the day, the crew gets together again for a Wrap via Zoom video, and shares what they achieved. Stand up and wraps help keep everyone accountable to one another.
Virtual Happy Hours:
While in office, we typically host several celebrations weekly for employee’s work anniversaries or accomplishments. We have kept this tradition going by joining one another virtually, beverage of choice in hand.
This week was going to be our 11th annual March Madness party, where we host clients and contacts at our headquarters to watch basketball, have hotdogs and nachos, and eat endless chili from our chili cook off contest. Since this year both the NCAA tournament, and our party was canceled, we’re keeping the spirit alive by each repping our teams from afar. Theme days like these give people something to look forward to and definitely encourages a little trash talking... :)
For those of us missing our group Chipotle runs, a video call lunch has been a unique alternative. Some LaSallians have posted their lunch times on our all company Microsoft Teams chat to include whomever wants to join!
Communication is key while working at a distance, especially across multiple teams, states and time zones as many people ventured back to their hometowns to be with family. Besides our daily Zoom video meetings, we have incorporated our company-wide Microsoft Teams chat to share pertinent information and a channel specifically for "Work from home" to share tips on working from home successfully. This doesn't only include work talk or current events...we also have a Teams channels featuring the dogs of LaSalle and the cats of LaSalle.
While some major life events have had to be put on hold due to quarantine, LaSallians can’t let anyone get away with NOT celebrating. Our marketing team was able to host a surprise Zoom bachelorette party to cheers our bride-to-be; champagne, sashes and all.
Chalk the Walk:
A few LaSallians living in nearby neighborhoods left notes in sidewalk chalk outside the homes of coworkers. Bonus tip? Bring your kids along to leave a picture, as well!
We hosted a virtual Bingo night featuring quarantine themed squares. How many have you completed?
Administrative Professionals’ Day:
Administrative Professionals' Day was April 22. We surprised our amazing administrative team with thank you notes, virtual zoom backgrounds and a big round of applause at our daily town hall.
One of our teams started a friendly competition to see who can get the most steps in per day. Whether that means a quick jog outside or pacing around the living room, we’re staying active and holding one another accountable.
Each year on the anniversary of an employee’s start date, we celebrate their “ReBirthday” with snacks, decorations and a night out. While quarantined, teams have still found ways to make their celebrations special. LaSallian Jim Halpin was celebrated with a surprise Zoom happy hour and a $1000 donation to Misericorida, a local community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities.
Supporting Local Businesses:
From hole-in-the-wall pizza places, to local breweries and even a neighborhood animal shelter, LaSallians showed their support of their favorite local businesses by shopping small this weekend.
April 29th was national superhero day and we celebrated our favorite first responder superheroes and friends of LaSalle. Thank you to all on the front line!
What’s better than a virtual happy hour? How about a virtual happy hour...in your bathrobe? We were in full support of self-care this week by hosting a virtual spa and sip night.
- Wellness Checks: The HR team rotates through their list of employees, deciding who talks to whom each week to check in and see how each employee is doing.
- Virtual Buddy System: Some companies have paired up employees to check in or connect with one another via phone or video chat each day. Each employee has a buddy
- Wellness Inspiration: Some companies have instituted 'step challenges' to get employees moving by sharing their step count for the day and competing with their peers to reach a goal. Employees also share recipes or their favorite home workouts in an email chain or chat.
- Wellness Wednesday & Fitness Friday: Keep each other accountable & healthy.
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