If you think all news travels fast, even in a 25-person company, think again. If you have another office, forget it. If your company is larger, you probably hear about things either at the water cooler or at the annual meeting.
This year, we all have been more apart than ever before. As the pandemic progressed and it became obvious that the virus was not going to simply go away, I started reading and listening to books on leadership and culture, and thinking about ways I could bring my company together. It was even more important because our West Chester office had grown from two people at the beginning of the year to eight. I wanted to share what they had been doing with the team members at our corporate office in Philly.
“How about writing a company newsletter?” I thought to myself. So one evening, during my son’s swim practice, I went online and researched email templates and apps until I found one from Microsoft that I really liked.
Then I tweaked the structure to fit my company. The first page consists of “Front Page Employee News” and “Message from the President.” This is where I cover the most important news from the previous week and what I have been working on myself. On the side of the page, I post a quote for the guys to ponder — for example, one time I used a quote from the Greek Stoic Seneca: “We suffer more in our imagination than in reality.”
On the second page, I usually write about something fun that happened to the team — and believe it or not, something fun usually happens here. The second part of that page belongs to our West Chester office. I talk about their week and how is everything going with them. A small part at the bottom of the page goes to industry news. I also place a picture from one of our installs that week on the side of the page and another quote, usually something motivational.
Page three starts off with an “Employee Profile,” where I talk about one of the team members: where they were born, their family, their hobbies, their worst job, what languages they speak, and any interesting facts I know about them. I profiled myself first to break the ice, and I always ask for the featured employee’s input to get them more involved. The second half of this page goes to my “Health and Fitness Advice” section. I have few nicknames in the company, and one of them is “Health Nut.” In this section, I share my knowledge about bio hacking, stress management, eating habits, supplements, and fitness strategies that I have tried or that work for me.
Page four goes to “Birthdays and Anniversaries” and “Upcoming Events.” This page is pretty short, since we only have about 25 people in the company and there is not much going on events-wise right now.
But the real reason why I wanted to write this article is to share what has happened since I started writing the newsletter. Immediately after the first one went out, I started to receive emails, messages, and notes thanking me for acknowledging my team members for their job well done. Team members became more familiar with each other, conversations became more personal, and people with similar hobbies started to spend more time together outside of work. They are getting to know the person next to them on a personal level.
For example, our team member Sara is nine months pregnant and suffering from a nerve impingement. When I called to tell her to stay home, she said, “Alek, we are young company. I know we need to get things done.” So I thanked her in the newsletter and called her a warrior, which she is. I truly believe that this is how America was built — on the shoulders of people like Sara. And I cried when thanking her. It always reminds me that I have a good living because of my team members’ efforts, and the least I can do is to simply say thank you.
Another example was sharing with the team that a happy client not only complimented the crew on a great installation, but even drove all the way to the office to personally bring them gift cards as a thank-you. That never happened before! So I made sure to share this great story in the newsletter.
Some team members use it as their morning coffee read. Some made it their night read. One team member even said his wife reads him it aloud before bed. We also have few team members overseas — our designer and the IT/data entry person — and they both said they feel like a part of the team now. My own family started to pay more attention to the business, too, because they all read the newsletter now.
The newsletter has definitely been a hit and I will keep writing it for years to come. It brought us more together and keeps everybody informed. Relationships are more personal, and everybody is recognized for the hard work that they do. It takes three to four hours on a weekend night to write it — I do wish it would take less — but I guarantee you it is worth every minute.