Canadian Western Bank HR & Corporate Communications
Surprise Appreciation Event 2021
Theme: Yearbook 2020
Many people say there are few surprises in life but we are happy to share that the majority of the Canadian Western Bank HR & Corporate Communications team was truly surprised when they joined what they thought was their regular weekly team meeting.
As you can imagine, working in HR & Communications during a pandemic was especially challenging. This CWB team worked tirelessly to make sure everyone was supported and had what they needed to succeed. With the emphasis always being on taking care of other people, the leadership team wanted to ensure their staff knew how vital their work is and how much the organization appreciates them.
A surprise event is always a nice change from doing the typical invite list, invitations and RSVP reminders and all of the pre-event guest work. Instead, we went into stealth mode and were only able to correspond with select people that knew about the planning of the event and had to make sure all of our communications emphasized that it was a SURPRISE, SO DON’T RUIN IT!
We developed a Yearbook 2020 theme for their appreciation event to commemorate the past year and the challenges they overcame but also to graduate and mentally ‘move on’ to the next chapter. The short 1-hour virtual program consisted of a commencement address, a year in review and yearbook messages from the CEO, Executive, and numerous colleagues across the organization that benefited from the team’s work.
As you would find in a yearbook, the MC shared about some of the social clubs within the group, for example the Pets Club who always had their pets in view on Teams calls and the Travel Club who was struggling to find new stories this year. Using online live polling, the Most Likely To winners were also crowned in areas such as most likely to hug a teammate when COVID is over and most likely to use a GIF during a Teams call. To add to the fun, the MC was a great sport and wore a gown and cap and used the custom-made Teams background we supplied to make it look like he was on a graduation stage. We even used their corporate values as the symbols on the banners of the stage!
Although graduation and a yearbook are more of an annual occurrence, recognition and appreciation is best shared regularly amongst the team and the entire organization. Going forward, staff were challenged to add a calendar reminder every Friday to send an email or two of appreciation to a colleague. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams