It may seem obvious, but if we create environments that are warm, welcoming, and inclusive, our people will thrive!
In this episode, host Tim Reitsma is joined by Maggie Smith—a seasoned HR professional who is leading the team at Traliant. If you are looking for clear and actionable takeaways on how to build a culture that is inviting, welcoming, and has your people excited about your company, have a listen to learn what Maggie and her team have done.
- Maggie has more than 22 years of HR experience and is the VP of HR at Traliant. [1:50]
- A warm and welcoming workplace culture begins in the recruitment process. [4:59]
- At Traliant, they created a buddy program where each new hire is paired up with a buddy from a different department so they’re able to meet people all over the organization. [5:35]
- At Traliant, they routinely check-in with people as they join the company. They leverage technology and deploy a survey at different intervals of the new employee journey so that they can get feedback. [6:52]
It’s important not only to get the feedback, but to close the feedback loop—to get back to people. Even if the answer is ‘No’, that’s still an answer.Maggie Smith
- People will stop talking to you if you don’t do anything with the feedback they give. [9:05]
- Maggie’s first priority when joining Traliant was to create psychological safety. Some ways they do this is by having a townhall meeting, give people the opportunity to ask questions, follow up after the meeting with the slides, and give people a chance to ask something anonymously afterwards. [10:47]
- Maggie challenges people to be creative and to learn to budget to pay people an extra hour to work on things like ERGs. [13:19]
- Maggie understands it might not work for someone to join a committee because they’re busy, but she encourages them to participate in other ways. [14:49]
- Traliant is very flexible with their employees’ schedules. [16:25]
- Maggie talked about what she has seen that has worked well in creating a welcoming workplace culture. [18:01]
- It’s important to take time to think about how you can include someone and make them feel welcomed. And it starts right at the beginning. [19:33]
- Invest time and resources to train managers. Not everyone knows how to be thoughtful. [20:43]
- Maggie calls it “adopting a hospitality mindset” that you’re going to adopt towards a person. [21:13]
- Hosting a town hall meeting is really important (Traliant tries for one every 4-6 weeks). They try to routinely let people know how the company is doing and to find out how they’re doing. [21:53]
- It’s important to set the expectations and communicate the expectation for your managers. I.e., if they should be having one-on-ones, that needs to be communicated to them. [27:35]
Get to know your people. When you hire them, when you bring them on board, ask the question like “what matters to you outside of work?”Maggie Smith
- Maggie makes the effort to meet every single new hire and tries to remember one thing about the person. [31:25]
- At Traliant, they recently created a virtual breakroom. The breakroom is creating a space where people can get to know each other better. [32:06]
- Traliant also has a good employee assistance program. [35:01]
Meet Our Guest
A versatile and results-driven human-resources executive with solid business acumen, Maggie translates business vision into HR initiatives that enhance performance, profitability, growth, and employee engagement. Passionate about building and supporting a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive culture, Maggie has developed, implemented, and led proactive HR programs for complex, multi-site, organizations undergoing rapid growth throughout her career in HR.
She is also a skilled business leader that is able to draw clear connections between people efforts and business goals.
A warm and welcoming workplace culture begins in the recruitment process.Maggie Smith
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Related articles and podcasts:
- About the People Managing People podcast
- 7 Recruitment Process Outsourcing Companies & Benefits
- “Thanks, Tell Me More”: How To Give And Receive Feedback
- How To Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace?
- How To Onboard The Right Way In A Remote Workplace?
Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Maggie Smith: I think it's really just also setting the expectation, communicating the expectation for your managers. You know, recently, my CEO had said to me, "I don't think so-and-so is doing one-on-ones with their employees". And I said, "But have we ever told them that's the expectations So it's really kind of backing up and sharing, "Here are the norms about managing here."
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma!
It's pretty obvious by now that if we create environments that are warm, welcoming, and inclusive, our people will thrive. Today I sit down with Maggie Smith, seasoned HR professional who's leading the team at Traliant, an online learning platform taking compliance training from boring to brilliant.
If you're looking for clear and actionable takeaways on how to build a culture that is inviting, welcoming, and has your people excited about your company, have a listen to what Maggie and her team have done. From simple things like pre-boarding phone calls to virtual water cooler chats, they've built an awesome remote culture. So stay tuned!
Maggie, it's so great to have you on the podcast. As we were talking in the pre-call or the, just before we hit record, I'm so fascinated about the organization you belong to. You're part of the first head of HR at this company, a fully remote, and we're talking about welcoming workplace cultures, creating a warm and welcoming workplace culture.
So, but before we get into that, why don't you introduce yourself and the company you work for as well as what's top of mind for you these days?
Maggie Smith: Sure. So, my name is Maggie. It's great to be here with you, Tim, and nice to meet you. And so I am the VP of Human Resources for Traliant. Joined the company back in April of 2021 and bring with me it's sad to admit, but I think a well over 22 years of human resources experience that I'm, and I'm able to use all of it here at Traliant, which is great.
Tim Reitsma: Oh that's phenomenal. And you were saying that the company has existed since 2016 and the first HR professional came in recently, like years later.
And so, how was that coming in as a first HR leader into a company, in a well-established company?
Maggie Smith: You know, it was great. It was really a good experience. I think employees were ready for it. And I think that certainly the co-founders of the organization had done a great job in terms of establishing a great culture.
So the good news, when I got here, culture wasn't an issue. It wasn't something that I had to fix, which is great because that's a lot harder than to fix, than say, like crummy benefits or, you know, lack of policies or clarity around things. So I knew like, okay, this is so doable and it won't take all that long, just time and money.
So, yeah, so it's been a really fun experience so far.
Tim Reitsma: How would you describe the culture at Traliant?
Maggie Smith: You know what? It really doesn't feel, like we are a fully remote company. The employees in, I think 31 different states at this time. A handful of employees in Canada, and you know, it's a really collaborative, helpful group of people.
Like really nice, very engaged. When I did get here, one of the things that was in place was an employee engagement committee. And we've, it certainly, you know, morphed and evolved as HR you know, joined and it has expanded. But it's great that so many people are passionate about making Traliant a better place, and they do that by participating in our engagement committee as well as our DEI committee.
So, yeah, it's just, and it doesn't feel, there's 130 of us all together. 135 now, and it doesn't feel that big, like I feel I know everyone here.
Tim Reitsma: Wow. Fully remote, you know everyone in the organization, and from the sounds of it, employees are engaged and bought in to not just the purpose of the business, but bought into the culture.
That leads into our topic, and I'm so fascinated of this topic, is, you know, the title of this episode is around how to create a warm and welcoming workplace culture. You know, when you bring people into an organization, you want that feeling - warm and welcoming. But how do you do that? I would love to define what does that even mean?
Maggie Smith: I love that question. For us, it really begins in the recruitment process, right? Like we want it to be an easy process, not where somebody has to key in the resume all over again. We don't want people to quit in the middle of applying and say, Ugh, it was too hard. Forget it. And it really, you know, so really making that an easy process and really, we've spent a lot of time improving that process too, making sure we're getting back to people, letting them know their status.
And it's not that hard nowadays, cuz you could automate that process pretty easily. And then certainly as we welcome people into our organization as well, so one of the things we've started here at Traliant, since we are remote, we can't greet the new hire in the lobby day one and say, Hey, let us give you a tour.
We actually have started a buddy program as well. So each new hire is paired up with a buddy, that person's in a completely different department, and so that they're meeting someone outside the group that they ordinarily interact with on a day-to-day basis. And, you know, it's just, you know, we define what that looks like and, you know, it could be the two of them getting together for coffee and we'll send a gift card.
Or a gift card to DoorDash, you know, you just gotta really figure out where does the person live, what's available in their area, so that it's, you know, a nice experience. So really providing that has helped as well, welcome people in and get them assimilated quickly.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. The last thing people want is, especially coming on board to a new organization is, you know you have to be online somewhere at 9:00 AM but you don't have a link, or you don't have even a computer to log into yet, or you're coming in completely like with a blindfold on, so to speak.
Maggie Smith: Yes, exactly. So we try to absolutely, you know, make a plan for that. And we also are routinely checking in with people as they join.
We have a survey that we use, we definitely leverage technology. That's our friend. And so we deploy survey at different intervals of the new hires journey with us so that we're not letting it go, you know, too far. We're getting that feedback.
Tim Reitsma: It's so important to get the feedback. Because if we don't ask, often people don't tell.
And the last thing we want is good people, good talent to be leaving our organizations and then find out afterwards, all the stuff that they wish they would've, we wish as leaders that, that they would've told us.
Maggie Smith: Exactly, yes. So that's a great point, Tim. When I first joined Traliant, there was a change in the organization, like, you know, right off the bat, and Andrew Rawson, our colleague, had indicated, "Okay, well, we're gonna have this meeting next week and we'll just have everybody email you their questions in advance." And I said, "Andrew, like, that's not gonna work because I've been here like two minutes. People don't know me. We don't have, you know, I don't have the relationship yet."
And so we immediately implemented an anonymous online suggestion box, and there's several out there that you can try out. I uses one called Suggestion Ox. There are many others, and if employees go directly to their website, they will see that, you know, they mean business. They're not gonna tell us who said what.
And if an employee were to leave feedback there, they can provide their email address. I won't see it. But if they do that, I could at least reply through the platform to them. But other times, if we get, you know, we had an anonymous question recently, and a lot of times we'll send an email out to the whole company like, Hey, we got this question.
You know, we wanna take a moment to address it because we don't know who, you know, submitted it. So it's just important not only to get the feedback, but to close the feedback loop, like to get back to people. Even if the answer is no, that's still an answer. So we wanna do that for people.
Tim Reitsma: There's a few things that stand out to me.
One is, good on you for saying, Hey, I've been here two minutes. People don't know me. It's you as existing leadership team. We all need to address this together. So good on you. Cuz often, and I've been in the position as, Oh, HR, you're brand new in the company.
Here's this issue. You now have to deal with it. And so, so good on you for level setting that, but also bringing in that culture of feedback. Yeah, when you invite it, but actually not just invite it. We've recorded a few episodes now on feedback and it's great to capture the data, but unless you're doing something about it, it's just data.
And I had an employee in an organization once that said, Hey, you're capturing all of this, but nothing's ever being done about it.
Maggie Smith: Right, exactly. They're gonna stop talking to you.
Tim Reitsma: Yes. Yeah, they're gonna go to their friends or Glassdoor or somewhere online where you do not want them to go.
Part of this conversation, we're talking about creating a warm and welcoming workplace culture. We've touched on a few things. I'd love to go deeper into a few of those things, but I'd also love to bring in the topic around inclusive workplaces. Because I don't think we can have a warm and welcoming workplace culture unless there's inclusion.
So what makes an inclusive culture?
Maggie Smith: Oh, gosh. I think there's a lot of different components to doing that, right? And I kind of always visualize, like keeping all the plates spinning. And I think, you know, one thing that when I came in here, my first priority was really to create an environment of psychological safety to make sure we were having things like, you know, like we did today at Traliant.
Have a town hall meeting, give people the opportunity to ask questions and then, you know, we're gonna follow up with that town hall meeting after the fact, and you know, send out the slides. And I usually wait a day or two because there might be someone that wants to submit something anonymously and that's okay.
We would just wanna be able to address that. And I think inclusion, you know, it's a great topic. I think it's a really, you know, starts for us as we, when we have an open requisition, we're casting a wide net and we're really, you know, making sure that we are reaching out to different groups that they're aware the opportunities that we have here at Traliant.
We recently started putting in a little tagline that said, Hey, if you don't check every box for this role, please still apply anyway. You know, we wanna hear from you. So I think it's, you know, and then giving people an opportunity to get involved and be engaged.
So here we do that through an employee engagement group we have, we also have a GEI committee as well. And we always, you know, are reminding people that those opportunities exist, and we want them to participate and we wanna hear their feedback.
Tim Reitsma: There's a couple things that are coming up with that is, I love that made it intentional. So I wanna commend you on that is not just in the job requisitions, but inclusive in terms of, here's ways to get involved within an organization.
Maybe a little cynical question for you is, I've heard in other organizations where there's employee committees, there's employee resource groups or ERGs, but employees don't have the support from their managers to join. Or it's like, Oh, this is gonna take an hour a week, you now have to make up that work hour somewhere else because I need you on the job.
Have you ever come across that in, doesn't sound like maybe at Traliant, but at other places and because managers are listening to this going, well, I need my people to be working on the projects, not on the company-wide initiatives.
Maggie Smith: That's a great question. Thankfully, I certainly have not run into that here at Traliant.
However, previously prior to joining Traliant, I worked in healthcare many years, you know, I also was in at a software company, and I heard that a lot. Because understandably, employees needed to be on the floor, you know, providing care to whoever. So I think you just really need to get, I challenge people, like, okay, let's get creative.
Let's think about this. Like, let's budget, you know, in the case where I was in healthcare, let's budget so that we can pay people an extra hour, you know, to participate in these events. And in healthcare sometimes that meant that we were holding a meeting at 6:00 AM before the 7:00 AM shift.
So we're catching the overnight, we're catching the knee shift. So I think you just really need to get creative with that and really, you know, put some upfront thought into that.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't agree more. It's, people want, and I'm generalizing here, but based on the people I've talked with in many podcasts, maybe many people I've connected with online is they want more than just a job to go to.
They want a place where they can contribute and feel like they're contributing to the entire vision and mission of an organization. And it then ties directly into this welcoming workplace culture, cuz the last thing you want to present to new employees is, so here's a list of all these groups, but it's all extracurricular.
It's all gonna be not paid. Goodluck.
Maggie Smith: You know, I love that you bring that up. And I think, you know, one thing that I really do work hard to do here at Traliant is, you know, communicate to people like, Hey, I get it. Like it might not be the right time for you to join a committee, but we'd love you to participate in these other ways. Is that something that you might be interested in?
Like, I know here at Traliant, somebody said to me like, look, I wanna be involved, but I have my hands full. I have, you know, all of this going on in my job. I have a child at home, you know? All of this stuff. And they were saying, and I was like, yeah, but you can still, and they were saying like, you know, I don't really have the time to commit to like an hour meeting every month and whatever else it entails.
But we just reach out to people and let them know, Hey, this is what we're doing. Would you like to participate in this way? And kind of it does involve getting to know your people, what their talents are, what they're interested in, and really kind of tapping people. And if they say "No", like that's okay.
You know, maybe it's not the right time, but just, you know, keep doing that, I think and, you know, offering that up.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It's important to offer it up. It's there. Timing might be not right, but it's still there. It's not going away. It's not a, Hey, welcome to the company, sign. It's not like you're going to university and 600 clubs that you can join, but you have to join within the first two weeks.
Otherwise you're not in. It's like we're here for the long haul and you're welcome to join at any point.
Maggie Smith: Exactly. Yeah. And one of the things that we are, you know, here we have a great opportunity is that, you know, I think our work is almost shifting to asynchronous culture, right?
Like, we're very flexible, but you know, certainly you still need to get your work done of course, and meet deadlines and responsibilities. But we're incredibly flexible when it comes to people and their schedules. You know, I have an employee like, she'll get on early and then she'll say, okay, I'm gonna go drive my son to school now, or last week she was like, I have to drop, you know, my child off a band or whatever.
Like who cares? I don't understand this kind of antiquated notion that work must be done within the hours of nine to five and that's it.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And that's, it's getting out of that mindset. Especially if you've come from an office environment where people see you if you leave at 3:00 PM. And even though you go pick up your child from school and then hop online at home, but that doesn't necessarily register with
people to see it as, Oh, Maggie's leaving at 3:00 PM again. Maybe we should have a talk with her. So I would love to just, you know, go back to the kind of the beginning, which is about the welcoming workplace culture and what have you seen maybe that hasn't worked well?
Is there any stories that you can share that you would not recommend to people to try? Or some things that you've seen throughout your career as an HR professional?
Maggie Smith: You know, I can't think of an example of what not to try, but I could certainly share instances where, you know, somebody made the effort and I thought, wow.
Like I remember I was like driving down a highway years ago before I was about to start a new job, and my cell phone rang and I answered it. And it was my manager and she was saying, oh, we're so excited to see you next week. We're really looking forward to it. I think the call took all of maybe two minutes, definitely under five minutes, and I just remember thinking, wow, you know, this person was thinking about me before I showed up.
So I think when it doesn't work well, it's just because I don't, you know, certainly not, no one sets it up intentionally for the new hire to have a bad experience. But, you know, you can really make that a priority and think about, okay, how am I gonna connect with this person? How am I gonna make them feel welcome to the organization?
You know, I recently, this past year had a new hire start. She's on the West coast. I'm on the East coast. And so we invited her to a little lunch, but we called it brunch. And I had sent her a brunch basket, you know. And this doesn't, she lives on an island, believe it or not.
So it wasn't like I could have DoorDash like run to her house. So I was like, all right, I'm gonna ship this brunch in a box for her. And you know, that's what we did day one. So I think it's just taking time to, you know, how can I include this person? How can I make them feel welcome and part of the organization?
And that starts at the beginning.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. A brunch in a box. I might look that up later, cause I'm all about brunch. So I love that and I love that story of, it's, I took a note here is as simple as a phone call. You know, a couple days, a week, two weeks before somebody starts. And, yeah, an email, something.
Yeah, email, phone call, text, you name it. Just a way to invite somebody into our organization, into the career that they're gonna build at our organization. How do you keep that going though? Cause I've heard of great onboarding experiences and then it seems like, okay, well, we're gonna, you know, send you brunch in a box on day one.
And then we'll talk to you maybe next week. Or what other rituals could we be exploring or should we be exploring to foster this welcoming culture? Cuz it's not just a, well, you're on probation or whatever your workplace has. We just need to keep that welcoming, but it's welcoming and warm throughout your whole tenure there.
Maggie Smith: Yeah. I think, you know, one thing, John, our CEO, he is great to work with and this is a priority, so for him as well, which is amazing. So one of the things that we're doing in less than two weeks, we're definitely, you know, investing time and resources to train our managers too. You know, I think, like I said, no one sets out to be like not thoughtful, but I think like not everybody knows how.
I think it's really kind of, for me, I call it adopting a hospitality type mindset that you're gonna extend towards that person. And it's really, you know, making an effort certainly throughout their tenure, as you said. So you know, here, when somebody joins Traliant, HR has, you know, an HR onboarding where we kind of talk about, okay, here's the norms of the company, here's this.
We tell 'em about our programs and then we invite them, you know, to those programs like, and we tell them, Hey, we're gonna invite you. You might be busy learning your new job and that's cool, but we just want you to know what's going on. And I think also hosting a town hall meeting is really, you know, important.
Like we just did that today. We try to do it probably every four to six weeks. Yeah. I think we were a little late this time. It felt like, might have been eight, but we tried to routinely, you know, let people know, Hey, here's how the company is doing, how are you doing? Yeah, so I think, you know, it's just really, also sharing best practices too. Which, in addition to training our managers, you know, somebody said to me, oh, I have this book club with my employees, and like, they really thought about it like that.
So nobody has one big lift and they are currently reading Atomic Habits, and they're gonna get together and discuss that. So it's also sharing, you know, what are the best practices and, you know, find out what those are so that they can be shared. And you know, I'm not saying you have to instill all those, but just that so that somebody's like, oh, okay.
Hey, this is what I'm gonna do.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I would love to join that book club. I love the fact that they've took the initiative, set it up with their employee. Sounds like everybody got the book or audio book and are sitting gonna sit down and discuss it. I think so much can happen in a team and the dynamic where if you read something, if it's a safe space, you can agree to disagree or you can debate it.
But that creates that psychological safety, which you mentioned at the very beginning. It creates that welcoming culture. It fosters inclusion when, Hey, I don't agree with this, what he's saying in this book. Or I don't agree with what you're saying and this is why, let's have a conversation about that.
Maggie Smith: Exactly. And in this case, the manager said, oh yeah, I went on Amazon. I bought the book, I shipped to Chamber's house. You know, it's paperback, so it's not a lot of money either. So, and I think that's, you know, the thing to think about in the grand scheme of things, sending somebody a book compared to, if you had to replace that person, cuz they weren't engaged, they thought their manager didn't care.
You know, it's wild. It's a small investment.
Tim Reitsma: It is. There is some really small investments of a couple hundred dollars. And as long as you're setting the tone, and I know we're using this as an example of this book club, but if the tone is set of, hey, you're getting a book on Thursday. Monday, we're doing a full review.
So, I was sitting down with the CEO about a year ago and we're discussing a book, and he said, I love the book you're talking about, Tim. I'm gonna email my entire team. And this was on a Thursday afternoon. He said, I'm gonna email my entire team to go pick up the book this weekend, and on Tuesday they have to have it finished and we're gonna, we're gonna implement all the strategies.
And I was like no. Like, that's not inclusive at all. It's disruptive. So there's the right and the wrong ways to do these things.
Maggie Smith: Yes, exactly. And you know, certainly talk to your employees. Like you can easily launch a poll in Outlook. You know, Hey, here's a couple book options.
What do you guys think? You know, and really involve people in the process. We try to do that here at Traliant. People might be sick of me, but I do send out a lot of little surveys to get their opinion on things. And you know, one of those, obviously mental health has been a big discussion, you know, in the news for a couple years now. And we wanted to have a better, comprehensive solution for our employees for mental health here. And I remember speaking with our CEO and we were trying to solve this problem together.
And then we just started laughing and said, imagine if we're the only two people in the company that really care about this. And so we sent out a survey and said, Hey, here's a survey. It's gonna take two minutes. Here's why we're asking you. We wanna make the right investment. And in a program that you'll use that can benefit you.
And you know, and we took their feedback and said, thanks so much and here's what we're doing.
Tim Reitsma: What comes to mind is, there's so much in the news right now about layoffs this whole 2022, probably 2023, is they're so full of layoffs. And there's organizations who are trying to do it with compassion and empathy, and there's some that are just not doing it with compassion, empathy.
We're not, that's a whole other conversation, but I just think about from a culture perspective, especially this warm and welcoming culture. Some organizations just don't care about that. And so as a leadership team, have you sat down and with your leadership team at this role or previous roles and said, okay, this is what it means to us.
And in your case, it's, we're gonna send gift baskets and books and all these town halls, but in some cultures it's like, Hey, just be thankful you got a job.
Maggie Smith: I love that question and we, you know, we do spend a fair amount of time discussing that here and making sure that we're cascading the information down. And, you know, every now and then, you know, I'm really fortunate our CEO genuinely cares about employees. So I recognize that other human resources professionals may not be as lucky and I feel for you and advise you to run cause they're probably not gonna change that if the person doesn't care.
You know, that's a big ship to turn. But I think it's really just also setting the expectation, communicating the expectation for your managers, you know. Recently, My CEO had said to me, I don't think so-and-so is doing one-on-ones with, you know, their employees. And I said, but have we ever told them that's the expectations?
So it's really kind of backing up and sharing and, you know, here are the norms about managing here. And, you know, and communicating them repeatedly, keeping those alive certainly. So I think, yeah, it's just really kind of keeping it top of everybody's mind.
Tim Reitsma: The word that comes to mind is intentional.
We hear about workplace culture, defining what your workplace culture is, owning it and being intentional about it. If your workplace culture we're just a bunch of people who just don't care and we work for a paycheck, then own it. Don't try and pay it as something different, just that's what you are.
But at your organization, it's not that. It is, yes, you're here for a paycheck. At least, maybe I'm paraphrasing this, but we have intentionally decided to create a warm and welcoming culture, focused on inclusion, focused on DNI. And I think, for people who are listening, you know, it's so important, whether you're a leader or a manager in HR, you can't just rely on if your executive team's not doing it.
Or if HR, you know, I hope HR is, is trying to influence this. But if that's not happening, if you're leading a team of people, be intentional about the culture you're creating in your team. Create that warm and welcoming culture. Create a place that you yourself would want to go to.
Does that make sense?
Maggie Smith: Yeah, absolutely. And we really, you know, work hard at that. And, you know, our CEO, like I mentioned, he had joined the organization shortly after me. It was in June of 2021. And he really is respectful of people's time off here, like nights weekends, vacation holidays and, you know, had conveyed that.
One day, I said, I don't know that everybody realizes that though. Like, I know your team knows, but what about the other people managers? And he said, you know, that's a good point. And he sent out an email to the entire company that said, Hey, this is my expectation and if you wanna work on the weekend, Okay, I hope you don't have to, but let me show you how to use delay send so that way you can have it queued up to go out on Monday morning and you're not disrupting other people who might be trying to enjoy their weekends.
So I think it's just thinking those things through. You know, we're creating training, we're not saving lives here, so nothing's that urgent that we need to get the word across on a weekend or night or anything like that.
Tim Reitsma: I love that.
Well, Maggie, as we kinda look to wrap up our conversation around this topic, somebody who's listening, somebody who maybe driving to work or on transit or headed home or you know, is taking a break during their work day, what is one thing that they can do to strive to create this warm and welcoming culture?
What is that one thing? And I know it's worth speaking to a very different personas, various personas, but, you know, at a high level, what could we be doing to influence that change in our organization?
Maggie Smith: You know, there are so many that come to mind and I know you only asked for one, so I'm gonna narrow it down and go with one.
And I think it's really making sure, like get to know your people too. What, you know when you hire them, when you bring them on board, you know, ask the question like what matters to you outside of work? And you know, I make an effort to meet every single new hire, like we had somebody join the company this week and I popped in the orientation to introduce myself.
You know, when I try to remember, okay, what's one thing about this person? Right? That, and it's not hard. You know, I remember bonding with somebody this past year over their orange cats and I have a big orange cat. So he would send me pictures of his orange cat and back and forth and, so I think that's one thing, you know, really getting to know people and showing that you genuinely care about them as a person, I'd say is number one.
Another thing we just did here at Traliant for this kind of welcoming culture, as I mentioned, we are fully remote, so what we did, we used Teams here at Traliant and we created a virtual break room that we launched. And, you know, it's pretty new for us, but I had noticed after an event, we had a Halloween event virtually.
And so I noticed for a couple days there was a lot of chatter still happening in that, you know, Teams chat, like people are sharing pictures of their kids in Halloween costumes. And then I was kind of sad when that stopped, so I was like, what can we do? So we just launched this virtual break room and since it's new, you know, I think you need to be intentional about getting people involved.
So today I went in there, I said, oh, I'm having my coffee here in the virtual break room with you all. And since there's no art in this break room, share a piece of art that you have hanging in your house or your office. And I went first and took a photo, uploaded it to Teams, and that's the conversation that's taking place today.
And tomorrow in the United States is Veterans Day. So tomorrow we'll be doing some trivia in the break room. First person who gets it right is gonna get, you know, a $10 gift card to Starbucks. I wish I was in Canada. I would give away $20 for Tim Horton's right off the bat. Cut a sad button up being there.
Yeah, so I think it's like things like that just really so that, you know, people in the break room, they're getting to know each other on a personal level. Like somebody said to me, oh, I live right near where you got your piece of art. I'm in, you know, this location. And you know, already people are learning things about each other that they wouldn't ordinarily and interacting with people outside their team.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. There's a couple of good suggestions right there for anybody who's listening. One, it's just universal. It's get to know your people. HR, you can't necessarily rely on, just say, Hey, HR is gonna ask them questions and then pass me the notes.
It's like, no. Set up the time. Have your virtual meetings or in person meetings. Don't talk about work. Talk about the things that matter as you said, outside of work. I love that you shared even a story about your cat, because if you didn't share that story, another employee might go, you know, never would've bonded over that.
I love the thing that you also said, which was the virtual break rooms online and being intentional about that. That is cost effective, simple, a way to get people together in a space to just jump in quickly, share something, and then just jump back out. And it's not distracting, it's not time consuming, but it drives connection, which is another theme that I'm seeing through this conversation.
Maggie Smith: Exactly. We also have a good employee assistance program that we rolled out, but they're very robust program, so we have them in for a live training. So, this week they came in, they did a presentation on holiday wellness, like how not to go crazy with the stress of the upcoming holiday season. And they gave us a handout and you know, we don't make people go, but we create that opportunity intentionally so that people can participate if they wanna do so.
Tim Reitsma: I love that.
Well, Maggie, it is a pleasure to connect with you, to talk with you. You've also shared an article on our website. You've participated in the Build A Better World of Work Interview series. Thank you for that.
For those who are listening and they want to know more about you or have questions about how you've intentionally designed the culture there, how could people reach you?
Maggie Smith: Yeah, just hop right on LinkedIn. I'm on LinkedIn, Maggie Smith. There's probably a couple thousand of us, but I am in Richmond, Virginia. That makes it a little easier. I could also be reached at email@example.com.
Tim Reitsma: Perfect. And we'll put those links into the show notes as well. So if you do have questions or intrigued about some of the programs that we talked about to really drive this and create a warm and welcoming workplace culture based on that foundation of inclusion and connection and intentionality, you can head to peoplemanagingpeople.com and we'll have the links there.
And so, thanks again Maggie, for coming on.
And for those who are listening, I always value your feedback. Please send me an email to Tim@peoplemanagingpeople.com. And if you have ideas for future episodes, we always love to hear that as well. And as always, please like and subscribe our podcast.
So Maggie, have a great rest of your day. And for those who are listening, have a great rest of your day as well.