Bristol’s operating philosophy of Connect versus Control doesn’t just describe the way we interact with external clients, transferees, and suppliers. It also guides the way associates act toward each other. In our view, the best way to promote a positive atmosphere and strong teamwork is to give associates regular opportunities to socialize and participate in activities together through company-hosted events. To learn more about Bristol’s commitment to employee engagement, we recently interviewed Vanessa Almeida, Director, Associate and Office Relations.
Culture Connection Origins
Bristol’s Culture Connection program was officially implemented in Spring 2013, but its roots are even deeper. Its inspiration comes straight from President Joe Cardini, who had a clear vision of the kind of company he wanted to cultivate under his leadership. Joe envisioned Bristol being a company with transformational employee recognition and morale, alongside meaningful social commitment. For several years, these efforts existed on a smaller scale, but as the company expanded, it became apparent that we needed to consolidate and formalize the many activities under one coherent framework. To translate Joe’s vision into reality, Vanessa created the first Culture Connection Committee in 2012 and a new program was born.
Culture Connection Close Up
While previous activities had been enjoyable, the enhanced creativity and logistical support provided by a dedicated committee meant that the events could become bigger, better, and more memorable. For example, the past months have seen a chili cook-off, a fall carnival, office mini-golf, a bazaar, a grilled cheese bar, and even the start of a community garden. For Vanessa, it is hard to pick her favorites across the past few years, but a few highlights outshine the rest. The time the “Giggles” the Easter Bunny came in person and associates participated in an egg hunt, the Winter Olympics where four teams competed in events spread over an entire month, and Bring Your Hobby to Work Day where associates showed off their hidden talents, were especially great moments in Culture Connection history. Take your Kids to Work Day is also on the favorites list. It’s an annual event and it gets bigger every year!
Culture Connection Committee
One of the hallmarks of Bristol’s Culture Connection program is that any associate at any level can sign up to be on the committee. Committee members are asked to make a 6-month commitment, especially because there is a learning curve at the outset for members who usually fulfill a support role before pitching, planning, and executing their own projects. The long-term commitment also gives the team the opportunity to learn each other’s strengths and foster each other’s leadership development. Associates also have a chance to take initiative, demonstrate responsibility, work on a team, and contribute to building the company’s culture.
Vanessa emphasizes that while it is a labor of love, a lot of work certainly goes into this program, and the fact that associates willingly contribute to the effort in their free time speaks volumes to how much they support its mission. For example, associates often use their own personal time outside of office hours to plan, prepare, and clean up. By putting on the events, they also sacrifice the prizes that participating associates can win. And yet, as Vanessa explains, people sign up because they really enjoy doing it. She says, “At the end of the day, if I can make everyone engaged and want to be here, it will help Bristol achieve its goals. I get enjoyment from seeing people enjoying things and being happy!”
Another member of the Culture Connection team, Cassie Mick adds, “I love being a part of the Culture Connection team because of the continuous positivity and joy that the committee spreads. I believe the way that Bristol does culture is exceptional compared to the average service industry workforce. It’s not every day you can say you had a petting zoo on the company lawn or had a turkey bowling contest. We are a people/relationship business and that all starts with us in office environment and ensuring we make Bristol a lively and attractive place to be, so we can then pass those qualities onto our interactions with our clients. Like I’ve heard our President Joe say before, “people and culture are paramount to the growth of our business”. We are very proud of the environment we strive to create at Bristol and are so grateful to have the chance to contribute to bettering the work lives of our associates.”
2019: Looking Ahead
Right now, the program is the most well-established at our headquarters in Phoenix, as well as Dallas. While Vanessa and her team continue to roll out the program’s expansion to our London and Toronto office, more events are in the works. Stay tuned to our social media for photos!
At Bristol, we know that like customer service, employee engagement doesn’t just happen on its own. It has to be cultivated on a regular basis with guidance from leaders and support from staff. Thanks to Joe’s vision, Vanessa and her team’s incredible dedication, and the ongoing contribution of committee members, Bristol’s culture is thriving.