Interviews | May 19, 2020
PEAK Award Winner: SOLV
In the Nov/Dec 2019 issue of PS Magazine, we highlighted the 11 winners of PSDA’s annual PEAK Awards. Today we take a look at one of those companies — SOLV — and catch up with them post-win.
Culture drives employee engagement and customer satisfaction — and, ultimately, the future of a company. An important aspect of culture is continual growth, for both individuals and a team.
Distributor SOLV invests in that growth in several ways, led by two key elements: 1) employee workshops and training at the company’s annual conference, and 2) a book handed to employees during the holidays that illustrates and reflects SOLV’s culture and values. The book’s content becomes a yearly focus for the team.
Getting everyone to read the book was challenging. “The same challenge applies with the personal growth training we do — we don’t want it to be a one-time thing that is forgotten in a month or two, where we’re so focused on the task at hand that we don’t have time to think about the underlying purpose and values we’re here for,” the company says.
SOLV’s leaders wanted to blend the value of personal self-discovery with the ideal of making work life more fulfilling. They aimed to continually reiterate “21 ways to be a great teammate” from this year’s book, and to create a package that would inspire customers with ideas to support their own great cultures. Also, SOLV wanted to showcase its in-house creative and production capabilities, something that could serve as a conversation-starter for its salespeople.
SOLV continually reinforces its good-teammate culture in daily tools:
- A table tent that displays each employee’s individual purpose on one side — a daily reminder to focus on what’s meaningful to them. The 21 ways are listed on the remaining sides.
- A desk calendar designed to maximize writing space and showcase the 21 ways.
- A custom day planner featuring the 21 ways, quotes and lessons from the book, each employee’s individual purpose and SOLV’s company values. The planners include space for takeaway lessons and personal notes.
- Peer-to-peer coupons given at monthly town hall meetings, which employees can apply toward logo apparel and incentive item purchases in SOLV’s online company store.
- A “21 Ways” channel in SOLV’s Microsoft Teams communication portal, where employees regularly recognize each other for being good teammates.
- Desktop wallpaper for each employee’s computer, featuring their individual purpose.
SOLV produced those short-run pieces in-house except for the perfect-bound cover for the planner.
“It wasn’t about making something to suit one person’s preferences,” the company says. “The whole project was improved by taking input and feedback from the entire team and paying attention to the way we work.”
“Everyone is using the tools, and everyone is incorporating the learning from the workshop and the book,” the company says. Monthly town hall meetings now include discussion of the 21 ways theme, and “references to one or more of the 21 ways are popping up in daily conversation, online and in person.
“Our culture has never been stronger, and it shows — not only in our internal trust and teamwork, but in the results we’re able to deliver for clients,” the company says.
In addition, SOLV has inspired customers to implement similar programs in their own companies and has provided printed materials to fit those programs. “The project samples make a great conversation-starter for our salespeople, to start asking questions that help our customers focus on their own culture … That’s what this was about, bringing together everybody’s ideas and creating an end result that can’t be done without the investment and engagement of the entire team.”
We spoke with Tressa McLaughlin, president and CEO of SOLV, to learn more about what inspired the company culture kit, what’s evolved since their PEAK Award entry and more.
What inspired the company culture kit?
It was an evolution of gifts for the employees that were useful, inspirational and practical. I like items that employees/customers can use on a daily basis instead of items that get displayed or filed away. These items are purchased each year, so we thought to put the SOLV stamp on them. “The Hard Hat” by Jon Gordon is the one book that we picked that was most meaningful to employees, so we wanted to keep the theme of the 21 ways top of mind and relevant.
Has anything in the culture kit evolved since submitting your PEAK Award entry?
Yes, we adapted the planner to have a coil bind so it lays flat. We incorporated each person’s purpose into the front, and we put a KPI milestone sheet in the front. We also removed the 21 ways from the side of the desk calendar and, in its place, added a 30-day challenge section. We also created a binder that had each person’s purpose statement, strengths test, overall training pieces to help maximize their strengths, tools to understand others’ strengths and note-taking pages.
Boosting employee morale in any form is important, but what is the value in creating a tangible kit like this?
It’s tactile and useful, plus we make it part of a gift-giving event at our year end party. We make it fun. Plus, it doesn’t get filed away in a drawer because we use it each month in our town hall meeting and during ongoing quarterly trainings.
What project is SOLV looking forward to most this year?
Internally, an onboarding program for new employees and increasing the strength of our sales team.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it’s most relevant now to have tools and connections for employees that are working remotely, stressed out and wondering what the future holds. They need to know that leadership has their best interests at hand when creating the path forward.
PSDA’s annual Print Excellence and Knowledge (PEAK) Awards highlight unique and successful print and marketing services applications. In partnership with the Print Education & Research Foundation (PERF), PSDA hosts this annual competition to honor the game-changing work of print professionals who go above and beyond for their customers.
The deadline to submit entries for consideration is July 24, 2020. Winners are featured prominently in the November/December issue of PS Magazine.
Visit psda.org/PEAKAwards to get started. We can’t wait to see you show off your best work.
Case Studies and Profiles Distributors PEAK Awards Company Culture