End of Year Party – Inside Business (May, 1993)

May 23rd, 1993

Annual End-of-the-Year Party

From Corporate Cleveland
May 1993

Like many companies, Cleveland-based Talan Products, which manufacturers stamped metal parts, had always hosted a year-end celebration for its 45 employees and their significant others – usually a catered affair at the Cleveland Athletic Club.

“We have people with different religious beliefs, so we never liked to hammer home the fact that this is a Christmas party,” says Pete Accorti one of the company’s three partners. But the club sported traditional Christmas decorations that made some employees uncomfortable. And because Talan ascrIbes to the ‘open book’ theory of management and shares its monthly financial statements with employees, they knew what the outing cost. Although the company could afford the expense, Accorti says, employees believed the money could be better spent.

“We’re a pretty small company,” Accorti explains. “It’s not hard to get a sense of how people are feeling.”

So in 1999, company officials tried something different —they reduced the party’ budget to $2,500, then asked a shop-floor supervisor to assemble a committee of workers from all departments to decide what sort of year end event the company should have.

The result? An employee-only potluck luncheon prepared by the workers themselves, served up in Talan’s West 68th Street facility.

Everybody brought a dish, including president Steve Peplin, who deep-fried a turkey. Instead of spending the $2500 on a catered spread, the committee purchased prizes to raffle off after the meal, everything from TV’s and VCR’s to Blockbuster gift certificates.

“We’ve been in business since 1987 and having events since 1989” Accorti says. “This was probably the only event that had universal buy-in. Everybody felt a part of It.”

Guiding Principle: Employee participation. “We feel were going to be more effective as a company if everybody is focused on the primary goal of the company, which ultimately is earning a profit.” Accorti says. “As opposed to having a select group of people focused on that goal — and keeping score with regard to that goal —we have the whole company focused on that goal.”

Best Practice: Win-win raffle. In addition to the big-ticket items, the party-planning committee purchased enough small items so everyone could take home a prize.

Setting: Employees broke bread in the plant on a mid-December workday so everybody could attend.

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