Title images of MEC staff in front of a MEC storefront

Inside MEC HQ: 3 Tips Employers Can Learn from Employee Recognition Initiatives

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a company with a mission. They want to inspire people to lead active outdoor lifestyles while being environmentally sustainable and respectful to the world around them. We think we’re in love!

MEC values their culture and strive to create an environment full of people that share their passion for the outdoors, and for social and environmental change. Water cooler chat is often about recent or planned outdoor adventures, current issues, or simply where to find the best locally grown produce.

In 2016 MEC’s employee engagement was rated at 74%, an impressive 8% higher than the national average. In 2016 they were also recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.

Pull quote and polaroid-style photos of MEC staff

According to Gallup, a critical component of employee engagement is recognition. Workplace recognition motivates employees, providing a self of accomplishment and helps them to feel valued. It also helps increase productivity and retention.

At Saul Good Gift Co, we’re proud to work with MEC to help them provide ongoing recognition to their employees. We’re inspired by this company and the good they are trying to do in the world. We wanted to see what’s under the hood at MEC HQ and what they are doing that makes MEC such a great company to work for. We talked to Anne Scott, MEC’s HR Coordinator to get the inside scoop.

What does MEC’s employee recognition program look like?

Anne: We recognize employees in a number of different ways at MEC, and sometimes a gift box adds a celebratory touch.  Some examples of when we might do this would be: the kick-off or completion of big projects, thank-you gifts for jobs well done, recognizing employee life events like newborns or weddings, and celebrating work events like milestone anniversaries, new managers, new store openings etc.

What challenges were you trying to solve when recognizing your employees?

Anne: We wanted to have some consistency in what employees received for certain events, which is very difficult with having locations across the country. We needed to make it easy for us – having a “go-to” vendor for each type of gift.

We strive to have good quality and meaningful gifts and awards. Something that is reflective of MEC’s values as well as the values of the recipient.

Pull quote and flat-lay image of sample products included in gift baskets

This means aligning ourselves with companies like Saul Good Gift Co, that are ethical, local, community oriented, and have sustainable practices as it relates to environmental impact.

What has been the impact of your employee recognition initiatives? 

Anne: We hear many comments about how receiving the gift is thoughtful, and that it makes staff feel appreciated. We’ve found that receiving a gift box is exciting and meaningful for people. They really feel valued because it’s noticed by colleagues when it arrives, making for a celebration of sort.

How has Saul Good Gift Co helped you achieve your employee recognition goals?

Anne: At MEC we care about how and where the products we sell are made – it’s important to our members and our staff. Saul Good Gift Co makes sure that their ingredients are presented in a way that exudes “local” and their statement or story about what drives them. This is something that is very appreciated by MEC staff, so the visibility of these stories within the gift itself is very important. It helps us, as an employer, convey to our employees that we care.

The quality and variety of the product surpasses that of any other “gift basket” vendor that I’ve been able to find. The team at Saul Good is responsive, flexible and personable – which makes them a pleasure to deal with.

3 Tips other employers can learn from MEC’s employee recognition initiatives

1. Make it about more than work.

MEC makes a point to celebrate milestones in people’s lives as well as their good work. This makes people feel important and valued beyond the work they do.

2. Where there is an opportunity, celebrate your employee with their colleagues.

MEC found that gifts are meaningful for people. The celebration that comes with receiving a gift elevates the feeling of appreciation.

3. Align your company values with the gifts and recognition you deliver.

At MEC gifts are selected because they are local, sustainable and have a story. For example, Saul Good Gift Co, products come from Vancouver artisans. They are packaged by Starworks Packaging & Assembly, a social enterprise established by the Developmental Disabilities Association. When a MEC employee receives one of these gifts, they feel connected to their local community and know that MEC cares.

 

Our favourite gift baskets for MEC staff include the Department Party, Confectionist and Fancy-Full.

Product shots of the gift baskets showing their ingredients