(Tim Barton, President) The idea of ‘Employee Appreciation Day’ doesn’t quite sit right with me. It’s not because it’s a relatively new concept (although it is, beginning life in 1995), since it’s never too late for a good idea. It’s also not because it feels a little contrived, since a contrived good idea is still a good idea. And I’m good with the ‘Appreciation’ part too. I used to work at OUP where my job included overseeing the dictionary publishing, so I often start with a definition. And who doesn’t think that ‘recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something’ is a good thing?
I think it’s the ‘Day’ part that most bothers me. As if there is just one day in the year when people’s work should be acknowledged, and that for the rest of the year, we can take each other for granted. Appreciation should be built into our culture and ways of working every day. There is a famous 12 question survey from Gallup about what are the things that make employees engaged at work, and question four is: ‘In the past seven days, I have received recognition or praise for good work’. But many of the questions are actually about the importance of ongoing appreciation (‘My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person’, ‘There is someone at work who encourages my development’, ‘At work, my opinions seem to count’, ‘The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important’, ‘In the past six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress’ for example).
The ’Employee’ part is also not entirely straightforward. The Oxford definition here is: ‘a person employed for wages or salary, especially at non-executive level’. I learned while writing this that there is also a ‘Bosses Day’ (October 16, if anyone wants to mark their diary). It’s as if the workplace is divided into employees and bosses, and Employee Appreciation Day is the day that bosses should thank employees. But this binary distinction doesn’t make that much sense: for most workplaces, including Silverchair, we are all employees. And many of us are simultaneously employees and managers.
So I think we need to reframe Employee Appreciation Day as an opportunity where all of us get to thank each other for the good qualities we bring to working at Silverchair, and also as a reminder that this is not something we should be doing once a year, but that we should be doing as part of our daily work.
On the idea of building appreciation into our daily work, Silverchair does have weekly ‘Kudos’ and quarterly Spotlight Awards, and I know people take those things seriously; but perhaps this is a helpful reminder to keep doing so, and to think about other, perhaps less formal, ways of saying ‘thank you’ when someone has shown those ‘good qualities’.
So what are those good qualities about our co-workers and about the company that we are Silverchair should be appreciating?
Well, if we are all doing the appreciating, and if we are all appreciating each other, you’ll have to decide that for yourselves, for each of the people you work with. But I do think there are some general Silverchair qualities that many of us, and maybe even all of us, should appreciate.
For me, there is a particular mix of working hard, having fun, and being civil and respectful that characterizes Silverchair, and helps to make it successful. I also think that those things (fun, good work, civility, and success) are related: I do my best work when I am enjoying my work, and when I feel respected and valued by my co-workers and the company, and all of our hard work translates into making Silverchair a successful commercial organization. I also like the way Silverchair feels like a place where it’s OK to be different, whether an introvert or extrovert, and that we have good company values, and that people try to live up to them. I’ve liked the way we have come together during our biweekly company-wide ‘Silverchair Live’ meetings during the pandemic, when we can tackle important work questions like how do we best interact with each other digitally at the same time as having chats going on that are light and genuinely funny.
While ‘Employee Appreciation Day’ shouldn’t mean that this is the only day of the year that we stop to appreciate our co-workers, we can still take advantage of the opportunity to make a special effort to do so today. Thank you!
(Thane Kerner, CEO) I’m impressed by the way Silverchair brings together so many diverse and unique individuals and turns us into a valuable, high-functioning enterprise. When I say ‘diversity’ I’m not merely referring to the usual ways we think of it (race, gender, orientation, etc) but of personalities and styles and perspectives that are so varied and rich. I see each of us contributing our skills, but also our selves, into managing a wildly complex and critically important infrastructure for the worlds of science and learning, and our outcomes are so much the better for blending our varied individual gifts into a cohesive whole. Thank you for contributing yours!
(Brian Fitzgerald, CFO) It’s almost been one year since lockdown started, which is hard to believe. Much has changed for all of us during that time, professionally and personally. One thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment of our Silverchairians to the company and our customers. I always thought that we had a pretty strong culture at Silverchair, but when it’s tested by something like a pandemic lockdown, you just say to yourself, “Wow, we really do have some incredible people here at Silverchair.” Thank you all for your dedication and flexibility, during pandemics and in normal times!
(Jake Zarnegar, Chief Business Development Officer) Some random Internet dude once said “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Maybe there was a “doth” in there, I can’t remember. Either way, I’m feelin’ it. I miss seeing all of your faces in 3-D! I want to thank each and every one of you for coming together virtually and takin’ care of business every day for the past year. Bachman-Turner Overdrive would be proud of you. (I know I am.)
(Dustin Smith, President & Co-Founder of Hum) I'm grateful for such a talented, yet low-ego group of people working to solve hard problems for organizations that matter. It's a joy to see you all open up new horizons and rise to meet the challenge of the day. You are worthy of infinite appreciation.
(Stuart Leitch, COO) Silverchair has great people engaged in meaningful positive impact for the world. We get to do vital work in reducing the dissemination cycle time of scholarly information with bright colleagues in a highly collegial environment. I am deeply appreciative of the heart you bring and the affinity you generate for each other!
(Will Schweitzer, Chief Product and Customer Success Officer) We've come through an *incredible* year with remarkable success. The credit for this is entirely yours and it is a direct result of your resilience, hard work, and talent. Thanks for being awesome. Your work is valued by our clients and I'm very thankful to be part of this team.
(Lily Garcia Walton, Chief People Officer) Given my relatively short tenure at Silverchair, I am still learning my way around our operations. Our people are a different story. Through your words and deeds, you showed me early on what it means to be a part of this one-of-a-kind community: warm and welcoming, quick to celebrate and slow to judge, wickedly funny and endlessly self-deprecating, ethical and committed. I am humbled by the privilege to call myself one of you.
Thanks to your team, our clients for being an extension of that team, and our wider community!