Written by CultureCon Guest Blogger & 2020 Virtual Summit Speaker Kristi Heeney-Janiak.
I lead Hallmark’s Creative Culture and Talent Development team, whose mission is to inspire, invest in, and develop a culture of thinkers, makers and leaders. Culture serves as the foundation for everything we do. And let me tell you, in 27 years with the company, I’ve never seen the kind of engagement, personal growth and culture improvement that we’re now seeing come out of one initiative. That initiative is called #my5days.
So what is #my5days? Basically, it’s an intentional setting aside of 5 days a year for all approximately 700 talent in our creative organization. It’s an opportunity to step away, explore something outside their routine, and bring new thinking back into our work. And I’ve seen so many innovative concepts coming to our shelves as a result of collaborations and workshops connected to #my5days. We’ve influenced and partnered with other companies like Starbucks to launch their own versions of #my5days. We have talent from other brands following our journey on Instagram. Better still: this initiative can apply to any discipline or industry!
The journey of developing #my5days began in 2015. Our goal: to define our “why”—why we do what we do, who we are as a creative community, what we stand for and believe in. And more importantly, how we can live our sense of purpose? We have an important mission of helping others to care and connect. Not many organizations can say that. As creatives, what we do—what we write, design, illustrate, share, etc.—is what makes us Hallmark. We are storytellers, inventors and explorers. We don’t just make things, we make things more meaningful. And sometimes, we can even change the world. Check out our video here for our Sense of Purpose.
So how could we better bring that sense of purpose to life?
This statement includes the phrase “Originality is Everything.” Our day-to-day is packed was familiar processes, systems, tools and templates. Some routine helps us focus but too much can burn us out. We knew that the best way for us to rediscover something original inside all of us was by stepping away. This led to the creation of the #my5days initiative. All the writers, artists, and team leaders in our creative organization get 5 accountable days every year to step away from their daily work, to gain different perspectives, to take the time to think differently, to learn new skills and engage in new creative processes and find new ways to connect with our consumer, the marketplace, and the world around us. Creative renewal through external inspiration has been critical to our personal development, and that development benefits Hallmark every day.
To participate in #My5days, creatives can either come up with an idea they’d like to self-explore or sign up for guided workshops and activities. The only thing we ask is that they check with their manager first for approval. And I continue to be so inspired by the breadth, depth, and surprising variety of these projects. People are tapping into skills they didn’t know they had. One example: someone in a technical role who used his days to explore the craft of lettering. Once he’d unleashed that talent, he was able to start an official rotation in our lettering department! This video gives you a peek into how our folks are spending their time and what they and the organization are gaining.
Five years into this experiment, it’s safe to say our Creative Community is more connected and engaged than ever. We’re bringing new thinking and perspectives back into our work. We’re learning new skills and elevating our craft. Our talent appreciates the fact that Hallmark is investing in them. People are reaching out across teams and product groups to collaborate and learn. We’re improving the skills of peers and discovering the hidden talents in our company. Our engagement scores have gone up more than 10% since we’ve launched #my5days. And we’re seeing the ideas and concepts from #my5days influence the business in countless ways.
Again, my team’s purpose is to inspire, invest in and develop a culture of thinkers, makers and leaders. We want an engaged workforce that can develop superior product, a top-talent base that we can not only attract but retain. We truly believe that culture trumps strategy, and we’re seeing the benefits of that. Especially during these surreal times of working remotely, the foundation we’ve built has helped us all feel connected from afar. Follow us on our journey on Instagram, especially our #my5days tutorials which have been a great way to virtually engage and inspire our community.
Ultimately, the broader mission goes back to the “why,” that sense of purpose. What is your organization’s “why” and how can you live it? And how can you step away from the everyday to bring new inspiration and thinking back into your work?
About the Author:
Kristi has spent her 27-year career at Hallmark driving leadership, team and organizational excellence through roles in customer development, retail training, HR and creative. Along this journey she discovered her passion for coaching talent and elevating the skills and mindsets of current and future Hallmark leaders. Kristi’s currently focused on building a winning culture within Hallmark’s creative community, a project that began with a key initiative to define the organization’s sense of purpose. As the leader of a team dedicated to developing a culture of thinkers, makers, and leaders, she is responsible for driving the organization's creative leadership forward and raising the profile of the Hallmark creative organization's brand. In her current role, she also leads strategy for Hallmark's Creative Leadership Symposium and #my5days initiatives.