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Villa Gardens Fall Fest Digs Deep

Villa Gardens Employees learn about Front Porch core values.

The "all-staff meeting" can be an important part of making connections with employees across an organization, but according to Kim Williams, director of fitness and aquatics at Villa Gardens, it doesn't need to be tedious.  "Once a quarter, we try to do something more fun," said Kim. This October the community decided to introduce employees to the organization's new core values through a "Fall Fest" event.

"The core values were the main ingredient," said Kim, "but we made it fun by having fall snacks like candied apples, soft pretzels and apple cider. And then we had games: we had the beach volleyball net out. We had the rubber chicken toss, and of course, corn hole."

Each core value--Connect, Build Trust, Collaborate, Lead Responsibly, Inspire Creativity and Embrace Change-- had its own station where employees could read a description of the value. Afterwards, they were encouraged to write a sentence or two on a "passport" about what the value meant to them. Once the passport was complete, employees entered their names for raffle prizes.

"If you are going to introduce new culture elements, you need to have the staff be able to express their viewpoints in their own words," explained Executive Director Paula Digerness. "I wanted to do the passport activity because that helped make it fun for the staff to read about each item. Having them write in their own words what the value meant to them, encouraged them to think about it and ask questions if they weren't sure what something meant or how it related to their life."

"In the beginning, I thought, 'Oh, is this going to be too corny? Are they going to take this seriously?'" said Kim. But she was pleased to discover that for the 50+ employees who attended, the reflection on the values took more of their attention than the "fun" activities. "I even saw groups of people clustered together looking up words on their phone and talking to each other about what they thought. It provided a good conversation around the core values that we would not have had otherwise."

"Rather than them just reading something, they were thinking about what each value meant to them and then writing it down," said Sara Mata Saucedo, human resources director. "It was something memorable. Towards the end, I would ask someone, 'What is building trust for you?' and boom! They knew exactly what it meant for them and how it tied to Villa Gardens and Front Porch."

But the reflections didn't end with the Fall Fest. Sara has created a tree that will be set up in the break room. Each month, one of the values will be listed on the trunk, and the leaves will feature the reflections employees gave on that value in their passport, completed at Fall Fest. The community may also have some "hidden" incentive leaves, that if an employee finds them and reports back to HR that they found the hidden leaf, they will get a gift card.

"Using the words of our staff to reinforce the values each month with the culture tree in our employee lounge will help keep it relevant and serve as another activity for the staff to think about the values often," said Paula. "It will be interesting to see how the values grow throughout the community."


About Villa Gardens

Villa Gardens is a multi-level senior community right in the heart of Pasadena that offers small-town warmth, natural beauty and an unlimited array of cultural, social, intellectual, and physical activities. Rank among the top Pasadena senior communities, Villa Gardens is Pasadena Senior Living at its best!


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