Every January the owners of Nature’s Yoke host an employee appreciation banquet that goes a long way in promoting a positive work environment.
The owners and CEO put much effort into the banquet in order to show the workers how valuable they are. It is just one way they express their gratitude for a job well done.
Each year, true to form, the employees arrive early and with anticipation, to a room decorated with lights, candles, greenery, and tablecloths.
We are greeted warmly and personally at the door. Our hosts are genuinely happy that we chose to join them, and we feel that. The atmosphere is elegant. Even so, the management sets the tone of “family and friends” by mingling with everyone and mixing in at various tables.
There is much “shoptalk” at each table, to be sure.
Since spouses are present, there are also introductions, family news sharing, and catching up. It reminds you of a yearly family reunion. We are a multicultural group of Amish, Mennonite, Russians, Latin Americans, and what the Amish workers refer to as “English.” We come in various shapes, sizes, ages, ethnic backgrounds, races, and,languages with Nature’s Yoke as our common ground. As a result, the conversation is lively, varied, and sometimes loud!
One of the management welcomes us. Another begins our evening with a short inspirational devotion, uniting us together in gratitude to God, mutual respect for each other, and a vision for the future.
Every appreciation banquet should provide fabulous food, and ours is no exception.
Nature’s Yoke keeps the tradition of providing a catered meal that targets a variety of tastes. The cooks have worked since early morning slow smoking barbecue, which is out of this world. In keeping with the management’s regard for individuals, the buffet is not just standard celebration fare. To satisfy the healthy eaters, they include a well stocked salad bar and vegetables. There is always a lovely table of desserts that includes gluten free options.
After dinner comes the time everyone has been waiting for.
As an expression of gratitude, the management has bought over a hundred gifts. These range from quality tool sets, to luggage, and sturdy folding tables. The selection includes sports equipment, decorative items, kitchenware, camping gear, and much more.
Everyone gets involved as different names are pulled from a bowl. The person chosen gets to go in.to a visible but adjoining room. There he may spend as much time as he would like, choosing one gift from the “Single gift” table or two for the “Double gift” table. In addition he stops by a third table to pick up an envelope with his name on it. The envelope contains a letter of gratitude from the owners, a bonus check, and a gift certificate to Amazon or a local store. The “audience” cheers for each name called. The recipient walks back to his table amid cries of “show us what you chose;’
Do monetary gifts and celebrations really promote a positive work environment? I can only answer for our company: a resounding “You’d better believe it.” We all leave our banquet each year feeling acknowledged and appreciated. We feel connected, and blessed to be a part of Nature’s Yoke.