Sandstorm Design is an integrated marketing firm founded in Chicago in 1998. Ever since its doors opened over 10 years ago, Generation Y employees have been an integral part in making the company what it is today. No one knows this better than Principal and Founder Sandy Marsico.
Marsico says, "My favorite thing about Gen Y is that they’re culture builders. My Gen Yers really help contribute and build our culture. I am the 'Captain of Fun' at the company. I have a 'Co-captain of Fun' who is a Gen Y worker. They own it, they own the culture, and they own their space. I am so grateful for their ability to capture the spirit. We work hard and enjoy our work."
So, how about that “Captain of Fun” and her co-captain? It is this sense of fun and openness that allows Gen Y to feel right at home in the Sandstorm office. There is no shortage of fun to be had in the office. Last holiday season, the Co-Captain of Fun spearheaded an Elf-inspired decorating extravaganza. The Co-Captain and its accomplices ordered Christmas decorations, including faux fireplaces, and had the office decorated just like the movie.
These Gen Y employees feel very comfortable in their office, which is why they are able to cultivate a work culture that is unique to their age group. Employees have hosted wine tastings in the office paired with a weekly dance and music parties on Fridays. In the lunchroom, the young professionals have set up a DVD swap for people to bring in old movies and trade them for different ones. Their latest endeavor? Tossing around the idea of hosting a "Bring Your Family to Work Day."
Marsico says that her Gen Yers are very collaborative and thoughtful. “My team, mostly Gen Yers, created a 10-foot Post-It apple when Steve Jobs died. They built it in our window so everyone on the train could see it. I had nothing to do with it; I came to the office and they were already working on it. It was very thoughtful; I appreciate how they’re thinking and how they’re contributing to the office."
This tight-knit group takes time out each month to recognize each other’s individual accomplishments and give praise. Marsico has named this recurring event the “You Rock Lunch.” She will bring lunch in for the office and everyone writes “You Rock” notes during the meal. At the end, Marsico reads the notes aloud so that everyone has a reminder of how valued they are in the company.
Another way Generation Y workers feel essential to the success of the company is through company celebrations and traditions. One longstanding tradition is having Sandstorm’s holiday party on a Sunday. After celebrating their successes and spreading holiday cheer, employees get to sleep in until 1:00 pm on the following Monday and enjoy a “Pajama Day” in the office.
"Everyone loves Pajama Day; it’s my favorite day of the year. Not only do we wear pajamas, but some of us buy pajamas specifically for the day," adds Marsico.
Additional traditions with Sandstorm employees include a Guac-Off (guacamole-making competition), volunteering as a group, and celebrating Halloween. If employees wear costumes to work on Halloween, they are able to leave work early to trick-or-treat.
Marsico has done a terrific job creating a work environment where all employees feel welcomed, valued and like a family. From volunteer opportunities to impromptu parties and get togethers in the office, Generation Y Sandstorm employees have helped make Sandstorm Design one of Brill Street + Company’s "Top 50 Generation Y Employers."