As the year winds down and the holiday season starts to wind up, we’ve been talking to some startups, Fortune 500s, and remote-first teams about how they celebrate the holidays at work.
Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in person, the holidays are a great way to bring your team together and celebrate each other. Need some ideas to make a memorable holiday celebration for your team? Read on to get an inside look at the creative ways some of our partner companies are celebrating the holiday season this year!
“This year Field Operations TA at Elastic has broken every hiring record out there and has just closed on a huge q2 with 120% increase in hiring QOQ. To celebrate the wins we are having a Holly Jolly Cocktail Party “virtual holiday happy hour event.” A virtual bartender host will lead Elastic's TA team in holiday games and activities, seasonal drinking games, and cocktail making. Especially this time of year we reflect back on all the hard work and results given by this team and want to celebrate. It is also a time to be thankful for the many blessings we have including the incredible TA team we have built. We are excited for the event on 12/15 at 5 PM EST.”
Learn more about Elastic here.
“This holiday season’ one of Equinix’s many Employee Resource Groups, FaithConnect, will be hosting two faith-led events. All are invited and welcome regardless of faith, non-faith or world views, including families! We will be celebrating the season of Advent via zoom, with dialog about what it means to Christians with readings from the Bible and answer questions. Additionally, FaithConnect’s founding member will be offering a virtual Christmas service to celebrate the birth of Christ. All faiths are celebrated by Equinix this holiday season.”
Learn more about Equinix here.
“Every year, CDW coworkers' kids receive a warm and cuddly stuffed animal, our holiday friends. This is one of the ways we like to say thank you to the extended families of CDW! This year, the kids got to vote on what the animal should be via our CDW Kids Club. The CDW Kids Club is a community of hopeful, expecting, and current parents and provides unique and fun virtual activities for CDW Kids. A big thank you to our Vernon Hills Distribution Center coworkers for their incredible support in helping coordinate the shipments of the holiday friends!”
Learn more about CDW here.
"Last year, when we couldn't be together for a global holiday celebration, we decided to do the next best thing: Log onto Zoom wearing our favorite holiday jammies and dance the night away! This year, we're looking forward to celebrating the holidays with some in-person and hybrid events to commemorate the child-like joy we value so much here at Gainsight."
Learn more about Gainsight here.
“Prioritizing our well-being and taking time off is important to ensure we can deliver our best work. Moody’s actively encourages employees to take time off at the end of the year to rest and celebrate holidays with family and friends. Alongside that, we’ll have a Recharge & Renew session for our employees in mid-December where we will share research and tips on how best to detach and recover from work.”
Learn more about Moody’s here.
At PagerDuty, we celebrate the winter holidays during HibernationDuty, which is when the whole company takes a week-long break each year. We want to allow everyone an opportunity to truly disconnect and recharge, without worrying about the emails and work piling up while away. It has been proven that when an entire company takes the same time off, it eliminates the undue stress of what you'll come back to. HibernationDuty ensures Dutonians, our employees, get the much-needed rest they need and an opportunity to spend time with their loved ones.
Learn more about PagerDuty here.
Cummins employees can learn about our colleague’s cultures around the world through our network of Employee Resource Groups, some European based Christmas Holiday celebrations include:
The highly anticipated ‘Le Reveillon de Noel’ (Christmas Eve Feast) in France
Watching the ‘Queen’s Speech’ & pulling Christmas Crackers (Invented by Tom Smith a London based Confectioner in 1847).
Sinterklass (Netherlands) leaves gifts for Children inside a shoe left by a fireplace or window during the Christmas Eve Dinner on 5th December (Eve of St.Nicholas).
Swapping of Fairy Lights for Spider Webs and ornaments called ‘pavuchky’ on the Christmas trees in Ukraine.
Hiding of the German Christmas Pickle in the Christmas tree, being first to find it on Christmas morning is thought to bring luck.
Twelve days after Santa’s visit, on 5th January, Italians leave wine and sausages for ‘La Befana’, a witch who gives presents to good children and coal to naughty children.
At 3pm on Christmas Day in Sweden, Donald Duck delivers his Christmas message on the television, the tradition dates back to the 1960’s.
At Cummins we wish you all a healthy and safe Christmas and we hope you get to enjoy your Cultural Celebrations with family and friends.
Learn more about Cummins here.
A screenshot of SoundCloud's virtual party a few months ago that included SoundClouder avatars, live music performances, trivia, and prizes.
"With the health and safety of our employees around the world our top priority, SoundCloud is celebrating the holidays by offering all SoundClouders a monetary gift of gratitude in lieu of in-person holiday parties. SoundCloud is also closing all offices between December 24th-31st so that everyone can relax with their loved ones and recharge for the new year ahead"
Learn more about SoundCloud here.
We're focused on mindful giving this season! Here are some helpful tidbits to reduce waste and be more sustainable.
Tips for great gift giving:
1.Ask for a list -- or respect wishes for no gift
2.Generate ideas after thinking about the best and worst gifts you've received
3.If in doubt, give money or gift cards -- especially if you're not close to the person
Eco-friendly gift ideas:
1.Experience gifts (e.g., paint night or activity) to create memories and decrease physical waste
2.Consider eco-friendly items (e.g., grow kits, companies that use recycled materials)
3.Shop at thrift stores, local businesses and on Etsy
Low waste wrapping options:
1.Paper grocery bags for a rustic look
2.Old maps, magazines or newspapers (especially the comics section!)
Learn more about BlackRock here.
Turo – Giving locally, celebrating locally
At Turo, we look forward to the holidays! Since we are now in a hybrid work model, we had the opportunity to socialize in person at our Thanksgiving get-together in our two offices–San Francisco and Phoenix. Next, we will celebrate the holidays with a night out at a lively local restaurant. Many teams will also enjoy gift exchange parties. As one of our core values is supportive, we will be bringing cheer to our local communities by participating in the Salvation Army’s Holiday Distribution Day, the local Food Drive, and Coat Drive to support the homeless.
Learn more about Turo here.
Are You a Data Analyst? Get These Top Tips on Effective Communication When Working Across Disciplines
💎 As a data analyst, you may already understand the importance of getting your message across when working with less technical disciplines. But do you know how you could improve your workflow to avoid mishaps? Don’t miss these tips on effective communication that will help your day-to-day work life!
📼 Play this video to get three top tips from data analyst Rosa Colom Teruel, Manager, Data Science and Analytics at Zynga, on effective communication when working with other disciplines.
📼 Tip #1: Focus On Potential. The first of these data analyst tips on effective communication is to focus on potential when pitching an idea. Before implementing a model, it's impossible to know how well it will perform or how much impact it will have on business KPIs. As scientists, it can be tempting to say, "We can't know," which is true. However, you often need to provide estimates to prioritize projects and decide which ones you believe in the most. In these cases, it's helpful to focus on potential. Instead of a definite number, you can provide a projection for the worst-case / best-case scenario, even if it requires some guesswork. Business units and product managers use estimates all the time, accepting that they could be proven inaccurate once implemented in the real world for multiple reasons. The important thing is to understand why and then take these learnings into the next project.
📼 Tip #2: Not All Technical Details Are Relevant. Next up for data analyst tips on effective communication: Science needs to be objective, detailed, and reproducible. Processes and results must be delivered in order, so peers can follow and review completed work. This fact is essential when sharing projects within your team. But if you are presenting to other disciplines, Rosa encourages you to focus on what's relevant for business decisions. For example, how will the project improve the business? What can we learn about players or customers? And what's the plan for the future? Everything else can go in a technical document or an appendix, optional to those interested in additional details.
Data Analyst Tips on Effective Communication - Last Tip!
Tip #3: Communicate Conclusions First. In school and university, you learned to present conclusions last, starting with a problem statement, showing methodology, discussing results, and finally drawing conclusions. Research shows that this is not the way that our brains consume information. It is more effective to present your findings first, followed by results and methodology last (or in an appendix, if not relevant to the audience). This approach may seem counterintuitive because it goes against the chronological order of the work. However, by starting with conclusions, you're going to grab the audience's attention, and they're more likely to remember the takeaways afterward. If you're communicating in writing, listing conclusions first will also help. Even if not everyone reads the whole document, they will still get those takeaways, and conversations will continue to move forward.
📨 Are you interested in joining Zynga? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get To Know Rosa
Rosa is a Data Scientist with 8+ years of experience in the gaming/tech industry and 4+ years leading data science teams. Rosa has vast experience in defining a data science roadmap and analytics strategy that meet product needs.
More About Zynga
Zynga is a global leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through games.
To date, more than one billion people have played Zynga’s franchises including, CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, Merge Dragons!™, Words With Friends™, and Zynga Poker™. Zynga’s games are available in more than 150 countries and are playable across social platforms and mobile devices worldwide.
Founded in 2007, Zynga is headquartered in San Francisco with studios in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey, and Finland.
We gathered a year’s worth of holidays in our Diversity and Inclusion Calendar, and here’s a summary of key holidays coming up this month and what you can say to teammates who celebrate them (in ways that are appropriate and not generic!):
For Hanukkah, which is celebrated from November 28 to December 6:
- “Hanukkah Sameach,” which means “Happy Hanukkah” in Hebrew
- “Chag urim sameach,” which means “happy festival of lights”
- “May your Hanukkah be filled with unexpected blessings,” to highlight the holiday’s celebration of miracles and blessings
For Winter Solstice, which is celebrated on December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere:
- “Warm wishes on Winter Solstice—may the spring come soon,” to reference it as the longest night of the year
- “From cold and dark to warmth and light, Happy Winter Solstice”
For Christmas, which is celebrated on December 25th by most western Christians and on January 7th by Eastern Orthodox Christians:
- “Merry Christmas!”
- “Blessings to you and your family this Christmas”
For Kwanzaa, which is celebrated from December 26 to January 1:
- “Heri za Kwanzaa!,” which is Swahili for “Happy Kwanzaa!”
- “Joyous Kwanzaa! Wishing you the most beautiful fruits of the harvest.”
General Holiday Greetings
For any end-of-year holiday:
- “Wishing you a happy holiday season and a peaceful New Year”
- “Season’s greetings!”
Christina S., Deputy Director of the Computer Science Skill Community at the National Security Agency, is a computer scientist by trade and an educator at heart.
Whether she’s volunteering, providing mentorship, or spending time with her husband and two daughters, Christina finds ways to infuse learning in every encounter.
We sat down with Christina to hear how she uses her love of education to help others grow in their careers through professional development opportunities and mentorship.
Coming from a long line of educators, it was only natural for Christina to start her career as a high school teacher. After graduating from NC State University, she began teaching math and computer science at a public high school. “I have had the pleasure of teaching a variety of learners,” Christina explains. “I taught students that were previously incarcerated, special needs students, and learning disabled.”
Her time teaching at the high school level gave her a strong foundation for her current role as Deputy Director of the Computer Science Skill Community at NSA. “My teaching experiences helped me understand that acknowledging and emphasizing each student’s unique ideas, thoughts, and talents is critical,” she elaborates. “Every student's unique point of view and perspective matters.”
Helping Others Through Education
Christina joined NSA through a development education program and, nearly 20 years later, she’s the one providing professional development opportunities to other computer scientists that join the agency. In her role in the Computer Science Skill Community, she offers coaching, mentorship, and support to computer scientists who want to improve their knowledge and skills to prepare for their next position.
When a computer scientist joins the community, Christina typically starts their development process by asking them to answer a series of reflection questions. “I ask them to describe their dream job. Then I ask them what they are most passionate about. Lastly, I ask what is stopping them from pursuing their dream job.” She then creates a personalized action plan for the student so they can overcome the roadblocks that prevent them from reaching their professional goals. “We go down a path of identifying obstacles and come up with ways to get around each one until we arrive at a solution,” she explains. She encourages the participants in the community to take advantage of NSA’s tuition assistance and training programs. “NSA has excellent tuition assistance programs that even offer time off to attend class and study, and their National Cryptologic School offers hundreds of courses in various skill fields.”
In fact, NSA offers a number of development programs to help employees “enhance their skills, improve their understanding of a specific discipline, and even cross-train into a new career field.”
Giving Back to the Community
Apart from technical education and development through the Skills Community at the agency, Christina is passionate about furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the STEM community. “Some of the ways I do that is by visiting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and conferences such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to recruit, give tech talks, and conduct resume reviews and interviews,” she explains.
NSA offers numerous unique opportunities for employees to work toward furthering DEI efforts. “I volunteer through NSA’s K-12 Mathematics Education Partnership Program (MEPP) and Partners in Education (PIE) programs to give STEM talks, judge science fairs, and tutor at schools in underserved communities.”
She’s also served on NSA’s Graduate Fellowship for STEM Diversity (GFSD) Computer Science committee; she recently became the committee chair where she “emphasized recruitment of a diverse applicant pool.” She is also an active member of the African American and Women’s Employee Resource Groups at NSA where she is able to give back to the community in other ways. “I participate in events and activities for professional development, community involvement, and improving overall work life,” says Christina.
Finding Work-Life Balance at NSA
When Christina first started at the agency 20 years ago, she never imagined she’d have the chance to get involved with all of these extracurricular programs. Switching careers and moving to a new location, she didn’t know if she’d be able to balance her new job and take part in the community and professional development activities she always loved. “I was nervous I wouldn't be able to volunteer in my daughters’ classroom, chaperone field trips, or pursue graduate studies,” explains Christina. “However NSA is one of the best places to work if you need work-life balance and I've been able to do all of those things and more.”
Her best advice for newcomers to the agency is to “not be afraid to bring your true authentic self to the office and offer your unique perspective and ideas to solving problems. Whether you have been working at the agency for 30 days or 30 years, you are an asset to your office and you have great ideas, solutions, and insight.”