Universe Christmas and Mega Fundraising 2023: The Way We Combine Culture and Internal Initiatives
26 jan, 2024
Over the past two years, businesses and companies have swiftly adapted to changes in the environment, reevaluating their processes and strategies.
Concurrently, there arose a necessity to reconsider the ways of interacting with the team and to enhance approaches for conducting internal company events. In this article, we want to share our own experience and thoughts on how our company manages to blend cultural values with modern realities to create a new team culture.
Step 1. Emphasis on Values
External changes in the country directly impact internal changes within the company. It's crucial to clearly define what is the key for your team and then to implement it in all activity areas.
For Universe, unity and the value of culture have become key directions, expressed in support for Ukrainian products and the desire to delve deeper into and share this culture with the world. We want everyone in the team to move in the same direction, be inspired, and hatch plans together.
Every year, we summarize our work and have a tradition of gathering to chat in an informal atmosphere, thank each other for a productive year of collaboration, and get inspired for the new one. We decided to hold this meeting in the format of a team Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, exploring the customs of different regions of Ukraine. The creation of such an event has reflected new approaches for building corporate culture.
To prepare for the event and bring the idea to life, we took a thorough approach. To make everything as authentic as possible, we have consulted with a folklorist, ethnographer, and a member of the folk band "ShchukaRyba," Yaryna Sizyk, who shared important knowledge and thoughts that became the foundation for the successful implementation of this event.
There is no right or wrong way of celebrating Christmas and other holidays. Each region has its unique features, but the main elements among them are a sense of unity and love. Traditions should harmonize with modernity, remaining true to the spirit of the times", emphasized Yaryna, and this resonated with us as unity is one of our principles in the company.
The concept of the celebration was built around experiencing the cycle of all Christmas holidays: from St. Andrew's Day to Epiphany. To complete the picture, the dress code was important — embroidered shirts and elements of Ukrainian traditional clothing. Spoiler: 95% of the Universe team adhered to the dress code.
Step 2. Donations as Part of Universe's Culture
Fundraising is no longer just a PR story; rather, it is a recognized basic detail in the business environment. In the IT technology sphere, companies have created their own charitable foundations and initiatives to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Corporate volunteering and various charitable initiatives are gaining popularity.
Nowadays, support, assistance, and team values and principles are at the forefront instead of mere perks in IT. Universe, as a company, participates in supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the close relatives of colleagues who are currently defending our country. In 2023, we donated 9.5 million hryvnias through joint efforts. But the personal involvement of each team member is crucial in this process. Universe employees support all colleagues' initiatives, actively contribute their own ideas for fundraising, and are proud of the company they help to build. We have managed to establish internal interaction processes so that everyone can turn to us for help — colleagues demonstrate their compassion, and the company doubles their contributions. For us, this is about steadfastness, responsibility, and adherence to our words and culture.
This was reflected in the Christmas meeting: active donations were important to us because, on that evening, we opened a fundraising campaign with an ambitious goal — 212,000 hryvnias for targeted assistance to the relatives of three of our colleagues. For this purpose, we organized an auction where they put up their lots for sale. The initiative was successful because we’ve collected significantly more — 313,000 hryvnias — and distributed the funds among new requests.
For example, on December 5th, we also held a St. Nicholas Day celebration in the office. Our colleagues independently purchased and packed 45 gift boxes for children of internally displaced people from the south and east of Ukraine. We want to continue this tradition this year.
It should be noted that a company cannot successfully implement various initiatives without the team's support. Our employees are very active, and it inspires us to make even more projects.
Step 3. Taking Care of Employees: Mental and Practical
It's important to support the mental well-being of employees. In Universe, regular one-to-one meetings are mandatory, one of the goals of them is to discuss the emotional state of the employee, how things are going in life and at work, and whether there are any issues with stress or workload. Our employees always understand that they can turn to their manager for support and assistance at any time.
The statistics of vacations indicate that people are taking breaks less frequently, which can lead to overloading and burnout. This is connected with today's realities. Therefore, in 2024, we have identified a strategic direction in Universe's HR policy—creating a comfortable working environment and focusing on a quality balance between work and personal life for Universe employees.
In fact, we tried to convey an atmosphere of peace and warmth as much as possible at the recent event — an impromptu Christmas Eve. Here, kutia from Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Zakarpattia, and Kyiv regions were presented, uniting all the traditions and regions of Ukraine. Our colleagues have tasted different variations and found their own or similar ones, since our team includes colleagues from almost every corner of Ukraine.
Some had the opportunity to distract themselves at masterclasses on straw weaving, where they could make a didukh or a Christmas spider and take it home to add a festive atmosphere. Some immersed themselves in the ancient tradition of Malanka and took photos in costumes of Vasyl, Malanka, and Koza in a thematic photo zone.
Статистика відпусток показує, що люди все рідше відпочивають, а це може привести до перевантаження та вигорання. Це повʼязано з реаліями сьогодення. Тому на 2024 рік ми визначили стратегічний напрям HR політики Universe - створення комфортного робочого середовища та акцент на якісний баланс між роботою та особистим життям для юніверсівців.
Власне атмосферу спокою та душевності ми максимально намагались передати на крайньому івенті. На нашому імпровізованому Святвечорі ми представили кутю з Донецької, Запорізької, Закарпатської та Київської областей — обʼєднуючи всі традиції і регіони України. Колеги дегустували різні варіації та знаходили свою чи подібну, адже у нашій команді є колеги практично з усіх куточків України.
Хтось мав змогу відволіктись на майстер-класі з соломоплетіння, де можна було зробити дідуха чи різдвяного павука та забрати додому, щоб додати святкової атмосфери. А хтось поринав у давню традицію маланкування і зробив фото в костюмах Василя, Маланки та Кози на тематичній фотозоні.
We concluded our evening with a loud joint carol and a toast from our CEO Yaroslav Morozov, who wished each team professional achievements, active work for our victory, and generously sowed us with wheat. We wish you the same!
In summary, by implementing the steps mentioned above, the task of creating a dream team and building effective processes of internal interaction between colleagues is significantly facilitated. I believe that by conveying values at all stages, we provide an understanding of whom we want to see in our team. I sincerely hope that there will be even more proactive people at Universe!