At many companies, there are few things employees dread more than the office potluck. You know the scenario; Susan brings the casserole, Michael brings the pungent dish no one touches, Jeff brings the store-bought fruit tray and the Human Resources department provides the plates.
But at National Merchants Association (NMA), things are a bit different.
Here, the potluck is built into our company culture; it’s a staple that brings employees from all departments together for more than just food. To us, potlucks are celebrations that employees actually look forward to and actively participate in throughout the year. So, when NMA hosts a potluck—for Valentine’s Day, Harvest Fest, the Super Bowl or another occasion — you can expect creativity, signature dishes and everything outside of the norm.
“My first NMA potluck was not what I expected at all,” Marketing Coordinator Cierra Gant said. “I was so excited to see people with homemade dishes and delicacies that were actually, really good. The potluck was a big deal to everyone, and people couldn’t wait for others to try what they’d prepared — it was so different from what I’d grown accustomed to at other jobs.”
Cierra isn’t the only NMA employee who recognized the role potlucks played early on, and according to a member of our People and Culture team, that immediate recognition is by design.
“Potlucks are an experience, and a level playing field for everyone,” Training and Development Specialist Martin Rivera said. “There aren’t departments when we’re gathered in the lounge, making plates and eating; just you and your co-worker/friend enjoying a good meal. Our potlucks promote an open environment for employees to talk candidly — not just on a professional level, but personal, as well.”
And talk, they do. In fact, at our Super Bowl-themed potluck, our corporate headquarters was flooded with friendly conversations amongst employees across departments.
“I really love our potlucks because I get the chance to chat with team members from various departments who I don’t get to interact with on a daily basis,” Marketing Operations Manager Jade Fuentes said.
Interaction is key at NMA, and it’s one of the defining attributes that sets our potluck experience apart from typical company gatherings. Our potlucks are warm, comfortable, and perfect for new employees who may be shy and/or feel slightly out of their comfort zones.
“We have many types of personalities and interests here [at NMA], and sometimes, people are not comfortable stepping out of their comfort zones to get to know someone new with whom they may not have commonalities,” Rivera said. “Food is a conversation starter; it’s a mood changer, and it has the ability to minimize someone’s defensive walls due to lack of confidence or comfort.”
Potlucks will continue to play an integral role in our culture here at NMA. From exotic dishes and cultural celebrations to friendly interactions and pre-game rivalries, NMA will utilize the power of the potluck to bring people together.
If you’re tired of boring potlucks and/or a lackluster company culture and are interested in building your career with one of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, visit our Careers Page today. We’re hiring professionals at all levels and offer a competitive compensation package with 100-percent, employer-paid health insurance. Apply for your dream job today and discover why National Merchants Association specializes in payments (and employment) made personal.