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New hires make hands of gratitude: Inside the inaugural Power the Community event

New hires make hands of gratitude: Inside the inaugural Power the Community event

New hire onboarding is a pivotal moment for making new employees feel welcome and included.  Studies show that the first 90 days of employment lay the foundation for positive future work outcomes, such as increased employee engagement and retention. Diverse and inclusive workplaces lead to greater creativity and innovation. Engaged employees stay in their employment longer and are more productive. Data also shows that 75% of employees expect their employer to support individuals and groups in need in the communities where they do business through donations and volunteer efforts. 

At SurveyMonkey, we have created a workplace where social impact and inclusion start on day one, through our Power the Community program, a new initiative of SurveyMonkey for Good and our Talent Development team. Power the Community is our opportunity to show our new employees our passion for giving back by making it part of our onboarding process. At our inaugural Power the Community event, new employees worked in teams to build 3D printed prosthetic hands for children and young adults in need.

What might be called sustainability or corporate responsibility at other organizations we call SurveyMonkey for Good. It’s our strategic initiative to Use People Powered Data to create positive social impact and give everyone a voice. Launched in 2018 in conjunction with our IPO, we’re moving quickly with a full suite of projects to highlight and strengthen the good work happening all over our company.

One of our initiatives is Power the Community – our new hire onboarding exercise. In addition to all the important HR and departmental meetings a new hire takes, we wanted to develop a program that would introduce new hires to team members across the organization, and to immerse them in our culture of giving back from the beginning. At SurveyMonkey, giving back is in our DNA and we want our new hires to feel the same way.

Enter Hands of Gratitude. This group facilitates team building exercises that give back, by providing all the training and materials participants need to build prosthetic hands. Thousands of children around the world live without a limb due to vascular diseases like Diabetes and arterial disease, trauma, cancer, birth defects, machinery accidents, or activating a land mine. There are 2,000 landmine accidents every month – one every 20 minutes, and 75% of survivors have at least one amputation.

Entry-level prosthetics can cost as much as $10,000 apiece which can be way out of scope for many families across the world. Hands of Gratitude CEO Matt Campana presented case studies showing the impact of its past work and sharing photos of the children and young adults who benefit from Hands of Gratitude’s work. For example, Jostin: 


SurveyMonkey employees broke into teams to make prosthetics for a number of recipients, 3 of which are Nirmalya, David and Jennifer:


Over the course of two hours, the SurveyMonkey teams collaborated to follow the instructions for producing 3D printed custom hands for each of the recipients, decorate a carrying case, and record a video to share with recipients:


While the recipients’ needs are the first priority, the opportunity provided by Hands of Gratitude created some beautiful moments for team and culture building too.

Participants told us via our SurveyMonkey event feedback questionnaire that the event was a hit. 100% of respondents declared it “Excellent” and 100% would recommend it to a friend or colleague. The opportunity to give back really made the event memorable, as one team member explained: “The fact that we were actually helping someone! It really felt amazing and inspiring. I love working at a company with these types of values!” Another participant had a similar comment, “It really felt like I was making a difference and I enjoyed bonding with my fellow new hires!

 Several participants referenced the benefits of the small group format as a means of building community:

 “It was both a lot of fun to build the prosthetic hands. I enjoyed working together and bonding with my teammate, and it was for an excellent cause!”

 “I liked how it involved new hires from different classes and different teams. I got to meet new people and the volunteering came to us rather than making this a big event / offsite. It felt very genuine.”

“I enjoyed working in teams doing something interactive. I am a bit of an introvert and it made it easy to come out of my shell. It really helped with growth mindset, because I didn't think I could do it, but our team worked well and we got it done!”

One respondent also spoke to the program’s power to unite a diverse workforce:

“You and the leadership team here have created a very unique work environment. Above everything else, I appreciate the diversity represented throughout the workforce. As a midlife white male I have often worked with a lot of other white people and a sprinkling of people from other backgrounds. I find that SurveyMonkey's diversity seems to unite all the employees, and no one seems to feel left out. You've done a great job so far.”

With a wave of positive feedback from participants, we plan to roll out our Power the Community program as part of our onboarding process for new SurveyMonkey employees at all locations.  Power the Community will take place in Portland on June 14th, in Ottawa on July 19th, and in Dublin on August 2nd.

Bummed you missed it? If your team would like to work with Hands of Gratitude for your next team building exercise, reach out to forgood@surveymonkey.com for more details.