My first culture and engagement gig was for a small email hosting company where we sat at folding tables, ate Chinese food off each others plates, and wore jeans and tee-shirts every single day. Sometimes people even wore the same t-shirts and jeans every day but that’s a story for a different time.
We were growing quickly and it became painfully obvious every week who the newbies were because at 9am they’d show up at the front door wearing a button up shirt and tie. By 10am the tie would be off and the top button would be undone. But they still stood out like a sore thumb and it wasn’t so much that we cared but they usually felt like a bit of an outsider.
They typically continued to dress up for the first two weeks because, well, most of us have been brainwashed to think that we’re supposed to dress up to go to work. But by the third week they’d start wearing t-shirts and once they got to that point the button-up’s never made an appearance again.
It was the same cycle every time: First day, button-up and tie. Second day, button-up no tie. Second week, testing out the t-shirt and realizing that it felt ooh-so-good to be comfy at work. The rest was history.
Eventually I decided that I wanted to play a little game called “How Quickly Can The T-Shirt Show”. I pulled together a team of experts and we decided that if we just gave employees the shirt they could wear on their first day, and it was a t-shirt then they’d never wear a single button-up to work…ever. And it worked.
These “Mailtrust Rookie” shirts were the result and, let me tell you, they were a HUGE hit. I actually had to hide them in my office because so many of our current employees wanted one. Before an employee’s first day they were given the t-shirt and told that they could wear it on their first day if they wanted. They always did.
We had them printed almost four years ago and since then the company has morphed, changed names, and grown immensely. The t-shirt stopped being printed about three years ago yet when I went back into their office a few weeks ago to see if I could get a picture…someone was wearing his Rookie shirt with pride!