Welcome to Leaders In Play! We interview people who take having FUN at work very seriously. We know, it seems like a crazy concept, but incorporating Play At Work has been proven to improve employee engagement, creativity, recruitment, retention, and provide countless other benefits that help create healthy company culture. Read on to learn more about our featured leader and their definition of Play, both in and out of the workplace.
In honor of Employee Appreciation Day, we’re featuring our very own Jon Yousefzadeh. As Head of People Operations, Jon has certainly put his stamp on the culture at ZogSports and ZogCulture in his time with the company. He’s a thoughtful communicator who has brought a caring approach to his day-to-day tasks. Whether it’s patiently walking employees through new processes, integrating or improving programs, or organizing our epic annual incentive trip, Jon is a people person who also happens to be everyone’s favorite person. We’re lucky to have him and hope you enjoy getting a little glimpse of what makes him special.
Location: New York, Nueva York
Company: ZogLife (ZogSports + ZogCulture)
Role: Head of People Operations
Two Highlights You’ve Had In Your Current Role:
- I got to plan a trip for 44 people to the Bahamas!
- Feeling valued within the ZogLife family--numerous people have told me how they appreciated the new skills and experience I brought to the company, some of which were really needed. It’s really nice to feel wanted!
Describe a normal day in your role.
My days are very rarely the same--one of the reasons I love what I do. Some days I get to put my learning hat on and develop new training programs for our teams. Other days, it's hiring for top talent across our six offices or running our benefits program or tackling People Operations projects like new technologies and systems.
What does Play At Work mean to you?
The average employee spends 24% of their time at work (and that’s just the average, imagine the percentage for the “overachievers”!). Why not make that be the best time it can be? Study after study after study (after study) show that work environments that incorporate higher levels of play also have happier employees with lower levels of burnout, stress, and turnover.
What’s your favorite childhood game and why?
In our Persian-Jewish household, backgammon was king (shah). We would practice at home for the “tournaments” we’d hold during larger family events with our cousins and extended family. Man, those were the days...
How do you Play outside of work?
You can find me on the field--Zog’s full-time employees get unlimited free play in our leagues. Besides that, I try to devote time to my different passions and interests like cooking, going to comedy shows, travel, eating, and being active.
Name the most memorable work/networking event you’ve ever attended and why?
A couple of weeks before I started at Zog, they invited me to an after-work happy hour to meet some of my now-colleagues that were in town from our different offices. I got to meet dozens of people, playing different games in our office and making connections abound. I immediately knew I’d made the right decision to join Zog.
Name a fun coworker. What makes them a fun person to work with?
This is a tough one because “Fun” is actually one of our company’s Core Values. The person that stands out the most to me is Chris Davis, who manages our San Jose business. Chris could be having the hardest week ever yet still take the time to joke and laugh with all of us, even if he’s 3,000 miles away from our main office!
If you could have a billboard with anything written on it, what would it say? Why?
Three characters: “+VE” which is shorthand for Positive. Until recently, I took the power of positivity for granted. Positive thoughts spark positive action which then sparks more positive thoughts (Lather. Rinse. Repeat.). Having a more positive outlook has kept me from being stuck in my own head and being my own worst enemy, something I grappled with in my younger years.
What’s one fun thing you want to do by the end of the year?
I’m a spreadsheet geek. Give me a spreadsheet and I’ll optimize it with formula after formula. A few weeks into dating my girlfriend, we (read: I) started a list of all the restaurants we’ve dined at together in the New York metro area. On our 3-year anniversary back in January, we hit the 200 mark. My goal is to hit 275 by the end of the year!
The Leaders In Play series features professionals who aren't afraid to have fun while getting the job done--the ones who can boost team morale, spark ingenuity, and inspire Play At Work among many other attributes that make them key players in their offices. If you have someone in mind who fits this description and would like to see them featured, email Angel at firstname.lastname@example.org.