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A Holistic Approach Helps 1440 Employees Build Authentic Connections

29 Jan, 2022 | Posted by 1440 Multiversity

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By Renee Brincks


During the monthly Family Meal at 1440 Multiversity, team members from across the campus dine together and chat about what's known as "the question of the day." Typically, that question touches upon a playful topic—tell participants about your favorite sport, for example, or describe a past Halloween costume. The answers spark small-group conversations that meander from lighthearted themes to meaningful personal exchanges.


The Family Meal events hold a special significance for 1440 Director of Human Resources Kimberly Farr. Growing up, her family made a point of gathering around the table every day. The tradition created lasting bonds.


"My father said the most important thing in his world was his family, and what better way to spend quality time with your family than by breaking bread," she says. "The 1440 Family Meal reminds me of that, and those personal connections that happen at the table. It's a really important way for us to spend time together. It's one day of the month where we're encouraged to break bread together, get to know each other, and enjoy each other's company."


The Family Meal is one practice that enticed Farr to join 1440 in 2021, after 29 years with Marriott International. Her human resources role was restructured during the pandemic, and while she could have stayed with the company in another capacity, she saw an opportunity to choose a new path. 


Farr had started a health and life coaching certification when a recruiter contacted her on LinkedIn to introduce 1440. Soon after, 1440 Managing Director Frank Ashmore also got in touch. Following those early conversations, Farr was invited to a weekend of interviews and on-campus experiences. She asked if she could bring her four-legged family members, a 160-pound South African boerboel and a 30-pound Chihuahua-corgi mix. 


"I have children and I have siblings, but my dogs live with me now, and they're a part of my family. When the 1440 team was so giving and so quick to say, 'Yes, bring the dogs,' I knew they were really focused on the employee," Farr says.


During her initial visit, she learned about 1440's campus culture and the team's focus on deep hospitality, which starts with a genuine love for the people in one's own backyard. Interview panelists shared how the organization distributed care packages to staff members and community residents facing pandemic challenges and displacement during the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fires. 


The staff members that Farr met also demonstrated their genuine kindness and interest in each other. After learning about her goal of working as a life coach, one asked Farr if she'd consider coaching campus guests and colleagues. And, when Farr went to meet with 1440 Co-Creators, Joanie and Scott Kriens, Ashmore reminded her to just be herself.


"That was reassuring to hear, because I had every intention of letting them see the true me. If an organization tells you to bring your authentic self, then you want to interview authentically," Farr says. "I could tell what they said wasn't just lip service. Joanie and Scott wanted to know more about me, as a person, and understand what was important to me. It wasn't really like an interview. It was three people sitting down and having a conversation."


Farr believes that treating team members holistically—addressing professional needs while also providing emotional, mental, physical and social support—brings out the best in people. Now, as the director of human resources, she helps to guide 1440's whole-person commitment.


"There's an old saying about checking your problems at the door when you're at work. I've never believed in that philosophy. I have always felt like we need to look at our employees as whole people, rather than just the work that they do," she says. "I truly believe that if you focus on someone holistically, it makes them happier in life. That, in turn, makes them happier as employees."


At 1440, holistic support takes many forms. Team members are encouraged to take the same Signature Classes offered to campus guests, exploring topics ranging from nutrition, yoga, mindful movement and meditation to cooking, making mandala art, exploring nature and living with purpose. In Farr's first few months at 1440, she tried Qigong, created her own vision board, and found a favorite meditation teacher. During Family Meals, she often hears colleagues discussing how they've adopted an ongoing yoga practice or started crafting more plant-based meals following their class experiences. 


Additional training opportunities introduce staff members to the Enneagram, a tool that assigns numbers to personality qualities and helps individuals understand the unconscious patterns shaping their behaviors and choices. Other seminars explore personal growth, leadership, and even grief. 


"Many of our staff members still talk about a class called Struggle Well, where they discussed trauma and all they've been through. There wasn't a dry eye in the room, I'm told. Even through their vulnerability, people felt comfortable enough to share their experiences," Farr says. "What other kind of organization encourages you to talk about your problems, without judgment?"


Community events such as Wellness Wednesday Yoga, Tapas & Tunes, and Mindful Movie Night, which explores cultural and societal topics, invite the public to campus to connect with 1440's work. Team members are welcome at those gatherings, as well. 


"Our staff members attend as guests, and I think that's really important. It allows them to experience 1440 as a guest would, so they can better share the story of that experience and contribute to our community-building in a new way," Farr says.


Family Meals helped Farr build her community of coworkers when she first started at 1440. The events gave her a chance to learn people's names, of course, but they also introduced her to individuals' hobbies, interests and unique qualities. She noticed how team members regularly express gratitude for each other and happily share knowledge and inspiration. One culinary team member taught her how to cook kohlrabi, an unfamiliar-to-her vegetable that turned up in Farr's produce delivery. Another became an unexpected accountability partner, encouraging her to resume the life coach training courses she'd paused while getting up to speed at her new job.


"It helped me to not feel isolated. From day one, everyone here has made me feel like part of the family. The dynamics are so different than in the corporate world, where going to the human resources office is sometimes like going to the principal's office. That's not how people see me here, and it's so heartwarming," she says.


Now, when she talks with friends and new acquaintances about her experiences at 1440, Farr focuses on those rich personal connections and holistic activities.


"At 1440, it's not just about your work performance. It's about you as a person, and the attributes you bring to the table," she says. "People talk about finding a great place to work, but that verbiage doesn't match what we truly are. It goes way above and beyond being a great place to work. This is also a great place to have an extended family."


Explore our career opportunities and learn more about joining the 1440 team here. 


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