During a recent visit to the Apple Store in Boulder, a team member at the back of the store called for everyone’s attention, interrupting my transaction. I wondered what the hubbub was all about?
Team members in the trademark matching t-shirts started clapping as they lined up on both sides of the center aisle of the store. I learned from the salesperson working with me that an Apple Store “Genius” who had been with the store for several years was leaving to pursue a full-time software engineering program at Galvanize Boulder. This was his sendoff. I learned that every departing Apple employee is treated to this exit parade.
The team member made his way toward the front door, stopping to high-five, hug, shake hands with, or fist-bump every one of his now-former colleagues. Employees and customers (including me) cheered throughout his entire exit, and the clapping continued until the doors shut behind him. The proceedings, which involved a complete stoppage of business at this store, lasted seven minutes.
The “clap-out” in action.
Despite a bit of controversy over this tradition — some advocate for celebrating an employee’s first day on the job, not the last — it felt like an authentic act of appreciation. It was also a huge investment.
The entire enterprise prompted me to do a bit of inferential research. The average Apple store does about $68 million in sales per year. The Boulder store is open 67 hours a week, 209,040 minutes a year. That’s $325 in sales per minute or $2,277 of revenue at risk during this one seven-minute sendoff.
In discussing this with my colleague Sue Heilbronner, she thought the sendoff displayed Apple’s genuine self-awareness and appreciation for its employees. By blessing this practice, Apple is acknowledging that most employees likely don’t work in this retail job forever. The “clap-out” says, “You’ve graduated. Well done!” In this case, the Genius’ next stepping stone was an immersive coding program. Even better!
Here’s the other thing: on the day I witnessed the “clap-out” for first time, Apple lost exactly zero dollars. My fellow customers and I were every bit as delighted as the Apple team members with the celebration. No one walked out.
Appreciation is one of the most commonly withheld forms of feedback, especially in a work setting.
Looking to drive employee engagement and create a culture of candor at your company? Try this appreciation exercise. Great for meetings.
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