About five years ago, Colors for Plastics Vice President of Operations Robert Dalleska came up with an idea to hold a company cook-off, which now takes place every quarter.
Each of the nearly 100 employees of the Elk Gove Village, Ill.-based plastics compounder is welcome to whip up an appetizer, entrée and/or dessert to be judged. Suppliers and customers are invited to be judges.
Winners of each category receive a sweatshirt, cash and a traveling trophy for bragging rights.
"We get pretty competitive here," said Shannon Smith, operations manager at Colors for Plastics. "It's kind of a big deal to us to have that trophy on our desk for a quarter."
Dalleska's forte is cooking meals for employees a couple times per month — he has a skillet in his office, according to Smith — and inviting them to eat with him.
"Someone else got him a chef's coat and chef's hat for Christmas, so he's got all the stuff here in the office," she said. "He's probably the most competitive when it comes to our quarterly cook-offs."
Smith said the company has revamped its Employee of the Quarter program. When an employee picks up extra work or goes above standard work requirements, they're given a "compliment" carbon slip and Dalleska is given the other copy, which ultimately gets put into a raffle box. From there, an employee name is drawn for Employee of the Quarter, and that employee receives a $250 check.
Employee of the Year was renamed to the Cynthia Rose Award after a key member of the Colors team died.
"[The Cynthia Rose Award] is awarded to the team member who embodies the best traits of Cindy," Smith said. "The traits of devotion, dedication, excellence, knowledge, persistence, mentoring and fostering an overall growth in company change and development."
Colors for Plastics President Jack Dalleska said Cynthia Rose had been with the company for more than 30 years.
The employee presented with the Cynthia Rose Award receives $1,500.
Aside from the quarterly and yearly awards, employees are also recognized with service awards, which have previously been given out at formal dinner parties, outings at a racetrack, company picnics and bowling parties.
Jack Dalleska noted it's Robert Dalleska who comes up with many of the company activities.
"This was quite a while ago, but Chicago finally got its first casino," Jack Dalleska said. "[Robert] called me and told me he'd like to hold a meeting over at the casino and wanted to give everyone $50. I said, 'Sounds good to me.'
"He got us a room over there. We went in and had the meeting. He handed everyone $50 in chips. He said, 'You might think this is very generous of the company to give you $50 worth of chips and go out and gamble with, but we give you more than that every day; you're gambling with company money. If you do your job right, the company is going to win. If you don't do your job right, the company is going to go home with no chips. So, go out and gamble.'
"He broke us down into teams and whichever team came back with the most money … got more chips," Jack Dalleska added. "That was probably 10 years ago, but he's been coming up with stuff like that periodically for a long time. I don't know where he gets these ideas from, but I'm sure glad he gets them."
Smith added that although Jack and Robert Dalleska are family, they extended that feeling to all Colors for Plastics employees.
"I just think that, just with overall benefits all the way around, they take very good care of all of us, from keeping the cost of health insurance affordable to coming up with programs like the compliment [form] program or the cook-off," she said. "They just kind of help destress even while we're at work. They genuinely care about their employees."