Virtual Employee Concerts Strike a Chord of Connection at Limelight Health

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek May 7, 2020
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​Welcome to the SHRM Online "Share Your Story" series, launched for HR professionals to share their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. The seventh in our series comes from Jason T. Andrew, CEO and one of four co-founders of Limelight Health, a software provider for the employee benefits industry. It is headquartered in San Francisco and has an all-remote staff.

Employee engagement is literally music to the ears of Jason T. Andrew, CEO of Limelight Health. His company started staging virtual concerts in April to provide a break from the anxiety and stress around COVID-19.

Employees have been treated to a recorded duet of The Civil Wars' hit "From This Valley" by co-workers on different coasts, tasty licks served up on the guitar by a business partner belting out "Folsom Prison Blues," and a jazzy rendition on keyboard of the Bee Gees' classic "How Deep Is Your Love," among other acts.

The initiative is one of the latest examples of music being used around the world to lift people up during the global pandemic. Italians have sung to each other from their balconies, socially distanced New Yorkers came together, right now, over Beatles songs, Bostonians belted out "Sweet Caroline" from their apartment windows, and Chicagoans gave their rendition of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" from their high-rises.

And music has been a connection point at Limelight, according to Andrew. Jason T. Andrew, CEO, Limelight Health

"I've been absolutely thrilled with how our employees have rallied together during this time," he said as he introduced the first virtual concert in April. "Nonetheless, we know the level of anxiety and uncertainty is high, so … we wanted to do something lighthearted and fun and we could think of no better way than to do it with music." 

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The two 45-minute shows the company has  held on Fridays are an outgrowth of its culture. 

During the organization's early days, Garrett Viggers, co-founder, vice president of innovation and product evangelist, serenaded employees on the guitar. There were song breaks during the day and a remote happy hour on Thursdays that involved musical performances. Staffers have performed for potential clients such as visiting executives from Ireland. Music eventually became a part of the company's monthly all-hands meeting, with staffers encouraged to participate. 

"It's become kind of our DNA," Andrew said of the music.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Through Emergency and Disaster]

Today, the company's 130 employees and their family members, as well as the company's business partners, vendors and clients, are invited to display their talents during virtual concerts. Music predominates, but poetry, magic tricks and other talents are welcome, Viggers said in a Facebook announcement promoting the April 24 concert. He emcees the shows on Zoom, reminding viewers of best practices such as placing their devices on mute until a performance concludes, when they may unmute to applaud. Concerts typically involve six to eight people performing one song each, and performers often preface the number with some background about the piece. Viggers' son, a former intern at the company, introduced his original song on mental health by referencing a personal diagnosis. 

The concerts, Andrew said, give employees something fun to look to, provide a reprieve during a stressful time and help forge connections among co-workers who enjoy seeing others display a part of their personality unrelated to work.

Who can forget, for example, the co-worker in costume and makeup singing "Endless Love" as both Lionel Richie and Diana Ross?

"It's been such a hit we're going to do it on a monthly basis," Andrew said of the concerts. The third one is scheduled for May 15.  


What is your organization doing to stay connected? Drop us an e-mail at ShareYourStories@shrm.org. See other articles in this series here.


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