SI Review: November 2010


Recognition Pays Dividends, Si Review November 2010

At The Reserves Network, it's all about being a Superstar. Three years ago, the Fairview Park OH-based staffing firm came up with a year-long performance-based program called Superstars to motivate internal staff to do their very best and recognize and reward them when they've done a good job.

"We wanted to drive the behaviors we know are necessary for our growth and the success of our people," explains Brad Qua, VP of national sales.

In order to become a Superstar, branch managers need to generate $200,000 in operating profits and a minimum of 10% growth over the same period the previous year. For area and regional managers, the number goes up to $300,000 in operating profits and 10% growth. VPs need to bring in half a million in operating profits, and account executives need to bring in $300,000 in gross margin dollars. Staffing supervisors, meanwhile, are scored on a scale of one to 10 in a number of areas (including marketing calls, interviewing candidates, bringing in new accounts, selling job orders, turnover and customer visits) and the Top 10 supervisors with the highest overall scores also become Superstars.

Those who are fortunate enough to become Superstars are treated to an annual getaway with management. "It gives people a chance to rub elbows with senior management and let them know we care," Qua says.

This year 28 people will get to go to Las Vegas from Nov. 14-17. TRN is paying for their airfare, hotel, an awards dinner and the trophies that are given out at the dinner. Staff also will receive gift cards they can use for spending money while in Vegas. It's a lot of money to fork out, but "the return on the investment is fantastic," Qua points out.

Recognizing, Motivating Internal Staff Needs to 
Be a Priority
SI Review spoke with staffing companies about how they recognize staff for their hard work and contributions and how they motivate internal staff. Any company needs to make recognizing and motivating internal staff a priority, stresses Mike Feiner, founder of Michael C. Feiner Consulting and a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business who gives talks all over the country about leading people to achieve great results.

When employees aren't recognized, "You either lose them or they come to work without enthusiasm and energy," Feiner points out. He says the only thing worse than having someone quit is having someone wish they weren't in the office and feel like they don't matter and don't count.

"The fact is people like to feel appreciated, valued and acknowledged for the work they do," Feiner says. "People need meaning in their lives. Day in and day out, the more important issue is letting people know the work they do is important, valued and appreciated. Very often, that's not the case."

Concludes Feiner: "You don't see a lot of excited people. People don't think they're recognized. They don't think their work is important. That's because bosses haven't made it their No. 1 priority to make employees feel appreciated. Too many bosses fail in that area."

It's important to recognize your internal staff because it not only leads to higher retention, but also to higher engagement, productivity and bottom line profitability, says Chester Elton, who coauthored seven books on employee engagement and recognition, including the New York Times Best Seller, The Carrot Principle.

Elton cites a 2007 study his company, O.C. Tanner, did in partnership with Health Stream, which revealed that 70% of employees who work at companies that have recognition programs said they still planned to be there in a year whereas only 24.7% of employees who work at companies that don't have recognition programs said they thought they'd still be there in a year.

"All of the research we have done tells us if you don't recognize and appreciate your employees, certain key [business] indicators lag," Elton says. "Companies that recognize their employees more often have much higher retention than companies that don't."

Giving Top Producers a Silver, Gold and Platinum Distinction
In addition to its Superstar program, The Reserves Network has two other programs that also recognize and motivate internal staff, according to Qua. TRN recognizes salespeople who generate $1 million, $2 million and $3 million and above for the company over the course of a calendar year by giving them the title of silver, gold and platinum producers, respectively. They then receive new business cards at the beginning of the new year with their new title, which adds credibility in dealing with clients and potential clients, Qua points out. "There's a good reason a prospect ought to talk to someone who has been that prolific," he says.

Like many other staffing companies, TRN also has an Employee of the Month program. Each month, the company sends an email announcement saying who the person is, how long they have been with the company, what they did, and a quote from the person who nominated them. The Employee of the Month is recognized with a gift card.

Superstar Event, President's Club Honor Top Performers
Adecco, like The Reserves Network, holds an annual Superstar event that recognizes and rewards top performers with a trip and an awards dinner, according to Jeryl Mitchell, chief human resources officer for Adecco Group North America. Next year's event will be held in Orlando.

Adecco also has a President's Club that recognizes internal staff for great service to customers, associates and colleagues. Those who get into the club receive a certificate signed by EVP Joyce Russell.

"I'm a firm believer that recognition is an accelerator of performance," Mitchell says. "The more you focus on what people do well, and reinforce what they do well, the clearer they are on what the expectations are."

Employees who are celebrating their 5-, 10- and 20-year anniversaries with the company get to choose from a catalog of items.

Adecco also has an online career center that motivates staff to move from their existing position to another position, Mitchell says. "We're connecting people with jobs in our own business as we're doing in the marketplace with clients," she explains.

Early this year, Adecco launched a Win4Youth sponsorship project that motivates internal staff and clients to not only get some exercise but also support a good cause. For every five kilometers Adecco Group staff and clients run or walk this year, Adecco is donating $5 to one of six organizations. In the United States, the money will go to the National Urban League.
In order to maximize the impact of the Win4Youth initiative, Adecco also is sponsoring 65 employees from around the world to run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7.

Adecco also sponsored a women's leadership conference this year that "was highly motivational for women in our organization," Mitchell explains. About 200 people were invited and 175 attended. The goal is to hold the conference again next year.

Performance Forum, Pinnacle Award Recognize Top Salespeople
Each spring, Fort Lauderdale FL-based SFN Group holds an annual "Performance Forum" that recognizes the top 10% of its salesforce, according to John Heins, chief HR officer. These top performers are treated to a company-paid trip. This year staff got to go to the Bahamas and next year they'll get to go to Las Vegas.

The company chooses six or seven of the top people at the Forum, looks at things like their overall performance and how they perform from a leadership perspective, and then selects one of them to receive the Pinnacle Award. The prize is a dream vacation anywhere in the world, valued at $20,000.

"It is truly a motivator," says Heins. "People talk about it all year long. They plan for it. There are a lot of people who would not typically have this opportunity to be bathed in that kind of luxury and recognition and to be memorialized in the history of the company by winning that Pinnacle." Those in the small group who aren't fortunate enough to earn the Pinnacle distinction receive a cash reward.

SFN Group also has a corporate achievement award that recognizes an Associate of the Year, a Leader of the Year and a Team of the Year. The winners of the Associate of the Year and Leader of the Year receive a plaque and anywhere from $500 to $1,000 cash. They also get to attend the Performance Forum. Each of the members in the Team of the Year receives $100.

SFN Group gives out another award – a President's Cup. The winner receives a $500 bonus and an engraved Tiffany's cup that says President's Cup on it.

Additionally, SFN Group has a Grossman Award for Excellence named after Jerry Grossman, who served on the company's Board of Directors for more than 25 years. The award recognizes someone who works behind the scenes and has made reliable and consistent contributions to the company.

SFN Group also has a Journeys of Excellence Program that recognizes staff for excellent customer service. They receive a letter personally written by CEO Roy Krause.

"You want to recognize people for the value they contribute to the organization," Heins says. "You want them to feel that their contributions to the organization are recognized by their managers. We want to recognize their contribution because we know it drives a higher level of commitment to the organization. How you invest in people shapes their perceptions about work. If those perceptions are positive, we will have a return on greater levels of performance, greater levels of commitment to the organization, and a greater desire and intent to stay with the organization."

Award for Excellence
Atlanta-based MATRIX Resources Inc. gives an "Award for Excellence" to one person companywide each quarter, according to Sandy Jess, VP of human resources. The award recognizes a staff member for customer service, creativity and innovation, and extraordinary performance on a particular project.

Jess sends out an email reminder to staff about the award, and the company has placed posters about the award as well. "If they don't see something, they forget," Jess says.
Those on MATRIX's management team serve as judges. They review all the nominations and then pick the winner, who receives a check for $750 (after taxes) and a plaque. "If you have one of those, you're someone," Jess says. "People keep these plaques on their desks."

MATRIX also has a sales incentive program that rewards recruiters and account managers for such things as having the most placements or biggest revenue gain. Winners typically receive a cash prize. The company also has given away DVD players or Blue Ray players. "Anything that will motivate them and bring business forward," Jess says. "It's about raising the bar and creating more revenue."

Each year MATRIX also honors staff with 10-, 15- and 20-year anniversaries at a celebration where they receive a gift. There's also food, balloons and a speaker.

When MATRIX revamped its corporate Website, the company publicly thanked all team members who worked on it, Jess says. They were taken out to lunch or happy hour and received a gift. Jess also personally takes her team to lunch just as a thank you. "I try to do it at least three times a year," she says.

President's, MVP, Rookie and Impact Awards
Waltham MA-based Winter, Wyman Companies gives a President's Award to salespeople to recognize their productivity, efforts and contributions, according to Michelle Roccia, senior VP. Salespeople who win the President's Award receive a plaque and a cash reward.

Winter, Wyman also has an MVP Award that recognizes salespeople for hitting certain revenue goals, a Rookie Award to honor salespeople who have had strong revenue generation and productivity in their first year with the company, and an Impact Award to recognize someone who has made the most impact from one quarter to another. The winners of all these awards receive cash prizes.

Those who aren't in sales are eligible for a "Clutch Award," the prize for which is an on-the-spot gift certificate. "We're definitely an awards-driven environment here," says Roccia. "Recognition – that is a big part of our culture here."

Discounts on Products and Services
Woburn MA-based Sapphire Technologies works with different companies to offer staff discounts on products and services; for example, cell phones, online computer training, computer purchases and hotel stays, according to Alison Cohen, VP of operations. Sapphire also gives staff paid time off to do volunteer work.

Additionally, Sapphire has monthly sales awards in different categories and gives gift certificates to people in non-revenue generating roles who have provided exceptional service and gone above and beyond.

"Employers need to find ways to keep people engaged beyond their job duties," says Cohen. "To me, a happy employee is a productive employee. Finding small ways to engage employees and make them happy makes them much more productive in general."

Length of Service Awards
Brookfield WI-based QPS Employment Group has length of service awards for employees who have been with the company 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, according to Diane Gadzalinski, human resources director. Employees who have been with the company for five years receive $500 in cash. Those who have been with the company for 10 years receive $2,000 for a trip, while those who have been with the company for 15 years get $3,000 for a trip. And at 20 years employees receive a Rolex watch, or QPS is willing to give the equivalent in cash if someone doesn't want the watch, Gadzalinksi says. "Everyone (with these special anniversaries) is recognized at the company's annual holiday party. We have them come up and receive their award."

QPS also rewards staff with what it calls "QPS Bucks." If a manager sees someone doing a great job, he or she can give that employee some "QPS Bucks," which the employee can then use to order something off the company's marketing Website, such as a shirt or sweatshirt.

Additionally, QPS does what it calls "Monday Morning Wake-Up" on its company Intranet, which recognizes a branch accomplishment or something positive going on in an employee's life. If someone gets married or has a child, that would be mentioned on "Monday Morning Wake-Up."

QPS also has an IDEAS program that allows employees to submit ideas. The ideas are reviewed, and if an employee suggests something QPS chooses to implement, the employee receives a bonus or cash award.

"Employee engagement is so important right now," says Gadzalinski. "How you treat them determines whether they stay [with the company] when the economy turns around. Our employees are what makes this company what we are. Our employees are our company. They're the face of QPS. You need to engage them and keep them engaged so they can provide the service and do the job every day. It's been difficult times for them so we need to recognize and appreciate everything they've done."

Freddy Award Recognizes Good Customer Service
Pensacola FL-based Landrum Staffing has a Freddy program that recognizes employees who provide good customer service internally or externally, says CEO Britt Landrum Jr. The Award is based on a book about a postman named Fred who went out of his way to provide good service. "It is a way for us to call attention to good customer service and recognize employees who do it right, who do it best," says Landrum.

The winners of the Freddy Award receive certificates. "Their name goes up on the electronic bulletin board so all employees entering the building can see who they are," Landrum says. "We hold a monthly staff meeting for all employees at which time their names are again displayed in a PowerPoint format and they are recognized with applause by the other employees. At the end of the year the staff member with the most Freddy awards wins a day off with pay."

Landrum Staffing also has a Bright Idea program that encourages internal staff to make suggestions. Staff can make suggestions on such things as how the company can save money, how to provide better service to 
clients or how to make the company more efficient. If the company ends up implementing someone's suggestion, the person receives movie tickets or a gift certificate.

Living the Values Award, Orange Jacket Club
San Diego-based SkillStorm gives a Living the Values Award to someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty, according to Rebecca Amesbury, VP of marketing and communication. Recipients receive a certificate and a letter from CEO Vince Virga explaining why they were given the award. They also receive a gift card of $50 to $100.
In addition, SkillStorm has an Orange Jacket Club that recognizes people who have been instrumental in company initiatives or consistently increased company revenue. "You get inducted into this club," says Amesbury, who is a member herself. "It's a lot of fun. The people who [already] have the orange jackets will stand on one side of the room and call out the people who are going to get it that year."

Those who are inducted into the Orange Jacket Club also get into the company's Dream Team Club, which recognizes top performers with an all-expense paid vacation. Additionally, they get to keep the bright orange jacket and can wear it at company events.

"These programs have been very successful for us," says Amesbury. "It definitely helps our employees know what those goals are, get to those goals, and strive to do better and better. You spend so much time at work; you want it to be a happy place. You're competitive but you have fun. That's a core value we have. We work hard but we have fun. We want to make sure our employees are taken care of, looked after, and always welcome and appreciated here."

Giving Tailored Gifts
Following advice from Elton's book, The Carrot Principle, Springfield MO-based Penmac Staffing recognizes individuals who have done something exceptional by giving them a gift that is tailored to their specific hobbies and interests, according to owner and founder Patti Penny.

Penny sent an email to internal staff this year asking: If you were given a day off of work, how would you spend it? She then was able to find out this person likes to go to the spa, this person likes to garden, this person likes to entertain, for example. So now, when staff are recognized, they're getting the perfect gift instead of a more generic gift they might not want or ever use. "That was such a great thing in that book – to pinpoint it and make it personal," Penny says.

In addition to recognizing individuals, each quarter Penmac recognizes specific departments. Every quarter, when a department exceeds last year's numbers, people in that department get to do a group activity. "They get to choose what they want to do," she says. "And they love it."

Penmac also holds an annual dinner at which the company gives a High Five award in five categories to staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
And when someone on staff is celebrating 5, 10, 15 or 20 years with the company, the person receives a personalized plaque that mentions something that stands out about him or her. The plaque may mention the individual's respect in the community, loyalty or attention to detail, for example. "We make them [the plaques] in house," Penny explains. "Each has a personal message tailored to the individual."

Additionally, Penmac branch managers receive a percentage of their branch's net profit. "That has been a great motivator [as well]," says Penny.

"Re-Birthday" Celebrations Recognize Anniversaries
Chicago-based LaSalle Network holds a "re-birthday" celebration when staff members have an anniversary, according to CEO Tom Gimbel. Every year on people's "re-birthday," their desk is decorated, there is a party in the office, people sing "happy re-birthday" and there is a sign in the lobby that says "happy re-birthday." Gimbel estimates the company does about 50 to 60 "re-birthday" celebrations a year.

On their first anniversary staff receive a leather portfolio, and on their second anniversary they receive a $250 gift certificate to spend on new work clothes. At times, staff have received iPods and iPads on their anniversaries.

LaSalle Network also hands out a "LaSallian of the Year" award to someone who truly embodies the culture and attitude of the organization, Gimbel says. The award is given to someone who "I feel as CEO represents what I want the company to be, cares about the company, is proud of it and enthusiastic about what we're doing," Gimbel explains. The winner receives a plaque.

Additionally, LaSalle Network gives out a "Producer of the Quarter" award. "It's not just being the number one producer, it's your attitude and overall contributions to the company," he says. The winners receive a life-size photo replica of themselves. "We try to do a lot of morale boosting and encouragement and team-building," Gimbel says.

Every August, to celebrate the company's birthday, LaSalle Network holds an event called "LaSallemas" where staff get to do something special. Past activities have included going to a restaurant, a party on a boat, cooking at a cooking school, hummer rides and bowling.

Quarterly Raffle, Free Gym Memberships and Housecleaning a Nice Treat
Akraya, a Sunnyvale CA-based information technology staffing and solutions firm, has a Recruiter of the Month Program that recognizes a recruiter who has the highest number of candidates placed in a month, according to CEO Amar Panchal. The Recruiter of the Month is announced at a company meeting and also posted on the company's Intranet. "It's certainly something people strive to be," Panchal says.

At Akraya, every time a recruiter places a candidate, the company puts $25 into a raffle. At the end of each quarter, everyone in the company gets to draw. People win anywhere from $10 to $300, Panchal says.

Additionally, Akraya holds creative offsite events that reward staff for all their hard work. This summer, for example, staff painted mugs at a local craft shop. It was a fun event that brought staff together, and now they're enjoying using their mugs in the office.

Akraya also pays for gym memberships and a twice-a-month home cleaning 
service for staff.

During the holiday season, Akraya has given staff $100 to spend at the local mall (that they can use to buy a gift for themselves, a family member or friend), and the company will likely do that again this holiday season as well. The only stipulation is that staff have to spend the money in an hour.

Staff who have worked for the company for five years also receive a week-long vacation to Hawaii.

Congratulations to you if your company has programs in place to recognize and motivate your internal staff. If your company doesn't have these programs, now is the time to implement them. Doing so will not only allow your staff to feel valued and appreciated but it will also increase productivity.


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