- A Thanksgiving tradition of turkey distribution was changed to be more effective and efficient. The HR department was now stationed in the cafeteria where employees could pick up their holiday bird. Employees were disappointed that the recognition had been “delegated.” In the past, senior management personally thanked each individual and handed out the turkeys.
- A business converted from handing out fresh turkeys to a gift certificate program. Traditionally, the turkeys were distributed on Wednesday - the day before Thanksgiving. The new gift certificates were distributed on this day too. But wait, that meant if employees wanted to use the gift certificate for their holiday meal the next day, they now had to head to the store and deal with long holiday lines and less choices.
- At another location, employee gift certificates for a turkey were changed from a top brand to a lower cost generic one. A few cents were saved on each “pound of appreciation.”
- A few employees expressed a concern that not everyone ate turkey on Thanksgiving due to personal beliefs, dietary preferences, etc. Leaders convened and decided it was too complicated to have multiple forms of Thanksgiving recognition so they discontinued the practice all together. Disappointment and dissension occurred resulting in an increase of “we/they” comments.
- During an all-employee meeting where gift certificates for turkeys were to be distributed, a senior leader announced that he planned to donate his turkey gift certificate to those less fortunate in the local community. He encouraged employees to do the same. As the meeting ended, supervisors stationed themselves at the exit doors with baskets as a reminder of this donation opportunity.
In the scenarios above, simple details were overlooked which reduced perceived value. The recognition and appreciation lost its’ specialness and became less memorable. It also backfired when “strings were attached” -- organizations tried to get “one size” to fit everyone – and leaders “delegated” the activity to HR.
So why should you care? Inc. magazine’s November 9th edition stated, “According to new research, companies that excel at employee recognition are 12 times more likely to generate strong business results than those that do not.”
Bottom line - showing sincere thanks and appreciation is a critical cultural component of high performance organizations.