Posts Tagged 'junkets'

Employee Recognition: Small Budget, Big Payback

I’ve been working on a program I’ll be giving in Santa Clara on March 19th. The topic is employee recognition in a down economy. I am finding that many organizations don’t realize that recogniton doesn’t have to suffer because budgets have been slashed. In fact recognition becomes even more critical as morale is battered from so many directions.

There are two main points I plan to clarify for participants.

1) Recognition Doesn’t Have to Cost a Dime

With all the press about extravagant events, I am finding that it is even more important to talk about the difference between rewards and recognition. Employee appreciation events are rewards. Bonuses and incentives are rewards. Even company logo t-shirts are rewards (although they are not always appreciated rewards).

Recognition is an act, not a thing. Recognition doesn’t cost anything. Sometimes recognition is accompanied by a reward, but most of the time it is a thank you, praise, a new challenge, being trusted to do the right thing, or simply working with someone who knows you and what you bring to the team.

2) The Returns Are Enormous

The payback for offering meaningful recognition, for creating programs that make people feel visible and valued, is a workforce that is resilient, motivated, and highly productive. There are statistics and ancedotes a plenty to prove the value of good recognition.

Small budget, big payback. What more could you want?

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Employee Recognition In the News

On Sunday, John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo took out a full page ad in The New York Times and Washington Post to explain a Las Vegas trip for mortgage employees.  Stumpf believes the media misrepresented the event and created public outrage over use of their bailout funds.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what make employee recognition excessive, particularly in these economic times. If you have followed my work for long you know that employee recognition does not have to cost much and can, in fact, be free. With that in mind, let’s look at the Wells Fargo situation.

Wells Fargo, pre-bailout, was one of our strongest banks. I believe that it is no coincidence that they also have an enviable recognition culture. I featured them in Make Their Day.  We have worked together from time to time, and I know that they are a solid company that knows how to do recognition right. 

As Stumpf stated, “Events such as [the Las Vegas trip] are the heart of our culture.”  and “We believe our profits actually increase by rewarding and recognizing our best performers.”

Recognition improves productivity, service, and profitability, but is that enough to justify this event? From a return on investment perspective, absolutely. But ROI isn’t enough in the situation.

Let’s take a look at the situation through the lens of public opinion.

On October 14, Wells Fargo sold $25 billion in preferred stock to the Treasury. Earlier in October they had stated that they didn’t want bailout funding.  I don’t know why they changed their minds, but they did. They took public assistance, and the public interpretes that to mean that they need our money just to stay afloat. True or not, that is the perception. Now the public expects Wells Fargo to operate in accordance with a company in dire circumstances.

So, was this event excessive? From a good recognition practice perspective, no, it isn’t excessive for a company celebrating its high achievers and signifcant success.  From the perspective of a company that has taken bailout? Absolutely excessive. When a company goes public their actions are tempered by shareholder opinion. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when you take public money your every action is held up to public scrutiny.


My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.


Visit my website www.maketheirday.com today!


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