Posts Tagged 'Washington Post'

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 today!

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