In a recent virtual roundtable, we went straight to the source—high performing employees—to get their perspectives on why meaningful recognition matters and what it looks like. We discussed:
What impactful recognition looks like from the employee perspective
How employers can elevate key employee milestones and build their employer brand
Recognition watchouts to avoid and opportunities leaders can take to their organization today
Watch the recording or read on for the full conversation.
About our panelists:
Debbie Duma (Moderator) currently serves as Senior Program Manager at Blueboard, where she leverages a multifaceted background in supply chain and logistics, early childhood education, and curriculum design. Her dynamic career journey has equipped her with the ability to navigate diverse industries, making her a versatile leader adept at sharing insights and uplifting and empowering others with her experience and perspective.
Gino Fortunato (Panelist) currently works at Reltio, an innovative startup in the data management space, and has had a number of successful years as a sales engineer. In his spare time he enjoys motorcycles, going to concerts, and learning Italian.
Monique Gregory (Panelist) has been a sales Leader for over 30 years. Monique won her Blueboard Experience as Team Player Allstar Company Achievement from Metagenics. She loves living life and traveling.
Robin Wark (Panelist) works in marketing automation for Unit4. This Canadian enjoys spending time outdoors with his family and listening to music.
Coni Warren (Panelist) is an Email Marketing Manager at KinderCare Learning Companies and was awarded a Blueboard reward from Fastly. She is a Portland, Oregon-based indie music and movie lover.
Meet our panel of high performing employees.
Debbie (Blueboard Moderator): Hi everyone! I'm Debbie, a program manager here at Blueboard. I’m excited to get this chat going today—we're going to have a conversation that hits really close to home. This is why meaningful recognition is more than just a trend: It's a game changer in the workplace.
With us we have a stellar panel of top performers from a variety of roles and companies. We’ll go around and do a round of quick introductions. And then I'd love to hear from each of you about a memorable recognition moment—positive or negative—you’ve had. We'll kick it off with Gino.
Gino Fortunato (Senior Solution Consultant at Reltio): Hi, everyone! My name is Gino Fortunato. I’ve had a long career—you could probably tell from the gray hair—but I’ve spent most of the past 25 years working with data and I currently work as a Sales Engineer with a company that specializes in master data management.
Robin Wark (Marketing Coordinator at Unit4): My name is Robin. I work in marketing for an ERP software company. I've been lucky to earn a few awards over the years. One recently was for long-term service by Blueboard and I just really liked how it was kind of engaging, and how they were able to work with me to ensure it worked for me and my family—it was awesome.
Monique Gregory (Territory Sales Manager at Metagenics): Hi! My name is Monique and I am a Territory Sales Manager. I’ve been in sales for a very long time—you can't tell because I put red in my hair. But I loved my Blueboard experience. My husband and I got to enjoy some very well deserved downtime. We had massages. We went out on a boat cruise. We went out on the water all day, and everything was set up for us. The beautiful hotel. Everything was just fabulous and I’m trying to win more of those types of trips because someone else did all the planning, and we just had to show up and enjoy.
Coni Warren (Email Marketing Manager at KinderCare): Hi! I'm Coni Warren, Email Marketing manager. I’ve been in marketing for many years. And very similar to what Monique just said [I used my Blueboard award on] a trip. I went to Chicago and I visited some friends. I made them very jealous with the nice hotel I was staying at, and it was just great to just have everything set up. I got concert tickets that were sold out. I was able to get that through Blueboard. And so that was just a great experience.
Q: When you think about the characteristics of a great place to work, what are the elements that you look for? What are the things that keep you engaged?
Debbie: I love this so much. Thank you all so much for sharing. We're definitely gonna talk a little bit more about recognition. But first for everyone in the room, this is a really rare opportunity to hear from a diverse group of employees. So let's zoom out a little and then talk about what actually makes a great place to work from your perspectives.
Monique: Because I've been in sales for so long, I always look for the rewards and recognition programs. That's key for me. The benefits [companies] add to their programs, and the thoughtfulness that they put into the recognition that they give their employees—for me, that has been central. And I like to give the places I’ve worked for ideas but I didn't have to give my current company any ideas. They already had started working with Blueboard. So I'm excited.
Debbie: I love that Monique. And the last time we chatted, you hit upon a really great point about “the why” behind recognition and how it can impact employees when it comes from a caring employer. Can you speak a little bit more about that?
Monique: Often, companies don't ask for feedback [on programs they’re trying to introduce], and my company did a great job of gathering feedback to guide why they wanted to explore the [Blueboard] program. One of the benefits is that other employees wanted to know what my experience was. So the “why” for me is being able to benefit from the program with the actual reward but also share with others so that they can be motivated to try to [earn one] as well.
Debbie: Thank you, Monique. I'm gonna nudge you just a little bit more—the last time we chatted, you shared actually the flip side, the negative impact of when the recognition didn't hit right? Can you share a little bit more about that?
Monique: Sure. I got a reward in the past and I just didn't think the package that they sent out was worth the shipment cost. It contained some items that weren’t all that thought out. And it was just the extreme opposite of participating in Blueboard. So I think, moving forward, [companies] should understand [the impact of a gift that feels] irrelevant. I think the gift that they sent out was maybe worth $4. And I'm not saying $4 isn't a lot, some people can make a lot out of $4, but what they sent us and [that fact that they probably] spent $35 to ship it—it just wasn't anything that motivated me. It was actually kind of disappointing.
Debbie: Yeah, recognition is really about building a meaningful relationship [with your employees]. The last time we spoke, Coni, you made a really great point about supporting employees and building relationships [as a characteristic of a great place to work] if you'd like to chat a little bit more about that.
Coni: Yea, I mean, any place that I want to work, I really want to be surrounded by coworkers that I enjoy hanging out with. We're all on the same page. There’s good communication between us. I [also] want transparency from leadership. The kind of transparency that helps employees be able to work together better than [in a situation where] everyone’s siloed and not really talking to one another. And then that's just not a fun place to work. I want to actually enjoy being at work because you spend so many hours there.
“I [also] want transparency from leadership. The kind of transparency that helps employees work together better than [in a situation where] everyone’s siloed and not really talking to one another [...] I want to actually enjoy being at work because you spend so many hours there.” – Coni Warren, on the characteristics of a great place to work.
Debbie: Totally. It's your home away from home, right? Or even when you're working from home. Thanks, Coni. Robin or Gino, do you want to jump in?
Robin: Sure, yeah. I've been lucky, like [Coni] was just saying, to work on some great teams, and as we used to work in office at Unit4 and now a lot of us have shifted to work from home after the pandemic. And what I've appreciated really is the flexibility our company has allowed us to have in that—to adjust to family schedules and things. Work still needs to be done but maybe it doesn’t have to be done in the 9 to 5 block, you know? So it's reducing commuting time and giving you that flexibility with your day, which is awesome, and you still get to work on a great team.
Debbie: The flexibility and then also meeting our employees where they are, right? If [a certain arrangement] works better for them, if it makes [them] more happy, more engaged, it's gonna be a great place to work. Let’s round it off with you, Gino. I'd love to hear from you.
Gino: Sure, I think Monique did a great job in her description of [meaningful rewards]. If you ever take a management class, one of the key things they teach you is that an [employee] reward has to be something that you actually want, right? And to diverge for a little bit, that's one of the great things about Blueboard—you get to choose what you want to do. But you know, back to the original question, which is, what makes a great place to work, I think you really want to know that management has your back.
Five years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm completely recovered now, which is great, but my management chain from top to bottom was very, very supportive of me [throughout the process]. If I needed time off, that was okay. They were behind me 100%. And things like that mean an awful lot.
Q: How does meaningful recognition factor into your overall employee experience?
Debbie: Thanks so much for sharing, Gino. And I'm so glad to hear that all is well health-wise. Shifting gears a little bit: Meaningful recognition is a core pillar in any employee experience strategy and can really have an outsized impact, which is what we're chatting about today. So let's dive a little bit deeper on what makes recognition truly impactful.
I'd love to hear from you all: How does recognition factor into your overall experience as an employee? And actually, we'll kick it back to you, Gino!
Gino: I'm sure Monique will talk about this a little bit, too. But as a sales professional, one of the things that you're good at doing is talking, right? When you talk to your peers and friends outside of your organization, one of the things that you really want to tell them is that you are good at what you do.
And without [meaningful] recognition, you’re just saying that you're good. You can say that you're a good salesperson, but having your organization recognize you gives you objective proof. You’re not just saying I'm a good salesperson. And you can be sure that when these rewards come, everybody in [my] peer circle is aware of it. That's the validation that what you've been telling them about your skills is actually accurate and not just your own mind dancing in its own juices.
You really get a chance to say, Hey, I've been recognized as one of the best people or the best person at my role in the company. And those kinds of things mean a lot in the long run.
Debbie: Absolutely. That's also a really important part of recognition—peer recognition. [There’s formal recognition] and then also being recognized by your peers. Thanks so much for sharing. Let's hear next from Monique.
Monique: What I really appreciate—going back to what Gino said—the company thought more of what they could offer us as salespeople or managers by going to Blueboard and saying, hey, we would like the experts to put together some packages or some selections and options for our employees.
I was able to get another Blueboard award for my anniversary. So not only do they use [Blueboard] as recognition for sales teams, as a company-wide reward, but they also use it now for our anniversary, and it's kinda great because everybody's like, Oh, I don't know if I wanna massage, or if I wanna do this, or you know, if I wanna pick from some of the other unique things that you guys have on the menu.
I do have some lasting memories, first and foremost. And the packages that [Blueboard] puts together, they last a lifetime. Like you said, getting the plaques and all of that—I've been in sales for a very long time and those are great. But actually having an experience to go with it along with the plaque to brag, I think, is the most satisfying and rewarding thing that I found from my experiences in sales.
“Getting the plaques and all of that—I've been in sales for a very long time and those are great. But actually having an experience to go with it along with the plaque to brag about is the most satisfying and rewarding thing that I found from my experiences in sales.” – Monique Gregory
Moving to the Blueboard experience made [getting rewarded] very unique. But it also made it where others are seeking to have conversations with me, asking how was your experience?How did they put that together? And so I just feel like that's kind of contagious. So what you get out of that is my experience can now go out to everybody, and then, you know, they can possibly work to win their own reward.
Debbie: Thanks, Monique. I love [what you said about] visibility having a domino effect. And the last time we chatted Robin, I thought you brought up a really amazing point about that visibility piece, so I'll hand it off to you.
Robin: Being in marketing and copywriting roles in my career, I've seen colleagues and worked with other great writers and graphic designers who feel that other roles get a lot of recognition over the years—that some roles are more invisible. So when they receive something like an award through Blueboard, they feel recognized and feel that their role and what they contribute to the company is important. Because sometimes those things get a bit lost. You know, salespeople, as one or two others mentioned, are super critical but [people in] other roles that support [sales and the business in general] need to feel valued as well.
Debbie: I love that, Robin—making everyone feel important. Because each employee [can have] such a big impact on the greater organization. So thanks for sharing that Robin and Coni, we’ll finish it off with you: How does meaningful recognition factor into your overall experience as an employee?
Coni: It's kind of similar to what Gino was saying—getting that recognition, it’s not just me saying I’m a good employee or good at what I do. No, it’s my company rewarding me. And I think that also helps internally with other coworkers, they can see that you are the subject matter expert in whatever you do because your company recognized you and gave you this reward.
So there are multiple [reasons] that it's good to get recognized, not just for your individual work, but also to help you in the future with [networking] and developing relationships with people inside your company because they know that they can trust you and go to you and you're going to know what you're talking about.
Debbie: Absolutely, Coni. You're so right about being validated as the subject matter expert, or the top performer in a certain context or certain field.
When we think about recognition across all the different generations of folks in the workplace, another thing I think is important is understanding imposter syndrome, right? And I think that recognition piece helps to fight that. Thank you all for sharing.
Q: You’ve each received a Blueboard reward. Why were you rewarded and what made your experience an example of meaningful recognition?
Debbie: Let's talk a little bit about Blueboard. Not that I love Blueboard and want to talk about it all the time… But each of you has received a Blueboard reward and I’d love to hear why you were rewarded and what stood out to you about your Blueboarboard experience. Let's start with Robin.
Robin: Sure, I've been lucky to receive a couple. The last one was for my five year work anniversary and the one before that was for living up to one of our core company values which is “to make an impact”. It was great to be recognized for those things and I enjoyed both experiences a lot.
The most recent one I used to go to a concert with my wife; the first one, I did ziplining with my kids. And that’s one thing we were talking about before. [When you get recognized] it’s also nice to have your family involved. Because we all work different hours or long hours, or you know, have stressful days—and our families, our partners, especially whoever's there supporting [us] being able to include them and have them reap the rewards of that work, I think is really beneficial.
“[When you get recognized] it’s also nice to have your family involved. Because we all work different hours or long hours or have stressful days—and our families, our partners, whoever's there supporting [us], being able to include them and have them reap the rewards of that work is really beneficial.” – Robin Wark, Marketing Coordinator at Unit4
And I mentioned before at the top [of this session], but I was just blown away by the organization Blueboard: how your team works with employees like, let's try this or if this doesn't work, let's try this. The Concierge service has been amazing both times.
Research shows experiences have 4x more impact on the employee experience than any other reward.
Debbie: Glad to hear it! Let's pass it off to Monique.
Monique: So I won the company-wide Team Player Award, which means that you touch other departments other than sales. I think I'm a connector, I naturally try to make relationship connections with others. And my [with my Blueboard reward I chose] a trip to Key West.
My husband and I did four days and it was absolutely amazing—not only the place that was selected where we stayed but how we were treated and received. When we first got there, everything was set up for us, including our itinerary. So we knew what we needed to do, where we needed to be.
My husband and I had a couple's massage for an hour, and it was absolutely fantastic and then we did the water excursion for a full day with lunch. It was like having our own private ship, even though there were two other couples on the boat with us, but it was so intimate and so well planned even down to the lunch. [The Concierge] thought of everything, as far as, you know, what you don't want or what they could do to make it even better.
Everything that I thought it would be, it exceeded that. I guess I thought it would be one way, and my husband and I both laughed the day we got off the boat. We were like, wow! Like it was like an “aha! wow!” moment. And so we often revisit that. And you know, we posted pictures online. And our friends and stuff were really like, Wow! How'd you all afford that trip? Because it seemed like we had our own private boat and the resort was beautiful.
So I'm very excited about it. I'm hoping that I win again next year.
Debbie: I love that Monique. I am rooting for you. I hope you get another one. Coni, do you want go next?
Coni: Yes. My [Blueboard reward] was actually given to my husband by his company, Fastly—they're the ones that use Blueboard. He passed away earlier this year. He did high level tech support. So when things that were just really broken, he would get called in. And he received the reward for his commitment to helping customers and getting those difficult problems solved.
And it was very nice of his company to pass the reward on to me to use because he would’ve wanted for us to use it together. So I did take it—it gave me the chance to go visit friends and it was my first real vacation of the year.
“My [Blueboard reward] was actually given to my husband by his company, Fastly—they're the ones that use Blueboard. He passed away earlier this year. And it was very nice of his company to pass the reward on to me to use because he would’ve wanted for us to use it together. So I did take it—it gave me the chance to go visit friends and it was my first real vacation of the year.” – Coni Warren, Email Marketing Specialist at KinderCare
It was very nice to not have to think about anything because I had been taking care of so many other things. To just basically say, oh, I want to go here and do this. But I was really vague about what I wanted to do, I just didn't know. And the Concierge was very helpful, offering suggestions and things like that. It was just a really nice experience. And I made my friends [I visited] very jealous about my hotel.
Debbie: I love that, Coni, and I'm so glad to hear that we're able to take care of you. Gino, I'd love to hear from you.
Gino: Sure thing, I've been lucky enough to get a couple of different rewards.
The first one was a massage that I got becasue there was a rollout of some new software in our company. There was a reward set up [to encourage us to use the] software—and I was the person who used it the most. It was really great becuase the massage included the tip and everything, right? You know, I really didn't have to think about it at all.
And the second reward I got was a trip, and the trip was great because we had some really specific parameters. I'm the parent of a teenage son and my son was going away on a school trip. So we really wanted this trip to correspond in time with the school trip so we didn't have to worry about where our son was gonna be, and all that kind of stuff.
And everybody [at Blueboard] was so accommodating: Oh, you need to leave this day. You want to come back this day. You need to go to these cities—everything was just taken care of. And we were kind of exact in what we wanted and [Blueboard] was able to accommodate everything that we needed. And it was just so completely seamless and simple from our perspective, where it would have taken a lot of work on our end to do that.
Debbie: Awesome. Glad to hear that we were able to take care of your family. Just Whoo-hoo! You worked hard for your award, and that's what we're here for, to take care of you.
Q: Thinking about meaningful recognition, how did getting an experience-based reward differ from other rewards you’ve gotten in the past?
Debbie: Let’s talk about the differences in recognition. When you think about getting an experience-based reward versus any other type of reward, what sticks out to you all the most? How did the reward experience differ? And I'll start with you, Robin.
Robin: In the past I have received some plaques and things. But it was great to be able to, with those two rewards from Blueboard, to customize them to fit our personality, my family's personalities, and to fit the things we like to do.
I mentioned this before but my most recent reward was a five years of service reward. It was a concert experience with dinner out. Last year, my wife received a reward for 25 years at her company—so 20 years longer than I've been at mine—and she received a plaque. But obviously, she's talked a lot more about going to the concert and the restaurant we ate at; that experience is something she's talked about a lot more than the plaque we have downstairs in our basement, even though she appreciates her company recognizing her quarter of a century working there.
“My most recent reward was a five years of service reward. It was a concert experience with dinner out. Last year, my wife received a reward for 25 years at her company—so 20 years longer than I've been at mine—and she received a plaque. But obviously, she's talked a lot more about going to the concert and the restaurant we ate at; that experience is something she's talked about a lot more than the plaque we have downstairs in our basement.” – Robin Wark
Debbie: It’s the memories that will stick with you, right? And it's great that you were able to enjoy that reward altogether. Let's pass it to Gino.
Gino: I'm at a period of my life where there aren't too many things that I want anymore. You know, if I want a new watch or a car I’ll go and buy them. So the things that people can really give me are experiences.
“I'm at a period of my life where there aren't too many things that I want anymore. You know, if I want a new watch or a car I’ll go and buy them. So the things that people can really give me are experiences. [Traditional recognition] is not nearly as motivational or effective as an experience because the experience is something that you will have forever.” – Gino Fortunato
Traditionally, when we were all in the office for 40 hours each week, you could put your plaques, etc. around your office, and that made a lot of sense. But in a remote or hybrid world where most of us work a lot of time remotely, those just don't make as much sense anymore. I mean, to sit in your home office and stare at your plaque … it's better than a sharp stick in the eye but it doesn't have the same kind of meaning. Those things are for others to see that you've accomplished something.
It's not nearly as motivational or effective as an experience because the experience is something that you will have forever. I just think that those more traditional kinds of recognition don't have the same meaning that they did before the pandemic.
Debbie: You're so right. Every day life is so different now than it was before and we [as employers] have to adapt and evolve to meet people where they are now. Monique or Coni, do you want to go next?
Coni: Similar to what Gino said, in past jobs, I've received a plaque or trophy. And [those rewards] made sense when I was in the same company and could put it at my desk or behind me or something like that and say, oh, I've received this for this.
But once you move on to another company or I just remember for me, when I was packing to move to another state, I was like, what am I going to do with these trophies? They're so awkward and even my husband at the time looked at one he's like, I think you could kill someone with it, it’s so heavy. It doesn't make sense to anybody outside the company [that gives it to you]. It was nice at the time but it just didn't really do much later on.
With experiences, you're gonna have pictures and memories and you can talk about it—experiences are easier to talk about with people. Why you did what you did, why you received the reward compared to oh, there's a trophy!
Debbie: You’re right, Coni, that's kind of like a little awkward to be like, Oh, did you notice this [trophy]? It’s a little bit weird to inject into the conversation, you're so right. Monique. I'd love to hear from you.
Monique: Like everyone else has said, I think recognition has needed to change, to evolve. Before, with plaques or [for salespeople] winning President's Club, which was for a select few each year—you never heard them talk about [the reward] after they got back. At least I didn't at my company. I know people who have won Club 13 years in a row and it's kind of like, okay, you know, I win.
[With Blueboard] it's different because experiences do mean a lot. I think a lot of times people are like, yeah, I have everything. It’s like, what do you buy a person for Christmas that has everything? It's an experience that will be the differentiation between a thing that they can actually see, touch and hold versus a memory.
For me, I'm more into the memory component. Like Gino said, even if it's a small memory. For my work anniversary, the massage that I had was good. It wasn't as good as my experience when I went to Key West, but it was good. And it was a nice massage for my anniversary from work.
And usually those are things you need to pay for for yourself, or you know you get a gift card from your family or whatever. But it just meant a lot more to me because you're starting to build memories of experiences versus things.
Debbie: I love that. At Blueboard, we call this the Afterglow, cause you keep the Afterglow with you—that little smiley bit when you come back from your experience.
Q: If you were to leave HR leaders with one takeaway for bridging the employer-employee disconnect and improving employee experience, what would it be?
Debbie: I think we’re at a really good point to take the time to slow down and think about how amazing of an impact that this [kind of meaningful recognition] has had. It makes you happy, it makes your family happy.
I’m curious, if you were to leave leaders and HR pros that are in this chat, or the folks that are watching this recording after today—if you could leave them with a final takeaway for bridging that employer-employee, disconnect and improving the employee experience, what would it be? And we'll start with you, Connie.
Coni: I've seen some things in chat [today] where people are talking about affirmations, giving people constant feedback. And I think that is very important and should always be happening. But [when it comes to more meaningful recognition] these experiences, from small experiences like a dinner out somewhere or a massage, all the way to big trips—there’s a variety of things.
[At a base level] any kind of recognition to employees [is important]. So you're not just saying that “we're all in this together” and working towards this common goal as a company. You’re [showing] you actually care about your employees. They aren’t viewed as just another cog in the machine that can be easily replaced. Instead, it’s like, we need to always be recognizing these human beings that are working for this company.
Debbie: I love that. It is really easy to just kind of get lost in the day to day, and it's so important to take the time to recognize our employees and our top performers. Robin, I'd love to hear from you next.
Robin: I mean, I could just repeat everything Coni just said, I thought that was amazing. But recognizing people as individuals is important and that's why I love the Blueboard thing, where you can pick and choose and customize for yourself.
I work for a company that has people over the world; maybe in a smaller company or a team where you are together, you might have that knowledge of the person and be able to select something that fits them. But I like being able to pick for myself. Because everyone is an individual and feels recognized in their own way.
Debbie: You're so right, Robin. Gino or Monique, do you want to go next?
Monique: I just feel like I don't want any more t-shirts. I don't want any more hats. I would much rather have something on Blueboard. And it doesn't have to be expensive, a lot of the experiences there like going to a painting club or learning a new meditation—there were a number of things [that aren’t too expensive].
But I think what I love more about Blueboard is it was individualized. It was customized and you got to customize it as selected for you, whether the amount was large or small. I did not feel that any of that had any impact on the experience. My massage that I had for my anniversary versus the massage that I had when I went on my big trip—both of those were still very customized to me, and, like you said, you go, and everything is taken care of. There's like nothing that you need to do but show up and have the experience.
So that would be my response to any company: don't print any more t-shirts, hats, backpacks. I don't need any more of that. Just throw all those dollars into experiences, if possible, that would be my message to them.
“That would be my response to any company: don't print any more t-shirts, hats, backpacks. I don't need any more of that. Just throw all those dollars into experiences, if possible, that would be my message to them.” – Monique Gregory
Debbie: Monique, you don't want to wear head to toe, socks and all? None of that? Water bottle?
Gino: Robin said it really well, right, you know, you can spend a lot of time trying to guess what Robin would like versus what Monique would like versus what Connie, would, you know? No. Why don't you just let them choose for themselves? Because, you know you're going to get it right if they choose for themselves.
From that perspective, it seems like a no-brainer. You can guess a lot and probably be wrong, or you can guarantee that you're going to hit a home run because you've let the person choose the experience for themselves.
Audience Q&A: We’re struggling with consistent peer recognition with some folks receiving more than others—how do we recognize staff in a way that doesn’t diminish others’ work?
Debbie: Okay, we are winding down with our time, so we're gonna move on into the Q&A portion. We received a lot of great questions from the audience, so I'll hit you with the first one, panelists.
The question is: I am really struggling with consistent peer recognition of one staff over others, especially in a small organization. We don't have clear objectives like sales companies do so it's complicated and subjective to highlight that as well. How do we recognize staff in a way that doesn't diminish others' work?
Monique: You can do employee of the month and they can select something. That way, you have 12 chances in a year to be able to recognize the employees.
We also have programs where we nominate each other for small gifts of $25. And it's just something that the company gives as part of another recognition program. It doesn't [always] have to be a big thing, the small things can mean a lot as well. Every month, we nominate employees and [my company] posts it on our homepage. So that's a great thing to do as a small step as well.
Coni: My company also does peer recognition. At least once a year, when we're about to have something like an all-hands meeting, they send out a reminder saying this is your chance to recognize your peers within your department or another department.
I'm in a big company now, but I have also worked at a small company. It was a very sales-oriented company, and so they were always working on ways to recognize the people that were not part of the sales organization. Because with sales, it was so easy because there are goals to reach, and everything. [For other departments] it was more subjective.
And so [we did a lot of] peer recognition, peer nomination type things. Because the leaders might not see everything that's going on like you hope they would. But those that are working closely with other coworkers, they can see how hard someone's working on something and they can recognize it. And then that kind of elevates them.
Robin: We do something very similar. It’s peer recognition and it's worked well. We do it quarterly and we do it by region because we're spread out across the world. And it lets colleagues recognize each other because you're the ones working day to day, and sometimes leaders might not have the visibility to see that. It's not out of spite or anything, it's just that they're not in those meetings or in those chats all the time. So yeah, [peer recognition] is awesome.
Audience Q&A: Was there a time when you didn’t identify as a “high performer” and was there meaning recognition that elevated you to high performer status?
Debbie: Awesome, thank you so much. Alright, we'll ask one more question before we wrap up our time here: As a high performer, did you used to identify as a low performer or an unmotivated employee? If so, was there an employee recognition program that you can identify and describe that significantly contributed to your high performer status now over all the others?
Or is everyone just like natural born top performers? Amazing.
Monique: For sales, it does wax and wane. But I do feel that in sales you really do have to have it in you, because if you don't, if you don't have that tenacity. [The work] is continuous. I mean, you really can't take a break from it in sales.
In other departments, I'm not saying they can’t, but I know in sales you can't. And the biggest reason is because they post numbers, and so nobody wants their name at the bottom of the list. And if you are, you're gonna do something to try to motivate yourself to get your name on top, whether it be revenue, money, recognition—everybody's kind of different.
But for me, I've always been a person that likes to be recognized. The money? Yeah. But it was more recognition for me. I like affirmation. I like confirmation, and I like to be able to have others say, well, how did you do that? So I guess maybe I was more of the motivator for others. Just as when I first started, I had people that were motivators for me.
Gino: Yeah, I think you somebody said it in the chat: Very well put, Monique. We do want the rewards and the recognition and [to be able to] talk about it. But you know, many, many times, the motivation comes from within. And if the motivation is not coming, maybe you're at the wrong organization or maybe you're in the wrong role.
You want to be recognized for being at the top of your game. But the fact that you're doing what you love should be motivating itself really?
Robin: I think having the awards just kind of backs it up. We do awards for values [at Unit4]. It’s a cycle: By recognizing people living up those values, hopefully you're inspiring others to live those values. And if you're hiring people that fit those values, you're creating a culture of hey, these are the things we feel are important, and then it just kind of cycles like that. We're all helping each other live up to [those values]. So I'm sure that the decisions on who to recognize become pretty challenging. But that's a nice problem to have.
“We do awards for values [at Unit4]. It’s a cycle: By recognizing people living up those values, hopefully you're inspiring others to live those values. And if you're hiring people that fit those values, you're creating a culture of hey, these are the things we feel are important, and then it just kind of cycles like that. We're all helping each other live up to [those values].” – Robin Wark
Coni: I think I've always just had that internal motivation, no matter what. But I do see some coworkers and I wonder if [more meaningful recognition] would get them more motivated. Sometimes I struggle and I'm like, why don't you just want to do the best possible, no matter what? And I think [something like Blueboard] would get them more motivated, maybe having some kind of reward for them to reach for—maybe they would care a little more.
Debbie: The little nudge. I love that.
Well, everyone, we've reached the end of our time. So thank you all so so much, Coni, Monique, Gino, and Robin, for this fantastic discussion that we've had on the power of meaningful recognition in the workplace. All of these top performers not only have shared their experiences, but have really given us a glimpse into how much of an impact meaningful recognition can have on the employee experience
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