3 Tips for Executing Employee Recognition Programs With Purpose

Living Our Purpose Awards

This afternoon, PadillaCRT will honor our inaugural Living Our Purpose Award recipients during our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) celebration. Being structured as an ESOP means that all our employees also are owners in our company, a point of pride for PadillaCRT. As part of the celebration, three employee-owners will be recognized for their contributions in one of the following categories:

The Living Our Purpose Awards program is an amalgamation of annual employee recognition programs at our two predecessor agencies – Padilla Speer Beardsley and CRT/tanaka. Each recipient will receive a $1,000 stipend along with other agency recognition.

Employee recognition programs are valuable mechanisms for honoring deserving employees. With our program, PadillaCRT has taken into account several key best practices for developing meaningful and enriching employee recognition programs. Here are three of those best practices.

1. Align recognition to a company’s mission, values and purpose.

It is important to recognize and reward employees who are bringing a company’s brand promise and purpose to life and who exemplify the company’s values. At PadillaCRT, we have articulated our brand purpose in the following way:

“We believe that every organization has an opportunity to make the world a better place. Our purpose is to help our clients articulate and achieve their purpose – through insightful ideas, courageous communications and an unrelenting commitment to colleagues, clients and communities.”

The three categories of our Living Our Purpose Award – Client, Culture and Community – directly correlate to our agency purpose. The awards also pay homage to our company values:

 2. Recognize specific behaviors and results, not just longevity.

Many employee recognition programs only acknowledge longevity, which is important. At our monthly staff meetings, PadillaCRT recognizes employee-owners celebrating milestone anniversaries or “workaversaries” as we call them. In the past two months, two employees were recognized for 30 years and 25 years of service to the agency. This type of loyalty is something that should be celebrated.

But our Living Our Purpose Awards are open to all employee-owners, regardless of their tenure with the company. In order to win, employees must have demonstrated specific characteristics and behaviors and have achieved identifiable results. Whether winning in the Client, Culture or Community category, employee-owners must have:

 3. Implement peer-to-peer recognition – not just top down.

Josh Bersin, Forbes magazine contributor and founder of Bersin, which provides research and advisory services focused on corporate learning, says that recognition from company leaders has less impact than conventional wisdom would indicate.

“Recognition from leaders has less impact than you may think. While HR managers believe this is a key [criterion] for success, employees … feel much better when they are recognized by their peers. Why is this? Peers know what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, so when they ‘thank you’ for your efforts, the impact is much more meaningful,” Bersin writes.

To receive a Living Our Purpose Award, employees are nominated by their peers, although the final selection of the winners is done by a committee of our Executive Leadership Team, giving rank-and-file employees an opportunity to win.

Along with our Living Our Purpose Awards, which will be given annually, PadillaCRT also has an ongoing “Kudos Awards” program, which allows employee-owners to recognize their peers – in small ways – on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

This afternoon, we’ll celebrate three deserving employee-owners for their outstanding contribution to our company, but there are countless examples of how our employees strive each day to be unrelenting, insightful and transformative on behalf of our clients, our company culture and in the communities where we work and live.

Are there other best practices for developing and implementing employee recognition programs?


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