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Celebrating Success

Originally published: 05.01.08 by Terry Tanker

Recognizing accomplishments motivates employees

There’s nothing less motivating than achieving a goal and no one seems to care. Whether it is a personal goal or a business goal, recognition for a job well done is crucial to ensure that a work-hard attitude continues. Otherwise, what’s the point? Sure, personal fulfillment is important. But outward recognition truly is a motivating force.

I was chatting with a co-worker about the importance of celebrating success. He told me a story about his former company and its take on recognizing employees who excelled. It basically amounted to an afterthought comment at the end of a meeting: “Oh, by the way, Bob Smith sold a gazillion dollars worth of widgets. Good job. Now what’s for lunch? I’m starved.”

Not exactly a fire starter for another gazillion dollars worth of sales. In fact, “Bob” left the company shortly afterward and now sells for the competition.

For companies that do celebrate success, the benefits are clear: happy, motivated employees.

One company that understands this management practice is Famous Enterprises, Inc., an Ohio-based supplier of hvac, plumbing, industrial/PVF and building products.

Recently, the family-owned company celebrated its 75th anniversary by inviting associates (and their spouses or guests), top 75 customers and suppliers, and

key advisors to a two-day celebration in downtown Cleveland.

Guests were treated to an overnight stay at a posh hotel, meals and entertainment. They also were able to explore Cleveland on the Famous tab.

During the event, several awards were given to associates, suppliers and key advisors. Why such a gala affair? To say thank you and recognize contributions to the company’s success.

“I remember early in my career going to a tradeshow in Chicago,” says Marc Blaushild, president and CEO of Famous. “I was listening to a speaker who said there are several things people want. One is to work on challenging and interesting things in their career, and another is to be recognized for their accomplishments.”

For Blaushild, providing those elements to his associates is a practice he takes to heart. “These celebrations help create a family feeling and reinforce the positive aspects of the company’s culture and what it needs to do to work as a team to take the company to greater heights during the next 75 years.”

Certainly, a lot of time and money went into planning and executing such an event. After all, not every company can boast 75 years in business.

“For us, we looked at it as an investment that was worth making and that we had to make because it was important to celebrate with one another,” says Blaushild.

The return on investment: extremely low turnover.

To be sure, many Famous Associates, suppliers and customers have been with the company for decades. “It’s rare to have a customer buy from us one year and not the next. Most of our customers have been with us a long, long time— there’s a lot of loyalty,” notes Blaushild.

You don’t need to break the bank in order to recognize employees. Famous doesn’t host an event like this every year. It does, however, have annual celebrations and award ceremonies. It also recognizes associate weddings, births, anniversaries and birthdays—all commendable accomplishments certainly worth celebrating.

Additionally, the company relies on five core values: family, trust, communication, teamwork, and continuous improvement.

“Values are the foundation of the company,” says Blaushild. “Business strategy will change over time and you need new strategies and new ways of doing business. But core values don’t change.”

I guess that’s why “Bob’s” former company lost a good worker. The core values of the company changed— or maybe they were never in place. Regardless, any company that treats its employees as numbers and expects to sustain and thrive is in for a tumultuous future.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, turnover is an indication that something is wrong. At a minimum, the organization and the employee have been mismatched and often the only thing the organization has to show for it is another costly statistic.

In this era of continuing — and increasing— labor shortages, organizations cannot afford the tedious and expensive process of recruiting applicants, only to have them leave in discontent.

Indeed, most turnover-cost calculators estimate it will cost a company between 18% and 25% of the employee’s salary to replace them. For an employee making $40,000, that’s between $7,200 and $10,000.

For an employee like “Bob,” it’s hard to calculate the replacement cost for a gazillion-dollar salesman.

Articles by Terry Tanker

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