I bet you would agree that having the right people in your company is crucial for your success. You know, too often our employees and team members feel like we don’t appreciate them enough. And too often that’s true. So in today’s video, you’re gonna hear about a program I started about 35 years ago for the people in our vending company.
Today we’re gonna talk about your employees. No, we’re not gonna talk about how to hire great employees and we’re not even gonna talk about putting the right person into the right seat. Now those are certainly really important things, but today we’re gonna talk about appreciation. The even love that you can send to your employees in a very impactful way. You know, too often our employees and team members feel like we don’t appreciate them enough. And too often that’s true. So in today’s video, you’re gonna hear about a program I started about 35 years ago for the people in our vending company.
Hi, I’m Josh Patrick, founder of Stage Two Planning Partners and the Sustainable Business. I’m also the author of Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. Now most recently I created Cracking the Cash Flow Code, and this is what this fits into.
I bet you would agree that having the right people in your company is crucial for your success. Now I’m also gonna bet that you might agree that too many times you don’t spend enough time focusing on successes your employees have had. And in many businesses, employees are never recognized publicly for the good work that they’ve done.
So today you’re gonna learn about a recognition program I used in my food service company that had real and lasting results.
But first, I wanna tell you a story. Now I had this person working with me and she was great. She went up through the ranks, she started off as a bookkeeper, or actually a data entry clerk, and she became our bookkeeper, then she became our controller, and one day I was walking through our office, and her name was Tammy…
And Tammy said to me, said, “Congratulate me.”
I said, “Okay, congratulations. What am I congratulating you for?”
She said, “My anniversary.”
And I said to her, “Oh really! How long have you been married for?”
She said, “No, you idiot, it’s my anniversary for when I started working here.”
Now, I never know what day of the week it is, and I certainly don’t pay attention to when things happen along the way. And I couldn’t believe it that she actually knew the day that she started.
Now, I had one of those strokes of geniuses that happen every once in a while and they’re always pretty random, so I decided this time I’m gonna instead of just moving on and letting it go, I decided to start asking people in the company what day they started. And you know what I found? Every single person in our company knew the exact day they had started, went in the company and what they were doing. So I said, hmm. We have an opportunity here. So what I did was I put together what I called the Patrick’s Food Service Employee Appreciation Program. And here’s how it worked.
Every year we would have these quarterly meetings which were all-hands meetings and we would be recognizing the people in that quarter who had had work anniversaries with the company. And the way it worked was like this, every year you’re with us we give you $10 in cash, for every year you’ve been with us, up to $100. We had pins made recognizing years of service. There were one-year pins, there were three-year pins, five year-pins, 10-year pins, 15, 20, and even we had some people get 25 year pins. And every year we gave them a certificate recognizing for how many years they’ve been with our company.
Now, the true story about this is, what I found is that the people that work with us never had any public recognition. Now I have lots of public recognition, I own the company, I was on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, I was on the Board of the National Vending Association, there were tons of public recognition that I was getting. Now people in our company had never, and I mean never in their entire life, been publicly recognized for doing something good. So, what I really did was we started recognizing folks and here’s what happened.
It was the first time lots of folks were being recognized for the good work they ever did, for the good things they ever did. They were, you know, blamed in public plenty of times, they were yelled at people plenty of times, but they rarely, if ever, were recognized for doing things good in public. You know, this was really interesting, I would give out their certificates, and I saw people kind of put ’em on their desk or leave ’em around for a couple of days and then they would disappear, but what I’d found was almost everybody in our company, even the crusty Chief Master Sargents that we had off the Air Force Base, who are our mechanics, would frame their certificates and they would frame the ones they got every single year and they would hang them in their workspaces. I’d walk around, I’d see ’em on occasions, I’d see route drivers having their certificates hung, and then the mechanics would hang them in their workspaces, our bookkeepers hung them in their cubicles, it was just amazing.
And what it really did was people realized, or I realized, how important it was for the folks who were working with us to be recognized for the things that they did. Now what this did, it gave me an opportunity to really appreciate the people who work for our company. Because frankly, I hardly get any direct work with folks. The people in our company, the people that answer the phones, the people that service the vending machines, the people that fix the vending machines, the people that ran our cafeterias, they were the public face of our company. And I found that as a result when I had an opportunity to show appreciation of love towards those people, they turned around and did the same with our customers.
So, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think about doing a public recognition program in your company. I want you to have a way to recognize the people who’ve been with you for many years. I want you to have a way to make sure you publicly recognize the anniversaries and I want you to document and share stories about what’s good.
Oh, by the way, every once in awhile, you’re gonna find that you’re having a really hard time finding something nice to say about the particular person whose recognition is due. That might be a signal for you. That might be a signal they need some coaching, or it might be a signal it’s time for them to be counseled out of the company and find some place where they’d be better off.
So thanks by stopping by, this is Josh Patrick. I hope to see you back here really soon, and make sure you start your own recognition program. Oh, leave a comment below and below this video you’ll be able to download our free eBook, I’m Hiring for Unique Abilities, which will show you a system I’ve used for years and years and years to get that right person in the right seat in your company. So thanks a lot. I hope to see you back here really soon.