A Tale of Two Companies: Two Different Approaches to Employee Recognition and Support

Where will people choose to work now and in the future? In companies where trust is high and relationships matter; where they are recognized, valued and respected. It is interesting to consider what kind of recognition helps an employee feel valued.

This is a tale of two similar sized companies (more than 2500 employees) although they are in different sectors with different operating structures. Both companies have union and non-union employees. Both have front-line and administrative staff. They both have boards. Each company had access to a fund of a similar size (in the low six figures) whose purpose was to invest in the well-being of their employees.

One company approached the use of funds by focusing on sharing a little bit of this resource with everyone in the organization. They landed on distributing gift cards, with a few different choices, to everyone. The gift cards, though a laudable idea, ended up being $10.00 each. These days, that barely buys a cup of fancy coffee, let alone anything else. It was also known in the organization that part of the funding went towards a 4% cost of living increase for non-unionized employees.

The other company, a client of Worldview Intelligence, focused on how they could advance the professional and personal well-being of every employee through shared experiences. They used the company’s values to guide their decision-making, including one that specifically focussed on a strategic goal of strengthening their culture of inclusion and belonging. They decided to offer leaders throughout the organization an opportunity for some training towards this goal and they wanted to find a way to touch every person in the organization. This resulted in twelve 3.5 hour virtual learning sessions for leaders and the development of a four part animated video series for everyone. This provided a common language across the organization and acted as a conversation starter on the issues, challenges and opportunities presented by inclusion and belonging.

The gift card approach had the opposite from intended impact as recipients felt less valued, not more, and discontent increased. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something, but if you are going to do something, give careful consideration to both intended and unintended consequences. This is why our thinking benefits from a diversity of perspectives or worldviews. Potential blind spots are illuminated.

Granted, maybe not everyone in our client organization was initially enthused about having to take part in a virtual training session, even one that contributed new ideas and skills for those who participated. However, the overall response to the training was positive and the shared experience was a big plus.

Where would you rather work? In a company where you receive a one-time $10 gift card or one that touches people by lifting up its values for everyone?