“Employee engagement” might be the HR buzzword of the past few years, but it’s hardly a new concept.
Why do we share gifts with our colleagues, anyway? Why does saying “thank you” matter so much?
Let’s look to some of the century’s smartest and most successful CEOs for inspiration on employee recognition! The following quotes prove that employee recognition isn’t just the nice thing to do, it’s also absolutely crucial to business-building and innovation.
Employee Recognition Done Right: Learning from the Pros
1. Thomas A. Edison, Edison Electric Illuminating Company
At a company convention in 1896, young engineer Henry Ford showed Thomas Edison his designs for a gas car. Edison reportedly banged his hand on the table and told the employee:
“Young man, that’s the thing; you have it. Keep at it. Electric cars must keep near to power stations. The storage battery is too heavy. Steam cars won’t do, either, for they require a boiler and fire. Your car is self-contained — carries its own power plant — no fire, no boiler, no smoke and no steam. You have the thing. Keep at it.”
Edison’s encouragement gave Ford the confidence to build a whole business on practical and affordable cars — and the rest is history. Ford’s innovations as head of the Ford Motor Company revolutionized American industry and profoundly changed our transportation system.
Ford reflected later, “That bang on the table was worth worlds to me. No man up to then had given me any encouragement.”
Until that moment at the convention, Ford doubted whether or not he was on the right track. Edison’s recognition changed everything.
“The greatest inventive genius in the world had given me a complete approval.”
2. Walt Disney, The Walt Disney Company
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
Disneyland and Disney World simply wouldn’t be the popular destinations they are today without the thousands of employees who work there and create the “Magic Kingdom” that Walt Disney envisioned.
The founder of the Disney entertainment empire opened Disneyland in 1955 with his employees in mind. Not only did he know his employees would be instrumental to manifesting his vision, he created it with them in mind. He envisioned the Disneyland theme park as a place where his employees could spend time with their kids.
His epic vision and employee-centered philosophy are now the backbone of an entertainment powerhouse that makes $35 billion in annual revenue.
3. MARY KAY ASH, MARY KAY COSMETICS[Tweet “”Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.””] Mary Kay Ash left the traditional workplace in frustration after watching yet another man whom she had trained get promoted over her. Determined to start a company that respected success and empowered employees, she founded her now-legendary cosmetics business in 1963 with just $5,000.
The company now has more than 3 million beauty consultants and 39,000 sales directors worldwide — and still follows its late founder’s people-first philosophy.
4. David Novak, Yum! Brands
“People leave when they don’t feel appreciated. That’s why we’ve
made recognition a really high value. Our business is people-capability
first; then you satisfy customers; then you make money.”
David Novak doesn’t sit in a traditional CEO’s suite with a stand-alone photo of his family on the desk. Plastered all over the walls and even the ceiling are photos of smiling employees recognized for noteworthy achievements at the restaurants his company oversees — KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
The photos are just a small part of Yum! Brand’s longstanding recognition program for its 1.4 million employees at 37,000 restaurants in 120 countries.
“We have a lot of fun with our individual recognition awards,” Novak told QSR Magazine for a 2012 Executive Insight profile, adding emphatically, “You need to tell people you appreciate them.”
Employee appreciation is also the key talking point of Novak’s book, “Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen.” The book doubles as a Yum! Brands leadership training manual. It’s working: the company has reported record-breaking growth for years.
5. Katharine Graham, The Washington Post Company
“To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more fun?”
As the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Katharine Graham was a pioneer in her field. The New York Times wrote in Graham’s obituary that she was one of the most powerful figures of 20th Century journalism and “transformed The Washington Post from a mediocre newspaper into an American institution.”
Graham was “the ideal boss” because she supported her staff and fiercely defended their independence, according to The Washington Post’s Robert G. Kaiser, in a profile he wrote after her death in 2001.
“…she could turn around and embrace her humblest employee like a long-lost grandchild. She understood that a big organization putting out a daily newspaper depended on everyone, not just the big names, and made a point of showing her appreciation when she could,” Kaiser wrote.
Gratitude supports and grows success! For an in-depth guide to building a vibrant, everyday culture of workplace gratitude, download our FREE eBook, “Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude.” You’ll be amazed at how easy it is.
About gThankYou, LLC
Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.
gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.
gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-484-1658.
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