An epic recognition conference!
by Toby Barazzuol on Monday May 3, 2010


Last week we returned from an epic conference of the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Association in Henderson, Nevada.  For Eclipse Awards, the conference was a success on many levels - over 5 days we attended workshops and courses, learned best practices from Fortune1000 HR managers and recognition professionals, displayed our crystal awards while introducing our new line of green awards, and generally gained a deeper understanding of the power of recognition and acknowledgement to strengthen an organization.  In addition, our resident recognition guru Nelson Borges even became Western Canada's first Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) after 4 days of intensive training.  In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more of this knowledge, but for now, here is an overview of the conference.

The RPI conference provided an opportunity to network with HR managers from massive organizations that manage thousands of staff - 5000, 20000 or even 75000 people!  Companies like United Airlines, Delta Airlines, DirectTV, BELL, TD Canada Trust, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo were in attendance, as were organizations like the University of Florida, Ohio State University Medical Center, City of Calgary, and McGill University Health Care.  There were even attendees from India and the Netherlands.  In all, an amazing cross section of recognition professionals that provided unique insights into the current state of employee engagement, motivation and best practices.  Here are the top 10 key learnings, and though some may seem simple on the surface, they have some deep implications:

  1. recognition helps reinforce positive behaviours and improves employee performance through improved attitude and morale. Recognition also improves employee engagement and commitment.
  2. your staff can be engaged, unengaged, or actively disengaged.  Their state will directly affect their performance and productivity. A recent Gallup study showed that on average, 27% of staff are engaged, 59% aren’t engaged, and 14% are actively disengaged.
  3. engaged employees work over 50% harder and are 9 times less likely to leave.  Unengaged staff are contagious. Actively disengaged staff are acting out their unhappiness at work.
  4. employee engagement is a strategy, not a tactic. To be successful, it requires buy-in from all levels.
  5. employees today want to work in service of something larger than themselves - they want to be engaged.  How can you provide them with that opportunity?
  6. the ability to recognize and acknowledge well is a leadership competency. Recognition is the role of many people in an organization, not just one person.
  7. people don't leave companies, they leave managers.
  8. acknowledgement builds trust and creates powerful interactions.  Acknowledgement energizes people while lack of acknowledgement dulls them.
  9. positive reinforcement is 17 times more effective than negative reinforcement
    • it takes 4 positive statements to undo the effects of one negative statement
  10. every interaction with staff is an opportunity to engage them in a positive way.  Say "thank you" often - people watch and model the recognition behaviour of those in charge.

Needless to say, we learned a lot of from these large organizations and their approach to recognition and awards.  We'll explore these ideas more deeply in future posts as there are rich concepts here that can help any organization improve it's performance and effectiveness.

The conference was also an opportunity to launch our new line of eco-friendly, green awards.  Just as we learned from the large organizations, we felt that we were able to take our experience with sustainability and green awards and influence their thinking as well.  On an individual level, people loved the look of our green awards - particularly the Chocolate Walnut Canopy Plaque Awards, Roots Awards and recycled glass pieces.  Quite simply, there are no other awards like these available in the world today - beautiful green awards, made thoughtfully and responsibly by a company that has embraced sustainability.  As more and more organizations "go green" they will need the recognition awards that are consistent with the values of their organization and the values of the award recipients.  At Eclipse Awards, we will continue to source more reclaimed materials and develop more green awards that will help elevate your message of sustainability and excellence.

Lastly, Eclipse Awards would like to recognize the efforts of Nelson Borges who became British Columbia's first Certified Recognition Professional!  Several days of intensive training with industry leading recognition professionals covered topics such as:

  • Structuring Recognition Systems for Success
  • Strategic Planning & Measurement of Recognition Programs
  • Recognition Management & Maintenance
  • Applying Recognition Systems and Using Recognition Awards

Nelson, who's known as our resident recognition guru, uses his knowledge and experience to add to the value of Eclipse Awards as your recognition partner. Nelson is a great person to know if you’re going to use recognition awards, or if you’re planning a golf tournament that requires golf awards. You can also get in touch with him if you’re planning to implement a recognition program and want to learn more about best practices.

The world of business is changing at a rapid rate and we need new ways to engage our staff and make committed employees. The power of recognition and acknowledgement is quickly becoming the new competitive advantage.

How are you and your organization keeping your staff engaged and appreciated?



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