Going the Extra Mile For People Who Go the Extra Mile: Appreciation Done Well

image of a man holding a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups as thank you for 27 years of service and perfect attendanceby Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

“Burger King worker receives modest goodie bag for 27 years of perfect attendance.” That was the title of the Toronto Sun article.

Let’s hope this dedicated employee isn’t allergic to peanuts!

In all seriousness, though, energy goes where appreciation flows. How motivated, energetic, and loyal is someone who comes in every shift, rain or shine, in a 24/7 operation, with a reward of some chocolate and company swag?

Now, you may be thinking, “but what if you have no budget for recognition?” I feel for you healthcare, not-for-profit and small businesses. I get it.

This is not the case here. According to public reports, Burger King’s sales in 2021 were over 23 billion dollars.

A bag of candy doesn’t cut it as a reward.

If anything, using rewards in such a careless manner can do more harm than good (such as this negative press.) Without sincere, specific and timely feedback, the gesture falls so far short of the mark that it’s laughable (and viral.)

If the franchise owner (of one of the almost 20,000 locations) had called me, here’s what I would have suggested instead:

image of a plate of yummy food and some side dishes1. The Dinner Hero
Send dinner home to his family to say “thanks for sharing dad with us.” Then send him home to eat it with them…on paid time! Let him be the hero from having anyone needing to cook or clean up the dinner that night. Let him be the hero, making the recognition come from both his employer and his family.

2. The Customer Kindness Connection
Have a campaign where customers and colleagues secretly answer the questions like, “what do you appreciate about ____.” Compile customer compliments about each staff member, not simply to share at team meetings or shift huddles; it’s also to bring them back out again at milestones. For example, for perfect attendance, put them in a lovely box, and have the owner, General Manager, or another leader staff member rarely sees come in to give the box and a handwritten note of appreciation.

image of an advent calendar3. Advent Calendar
If you like the fun angle (that I’m assuming Burger King was trying to emulate), create an advent calendar with 27 tokens of appreciation. In other words, 27 thanks for 27 years of perfect attendance. Create a 27-day countdown until the milestone. If someone works shift work like this, maybe present the advent calendar 27 days before the milestone, and they can uncover a fun token each day. It shows you didn’t just put it all in a bag and say “here;” you put some thinking and energy into it.

Let’s get it right!

What do you, your team or your company do to create meaningful recognition for extraordinary milestones such as of long service; particularly in light of The Great Resignation, where tenure is as precious as gold, we need to amp up how we recognize in a more meaningful, attention-grabbing, and surprising way. If we want people to go the extra mile for us, we need to find meaningful ways at essential opportunities to go the extra mile for them through how we recognize them.

100 + ways to recognizeNeed help with ideas? We have over 100! Here is the link to be able to download 100+ ways to recognize.

And for even more ideas, check out these previous blog posts…

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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