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Recognition in The Real World
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How to Hold a Virtual Recognition Event

Posted By Ava Ewald, Friday, May 8, 2020
Let’s face it — it is harder to recognize and be recognized these days. Many are rightfully worried about their health, families, and communities, but it is important to remember that recognition promotes engagement and positivity in the workplace. RPI is committed to providing knowledge about recognition and engagement practices for every circumstance. Today, we will focus on how you can hold virtual recognition events.

You might have attended a virtual baby shower or virtual birthday party. One yoga company is even holding virtual goat yoga[LP1] . While virtual events may never be the same as gathering in a room with all of your friends, family, or coworkers, they can be fun and creative.

Bonusly gave some excellent ideas for employee celebrations on their blog including happy hour, pets-welcome day, a game party and more. While these would work great in the office, they do not always translate into an online format. Be creative and feel out what your employees would like and how you can adapt some of these ideas into a virtual format. For example, you could have a pet happy hour where everyone with a pet introduces them to the team. There are also zoom-friendly games such as kahoot a website that can run trivia for hundreds of people at once (and you can create your own quizzes). There are plenty of options out there to host a fun virtual event.

While maintaining the fun of a celebration, it is also important to keep a similar structure to in-person events. What are some of the main pieces of an employee recognition event? Crew App listed the essential pieces of formal or semi-formal employee recognition that are important in person or virtually:

-          A genuine thank-you to the employee or team you are recognizing. Use this time to dig deep and help the person or team understand that they made an impact on you or the organization. This can be done by recognizing specific characteristics, such as communication or delivering above-and-beyond customer service.

-          The employee or team is recognized in a way they appreciate. Make sure that you have paid attention to the preferences of the employee or team, such as whether or not they like to be recognized publicly. Even virtually, being called out in front of their peers can be mortifying. If they appreciate public recognition, go for it. Otherwise, consider writing a thoughtful letter or sending a gift to their home.

-          The appreciation ties back to the company’s message. If you are recognizing someone for outstanding customer service, emphasize how this was one of the fundamental values the company was built on, for example. By connecting the behavior of the recognized employee/team, you are reinforcing the behaviors you like to see.

-          Eye contact. This one is tricky in a virtual context. If you want to look as if you are directly looking into someone’s eyes on camera, do not look at your screen; look into your computer’s camera. It is tempting to look at the screen so you can see the people you are talking to, but if you are giving a meaningful speech, try looking into the camera.

If you combine these essential elements of employee recognition events with some fun and creativity, you will be able to host a wonderful virtual recognition event.


To register for our virtual conference in September, click here.

Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.




Tags:  recognition  remote work  virtual 

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Benefits of a Positive Attitude

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, May 7, 2020

With a constant stream of COVID-19 news and increased feelings of isolation, it can be extremely difficult to remain positive and even more difficult to remain positive at work. Feelings of negativity can harm workplace culture, and we are more susceptible to it than ever. RPI is committed to helping your organization’s culture grow and thrive in this trying time. We already discussed methods for staying positive in the workplace, but what can positivity actually do?


Increase productivity

According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, positive thinking can greatly affect your productivity. As they put it, “many people think that success leads to happiness, but actually it’s the other way around.” Having a positive attitude can increase your engagement 10 times and make you 31% more productive. This is the thinking behind companies like Google and Netflix, that attempt to make work fun with games, slides, bring-your-dog-to-work day and unlimited free food. When the environment fosters positivity, employees are more productive.

Boost creativity

Dr. Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore, co-authors of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life explained that positive thinking can improve your brain function, meaning it is quicker to act and is much more able to problem-solve. Further, the Huffington Post explained that creativity can further impact your happiness, turning positivity and creativity into a feedback loop. Positivity and creativity are very closely linked, so looking on the brighter side can lead to innovation and problem solving.

Improve the moods of those around you

According to Entrepreneur, the phrase “Monday Blues” should be obsolete in a positive work environment. Positivity has the ability to multiply and “infect” those around you. An article in Psychology Today argues that this works with all emotions. Humans unconsciously pick up on the emotions of those around them, so being aware of what you are putting out into the space around you can have a profound effect on others. It may be difficult, but even acting positive even when you might not be is enough to lift up those around you.

Bond teams

According to an article published in the American Psychological Association, positive thinking has the profound ability to foster trust of others. On the other hand, anger has the power to significantly decrease trust. If you are the team member who is constantly positive and forward-thinking rather than negative and pessimistic, you are far more likely to be trusted by those who work with you. Additionally, according to Entrepreneur, positive thinkers tend to be more collaborative. Since they are able to see the best in their teammates, they are much more likely to want to work together.


It is not as easy to remain positive in times like these. Now more than ever, we need to put thought into what emotions we are displaying to the people around us.


Register for our virtual conference this September.

Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.



Tags:  covid-19  positivity  working remote 

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5 Tips For Remote Team Building

Posted By Ava Ewald, Monday, May 4, 2020
RPI is dedicated helping you learn about and grow your recognition program. They developed their 7 Best Practice Standards to help you better understand what goes into a great program. Recognition is more important than ever in midst of this global health crisis and RPI’s plethora of resources can help guide you in whatever stage of your program you are in.


Many of us have been thrust into remote work for the first time and many others have been doing it for years. Your team may have a mix of experience levels and you may have found that managing a completely remote team is challenging. In this post, we will focus on how to bring everyone together in a virtual environment.


1.       Have consistent connection

Communication is one of the best ways to maintain a positive company culture, so it is especially important to do this when working remotely. Inc says that is important to have these regular check-ins simply to see and hear your coworkers rather than communicating through just email. Scheduling these meetings once a day or once a week can also help maintain structure in your employees’ days. This will help your team feel less isolated in their homes and more connected to their team.

2.       Utilize one-on-one connection

Check in with each member of your team and make sure they have what they need. Forbes recommends scheduling one-on-one meetings. When you are in the office, it is great to drop by your team members’ desks and check in — but when everyone works remotely, this becomes more difficult. Make it a priority to have short one-on-one meetings so you’re familiar with where they are and needs they may have.

3.       Make sure everyone is speaking up equally

In RPI’s March webinar on emotional intelligence, Anne Loehr, Executive Vice President for the Center for Human Capital Innovation, explained that strong teams have an equal amount of talking among all members. Business2Community backs this up by saying that no one person should dominate the conversation — not even the manager. This helps build trust within the team, so this is a great thing to keep in mind when trying to bond your team virtually.

4.       Have a group chat

In an office, there is likely some casual chit-chat going around. This is what many people miss when working remotely. Forbes suggests creating a text or other form of messaging chat so that employees can joke around with each other as they would in the office. If it is all work, employees will not continue to get to know each other. Building those relationships is crucial in a virtual environment.

5.       Create virtual hangouts

Build your team with virtual hangouts. Team Bonding has some great ideas for how you can do this. They suggested things such as a virtual coffee meetup where everyone grabs their own cup of coffee and sits down for time to socialize and connect. Business2Community also had a fun idea to create a virtual campfire. Have everyone grab snacks and share stories. You can even have a campfire zoom background! Be creative with your ideas.


Learn more about recognition practices in our learning center.

See our updates on our annual conference here.

To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.

Access Anne Loehr’s webinar on emotional intelligence here.



Tags:  remote  team building 

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Simple Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude While Working at Home

Posted By Ava Ewald, Monday, May 4, 2020
 A 95-year-old World War II veteran in Oregon reportedly beat COVID-19. How? He claims it was his positivity. It may be hard to maintain sometimes, but a positive attitude can have a great impact on you and those around you. RPI works to help you improve recognition and engagement in your workplace, and in these trying times a positive workplace culture is more important than ever.


According to Business News Daily, saying “stay positive” is easy, but it is harder to practice than one might think — especially at home. Here are some tips to help you stay positive in this trying time.


1.       Say “yes” as much as you can

While respecting work-life boundaries, saying “yes” more than “no” is a great way to spread positivity in the workplace. It validates others’ ideas and helps move things along. Additionally, Fast Company explains that saying “yes” will give you more opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment. Saying “yes” can be energizing, and it is a great way to improve the culture of your workplace.

2.       Create opportunities for connection

Many people are missing the everyday chatter of the office. While it may take more effort, finding small ways to make those connections is an excellent way to keep the positivity up. Life Hack emphasizes the importance of workplace connections to maintain community. When you are able to connect with your coworkers, you can feel more energized and positive.

3.       Smile!

Psychology Today explains that smiling lifts your mood even if no one is around to see it. If you need a boost in your day, think about something wonderful and smile to yourself. This not only makes you recognize positive things but will actually make you that much happier. Beyond that, smiles are contagious, so flash a smile on Zoom calls and help others too!

4.       Move on from mistakes

Stressing over mistakes you made is just another way to introduce unnecessary negativity into your day. Life Hack recommends viewing the mistake as a learning experience and moving on quickly. No one else will likely remember the mistake as long as you will. Being aware of how you hold onto your mistakes can help you be more positive.

5.       Take breaks and set boundaries

Now that many are working from home, the line between home and work can be very blurry. Having a designated space for work and set times can help you distinguish between work and home. Additionally, Life Hack recommends forcing yourself to take breaks during work. Forbes explains that there is a strong correlation between breaks and engagement. Taking time to recharge can set you up for a productive end to your workday.

6.       Keep learning

Learning keeps you engaged and motivated, explains Life Hack. For example, take on a new responsibility or do something new like presenting a project. Attend an RPI webinar, either live or on-demand. Pushing yourself can boost your self-esteem.


To Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.

Register for our virtual conference here.



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How To “Drop-In” Virtually

Posted By Ava Ewald, Monday, May 4, 2020
 For many, working from home has become the new normal. We have learned to adapt to remote life, but some things may be missing. “Drop-ins” are casual ways to give an employee a pat on the back. Different recognition strategies are outlined in Standard 1: Recognition Strategy in RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards. These day-to-day methods of recognition are important for your recognition strategy, but with most employees working remotely, having those casual interactions are more difficult. Below are a few ways you can casually “drop-in” on your employees.


According to a Gallup study, 63% of women who reported having a good work friend reported feeling engaged with their work while only 29% of women who did not report having a good work friend reported feeling engaged. This emphasizes the importance of connection at work. This is even harder when most are working remotely, so making sure your employees feel that sense of community will help improve engagement.


1)      A good old-fashioned phone call

Harvard Business Review went as far as to recommend daily phone calls with your employees. While this is still not the same as doing a lap around the office to check in with employees at their desks, the convenience and spontaneity is still there with phone calls. Take some time out of your morning to do quick 5-minute or less calls with each member of your team. Ask how they are doing and how you can support them. Be careful not to overwhelm them- too many calls could make it seem as if you do not trust their ability to work at home. Still, phone calls are convenient for quick “drop-ins” on your employees.

2)      Short one-on-one meetings

These would have to be somewhat more planned than a phone call. Doing bi-weekly or weekly one-on-ones via Zoom will give you the space to dig deeper and check in on how your employees are doing. Bamboo HR recommends making sure you are using a video-chat service in these types of meetings. Being able to both hear voices and read facial expressions will make the conversation almost as good as if you were in the same room as them. Similar to phone calls, check in on how your employees are doing and help them set some goals.

3)      Virtual coffee breaks

In the office, you might grab a cup of coffee and walk around to get some casual chit-chat in during the day. This is what many employees miss while working remotely. It is so much harder to take a quick break and talk about a favorite TV show or share pictures of pets. This can be done virtually, but it has to be more intentional. CNBC recommended scheduling Zoom coffee breaks so you can get in that connection time with employees. This allows you to bond more with your team and your team to bond with each other.

4)      Have an open group chat

Again, team bonding is crucial when working at home. Bamboo HR suggests maintaining a group chat via Google Hangout or Slack to keep the communication going while at home. This allows more casual conversation, but also an easier exchange of information that would otherwise only require someone to stop by another’s desk.


This new workplace environment is unlike any we have faced before. Utilizing your resources and leaning on your team is the key to success in isolation.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.

To register for our virtual conference in September, click here.




Tags:  casual  drop in  recognition 

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Takeaways: Why Most Recognition Programs Don’t Work (And What to Do about it)

Posted By Ava Ewald, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In RPI’s April 2020 webinar, Dr. Paul White spoke about a few of the reasons why a recognition program may fail. While recognition programs may have great intentions, the way they are received may be a different story. In this webinar, Dr. White showed the importance of paying close attention to your recognition program.


1.       Employees’ attitudes toward unsuccessful recognition programs

Dr. White explained that he has spoken with many employees who have negative opinions of their employer’s recognition programs. One of those opinions, he explained, is that the employer only created the recognition program to check a box, not necessarily to appreciate their employees. Creating a recognition program is not enough — you need to tune in to employees’ emotions and ideas in order to properly recognize them.


2.       Recognition versus appreciation

While both are necessary in a recognition program, Dr. White made it clear that recognition and appreciation are not the same thing. Recognition is for specific actions or job performance, while you appreciate an employee for their overall value or qualities. Dr. White stressed that both need to be part of a recognition program for it to be successful. The #1 factor in determining an employee’s enjoyment of their job comes from how appreciated they feel.


3.       The 4 conditions of feeling valued

Dr. White also shared the core conditions of a successful, impactful recognition program. First, the recognition must be regular. If you recognize an employee once, that employee will not continue to feel appreciated. Second, they must be appreciated in the way they want. For example, some people do not enjoy being recognized in front of a group. Taking the extra step to make sure they enjoy an event or item will make the recognition much more impactful. Third, you must individualize recognition. Make sure you understand your employee’s hobbies, favorite sports teams, musicians, etc., to add a personal touch to the recognition. Finally, while you may be authentic in your recognition, you need to make sure that it is received that way. If your employee thinks you are just checking that recognition box, you will not make an impact.


Tips for Appreciating Remote Workers:

Research shows that remote employees often have different preferences for appreciation than their in-person counterparts. Now that many employees are remote, these preferences are important to keep in mind. Dr. White explained that remote employees often prefer quality time over gifts, words of encouragement, etc. Finding time to have one-on-ones with employees will allow them to feel supported and heard.

-          Take advantage of video conferencing when possible. While nothing can fully substitute in-person communication, seeing facial expressions and hearing voices promotes human connection.

-          Do not skip the small talk. Make time to connect with employees about non-work things.

-          Move forward by discussing potential positive outcomes for your organization.


Overall, now more than ever is it important to maintain genuine, human connection. If you would like to checkout Dr. White’s full webinar, click here.


Learn about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards here

Register for our virtual conference in September.



Tags:  employee appreciation  recognition  webinar 

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How to Maintain Human Connection Remotely

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, April 23, 2020
 RPI is a thought leader in recognition practices. They developed the 7 Best Practice Standards to help you learn about and develop your recognition program. Standard 7 is program change and flexibility. We are in unknown territory in the professional world. As conditions change every day, we have been forced to adapt our goals and expectations. One of the most important things to keep up with is the well-being of your employees. You can do this by maintaining human connection (remotely).


Humans are social by nature, explains Wired. Our distant ancestors hunted in groups for safety and relied on their communities for survival. As a result, we have a deep human instinct to communicate and interact with other humans. Now that many are working remotely, that instinct is not being engaged nearly as much as when we are in the office. We may miss the casual chatter of the office or in-person meetings, but here are some ideas about how we can attempt to maintain that human connection while isolated:


1.       Set expectations to connect

Work has less structure now that employees are at home. While it may seem comfortable and at times fun to be working from home, it is important to maintain expectations for work to keep employees engaged. For example, Forbes suggests setting ground rules for virtual meetings to protect the little human connection there is. For example, this can be done by making a rule against multitasking while in meetings. It is tempting for many to do other work or check emails because their computer is right in front of them during virtual meetings. Putting emphasis on meaningful connection (even virtually) can improve human connection while not in the office.

2.       Create social events

There have been many creative virtual events recently. Some of us may have participated in virtual birthday parties, bridal showers, or virtual races, as some runners did in Oregon. While they are obviously not ideal, Forbes suggests having fun with these virtual events. You can create virtual lunch breaks or happy hours. It will not be as easy or spontaneous as when you are in-person in the office but carving out this social time is important right now.

3.       Foster some friendly competition

There are many ways to create some competition among employees virtually. Forbes stresses the importance of staying active while being confined to your home, so having an exercise competition could be a great way to engage your employees. One company had an “in-person-to-virtual-switch” competition where employees got points for doing things that they would normally do in person, but now are doing virtually—such as a cooking class, a coffee date or a virtual party. You could also have friendly sales competitions or compete on other tasks. Getting employees engaged with each other will help bring back the lack of culture you may be feeling right now.

4.       Be positive

In the midst of a global health crisis, it is more than understandable if you have a hard time staying positive. Putting an emphasis on staying positive can help you and your coworkers feel more connected and engaged. Forbes explains that positivity has a ripple effect, so things as simple as a joke or funny video of the day can lift the spirits of many. You can also lean more into recognition practices. Shout out your employees in a daily or weekly email and encourage your employees to recognize each other. Fostering that team spirit with positivity will help you feel more connected.


For more support, check out RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.


Read our update on our annual conference here.



Tags:  connection  recognition  remote 

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Managing Your New Remote Workers

Posted By Ava Ewald, Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

COVID-19 has forced the world to adapt to a new way of remote, distanced life. Some countries and states have mandated people to stay at home while some offices have elected to send their employees home on their own. For many employees, this may be the first time they work remotely. RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards are a great resource for managing remote employees in this challenging time. Specifically, Standard 2: Management Responsibility. As a manager, you have the difficult task of balancing a support role and a manager role.


Challenges and ways you can help:

1.       No in-person interaction

One of the hardest things about working from home is the lack of face time with managers and other employees. Harvard Business Review explained that if you are in the office and you notice a coworker is particularly stressed, a harsh email from them can be justified as a result of that stress. When you work remotely, you do not have that context when you receive an email like this. When the majority of communication goes through email, you do not get the vocal inflection and body language that comes with in-person communication.

HBR also explains that when you are not around coworkers, it can be significantly harder to locate information from coworkers when you can not communicate with them as easily. You can not just walk over to a coworker’s cubicle and ask for that document you need.

Support: Have team check-ins. Forbes suggests that regular communication with employees can help significantly with the lack of in-person interaction. In these meetings, ask each individual person for an update on how and what they are doing. Ask what they need to do their work well. Giving everyone an opportunity to express what they need is especially important remotely.


2.        Isolation

For some, working from home helps them be more productive and comfortable. Introverts are used to working without the constant work chatter and cubicle drop-ins. For some, however, they thrive in an environment with constant activity. Think about your employees and how they are operating in isolation. This is a very difficult change for some. HBR explains that this can even lead to a decreased feeling of belonging in some and it could lead to greater intentions of leaving.

Support: HBR suggests creating opportunities for remote connection. While you are certainly limited, you can be creative. For example, do a virtual company happy hour. Get the whole company on Zoom and have everyone bring their own drinks. Take it up a notch and add a bar background to your screen!


3.       Productivity

There are so many potential distractions at home. Many have dogs, kids and other loved ones, and housework that can draw attention from work. This can be a hard thing for managers to come to terms with- especially when many of their employees are not used to working at home.

Support: HBR suggests making your expectations clear. These expectations can go hand-in-hand with some other support practices, such as daily check-ins. Set the expectation to check in every morning with your team. That way, you can feel comfortable knowing they are awake and ready for the work day.


Work is changing for everyone. It will take time to adjust to these new workplace practices. For more support, check out RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.


Read our update on our annual conference here.



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Takeaways: Why Teams Need Emotional Intelligence

Posted By Ava Ewald, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

RPI works to educate about recognition practices, developing their 7 Best Practice Standards based on experience and academics. Human connection is now more important than ever in the face of COVID-19. Anne Loehr, Executive Vice President for the Center for Human Capital Innovation, facilitated a webinar for RPI on March 16. She gave us more insight into the importance of emotional intelligence. Here are some of the main ideas she presented:


1)      Emotional Intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance

According to Anne, research done on emotional intelligence shows that this is the strongest predictor of work performance in employees. Salespeople for L’Oreal who proved to have high emotional intelligence sold approximately $2.5 million more product and Pepsi reportedly added $3.5 million of value to the company because of emotional intelligence.

-          PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was visiting her mother in India when people began stopping by to congratulate her mother on her daughter’s position at PepsiCo. The pride her mother felt inspired Nooyi to write thank-you notes to her employees’ parents.

-          Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is regarded as having high EQ. After an attempt to create an artificial intelligence bot went wrong and created a PR nightmare, Nadella told the team to keep going, and that he was with them.


2)      The quad

Anne explains that there are four components of emotional intelligence that people should be aware of: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and social-management. The first two ask you to identify your emotions and what you are feeling so you can properly manage your outward actions. The second two ask you to better identify emotional actions of others and respond to those emotions. The key is being aware and managing emotions for yourself and reacting thoughtfully to others’ emotions.


3)      What makes teams successful

MIT found that successful teams have five emotionally intelligent qualities:

-          There is an equal measure of talking from everyone in the group. No one person controls the conversation, and no one is overlooked. An equal amount of talking also shows that everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.

-          The members of the group face each other. When someone is talking, other group members are actively listening and positioned toward that person.

-          Everyone interacts with everyone else in the group. This means that each person has conversed with each person on the team. These relationships make the team stronger.

-          Conversations happen outside of meetings. Team members should be so passionate about their projects that they elect to have outside conversations with each other.

-          When one group member finds a new piece of information, they share it with the group so that everyone has the same information. Sharing related articles or a link to a webinar shows a team mentality because members are helping educate each other.


4)      Tips

Anne wrapped up her webinar with some tips on how you can improve your emotional intelligence.

-          Take stock of the emotions you are feeling and identify them. When you understand what you are feeling, you can better control how you react to others.

-          Notice gaps in your emotional intelligence. Anne’s example: if your body language does not match your internal emotions, work on outwardly showing those emotions.

-          Work on listening more to others. This has always been important, but emotionally intelligent people spend more time listening than talking.

-          Respond, do not react. As Anne puts it, “A reaction is knee-jerk; a response is intentional.”

-          Have more empathy. Make a conscious effort to pay attention to people’s emotions and respond appropriately.


You can gain access to this webinar in RPI’s Learning Center.

Tags:  emotional intelligence  recognition 

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How Top Companies Reward Employees

Posted By Ava Ewald, Thursday, March 26, 2020
RPI developed its 7 Best Practice Standards® to help your organization recognize your employees and increase overall engagement. Standard 1 is recognition strategy and standard 2 is recognition training. Learn how to reward your employees in the best way possible — read on to see how some of the top companies are doing it so that you can implement it into your training process.



Apple is said to reward independent thinking. They routinely reward employees with stock, product discounts and volunteering incentives. Additionally, they throw parties for their employees such as the annual Apple Beer Bash which has featured Weezer and Falloutboy.



Zappos is well-known for their recognition programs. There is the “Zollar” program, where employees can earn Zollars by helping others or doing particularly good work. Employees redeem them at a little store with company swag. They also have employee-to-employee rewarding where co-workers can give each other $50. They definitely top the list of creative rewards.



Google has their “gThanks” program, where employees are encouraged to shout-out other employees when they have done something great. There is also a peer bonus program, where co-workers can nominate each other for cash bonuses. Google has a wide variety of awards, big and small, to help motivate their employees.


O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner creates employee recognition software, so it makes sense that they made Fortune 100’s “Best to Work For” list. According to Life Hack, they use a lot of fun rewards such as merchandise, gift cards and trophies. They also lean hard into employee-to-employee recognition.



In his first letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos explained that employees should act like owners. He also outlined a long-term strategy for keeping talent. “Amazonians,” as employees are called, receive long-term stock options. Additionally, after one year at the company, Amazon will pay 95% of the tuition for courses that teach skills that are in-demand, even if they are not relevant to Amazon.


Become an RPI member! Learn how here.


To learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards, click here.


Tags:  recognition  rewards  RPI 7 Best Practices 

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