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Experts: Show appreciation for employees often

BY Rebecca R Hastings

Managers should take the time to recognize all employees on a regular basis, experts say — focusing on behaviors they want to reinforce — rather than singling out certain individuals or groups at scheduled times.

“Ideally, employees should be valued all year round, especially when they have performed well, but the first step is raising awareness about the importance of recognition on the part of every manager. … Employee Appreciation Day has helped serve that purpose,” explained Bob Nelson, Ph.D., president of Nelson Motivation Inc. and author of "1501 Ways to Reward Employees" (Workman Publishing, 2012) and other best-selling titles.

Nelson, who created Employee Appreciation Day — celebrated the first Friday in March — with the first edition of his book, "1001 Ways to Reward Employees" (Workman Publishing, 1994), said the event remains popular. However, the real goal, he noted, “is to make recognition a part of ongoing practices at work, not to just generically thank everyone one day out of the year.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. The kind of recognition most employers extend occurs too infrequently and “does not speak to the needs, expectations and motivations of today’s workforce,” Nelson said.

Employee-appreciation practices

When HR professionals were asked on the SHRM Connect site how — and how often — their organizations express appreciation for employees, they shared a variety of practices.

  • A Texas-based company celebrates employee-appreciation day with a banner and balloons (so everyone recognizes the occasion) as well as raffle prizes and a barbecue. The same company has an employee-of-the-month program.
  • An Illinois company has several programs, including spot bonuses, spontaneous staff lunches, random prizes at all staff meetings, and a “kudos corner,” where people can write public thanks on a white board, according to its HR director.
  • “We do not celebrate employee-appreciation day but look for creative ways to recognize and reward employees throughout the year,” wrote a commenter from Pennsylvania.
  • Some said they single out certain groups of employees for recognition:
  • “We recognize our administrative employees here on Admin Day with a full breakfast buffet,” wrote an HR manager from Boston. Administrative Professionals Day/Week is April 21-27.
  • “We celebrate Customer Service Week in early October and ensure that we recognize employees for their stellar work with small gifts such as coffee gift cards and chocolates,” said a respondent from Seattle. “We also encourage employees to recognize each other with certificates we provide and hang on a community billboard that week for all to view,” she added. “We end the week with a lunch for all employees.”
  • Another commenter said her small company celebrates Employee Appreciation Day on what is technically Administrative Professionals Day by watching movies, playing bingo or having the management team prepare a picnic lunch for employees. “We do something different every year,” she said.

Though there are legitimate reasons to recognize staff in certain roles — especially those sometimes taken for granted — the risk is that “those employees you aren’t celebrating may feel left out,” Nelson cautioned.  

Employee-of-the-Month programs

Sources consulted for this article were least likely to favor programs that singled out one employee for special recognition.

Employee of-the-week, -month or -year programs are bad for morale, according to Mary Kelly, Ph.D., CEO of Productive Leaders, a business consultancy. “If you are not nominated, your morale decreases. If you are nominated but not selected, you feel second best. If you are selected, you feel a little embarrassed. No one is happy,” she explained in an e-mail to SHRM Online.

Joe Laipple, Ph.D., senior vice president of strategic services for the consultancy Aubrey Daniels International, has a similar view. “These types of programs typically don’t contribute to creating positive cultures, don’t create repeatable performance and don’t identify specific behaviors that lead to positive business outcomes. By singling out these kinds of employees, they also may be sending a mixed message that what employees do and how they treat others is less important than delivering certain kinds of business results.”

Others agree.

“As an employee, I believe it’s better for morale when you celebrate successes as a team,” wrote Lori Freemire, who chose not to disclose her employer’s name, in an e-mail to SHRM Online. “By singling someone out, you are neglecting others who may be just as good an employee but missed the mark for that contest or selection process.”

Some suggest that subjectivity and favoritism are often associated with such programs.

 “I’m not the biggest fan of employees voting for each other, because the results can be quite skewed at times,” said Danielle J. Bernhard, a marketing manager in Central Florida whose company has an employee-of-the-month program. “I prefer that our managers select the employee of the month, as they would really know who worked the hardest and who really deserves the title.” However, she said her favorite form of appreciation is a simple “Thank you.” 

Issues for HR

“The big question is why employers essentially pit employees against each other when those same employers spend money and training dollars on team-building exercises,” Kelly added. “The people who should work together the most often should be united with common goals, not driven apart with employee competition for a frivolous plaque or a small bonus.”

Laipple added, “Organizations should focus instead on how employees are led and managed on a daily basis [and] should instead invest in programs that support employees for incremental improvement in specific behaviors and business results.”

“The real trick is to get all managers recognizing employees for desired behavior and performance as it occurs, whenever it occurs,” Nelson suggested. “If you can make that happen, you will create a culture of recognition whereby everyone feels valued … when that happens, no one feels left out when others are acknowledged; they know their turn will come when they deserve it.

“If you don’t care about your employees, and show it, they won’t care about you—or your customers,” Nelson continued. “What gets noticed gets repeated. Recognizing desired behavior and performance leads to increased desired behavior and performance on the part of any employee.”

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

©2013 SHRM. All rights reserved.

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d-CON fires back at the EPA

BY Ken Clark

Reckitt Benckiser’s d-CON brand says it will not be banned without a fight.

Not only did the pesticide brand say it will challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to ban 12 d-CON mouse and rat poison products from the market, a d-CON spokesman shot back an accusation that the EPA’s move is bad public health policy. 

Last week, the EPA announced a move to ban the sale of the d-CON mouse and products produced by Reckitt Benckiser because these products fail to comply with current EPA safety standards.

“d-CON believes that EPA’s announcement puts the public health of millions of American families at risk,” said Hal Ambuter, director of regulatory and government affairs for d-CON products, in an email to HomeChannelnews.com. “We are deeply concerned that the EPA is trying to restrict access to essential safeguards that protect our families and our children from the serious public health dangers associated with rodent infestation. 

Among the 12 d-CON products on the list to ban are: d-CON Concentrate Kills Rats & Mice, d-CON Bait Packs III, d-CON Ready Mixed Generation II, and d-CON Bait Pellets III. The complete list can be found here.

The products remain on shelves as the manufacturer has 30 days to request a hearing.

“d-CON has been committed to developing products that protect public health for more than 50 years,” wrote d-CON’s Ambuter. “We will vigorously challenge EPA’s actions to ensure that these effective and affordable rodent control products remain available to consumers to protect their homes and families for generations to come.”

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California lumber assessment

BY HBSDEALER Staff

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By Ken Dunham, Executive Director, West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association

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With California’s controversial “lumber assessment” now being assessed on most lumber products sold in the state under so-called “emergency” regulations from the state’s tax collection agency, the State Board of Equalization (BOE), the next process for the state agency is to develop permanent rules including a permanent retailer set-up reimbursement.

The reimbursement language was contained in the legislation but the “emergency” rules passed by the BOE in October 2102 provided a token $250 per retail location. The BOE voted 3-2 on political party lines to approve the $250, with the two Republicans on the board voting against the low reimbursement.

The West Coast Lumber & Building Materials Association (WCLBMA) testified at the hearing that their research and survey data showed lumber retailers had an average set-up cost of more than $4,500 per location.  The association also requested an ongoing $1,500 per year to cover the costs of new products being added or deleted from the list of lumber items.

The BOE is expected to vote on a permanent reimbursement amount in May 2013.  WCLBMA has re-submitted updated data and survey results showing the average cost is closer to $5,400 per retail location.

The legislation providing for the one per cent assessment on a wide range of lumber products was pushed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and agreed to by California timber producers who claimed they were at a competitive disadvantage to out-of-state timber producers who have lower costs and fees paid to state agencies for timber management oversight and regulation in producing “timber harvest plans.”

The controversial legislation also contained language that claimed to limit legal damages to timber companies and others for “wildfire liability,” a contention disagreed with by many, including the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento

The challenge for California lumber retailers is that this “assessment is significantly more complicated than increasing a sales tax in that it is imposed on only certain lumber and building products and not on others. This means lumber retailers have to reconfigure their computer systems to add the assessment to only the covered wood products.

An additional challenge is that the new law requires that this one per cent assessment be shown separately on the invoice, not shown with state or local sales taxes.

The manner in which the legislation was passed has been criticized by many involved in the process. Ken Dunham, Executive Director of the West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association, which represent independent lumber retailers,  said,  “This was passed in the last hour of the 2012 legislature, using a so-called ‘emergency’ rule that meant the bill could be rushed through with no public hearings and no chance of discussion.“

He also noted,” Closed door meetings and vote deals to get exactly the number needed to meet the two-thirds vote requirement were part of the final deal.”

Jon Coupal, president of the California-based Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, called the legislation “one of the sleaziest legislative deals I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot”.

Dunham noted, “While we certainly agree that the timber industry is over-regulated and there are valid issues that need resolution, simply giving the state more money from the general public and making the lumber retailers collect it is not the answer.”

“This is a bad deal the timber producers made with the governor to pass on regulation costs to the general public,” he added.

Dunham noted that every Democratic member of the state assembly and senate voted for the bill, under pressure from Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. They were joined by three Republicans, all of whom were out of their current positions at the end of the legislative session because of term limits, and were joined by a Republican-turned-Independent assembly member who had already lost an earlier 2012 primary election for San Diego mayor.

The concept of an additional assessment on timber producers to cover the cost of regulation by the State of California has been discussed by state government for several years. Private land owners in California are subject to some of the most difficult, expensive and over-reaching environmental rules in the nation. Nearby states have far less restrictive land use laws putting the California producers at a competitive disadvantage.

In the past, the costs of the state regulation have been part of state agency budgets and fees imposed on the timber producers.

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E.ROBERTS says:
Feb-01-2013 06:10 pm

This is just another example
This is just another example of the California state governments war on small businesses. The Democratic party that controls all the levers of power in California seems determined to do everything in their power to harm any business that continues to try to survive in California. The law has been discussed for 7 years but it suddenly needed to pass as an emergency measure in the middle of the night. A good example of the disfunctional state government. Brown ran on a pledge of not raising taxes without a vote of the people but that was apparently a lie. The BOE requested almost $1,000,000 to upgrade their computer systems but they feel that $250 per location will cover the costs for the effected lumber dealers. If this didn't damage us so much it would be funny.

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