Ideas: Customize Rewards And Recognition

This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book “Handle with CARE–Motivating and Retaining Employees” (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

At Uline, a shipping company in Waukegan, Illinois, each Team leader keeps this sheet for each employee in a special file. Then they use this personal information to customize rewards and recognition.


We’d like to know what makes you happy! Please fill out this list with your favorites and return it to your team leader. When it comes to a job well done, we aim to please!

Favorite Candy:
Favorite Soda:
Favorite Color:
Favorite Hobby:
Favorite Store:
Favorite Snack Food:
Favorite Sports Team:

Aubrey Daniels, author of Bringing Out the Best in People, has each new employee fill out a “Reinforcement Survey,” where they list their hobbies and other personal information. Later, when one of his employees does something exceptional, Daniels pulls out the survey and chooses something they will value. Rewards are only meaningful if they are special to that individual. He says, “That’s the key to incentives – make them personal.” His own passion is collecting golf balls with logos of his clients. His own employees certainly know how to reward him!

At the Waukegan Park District in Waukegan, Illinois, the custodian was going to have a birthday and planned to come in early that day to do his work. The night before, Jeannette Brancamp and another employee went through the offices in the building and emptied all the wastebaskets. Then they gave each employee a piece of computer paper and asked them to put a note or birthday greeting in the bottom of their empty wastebaskets. When the custodian came to empty the baskets, he found them completely empty except for a birthday note to him. He was absolutely delighted, and Jeannette and her co-worker found out how very long it takes to empty all those wastebaskets!

At Performance Display, Inc., in Urbandale, Iowa, Pam and Bob Larson displayed appreciation for a long week by attaching personalized notes with a handmade clay pen on each employee’s time card. One note read, “You bring smiles to many faces with the caring concern you put into your work. Thanks for a tough seek! Pam and Bob” The pen even had artistic smiling faces on it!

BI Performance Systems in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has what they call “Singing Recognition.” They have a volunteer choir that can be contacted by any associate to provide a personalized singing recognition. The choir will write a song to a popular tune. The song has specific information included so that the “thank you” is genuine and meaningful. The choir will sing to the associate during a department meeting or whenever the requester would like the recognition to occur. Over 200 BI associates have received singing recognitions from their volunteer choir.

This song was a recognition for Karen Kitchel when she won the Guy Schoenecker Quality Award (named after the founder of the company) to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy:”
You’re a Schoenecker Award winner, a quality person through and through.
You worked long and hard on your performance team,
now you’re receiving your just due.
Teamwork’s what we’re all about here, working side by side as one.
BI is a better place because of all your toil,
Kudos to you for all you do!

This one was sung to about 90 associates in the Accounting/MIS Division, requested by their vice president:
Tune – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

We appreciate the division that delivers what’s been sold,
You’d think that it’s not possible, it’s magic to behold.
From turkey, ham or steaks to a little warehouse release,
We work out little fannies off, for customers we please.

The system cannot handle this, we cry to deafened ears,
We go like heck to make it work, without a lot of cheers.
An IVR for next week’s launch, no notice we receive,
How do we pull it off, you ask, you just would not believe.

We beckon to your cries for help any hour of the day,
And answer every question asked in a most professional way.
Your PC’s down, no problem, we can fix it in a jiff,
It’s the coffee that you poured in that that makes your keyboard stiff.

And data, we’ve got lots of it, all you have to do is ask,
We run this baby ’round the clock, we even multi-task,
And billing, that’s no problem, we can invoice on the fly.
We do not have a P.O. yet, we don’t ask sales why.

We forecast every sale and more, for optimism reigns,
New systems, that is what we need to play these numbers games,
Reporting to the business units is harder than you think,
They don’t understand financials when their performance stinks.

We pay the associates every week, we never miss a beat,
And try to talk to ADP, now that’s no easy feat,
We are the best there is, you know, we’re really quite a team,
And BI’s where it’s happening, the best place to be seen!

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at and

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