Modern Employee Recognition: It’s Just Business as Usual, as It Should Be

May 4, 2018 | Reward Gateway | HCI
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Walmart store manager Frankie Catlett (right) walks the aisles with Patrick Harn

Broken Arrow, Okla. Walmart employee Frankie Catlett gives no less than 110 percent at work, and in March, his outstanding effort was praised by many more than his immediate manager.

Recognized for his “superhero” qualities, Catlett, now the store’s GM, was honored by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, according to Tulsa World writer Mike Averill.

Catlett had met a Walmart truck crew member, Patrick Harnish, and began mentoring him at a time when Harnish longed for career coaching and considerable support. About 10 years later, Harnish has become a human resources manager at the same Broken Arrow Walmart, but he hasn’t forgotten the difference Catlett made in his growth and development.

“There was nothing more I wanted to do than move up in the community and get promoted,” Harnish told the Tulsa publication. “To meet someone like Frankie [Catlett] who does that for you and allows you to participate in projects and teach and grow you … he’s a great leader. When you work with Frankie, you get better.”

Catlett’s leadership earned him the company’s cherished Green Lantern ring award, and recognition of his guidance didn’t stop at the company’s CEO. At a corporate meeting in Houston, McMillon played a video that showed the community acknowledging and admiring Catlett’s work.

Feedback for Catlett demonstrates today’s modern recognition trend, in which credit comes from all parts of the workforce, and even from the community.

“It didn’t matter if it was monetary or material need,” Broken Arrow councilwoman Debra Wimpee said in the video. “No matter how small, Frankie never failed. He always came through. Other than being an incredible guy, he has a heart for the community.”

What this means for Walmart (other than having a standup guy on its team) is that Catlett is committed to the company, and the store’s business will be better off because it retained a high performer who knows what recognition means for business.

“Employee recognition is everything,” Catlett told HCI. “Your people make you successful so it’s important to give associates the tools they need, and recognition itself is most important.”

When Catlett received his Green Lantern ring award, he said he was humble, and that he went back to work with a “business as usual” attitude because that’s just how he operates. It’s not about recognition being a one-time thing that happens every now and then, but instead, recognition is just part of Catlett’s everyday work because that’s how he keeps his business running.

“For the business, it [recognition] means reduction of turnover,” Catlett said. “I don’t believe people leave positions for larger pay; I believe they leave for better work conditions.”

It’s Catlett’s job, he said, to make sure people have a strong work experience with plenty of balance.

Inside the walls of Catlett’s store, balance and engagement are achieved by eliminating chaos, making expectations clear and removing any obstacles that could prevent an ideal work experience, and most importantly, giving plenty of recognition.

For the good of the business, recognition helps the Broken Arrow Walmart and all businesses retain people, so leaders spend minimal time retraining new hires. Talent that’s been with you for long tenures better executes store functions, they need fewer touch points, and their performance ensures customers are well taken care of.

Recognition done right saves big money for the business, especially with the infrequency of touch points. Catlett said it’s all about a strong connection between not only people and management, but people and people, and people and customers.

Recognition is a primary builder of employee loyalty, which keeps workers engaged in your company’s mission and makes your business succeed. It starts with a certain energy that modern recognition creates, and those good vibes help every employee feel like they’re cared for by their colleagues and management.

Recognition is best exercised when it comes from all parts of the organization. Recognition from multiple levels, rather than just management, establishes a shared trust within the team. And the best part -- that trust reaches those your business serves.

“The community consistently comes to you because they trust you and know they’ll always be taken care of,” Catlett said.

WATCH this on-demand webcast from Reward Gateway to get a closer look at what employee recognition should look like today.