When Brittany Tomkiewicz, senior manager of acquisition marketing at Birchbox, sat at her desk in January, her space was temporarily adorned with a foot-tall gnome.
At the beauty and cosmetic subscription-based service company’s offices in NoMad, her peers had “gnominated” her for their monthly program spotlighting stellar performance. The figurine, “Gnaomi Watts,” is awarded to employees demonstrating the company’s core values, such as “one team” and “doer.” In addition to the CEO’s or COO’s announcement of the winner during their monthly companywide meeting, a bonus of $1,000 is given, too.
Tomkiewicz recalls exuding “an even mix of excitement, pride and shock” at winning.
With plans to spend the loot on traveling, parting with Gnaomi wasn’t such sweet sorrow. The five-year Birchbox employee bid adieu to her trophy, explaining, “I was happy to pass the award along to the next winner and watch them get acknowledged.”
By creating a culture of reward and celebration, they’re onto something. According to 2016 Gallup data, workers’ satisfaction with employer recognition is significantly on the uptick.
John Brubaker, author of “Stadium Status: Taking Your Business to the Big Time” (Routledge), lauds employee-of-the-month programs.
“Is recognition the most important thing? No, but it’s a close second behind oxygen,” he says. “It fosters a collaborative environment where high performers are eager to teach their peers how to achieve similar results.”
Strong performance and community cultivation is instrumental for Gregory Solometo, CEO of home health care service company Alliance Homecare in the Garment District, since “nurses and home health aides tend to be in isolated circumstances.” At Alliance Homecare, care managers nominate three staffers monthly, and one person wins.
“They work hard; it’s taxing and can be stressful,” he says. “Anything we can do to recognize exceptional behavior is really valuable to [making them] feel respected.”
The winner gets invited into the office for a photo op. Solometo says, “They come dressed up, ear-to-ear smiles.”
A plaque is placed on the wall, the winner gets a $250 gift card and his or her achievement is announced on social media.
Another company publicizing staffers externally is Soho-based communications firm North 6th Agency (N6A). CEO Matt Rizzetta mentions an external press release announcing recipients as well as promotions among its 41 employees.
“We want our people to get the well-deserved spotlight,” he says.
N6A’s friendly competition has expanded over time to encompass individual and team awards, which could result in a winning team earning rights to the Spotify office playlist or quarterly winners landing a trip to Jamaica.
Rizzetta says, “It takes an entire team to win the World Series. The team should be rewarded accordingly but the individual should be rewarded, too.”
Along with her group, Emma Martin, N6A account executive, recently snagged the monthly group award — $1,000 each and an additional week of paid time off, along with a shared glass trophy. The Upper East Sider says that in addition to acknowledging performance, it builds camaraderie.
“Where there is a congrats, there is a hug that quickly follows,” she says. “We all call each other rock stars and send around GIFs when someone does well.”
In food services, high-fives abound, too. Dominique McLaughlin of East New York is the manager at Schmackary’s bake shop in Hell’s Kitchen. For ensuring everything ran smoothly, in January she was highlighted in their newsletter and received a $100 bonus.
It felt good being recognized. I really pushed my limits,” she says.
Ironically, McLaughlin doesn’t recall how she spent the money. Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant” (Wiley), explains the paradox.
“The trophy aspect of winning is key. Cash plays a role, but the experience is more memorable,” she says. “People work for more than a paycheck. There’s such a thing as corporate karma. Treat your team as you’d want to be treated.”