Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Incentive Magazine’s "Ask the Experts"

Looking for more information on recognition? In the June edition of Incentive Magazine’s “Ask the Experts,” my colleagues Michelle Smith, Dee Hansford, Kevin Cronin and I answer the following questions:

• How would you respond to leaders that think cash programs are cheaper and easier to implement than those based on non-cash awards?
• Why is it so important to provide training about recognition?
• I am often asked what other companies do for their recognition and reward programs? How can I get this information?
• Why is recognition strategy considered the cornerstone of Recognition Professionals International’s (RPI) “Seven Best Practice Standards”?

My contribution dealt with the last question. Find out why I believe recognition programs which do not align with overall corporate strategies usually end up as recognition road kill!

Do you have any other recognition questions? Drop me a note in the blog’s comment section below!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Busy, But Rewarding Week!

We recently had a very busy week at Rideau.

We had a lot of visitors including some from Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Toronto, Winnipeg and Paris, France.

We also had our quarterly in person Board of Directors meeting which is always stressful and it was followed by Rideau’s Annual Awards Ceremony.

A whole team of Rideau associates worked for weeks on the ceremony. Citations are written and carefully translated because we do the ceremony in French and English.

This year we recognized over 100 individual recipients along with a special award going to our Six Sigma team (I got one of these). Paula Cordisco got a “special caring award” for her outstanding work. Mao Truong Du, Bryan Conroy and Jon Warmington all won Employee of the Year Awards under their respective departments within the company.

This was followed by a cocktail reception. Governor Arne Carlson, Rideau’s Vice Chairman and his wife Susan couldn’t get over the fact that our employee’s lingered on so long after the event.

In the evening we had a dinner celebrating those with 15 years or more of service.

It was a busy week. Lots of recognition which was rewarding in its own right!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Check Out "Incorporated" Jess Hart's New Album!

Check out my niece Jess Hart’s latest album, "Incorporated," on iTunes!

Better yet… buy it here. (Make sure you have downloaded the iTunes software.)

Jess has always had a passion for music and is blessed with a great talent.

For years she has composed some fantastic music.

I don’t think she has come across an instrument she couldn’t just pick up and play by ear.

Jess is following her dreams much to the delight of our whole family and many of her fans here at Rideau!

Keep rocking Jess... we love you and are proud of your accomplishments!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Missing Pieces: 7 Ways to Improve Employee Well-Being and Organizational Effectiveness

Looking for a great summer read?

My good friend Dr. Jean-Pierre Brun and his colleague, Professor Cary Cooper CBE, have just co-written a great book called “Missing Pieces: 7 Ways to Improve Employee Well-Being and Organizational Effectiveness.”

I have never met Professor Cooper, but Jean-Pierre is an old friend. I first met him several years ago when he was a professor in the management department of the faculty of Science and Administration at Laval University in Quebec City. I was very impressed with his research.

In a nutshell, Jean-Pierre found that the absence of employee recognition is the second leading cause of workplace burnout and stress in the workplace.

Earlier this year, Jean-Pierre moved to Paris and became the Executive Director of Stimulus a company that specializes in understanding and reducing stress in the workplace as well as helping companies with change management.

Jean-Pierre sent me a draft copy of his new book several months ago. It speaks about the missing pieces of management. Simple things… like recognizing your employees. Supporting and respecting them. Helping them create a proper work life balance and other great advice that all too often managers overlook.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in recognition and engagement. It will help you create a better workplace.

You can now order his book Amazon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Governor Arne Carlson on Recognition and TARP Funds

Read this issue of Incentive Magazine to get Rideau Vice Chairman Arne Carlson’s thoughts on Recognition and TARP funds.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Michelle ~ Ma Belle

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die.

~ Mary Elizabeth Frye

On June 20th, 2009 Rideau lost our beloved Michelle Verville.

Mother, daughter, wife… true friend and colleague for over 41 years.

She is in a higher place. May she rest in eternal peace.

We love you Michelle… now and forever.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Father's Day - Recognition Rocks

Many years ago, my eldest son Jonathan gave me the best recognition a dad could ask for!

It was for Father’s Day and Jonathan probably wouldn’t remember it… but I certainly do!

He must have been five or six years old. At school, they were getting ready for Father’s Day and each child painted a stone for their Dad. Jonathan painted a dove on my stone, which is pictured here. It now sits beside my phone at work.

It symbolizes Jonathan’s words that day…

“Happy Father’s Day Dad! You’re the best father in the whole world!”

Jonathan became a dad last year. I hope one day, his son William gives him the same sort of recognition.

Recognition that rocks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top 10 Socially Responsible Recognition Initiatives

My good friend and colleague Roy Saunderson, just wrote a great article about the Top Ten Socially Responsible Recognition Initiatives your company can do in the current issue of Incentive Magazine.

Research has shown there is a direct link between higher levels of employee engagement and corporate social responsibility.

I’m proud of the work Rideau’s EcoAction Team and the Recognition Management Institute are doing to help employers and employees become more socially responsible.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Recyc-Québec Certification!

We recently received the highest level of certification by Recyc-Québec for our recycling program.

Recyc-Québec's programme "ICI ON RECYCLE Level 3 Performance" requires a high standard of reducing, reusing and valuing waste. The level 3 certification especially entails a rigorous recycling procedure whereby 90.5% of the recyclable waste produced by Rideau is recycled.

There is still room for improvement but I am really happy our EcoAction team was recognized for all their efforts!

Marion Dulude heads up our EcoAction program and works with a dedicated team who meet regularly to pin point environmental initiatives that will make a difference.

Some of the projects we have completed:

  • The complete elimination of water bottles at Rideau’s head office due to the installation of a complete water filtration system;
  • The introduction of a Rideau garden at our corporate headquarters;
  • The planting of trees with the support of local community initiatives;
  • Introduction of Fair Trade coffee and sugar in the cafeteria as well as healthier fair trade snacks in vending machines;
  • The complete elimination of styrofoam cups and plastic stir sticks throughout Rideau;
  • The implementation of biodegradable cleaning products by the cleaning staff and use of ecologically friendly products in the washrooms;
It really is a team effort. One of the individuals who deserves special mention is Gilles Tittlit. Gilles works in Rideau's maintenance department and is responsible for our compacting machine. His efforts help keep Rideau tidy and green!

Every Tuesday EcoAction holds a lunch time seminar on different topics of interest. The last one was on gardening. Attendees not only learned how to start a conventional garden but those without a backyard learned how to start a balcony garden.

The idea of this program is to educate and make all of us more responsible citizens.

From my perspective, they bring employees together for great causes and make Rideau a better company.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our Gophers Can Swim!

I presided over RBC’s Annual Montreal West Island Golf Tournament as its Honorary President last week.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had not played golf for several years and in fact, it would be more appropriate to call me a gopher, not a golfer. The post finished off by stating that “if you saw gophers running across the Beaconsfield golf course, you would know I was playing.”

Well you wouldn’t have seen any gophers running… you might have seen them swimming but certainly not running! The weather was absolutely terrible and many parts of the golf course were under water!

The organizers had planned an 11 am brunch and a 1 pm shotgun tee-off but due to the rain, the club’s groundskeeper had to cancel the tournament and give everyone a rain check for a time of their choosing.

However, everyone regrouped for 6 pm cocktails followed by a great dinner and silent auction and a little talk on the power of recognition by yours truly.

I’m pleased to say that we raised $30,000 for West Island Community Shares and another $15,000 for the Vaudreuil Soulanges Palliative Care Residence.

These are great causes and I was pleased to help their fundraising efforts along with many of my Rideau colleagues.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Newest Colleague is a Gem. Her name is Christi Gibson!

I think Christi Gibson is one of the unsung heroes of the recognition industry.

Christi was involved with Recognition Professionals International for over eight years and served as its Executive Director.

When she joined Recognition Professionals International it had only 200 members and a very limited budget. Christi’s ability to raise funds and carefully manage our expenses allowed the organization to grow to over 900 members.

I believe Christi’s lasting legacy at RPI was to manage funds in such a way that we were able to go out and create the educational content that has now become our Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) program.

When I realized Christi was going to leave RPI earlier this year I knew right away that we would work together. My colleagues all felt the same way and I’m so pleased that she joined my colleague Roy Saunderson at the Recognition Management Institute as its Executive Director.

Roy’s work is noble. He is creating better workplace environments. Employees in these workplaces will be healthier, more engaged and less susceptible to leaving the organization. All of which will make companies more productive on a sustainable basis.

Now, with Christi at his side, the sky’s the limit for Roy and the Recognition Management Institute.

Christi is a gem and we are lucky to have her at our side!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Incentive Federation… Working You!

I recently had the honor of becoming part of the Incentive Federation’s Board of Directors. Many people are unfamiliar with this organization because much of its work is behind the scenes.

The Incentive Federation is the only organization whose membership and leadership includes all of the industry's national trade associations, as well as individual companies. The Incentive Federation acts as an umbrella organization that provides behind-the-scenes support for better-known entities such as the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA), the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), the International SITE Foundation (ISITE) and now Recognition Professionals International who I represent on the Board.

I attended my first Board meeting and I was really impressed with Incentive Federation’s agenda which is basically to promote, protect and research the incentive, recognition and promotional products industry.

George Delta is the Executive Director of the Incentive Federation. He is a Washington based attorney who has specialized in our industry. He often keynotes at industry conferences and events. His dry wit and presentation skills make him a very popular speaker. One of his chief skills is the ability to explain complicated tax issues to folks like me!

One of the most exciting things the Incentive Federation is working on is a Legislative Awareness Program to help define the incentive and recognition industry so that government can understand how our work plays a key role in promoting a better, healthier workplace. A workplace that can compete in today’s global economy.

These are some of the key issues we are working on:

  1. Safety achievement awards – Tax preferential treatment for safety awards is now limited to only 10% of eligible employees. To promote and improve workplace safety, and to reduce the related healthcare and other business costs from injuries, this limit should be increased to 25% or higher.
  2. Wellness programs – Expand safety programs to reach an even larger segment of workers and reduce health costs by targeting obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, and the like which can lead to chronic diseases that drain the healthcare system and sap business productivity, motivation, growth, and profits.
  3. Corporate gift deduction – This deduction limit has been $25 since 1962. It can be repositioned to embrace productivity awards and be adjusted for inflation to $50.
  4. Employee achievement awards – The average award has been $400 per employee for 25 years. A cost of living adjustment would make such awards more useful and relevant in attracting and retaining valuable employees that can help businesses and the economy recover more quickly and moderate future downturns.
  5. Length of service awards – These awards cannot be given until an employee has been employed for at least five years. The nature of the workforce has changed considerably since the tax preferential treatment for this award was enacted in 1984, and retention of skilled employees has become more important than ever. This award can also be positioned to be more akin to a productivity award, and employers should be able to give it to employees in a tax-advantaged manner prior to five years (but no more frequently than every three to five years thereafter) to help combat the disruptive and costly impact of unintended turnover.

The Incentive Federation work is very important and to paraphrase a line from Shakespeare, “though we may be but little, we are fierce!”

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cristal Bordeleau – Rideau’s Great Unifier!

Cristal in the flesh!
The other day, Cristal Bordeleau brought our whole company together!

Cristal works in our Merchandising Department. Next July 11-12, 2009, she will be riding her bike from Montreal to Quebec City in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

It will not be an easy ride… it’s a distance of over 200 kilometers! But this is very personal for Cristal… her foster Mom and Grandfather have both battled cancer.

A group of Cristal’s colleagues (Francine Bellomo, Isabelle Lavigne, Eva Gouskos, Jonathan Hart,
The line up for food wrapped around the building
Jennifer Freire, Mary Metaxas, Samra Zaman, Troy Cunningham, Sally Khouri, Eric Simoneau, Paula Cordisco and Lance Bannister) decided they would help Cristal by holding a BBQ fundraiser.

It was great - the entire company turned out to support Cristal on a gorgeous summer day. Sadly, I couldn’t attend because I had a commitment in Minneapolis but that was ok… I’m a terrible cook and my brother Stephen filled in for me!

It’s people like Cristal that make a difference in our company and our community at large.

I salute her and wish her well! Ride on Cristal… ride on!

Our smoothies were made with environmentally friendly human powered mixers. Pictured here is our designated pedaler, Alex Buchanan.

Our hungry crowd

Our cooks

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Smile Always Makes Two!

My good friend and Rideau colleague Lorraine Sonier has a great saying… “One Smile Always Makes Two”!

What I’ll bet Lorraine doesn’t know is there’s a global industry out there dedicated to researching how smiles work and why! Conferences are being held on the topic and schools such as MIT are studying the relationship between facial expressions and emotional states.

I guess these folks never heard the expression “Smile and the whole world smiles with you!”

They should speak to Lorraine or the folks at Wal-Mart who created the official post of “greeter” years ago.

Smiling is a vital part of recognition - it reinforces the sentiment in which it is given. If sentiment does not come across, employee recognition will unlikely have the desired effects!

Smiles, like recognition are universal. Combine the two and you have a very powerful relationship tool!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Secret is Out... Jennifer Lumba is a Winner!

My youngest son Jordan and I share a similar trait... neither of us are very good at keeping secrets! So imagine how difficult it was, knowing for quite some time that Jennifer Lumba, one of my of my closest colleagues and friends at Rideau was going to receive a Recognition Professionals International Spotlight Award!

Well the secret is out!

Jennifer Lumba is an RPI Spotlight Award winner. She won the award for her marketing work for our association.

This is not the first time Jennifer was recognized in 2009! Her fundraising efforts for multiple sclerosis earned her a nomination for the Leadership Award from the MS Society of Quebec. This award has been given to Quebecers who have shown excellence in their professional lives, exemplary commitment to their community as well as the fight against MS.

Jennifer is one of my best and brightest colleagues. She earns the respect of everyone she works with... it doesn’t matter if it’s an internal Rideau project, work for a client, or a fundraiser.

Speaking of which, Jennifer gave a highly rated breakout session at the RPI conference on the marketing and communication of recognition programs.

Watch for more great things from Jennifer in the future!