Recognizing our long-serving team members, and my challenge to you!

By Ken Johnston, SVP & Chief HR Officer

When I visit our locations across Canada and the United States, I am regularly struck by the number of long-time employees at Purolator. I have worked for a number of large companies and all of them had pockets of long-tenured people. At Purolator, however, it seems to be uniquely common. Personally, I think this is a wonderful competitive advantage. Fundamentally we are a people business – what we offer our customers is a great service, distinguished by the experience, attitude and talent of our amazing workforce.

As the world changes rapidly, we regularly change with it. Like many companies today, we have seen constant change in our leadership, strategies, markets, customers and products. Through all of this change (and occasional uncertainty), our employees have persevered; and therefore, so has our company. As we recently celebrated Labour Day – and as I recently contemplated the upcoming retirement of Mike Boucher after 38 incredible years of service – I reflected on the hard work, loyalty and dedication of our many long-serving employees, and was inspired to write this blog entry.

When I joined Purolator just under four years ago, we were just changing our service award program. It was the view of many at the time that employees didn’t want commemorative awards to celebrate their service milestones, but rather “points-based” programs, where employees could earn points from a variety of work milestones and eventually cash them in for something they personally valued. And so, we moved to that type of recognition program.

Boy, did we ever get it wrong! Two years and many unhappy employees later, we set out to meet with more than 100 employees, through focus groups across the country, about what kind of service awards people actually wanted. Employees shared their feedback on the points-based awards program, and a few key trends emerged:

  1. Employees didn’t feel a connection between their award and years of service.
  2. They didn’t think they should be taxed for a service award.
  3. Many preferred branded items over points.
  4. Milestones were celebrated in an inconsistent fashion.

In response to this employee feedback, we partnered with an up-and-coming vendor called Cotton Candy to develop a program that replaced the online points platform with custom, Purolator-branded awards for each service milestone (from five-40 years). Purolator’s current service awards program was then launched in January 2016, and has been very well received by employees.awards

For more information on the new program, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Additionally, external feedback has also been positive! We very proud to have received the Silver Image Award from Promotional Product Professionals of Canada (PPPC) for this new program. In 2016 there were upwards of 200 submissions that were presented for judging, and winners were Toyota (gold), Purolator (silver) and Microsoft (bronze).

Being recognized with great global employers like Microsoft and Toyota should make us very proud; almost as proud as our employees feel when they receive a custom-engraved glass tractor-trailer or curbside to recognize their tremendous contributions to Purolator.

Becoming a culture that celebrates success starts with celebrating important milestones, like service anniversaries. These celebrations demonstrate our appreciation for an employee’s commitment and contribution.

All of this said, I don’t want anyone to think of recognition as requiring a formal program. Some of the most memorable recognition experiences of my life were informal, unscripted and immediate. I encourage all of you to take part in my personal challenge for positive recognition and feedback: Take five coins (or whatever works best) and place them in one pocket at the start of the day. Every time you say something nice to someone, move one of the coins to your other pocket (If no pockets, just make a note each time). At the end of the day, how many coins were moved? You may be surprised how much concerted effort it required to give someone positive recognition just five times in a day; but you may be just as surprised at how much of a positive impact it has on those around you!

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