Engagement Marketing

Internal Marketing Fundamentals – Gaining Employee Commitment (Part 2 of 3)

This post continues the series on the 3Rs of gaining employee commitment as the foundation of internal marketing:

  • Respect – give people the tools to do their jobs [see the last post]
  • Recognition – catch them doing something right
  • Reinforcement – continually support a customer-focused culture.

2nd R: Recognition

Catch people doing something right  — like going the extra mile for customers & other employees (aka “internal customers”) — so they can continue doing the right stuff.

Recognition is a critical means of making people feel valued.

Unfortunately, it’s not always applied that way.  Positive reinforcement in the workplace is usually a lack of negative reinforcement — meaning you’re more likely to get a slap-on-the-wrist for doing something wrong than a pat-on-the-back for a job well done.  We’re downright stingy when it comes to praise.

A Gallup poll found 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace.  So is it any wonder that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated?

It won’t break the bank

Recognition need not cost much; a simple, sincere acknowledgment can go a long way.  Motivational guru Bob Nelson suggests the things that are motivating to employees tend to be relatively easy & inexpensive: personal recognition (“atta boy!”), a written thank you, or public praise.

Make it fun

If you have a little bit of money, you can send flowers, balloons or special gift to deserving employees.  Spring for pizza or send a goody basket filled with food, and you’re like to start a feeding frenzy!  (Face it: food can be the ultimate motivator in an office setting.)

The Lesson of the Golden Pineapple

One of my favorite examples of the power of recognition comes from Bob Wood, EVP, Sodexho, when he was Chairman of Wood Dining Services.  Bob spent nearly 70% of his time in the field visiting clients & staff.  And when he saw an employee doing something right, he would hand them a small, gold pineapple pin that he carried in his pocket.  (Pineapple is the international symbol for hospitality and was part of the Wood Company’s logo at the time.)

In an interview I did with Bob several years ago, he told me he never ceased to be amazed at employee reaction when he gave out the pineapple pins.

“I think these pins cost 47 cents … but these people think you gave them a pile of gold.  Everyone wants to be part of something … everyone wants to feel that they are valued, that they made a difference.  To the degree we can celebrate our people, that’s our greatest tool.”


How are employees recognized in your organization?  I’d love to hear your experience on what works or what doesn’t regarding employee recognition.

Coming up next, the last in this series — the 3rd R: Reinforcement.

2 replies on “Internal Marketing Fundamentals – Gaining Employee Commitment (Part 2 of 3)”

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