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Employee Recognition: Authentic and Consistent

By Sarah Wolfgang, Director of IT Talent Experience, KAR Auction Services

Sarah Wolfgang, Director of IT Talent Experience, KAR Auction Services

Employee recognition has obvious benefits, such as increased employee productivity, loyalty and retention, as well as greater employee satisfaction. But we often overlook the additional benefits of an environment where employees are recognized for their achievements — increased innovation, stronger competitive advantage and higher engagement.

At KARAuction Services, just as in life, celebrations and recognitions are important to our culture. The technology leadership team at KAR fosters an environment in which employees are motivated to contribute completely to the mission of the organization and elevates the importance of feeling empowered to do great work. KAR technology teams are focused on making sure our employees are recognized not only for their company service and hard work but also for their life milestones.

KAR IT celebrates service anniversaries to help our employees feel more connected to the company and their co-workers. These celebrations honor the employee’s commitment, career growth, company loyalty and workplace relationships.

For our technology teams, service anniversary recognition comes in a variety of ways. Every quarter we display posters that showcase upcoming employee service anniversaries. On the day of their service anniversary, KAR technology team employees are welcomed at their workspaces with a floating bouquet of KAR green balloons and a custom card. If it’s their first service anniversary, they are given a metal board with a magnet. On each subsequent service anniversary, they get a new magnet for their board. Our technology team members know that KAR green balloons signal a service anniversary. This visual display of appreciation encourages conversation and congratulation wishes. We also announce service anniversaries publicly at quarterly meetings.

The metal boards given at a first service anniversary serve as an on-going way to recognize KAR technology team employees for their continued hard work and project successes. We like to call them “brag boards” and encourage additional displays of recognition far beyond service anniversaries. Magnets are given for participation in special programs, projects and training. Star, Raising the Bar and Extra Mile are awards given for various successes at work and are touted on employees’ brag boards. These boards make it easy for leaders and co-workers to see and share employees’ successes.

"KAR IT celebrates service anniversaries to help our employees feel more connected to the company and their co-workers"

We love to celebrate our employees’ life milestones, like birthdays. On their birthday, KAR technology team employees find a birthday balloon waiting at their workstation along with some KAR swag. This year, employees received a pair of birthday-themed socks. Although socks are a small gift, our employees immediately put on their birthday socks, and this spurs more birthday wishes and conversations around the office. And when they get home, those socks start more conversation with their family — a gift that keeps on giving.

We also love to celebrate growing families. Employees who are welcoming a new child are recognized with a personalized snuggly blanket. If they are getting married, they can expect a custom wood sign as a wedding gift. And because we consider our employees part of the KAR family, if they experience the passing of a loved one, we give them hand-carved, customized windchimes as a gift of condolence.

It’s not about the gift — it’s about the personal connection. These consistent forms of recognition show our employees that they are valued and that we want to be there, in their career and in their lives. No matter how busy we are, at KAR we always make time to recognize hard work and celebrate achievements. Employees want to feel appreciated and connected to their work community. That’s why the KAR Technology Teams make recognizing our employees an authentic, focused and consistent experience.

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