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Warner-Lambert Sends a Global Thank-you to Employees Worldwide

March 1, 1998
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On Jan. 27, each of Warner-Lambert’s 44,840 employees worldwide received a Seiko™ watch as a symbol of appreciation for their hard work and achievement over the past six years. The day marked perhaps the largest-ever employee-recognition effort on a single day.

"This program was designed to reward and thank all our colleagues around the world for their part in making [the company] a textbook story of success," says Sandra Levine, vice president of corporate and financial communications for Warner-Lambert based in Morris Plains, New Jersey, which makes such products as Listerine™ and Sudafed™.

With the advent of Warner-Lambert’s new management team six years ago, which includes Melvin R. Goodes, chairman and CEO, the firm has instituted new values, new products and a new culture. This new team has helped the giant pharmaceutical and health-care organization reach record financial results. It announced its 1997 fourth quarter financial results (basic earnings per share increased 38 percent on a 26 percent sales gain) the same day as the global employee thank you. "It has been a banner year, but I think [it] has been a banner process over the past six years to get us to where we are today," says Levine.

The recognition effort also was designed to help further unite all the firm’s colleagues in 140 locations globally under one cultural umbrella. The gift was part of the company’s ongoing efforts to recognize workers’ efforts for both tenure and performance.

The idea of what kind of gift to give was tested first with a cross-cultural team to make sure it would be appropriate and well-received by all employees. The slogan "We’re making the world feel better" was inscribed on the back of each watch in the employee’s native language.

"It’s a wonderful thing to see a company bring boardroom values to the workroom floor and sincerely express gratitude to the employees who work so hard every day," says Kent Murdock, president and CEO of O.C. Tanner Recognition Co. in Salt Lake City which helped Warner-Lambert’s human resources managers put the program together.

"Every time [one of these employees] looks at his or her watch, he or she will probably think of this incredible milestone that the organization reached together," comments Bob Nelson, president and founder of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego and author of "1001 Ways to Energize Employees" (Workman Publishing 1997). "It’s nice. It’s thoughtful. For most people, it will probably tie into the pride they have for the company."

However, Nelson cautions companies to make sure the gifts they give don’t send mixed messages. You can’t give people gifts and not meet other fundamental employee needs, such as adequate tools to do their jobs. "People won’t appreciate a token gift if their basic employment needs aren’t being met," says Nelson. Clearly, every company’s reward and recognition effort should be well thought out to ensure the biggest bang for the buck.

Workforce, March 1998, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 13-14.

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