TharpeRobbins: Optimas Gold Winner for Benefits

For transforming the way employees are rewarded and recognized, TharpeRobbins is the 2013 Optimas Award winner for Benefits.

December 9, 2013

Optimas 2013

The saying about the cobbler’s children not having shoes could apply to many enterprises, like the interior decorator whose own house needs a makeover or the accountant whose taxes are always late.

But The TharpeRobbins Co. did not want to be the employee rewards and recognition experts whose own employees did not feel rewarded or recognized.

So the Statesville, North Carolina-based firm revamped its employee recognition program to meet the needs of its changing workforce where immediate feedback is crucial, especially among younger employees, said Melissa Meunier, a marketing communications specialist at TharpeRobbins.

“We had programs like employee of the month, length of service recognition, things like that, but those became stale,” she said. “We looked at who is in our workforce and what motivates Gen X and Gen Y employees. The older generations like tangible awards, like a watch, but that’s not what motivates Gen X and Gen Y. For them it’s being recognized in the moment.”ThorpeRobbins

Given that TharpeRobbins is known for developing employee recognition programs, the company wanted a showcase program to woo potential clients. “We wanted to practice what we preach,” she said.

The HR staff surveyed employees and found that they did not have the tools to provide immediate feedback and a way to help employees adopt behaviors that support its four core values of passion, innovation, courage and partnership. In 2012 the company launched The Power of You, a Web-based initiative that allows employees to nominate colleagues for recognition who then receive “reward points” that can be redeemed for items in a catalog.

“Generations X and Y are more computer-savvy, so we have a website where they can send an e-card thanking or recognizing colleagues,” Meunier said. “They get a certificate with one of our core values on it that they can print out and post at their desks. Post and boast. That’s what appeals to them.”

The company also updated its employee of the month and employee of the year programs allowing high performers to be recognized at any time. Winners receive a personalized statuette and 2,400 or 12,000 points.

Company officials say that 92 percent of the company’s 340 employees participated in the program in the first three months, and 97 percent reported they were “strongly or partially engaged.”Only 2 percent said they were disengaged.

For transforming the way employees are rewarded and recognized, TharpeRobbins is the winner of the gold Optimas Award for Benefits.

Rita Pyrillis is a Workforce senior editor. Comment below or email Follow Pyrillis on Twitter at @RitaPyrillis.