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Share-worthy recognition that motivates with Elizabeth Sutherland

October 17, 20226 min read

It’s common knowledge that employees want to be recognized for a job well done.   Even managers will admit they’d rather work for an organization that recognizes a job well done, and yet, they often overlook this important motivational tool for their own team.  At the core of being human is the need to be acknowledged and to feel like we belong.  And nothing lets us know we belong, like being recognized for who we are and what we’ve contributed. 

One of the roadblocks to recognition is often this misconception that people will only be satisfied with monetary recognition.  Money is important, yes, but what really motivates people is being thoughtfully acknowledged.  Something personal for a job well done is the type of reward that makes people work harder.  

This is the latest installment on my series around the challenges and successes agencies face building relationships with three main groups they need to cultivate in order to win—leads, existing clients and other supporting business relationships. In case you missed the first two posts, check them out here and here.

We asked Elizabeth Sutherland, partner at Sutherland Weston Marketing, to tell us more about their relationship building efforts and what stood out was bonding with employees and beyond.




Recognition makes fans out of employees

Stir Up Some Feeling

Emotional loyalty isn’t just about the people who buy from you.  What difference would it make to have your team be some of your biggest fans?  What if they loved working with you so much that they naturally attracted opportunities for the company because of how much they shared their work?

Elizabeth shared a fun way that they're keeping their employees engaged and motivated at Sutherland. Along with some wonderful benefits and team building that the company offers, they also have employee awards.  These “funky little awards'' are one of her favorite things. Team members receive recognition for their 1st year anniversary, 5th year and then the 10th year.  They are presented during staff meetings and the team has really come to look forward to it. 

Reasons recognition is lasting

Why is that simple gesture so impactful for the team and the company?

  1. Recognition.  Bottom line, you’ve acknowledged the time someone put in.   And you appreciated it. It’s personal to their achievement.

  2. Public recognition.  Even better, you probably said a lot of nice things while you were presenting the award, in front of their peers.   Other people probably also said nice things afterward.  The engagement created is priceless.

  3. Anticipation. The team looks forward to who they can celebrate next.  The recipients probably look forward to their next achievement as well.  It’s motivating.

  4. A lasting story. The award is something physical that probably sits on the desk or wall.   This makes it easy for the recipient to tell stories and share.  They might post about it online, sharing their accomplishment.  If they have clients or other visitors to their desk, the person may ask about it.   Zoom calls might also show it off.  People like to tell stories – especially when it’s related to their good work!

Ideas for creating your own share-worthy recognition

Below are some creative ways to implement your own lasting awards:

  • The award is humorous. Is there an inside joke that could be used to create the award?  Does someone in leadership have a catchphrase that could be used for the name of the award?

  • The award recipient is determined by the previous recipient.  As the winner, the person must identify the next.  Encourage peer celebration.

  • The award should be built upon.  Every recipient must add to it.  Perhaps there is a time off trophy – You come back from vacation to this “award”.  As the recipient, you must add to it and pass it to the next vacationer.   Makes it fun to come back to work!

  • Name the award after someone for a special accomplishment.  Only people who also accomplish this thing will receive the award.

When you’ve done this right, you’re also making it easy for people to share the story because they're proud of the work they’ve done and the fact that you’ve acknowledged it. 

In the end, no matter how you implement a team recognition program, consistency creates a magnetic culture that attracts talent and opportunities. 

Bonus Points - Recognize The People Who Support Your Employees

Extended Team Building

One of the other tactics of employee recognition and celebration that Sutherland Weston Marketing does well is their team celebration events.   Every year, the partners take turns hosting a BBQ at their own homes.  These events include not only the staff, but their significant others and children.  Everyone is invited to the “Family BBQ”.   It’s become such an important part of their culture that “everyone’s family is always looking forward to it.  They look forward to this sort of deep breath to enjoy one another and catch up on how big the kids are and that sort of thing,” says Elizabeth.

Along with the summer get together, a Holiday party has also been an on-going success.  Santa even joins and gives all the kids presents! 

The Power Behind Including the Family

Your team is just one component of the ecosystem of your business relationships.  Their family is another.  They support your team in life and that has a direct impact on how your employees show up, including at work.  Having a family that supports their career is important.  It’s what enables them to show up and work hard without guilt and stress. 

When Elizabeth’s Leadership team creates an environment where the family is excited to participate, they have successfully created a magnetic culture.   The extended family wants to be around this happy place.  They want to be around the people who make their parents or spouse feel valued.  As a result, an entirely share-worthy place to work has been created. 

Think about how many memories are made at the event.  The lawn games, the barbeque catering, the swimming, the holiday presents – SANTA!   Think about the picture-worthy moments being shared and the word of mouth that takes place when the social circle recognizes that “Oh, they must be at the Sutherland BBQ” again.  Priceless.

Ideas for Recognizing the Extended Support System

Here are a few additional ideas for ways to include your team’s family in the recognition:

  • An annual Halloween Event.   Create a pumpkin carving station for the kids and some trick or treating goodies!

  • If you send annual team appreciation gifts, send a surprise round specific to the family. Thank them directly for being such a great supporter.

  • Host a volunteer event that creates gift or meal packages around the holiday time. 

  • Treat each team member to a family portrait, caricature, or painting from a local artist to capture a good memory.  This is an item that will be displayed for years to come and be connected to your company.

  • Some companies host retreats for milestones achieved.  Include the extended families, when possible, for an additional layer of memorability.

No matter which level of investment feels right, simply thinking of the extended family makes a long-term impact on them.  For your company, you’re creating share-worthy recognition at not only the employee level, but their surprised and delighted family.

Relationships are the cornerstone of what we do at The Expressory. Let's get to know each other and find out if The Expressory can help you grow your brand through personalized experiences. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session or click here to download our free guide for Creating Emotional Loyalty by Design. Let us show you how to design a unique experience that sets you apart.



share-worthy recognition

Jamie Shibley

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