FedEx delivers on employee recognition in a BIG way!

It can be said that recognition means most coming from the people who are impacted by the behavior, but more often than not, administering and maintaining a recognition program falls on the shoulders of HR and management.  Many times it’s because the perception is that it’s too big of an initiative for people to manage on top of their daily duties – surely someone like HR needs to own and run it.  Not for the logistics giant FedEx.

FedEx is a company that is doing employee recognition right.  Here are just a few of things they pride themselves on when it comes to making FedEx a great place to work:

  • Fortune “100 Best Places to Work” for 10 out of the past 11 years.
  • Consistently ranked in Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” since 2002.
  • More than half of all management has risen through the ranks at FedEx.
  • Tuition reimbursement for full-time employees and benefits for part-time employees.
  • Recognition programs that touch every aspect of the company including humanitarian efforts, safety and compliance, customer service, profitability, and delivering exceptional service in line with FedEx’s customer promise.

One of FedEx’s biggest recruiting tools is its culture of appreciation and the value the company places on each individual employee.  How does a company of that size make every employee feel their contributions are noticed?  It’s simple. HR doesn’t do the recognizing.  Instead, HR is tasked with constantly improving programs through surveys and intensive data analysis, training managers on how to spot positive behaviors, and ensuring that company-wide recognition programs continue to align with business initiatives.  And if HR realizes something doesn’t work, they take immediate action to fix it.  But, they leave recognition in the hands of the people who are most affected by the actions of others: their employees.

At FedEx, HR plays a supporting and facilitating role, but the managers and front-line associates are the key players in creating and executing a culture of recognition.  The company has been very intentional about making sure recognition programs aren’t a check box that HR oversees, but instead, something that is ingrained in the culture through management’s ability to set the example and execute day-to-day.  HR is merely the vessel by which the programs are delivered, ensuring managers are trained and evaluated on their ability to recognize others and that employees on the front lines are empowered to make critical recognition decisions.

FedEx knows that if recognition isn’t supported and encouraged at the management level, the chances of a successful company-wide adoption grow slim. But they also know peer-to-peer recognition programs have the greatest impact, and thus, the best results.

Here are a few simple tips to help recreate the magic of FedEx in any company:

  • As you build out your own recognition program, survey employees to identify where efforts should be targeted. No need to recreate programs that are already successful and well-received.
  • Equip managers to spot and recognize positive behaviors that impact the business. This may seem like second nature to many, but they don’t teach this stuff in business school! Knowing how to recognize and effectively reward behaviors is more of an art than a science, so ensure your team is properly equipped.
  • Measure expectations, and if something isn’t getting results, change it.  This can be done by monitoring employee engagement surveys, retention numbers, and increases in key metrics.
  • Don’t expect your HR department to have eyes and ears for the whole company.  Empower managers and employees to participate in recognition.  Praise is far more sincere coming from someone in real-time and who was directly impacted by the positive behavior.