A little recognition can go a long way in the workplace

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Duane Salonen opens the bottom drawer of his desk to reveal his stash — stickers.

“If I don’t bring stickers to a meeting, they get mad now. They say, ‘where are the stickers?’ One day I was out of them, so now they keep me stocked up. Stephanie, Jody, and Jessica brought me this whole supply and now I’ll always have some.”

You’re probably wondering why grown adults at an accounting firm care about stickers.

“It’s all about receiving a little recognition. Over the years, I’ve learned that recognition can be one of the biggest motivators for people. They really respond well to it.”

Every Wednesday, Verdant holds a company-wide meeting. Stickers are given to team members for recognition. We share good news, gratitudes, and announcements and receive stickers for good deeds.

“About two years ago, I suggested we do disruption meetings during tax season,” said Duane. “To disrupt the monotony and stress of the season. We started by scheduling a few and now we meet with the entire company every week.”

It all started at the Dale Carnegie training sessions many years ago. One of the trainers said that she was handing out stickers and Duane thought ‘that’s ridiculous, we are adults.’ She pushed him to try it and he did, reluctantly.

“My next class, I had this batch of stickers and I said to them, ‘By the way, these are very valuable.’ That’s what triggered it all. I placed high value behind these stickers and it’s something everyone got behind.”

The stickers became so important to everyone in the meetings. At one point, a sticker dropped to the floor and three adult men dove for it.

“It just becomes contagious,” said Tom Gundenrath. “At first I thought it was the stupidest thing, and then you just want one. No one wanted to be there, they dreaded it, they were nervous, but the stickers fired everyone up.”

Now, team members don’t allow Duane to not give out stickers. They will even remind him to hand one out when it’s deserved.

“I think that’s made this company what it is. It fits into the culture. How many companies have a meeting like this every week? People come to visit and they always say ‘I’d like to work here. I like their spirit.'”

And you’re supposed to wear the sticker all day. To meetings, to networking, to events. It’s a great honor to receive a sticker.

“Just about every Wednesday someone will comment on my sticker,” said Jessica Thompson. “They always ask ‘what’s with the sticker’ or joke ‘you know you’re a mom when you’re walking around with an animal sticker on your shirt’ and I tell them ‘Actually, it’s from my team meeting. We hand out stickers as our version of the Gold Star to acknowledge each other for our accomplishments and teamwork.'”

“I’ve never seen one not respond to a chance to have fun, get involved and bring up the spirit level a little bit.”

It’s all about company culture and a little recognition.

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