s I walked into the STN offices one day last month, I witnessed something amazing. Our circulation manager’s desk was covered in balloons, colorful decorations and signage

that exclaimed, “Happy Birthday!” How awesome must it have felt for her to be recog-

nized by her peers on this special day, you ask? In fact, she was beaming with gratitude and verbalized how proud she is to be a part of the team at STN Media Group. She shared the moment on social media with friends and family, making her day even more special. Te impact of employee recognition on the people and culture of an organization is immeasurable. It is vital for any business or transportation department to embrace. It could be as simple as celebrating a staff member’s birthday, work anniversary or bestowing acco- lades on them for an exceptional job. Do you experience and foster recognition within your team? What’s your organization culture look like? Building a high-performing culture isn’t easy. Frankly

it’s hard. Really hard. Despite the amount of work needed to achieve the right culture, influencing and maintaining it is a necessary and ongoing exercise toward retaining engaged and productive team members, espe- cially in the ultra-competitive work environment we now find ourselves in, says Don Harkey, president and owner of People Centric Consulting Group. But he also points out that culture doesn’t have to be “soft,” i.e., potluck dinners and ping pong tables. You can have a high-per- formance culture that demands results. According to the Harvard Business Review, higher cus- tomer satisfaction is linked to stronger workplace cultures. Studies of both the airline and grocery industries indicate that companies with better employee motivation strategies and techniques—those involving motivated play, purpose and potential—produced better customer outcomes while also removing the emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia that can negatively impact culture. Managers should want to promote employees who excel

at work and motivate them to be “all in” for the company. At the same time, managers should also be driving for- ward a strong and engaged culture. Managers and leaders can be good or bad at both. Great leaders, however, use

66 School Transportation News • MAY 2018 three methods to identify employee strengths:

1. Understand how your employees learn 2. Observe your employees in the workplace 3. Ask questions of your employees (coaching vs. telling)

Employers should recognize positive actions, behav- iors, approaches and accomplishments by peers. By fostering this sort of behavior within your organization, high performers push themselves harder while also push- ing others to succeed around them. Do your leaders or managers promote employee recognition opportunities? Driving employee engagement is important for an orga- nization, according to BambooHR, a company specializ- ing in human resources software as a service. Companies that have highly engaged workforces vastly outperform those that do not. Still, why are only 32 percent of U.S. employees engaged, 51 percent not engaged and 17 percent toxic? What prevents us from engaging employees, and are there practical solutions to improve engagement? According to Gallup, highly engaged employees

are safer and more valuable, with 41 percent fewer workplace accidents and 41 percent lower heath care costs. Additionally, 38 percent of employees that are highly engaged are more likely to have increased productivity. Creating goals and action plans for employee engagement is a must. One school district official I spoke with about this topic presents a thank you note to school bus drivers with perfect attendance records, and they receive a monetary bonus, too. I challenge you to take the initiative to recognize

others you work with by sending a nice email, note, card or even creatively decorating their desk to celebrate a birthday or special milestone. Make sure to instill play, purpose and potential with your team. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and engaged! 

Tony Corpin, Publisher

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