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My last post shared about workplace flexibility as a creative way to reward employees.  For those HR professionals heading to the SHRM national conference next week, you may get the opportunity to hear about another creative, inexpensive way to recognize employees from David Novak, the CEO of Yum! Brands Inc.   In this month’s HR Magazine, Novak answers questions about his leadership philosophy.  Which can be boiled down to 2 main points: trust your employees and celebrate their achievements.

Novak presented at the Indiana state SHRM conference last year and I had the opportunity to hear about his employee recognition methods which center around a rather unorthodox item: rubber chickens.  At Yum! Brands, key performers receive a rubber chicken and $100, and a manager who “walks the talk” for good leadership receives an oversized pair of walking teeth.

I love the irreverent, unconventional nature in which Novak appreciates employee accomplishments.  It’s a part of the culture that employees have really bought into – Novak shared stories of employees who cried when they received their chicken, or those who have it on their mantel at home.

Novak’s approach to recognition can be a lesson for all of us – that celebrating an employees’ achievement doesn’t have to be difficult, formal, or expensive.  Employees want to know that what they’re doing matters and that someone sees their hard work.

I bet that even if Novak no longer handed out $100, and only presented employees with a weird, unappealing rubber chicken that it would have the same effect of motivating, exciting, and driving his team to do more and more.

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Director of Client Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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