Editor's Desk - November/December 2008

Year Out, Year In

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

—Columnist Bill Vaughan

So which are you? Are you optimistically looking forward to 2009? Are you pessimistically awaiting 2008's departure? Perhaps both?

Here's some good news to celebrate as the holiday season approaches. According to a recent survey from Chicago-based global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, despite the shaky economy, a slight majority of U.S. companies are keeping their company perks. We hope that you're among them.


According to the company's blog, which can be found at http://challengeratworkblog.blogspot.com/, "Companies that eliminate year-end bonuses and perks or cut them to the bone will probably discover that employee loyalty and productivity are greatly diminished. Employers may not see the impact during the downturn, when it is more difficult for unhappy workers to leave for greener pastures, but they will feel it when the economy improves."

Nearly 60 percent of the companies surveyed have maintained existing perks, while another 10 percent are considering cuts, but have taken no action to make those cuts. Only 20 percent of companies said they have cut or eliminated perks.

Year-end bonuses, rewards and other forms of recognition are common—almost expected—practice in many businesses. If you've seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you might remember Clark exploding when the expected bonus turns into a jelly-of-the-month gift. (Who knew that a movie could so succinctly demonstrate how cash rewards are perceived as expected compensation?)

During the holidays, in our personal lives, we get nostalgic and celebrate newly minted and long-cemented relationships, and business often follows suit, celebrating the hard work and contributions of employees, partners and customers throughout the year.

But it's also a time when we look ahead to the coming year—hopefully with a positive expectation of good things to come. We make resolutions and plan to do even better than the year before.

For us here at PIP, that means we take a look back over our first year, and recognize how far we've come. We also have taken the time to make big plans for 2009—plans for expanded content, with more case studies to highlight the examples others are setting and that you can follow, and with more columns and features offering expert advice as you plan your own rewards and recognition.

And speaking of rewards and recognitionů

Surely at this time of year, you celebrate the accomplishments of your hardest workers, your top contributors, your most loyal customers and the partners who make your business a success. But do you only do it once a year, or do you have an ongoing plan of rewards and recognition in place?

Once-a-year recognition is OK, but after a while, it becomes an expectation, not an exception. Imagine their surprise when you take the time to send a personalized note with a small gift to thank an employee for putting in the extra time and effort to land that new client or say thank you to the loyal customer who keeps coming back for more, even as budgets tighten.

Your efforts need not be extreme, but experts know that if you keep on rewarding all year long, it will have an impact on employee performance and customer loyalty—and that means you can meet those higher goals you've set for 2009.

So be an optimist, not a pessimist, and make big plans for 2009! Sometimes it pays to be bold.


Emily Tipping, Editorial Director
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