"Shining star" employees -- or associates as we call our employees here at Lenbrook -- stand out by their nature and tend to receive frequent recognition. But what about associates who work behind the scenes, or in less visible positions and provide invaluable momentum to the team and the organization as a whole? That's the delicate but critical balance we've aimed to achieve with our new associate recognition program.
It takes the efforts of every individual to make a successful team and hence a successful organization. This is especially true at Lenbrook.
The importance of teamwork was made even more clear when we launched our new associate recognition program – RITE Rewards. During the initial week-long training -- which was needed to introduce the program to our more than 270 associates -- we hadn't even finished the training before one of our most beloved dining servers wrote up a nomination for a back-of-house cook, who was probably never recognized by a resident.
The RITE Rewards program was initiated to align our associates and our residents on two of our most important initiatives: 1) associate engagement and retention, and 2) resident satisfaction and hospitality. Both are more than worthy of our investment of time, talents and resources if we want to realize our vision to be the most desirable senior living community in the Southeast.
Recognizing Our Values
Receiving a RITE Reward is an acknowledgment and positive reinforcement for the behaviors valued most by those in the community – through the demonstration of our values and service standards. Said another way, when we behave in a way that demonstrates our values and service standards, we create extraordinary experiences for residents, associates, guests. Our values, known as “RITE,” are:
Our service standards are known as the Lenbrook Way. The Lenbrook Way has been defined as associates who demonstrate competence, caring and responsiveness, in a beautiful community with appealing amenities.
The Harvard Business Review published a study indicating that highly effective teams need six pieces of positive feedback to one piece of “constructive” feedback. When associates earn RITE Rewards, we see it as a one-two punch! Here’s why…earning a RITE Reward impacts associate satisfaction and engagement because the recognition tells the associate he is valued for his contribution, which is inspiring and motivating! But it doesn’t just stop there because with positive reinforcement of these behaviors, we encourage more of it, which impacts resident satisfaction.
That's why with our program, associates can nominate/recognize their coworkers; residents can recognize associates; and management can recognize any associate, not just those who report directly to them. This way we encourage everyone to be on the look-out for the "RITE Stuff" and keep the momentum going. It’s so much fun to see associates rewarding their colleagues when everyone’s job is made easier because of teamwork. It truly is a momentum maker and a relationship builder. At the end of the day, this is what nurtures our community, strengthens our values and reinforces our culture of service to one another.
Since its inception, over 1700 nominations have been awarded. We’ve also awarded our first and second associate of the quarter and delighted the winners and the top runners-up to a special, intimate lunch with our CEO so he could give a heartfelt thank you to those who earned this distinction. After the lunch, I overheard an associate who was recounting his luncheon experience with a co-worker and he was so impressed the CEO came to have such an informal and intimate lunch. He said “the program must really be a big deal if the CEO is coming to spend time with us and get to know us because of how many nominations we earned!”
Those who earned five nominations or more, earned a special RITE Rewards pin and over 40 associates earned this pin within the first four months.
A resident was commenting about an associates reaction when asked about the pin and he said the associate “lit up like a light bulb” when asked about it and exuded a tremendous sense of pride for the commendation.
This is exactly the type of momentum we hoped and expected to see with the program and its impact to our culture. This investment is more than a good investment in Lenbrook’s future; we see it as one that is starting to create compounding returns. And that translates into more positive experiences for us all.