Houlton, ME – Every once in a while a satisfied customer will send a note of thanks to an employee or to their supervisor for a job well done. Those unsolicited ‘job well done’ accolades eventually move up the ladder to the president’s office. At that point a company-wide announcement is made that an employee earned a ‘Golden Paperclip’. The announcement is posted on the company internal or ‘intranet’ website usually along with a picture of the employee particularly if they received something material from the appreciative customer. ‘The employees really enjoy being recognized by our customers for their good work and sometimes customers will send flowers or candy or other items of thanks beside a written note’, exclaims Chelsea Henderson, F. A. Peabody’s human resource director.
Beginning in 2016, FAPCO is taking this award to a new level. ‘We liked the idea of celebrating employee appreciation and decided to formalize the award with a traveling trophy’, Henderson explains. The trophy itself was weeks in the design and making. ‘We wanted it to be substantial so we had a local volunteer bend a large piece of gold plated rod into the shape of a paperclip and have it mounted on a heavy, specially ordered wooden base.’, says Henderson. The idea is for those random times when the employee is recognized for their good work they will earn the right to hold the trophy in their office for at least one-week before it moves on to the next award recipient. Rules have been developed which also include co-worker awards. ‘Often, I will have an employee tell me about how another employee helped them out with a work related problem making their job easier’, explains Henderson. “They will tell me ‘so and so’ deserves a GP because they helped me out!’. It is great that not only customers show their appreciation but also co-workers recognize when someone went the extra mile. ‘This all helps build a sense of teamwork’, explained Ms. Henderson.
One logistics problem they may face is moving the trophy to the award recipients and then moving it along to the next award winner in a timely manner. ‘It will be a good problem to have if the trophy is required to move around a lot but we want to make sure it happens timely’. While FAPCO has employees that travel to various offices throughout the month, the operation is spread among eight offices throughout eastern and Northern Maine and being diligent about getting it around may be a problem.
According to Ms. Henderson, in 2015 FAPCO awarded 16 customer Golden Paperclip Awards. ‘We would be thrilled if we received as many GP’s in 2016 as we did in 2015 and we hope to have 12 co-worker Golden Paperclip Awards to add to the list’ exclaims Henderson. The customer awards are automatically awarded to the employee, office or group who received an accolade from a client. Employees nominated by their co-workers to receive the award will be reviewed monthly by management and one per month will be selected to receive the award. ‘In the end, we want to see our employees celebrated for their hard work, dedication and excellent customer service’.
Chelsea Henderson holding the newly minted “Golden Paperclip” trophy