Yvette Flynn was bringing binoculars, a travel mug and dozens of other items, but she wasn’t going bird-watching. She was actually going to give all 30 of the goodies away to deserving employees. "I love this program because people leave so happy."
Yvette is in charge of rewards as the director of the administrative services division at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNS & IMF). One of her duties is the Ho’olaulima (working together) Program. This is one of the three major award and recognition programs she administers for their 4676 employees, 4013 civilian and 663 military. "It’s quick and easy and doesn’t have to go through any elaborate approval process. Anyone can nominate any other shipyard person," she added.
The Ho'olaulima awards create a streamlined process to give people credit for going the extra mile. What’s important here is that the achievements don’t have to be huge or awe-inspiring. "Nominate someone for exceeding normal job expectations, have a supervisor sign off, and they come up and pick something out!" said Yvette. User-friendly nomination forms are available on line and over 900 awards have been given since the program started in December, 2002. They’re averaging about 100 per month, the high month so far was April at 255, and those recognized can choose from a variety of items, ranging in cost from $15 to $20 at a "recognition store" in the division. The current selection of merchandise includes a duffel bag, CD carrying cases, cordless screwdriver, mini-light and toolkit, padded planner, Hawaiian-print organizer, chair-style cooler, stainless steel thermos, golf umbrella and sleeve of balls and other items. Ho’olaulima stimulates everyday activities that shape people in the right direction because what gets recognized gets repeated. "People are seeing it works," she noted.
There is a great deal of positive morale created in recognizing and publicizing 100 good things that have been done by fellow workers. Do the math and you see that a hundred awards a month means over a thousand positive behaviors per year. And that’s just the start. When the "can-do attitude" is recognized regularly and consistently, it begins to be part of the organizational culture. What about the temptation to have your pal just nominate you because you want a new CD carrying case? Yvette says it’s not being abused. "A few people have been nominated more than once, and they are usually quite deserving." She mentioned examples of both support people as well as direct production people on the ships as having received more than one award.
Along with the Ho’olaulima program, PHNS & IMF have two other award and recognition programs that acknowledge more significant contributions. The next level is the Mahalo Award and it earns the civilian workers an opportunity for bonuses of from $25 to $100 added to their paycheck. These are not issued on the spot and nominations go to a committee to be voted upon. There are 6 members of the voting committee, and it is comprised of members from both management and the union. Recent Mahalo Award winners included a group of employees who helped "bring in a new apprentice class," said Yvette. She added, "A new employee orientation is more than just what to do and when to do it. They have to cover all the administrivia -- everything from parking decals to the proper ID. So if you can bring over 100 new employees into the system smoothly, you’ve done something right," and that earned the orientation team a set of Mahalo Awards.
Their highest award is the Special Act or Service Award and it is recognized by bonus money of over $100 using a process similar to the Mahalo Award. An example of a Special Act or Service Award would be a recent $400 award to an employee who created and implemented the "Monthly Injury and Illness Metric" program. This program directly impacts the safety and wellness of their workforce. Captain John Edwards is the Shipyard Commander and when he suggested the programs last year, along with noting major contributions, he also wanted a way to provide immediate recognition for events that usually went unrecognized. This three-tiered structure forms a comprehensive approach to recognition, one of the things you can do to develop Employee Involvement, an important ingredient in a healthy workplace.