Kimberly Abel – How Do Your Employees Know You Care?


Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed  Kimberly Abel.

About the interviewee

A world leader in in designing and managing employee motivation and customer loyalty programs for major corporations.  Kimberly Abel is responsible for developing and communicating the company’s thought leadership and point of view on workforce performance and employee recognition solutions. Her clients have repeatedly won national awards for their solutions including strategy, communications, training, certification programs, events and measurement methodologies. She can be reached at

Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).  

Maritz Motivation Solutions is headquartered in Fenton, Missouri. We currently employ about 500 people who believe that understanding people is at the heart of success in today’s workplace. We empower organizations in many industries, including automotive, financial, hospitality and technology, by designing solutions that are more engaging, motivating and inspiring for the people they depend on. In 2013, we touched the lives of over 100 million people. In addition to Employee Solutions, we provide innovative solutions in:

•Sales Incentives
•Channel Loyalty
•Consumer Loyalty
•Rewards Programs

Tell us how you show your employees that you care?

At Maritz Motivation Solutions, we practice what we preach. Our relentless focus on people extends beyond our clients. Our environment is built on teamwork, creativity and personal growth – we view employees as people first.

Each of our leaders participates in CRP (Certified Recognition Professional) training, and every employee learns how to use the Maritz Recognition Model in their everyday lives. We know that recognition is an interpersonal, meaning-making communication between two people. The recipe for our Recognition Model consists of three ingredients:

• B: State the specific behavior or performance
• E: State the Effect, i.e., the impact and importance of the behavior
• T: Say “Thank You” in earnest

The Model provides a powerful blueprint for creating high-impact recognition experiences for our employees. This model is evident in every type of recognition program we utilize in our organization – from annual awards to simple notes of thanks to wellness program rewards and beyond.

What mistake do most businesses when it comes to cultivating a strong relationship with your employees?

Some organizations default to using only cash rewards. Research shows that this approach ignores the emotional connection participants have with the reward, their goals and the company itself. Cash does not provide the experience that non-monetary rewards offer. Once basic needs are covered, cash quickly loses its salience as a reward when it’s absorbed into a checking account.

Social acceptance, connection and enhanced self-image are powerful motivators. Recognition programs that produce the feeling of increased status convey the value of the contribution to the receiver, the recognizer and the organization. Overall, every program should have:

Head-turning attention strategy
Actionable goal-commitment strategy
Effective feedback strategy that conveys progress and maintains engagement
Compelling rewards strategy that adds meaning and social value while offering choice to the recipients.

When this strategy is coupled with tangible rewards such as travel, experiences, merchandise or gift cards, the recognition is more meaningful, memorable and motivating.

Why is it important for any firm to make employees feel valued?

We know, through our research and that of the Maritz Institute, that engaging and retaining employees is more important than ever. Furthermore, there is consistently a direct correlation between recognition and engagement. People also want to feel appreciated, valued and respected for the contributions they make. And they want their contributions to be tied to a higher purpose.

Employees want to be recognized, thanked and rewarded in ways that are personally meaningful to them. A recent Maritz Research Poll shows that when employees are consistently recognized in ways that are meaningful to them, they are significantly more likely to align their work activities with organizational priorities. In other words, you can improve employee engagement when your people feel effectively recognized.