How to Foster Passion on the Job

Q: What’s a good way to acknowledge the individual interests of my employees while continuing to move us forward on our collective goals as an organization?

A: I Love Rewards is a web-based business centered on increasing employee motivation and driving performance, "thus resulting in a win-win situation for employers and employees."

At I Love Rewards, the 24 employees are able to spend 20 percent of their time at work per week working with a “Vision Committee” team on various “passion projects,” which are initiatives outside their normal job scope. Each person can choose a passion project that interests them individually and teams are made up of people from different departments. Team members work with their peers to achieve collective goals within each passion project area. Examples of projects include Corporate Social Responsibility and Search Engine Domination (i.e., search engine marketing).

This passion is channeled into other avenues for participation. Every quarter I Love Rewards holds "Brutal Facts" -- an open-forum session where employees and the senior leadership team discuss and debate issues and red flags from the previous quarter. It is voluntary, open to all employees, and provides an opportunity to shed light on items of concern to employees. Two days before each session, employees are asked to submit their Brutal Facts. The day of, Brutal Facts are read aloud and voted on to decide which ones will be talked about. During the discussion, staff members create action plans for necessary follow up. Brutal Fact sessions are facilitated by a senior leader and take approximately an hour and a half.

Every employee is also part of the I Love Rewards employee rewards program called "Pointaholics." This program promotes recognition in the workplace by allowing all employees to award and be awarded points for doing great work by their peers and managers. These points can then be redeemed for brand name products or experiences of their choice. This program allows recognition to occur at all levels - bottom-up, top-down and peer-to-peer.

"I Love Rewards practices democracy in the workplace because it not only helps us build our culture but also our business," says CEO Razor Suleman. "When our employees feel their contributions and voices are valued they become aligned and engaged. A democratic workplace is integral to growing our people, who in turn, are integral to growing our company."

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