by Tonda Ferguson, CRP | October 28, 2013
Tonda Ferguson_Ask_the_Experts
Tonda Ferguson, CRP

Every week, we feature a piece of expert advice from a certified recognition professional (CRP) from Recognition Professionals International, an industry association dedicated solely to understanding, improving, and advancing employee recognition & rewards in the workplace. Send your questions to [email protected] or reach out via Twitter @RPITweets

Q: Since we already have monthly employee appreciation events, do we need to include this at our upcoming holiday party?

A: At Southwest Airlines, our various departments have several employee appreciations throughout the year, as well as their own recognition programs such as employee of the month/quarter. We think it’s important for our departments to tailor those appreciation and recognition moments for their particular workgroups. Our departments also plan their own holiday parties since our company is spread out across the country. However, we do have several enterprise celebrations and recognition events throughout the year. Rather than the official “holiday” party, all employees are invited to a “Spirit Party,” usually held in the month of September and in a different city every year. Employees really appreciate the fact that this party isn’t held during the busy holiday season. Also, some of our departments wait until January or February to have the official “holiday” party because it’s less stressful, and you’re able to book a venue at a better rate.

About Our Expert: Tonda Ferguson, CRP, serves on the Board of Directors for Recognition Professionals International and is the senior director of employee engagement and travel at Southwest Airlines, a company known for putting its employees first. Ferguson began her Southwest career 30 years ago and launched the airline’s Employee Communications Department. She is an original member of Southwest’s Culture Committee, which Southwest Airlines President Emeritus Colleen Barrett began in 1991 to ensure that the airline’s corporate culture was enhanced, enriched, and nurtured. Southwest’s corporate culture has been studied by companies all over the world: In 1991, a business book titled NUTS! was written about it. Ferguson also serves on Southwest’s “Best Place to Work” committee and was part of the team that was named the Top Communications Department in the nation by PRWeek. She’s also an IABC Gold Quill recipient. In 2007, she received the Founder’s Award, the highest honor at Southwest Airlines.

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