Topic: Employee Recognition

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Sustainable Workplace Awards

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Updated on 

July 1, 2024

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July

 

2024

In today’s business landscape, sustainability has become a critical focus for companies worldwide.

As organizations strive to make a positive impact on the environment and society, they are reexamining internal operations to identify opportunities to conserve resources. This includes taking a close look at partnerships with external vendors and determining whether their practices meet certain sustainability standards.

When designing employee recognition programs that include tangible awards, it’s essential to consider sustainable sourcing and manufacturing. You want to know that the tokens of appreciation you’re giving to team members are crafted with environmentally-friendly materials and manufactured with sustainability in mind.

At O.C. Tanner, we believe it’s possible to create recognition awards that people love and that protect our environment in the process. This vision for sustainability plays a critical role in shaping our future. For nearly 100 years, we have designed and crafted handmade workplace awards that delight people and impact work communities all around the world.

With our global and local reach in mind, we are committed to evolving manufacturing processes and sustainable practices that help both people and our planet thrive.

At O.C. Tanner, we believe it’s possible to create recognition awards that people love and that protect our environment in the process.

The Power of Symbolic Awards

Symbolic awards amplify the impact of employee recognition. Data from a recent Global Culture Report shows that employees are three times more likely to remember a recognition experience when it includes a symbolic award.

What makes an award symbolic? A symbolic award goes beyond a mere object to something with meaning and significance attached to it.

The best symbolic workplace awards reflect a company’s history, purpose, values—its culture and community. Additionally, they represent an employee’s hard work and contributions to your company’s success.

This extra effort to create meaning goes a long way. According to the Harvard Business Review, symbolic recognition is great for morale—helping people feel more valued and supported.

In light of this positive impact, we are committed to helping companies tell their stories and value their people with our custom, handmade symbolic awards. As we manufacture and ship these powerful symbols to work cultures around the world, we are also committed to sustainable practices that protect our planet.

Are you looking to add symbolic custom awards to your employee recognition experience? Here’s how we integrate sustainability into crafting awards—and what you should consider looking for in your awards partner.

Sustainably designed career anniversary awards shaped as cubes with a company’s logo

Characteristics of Sustainable Workplace Awards

Sourcing

We design and manufacture our awards with more recycled and renewable materials than ever before. These eco-friendly materials lower our carbon footprint, reduce emissions, and help conserve natural resources.

We source materials such as aluminum, wood, concrete, and acrylic from local suppliers. This lowers our need for large volumes of inventory—which reduces waste—and helps us control quality and sustainability across our supply chain.

You want to know that the tokens of appreciation you’re giving to team members are crafted with environmentally-friendly materials and manufactured with sustainability in mind.

Our largest wood supplier is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. This ensures that materials come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

We maintain close partnerships with all our suppliers to create a more transparent, responsible supply chain. We expect our suppliers to commit to our high-quality standards and agree to quality initiatives such as value alignment, supplier reviews, quality control, and Lean methodology.

We continually assess all our suppliers. If a supplier fails to meet standards, we work with them to define a corrective action plan or move to terminate the relationship. This gives clients the assurance they need that we are committed to sustainability.

Manufacturing

Responsible, energy-efficient manufacturing is an important part of our drive to improve sustainability across our business. We comply with all applicable environmental governing requirements as we implement ways to lower our carbon footprint and reduce waste.

Since everything we make impacts the planet in some way, we must transform the way we make our products.

Being a responsible manufacturer means abiding by policies and procedures that incorporate sustainability into our economic growth, energy and water consumption, air quality, manufacturing, and waste generation.

We have goals in place to reduce emissions by 2025 and have expanded emissions reporting to include global operations.

Design

Sustainability includes so much more than manufacturing, packaging, and shipping.

As we design impactful awards that reduce waste and help the environment, innovation drives our efforts on all fronts. Our team of thoughtful designers knows that we must begin with sustainable concepts that help the environment every step of the way.

Working to positively support our planet, advocating for policies that reduce emissions, and designing products that inspire others to follow suit—these are the challenges that drive us to create and innovate for a better future.

Sustainable Workplace Awards

A display of unique, aluminum symbolic awards with various organic shapes

Our aluminum trophies were created by the iconic designer Karim Rashid, who has made sustainability an important part of his celebrated work.

Aluminum is one of the most sustainable materials available. It is highly durable, lightweight, and recyclable, with one of the highest recycling rates of any metal. Producing aluminum uses less energy compared to other metals, lowering its carbon footprint.

Aluminum is also an integral part of our award design because it doesn’t rust or corrode. Our products made from aluminum have a longer lifespan. This saves money and reduces waste.

On top of all that, aluminum is lightweight, which means that our awards require less energy to transport and handle.

A cube-shaped custom award made of wood with a company logo, value statement, and employee recognition award name on each side

Wood is an excellent material from a design and sustainability perspective. It conveys warmth and organic connection. For Starbucks, we designed wooden cubes made from sustainably sourced wood, each with a distinctive grain pattern and quality finish that will last a lifetime.

Wood is a naturally-grown material that takes no extra energy to make. It breaks down naturally, contributing to the nutrient cycle that supports other living things. It is renewable, recyclable, and versatile—as long as it comes from responsibly managed forests.

Out of respect for our world’s forests, we work with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to support responsible forest management. The FSC certification includes the social and economic well-being of workers and local communities who depend on the forest, as well as environmental and economic matters. So even as we use wood in our process, we’re always giving back to support forest growth around the world.

Making more from less is part of our manufacturing philosophy. We use resources efficiently. For the wood in our awards, every piece is designed so that waste is minimized.

We are always striving for smarter ways to design and build our awards to make sure our customers receive a high quality product with the least impact on our planet.

Intelligent award design. Impactful results.

Sustainable symbolic awards

Great design is responsible and responsible design is sustainable.

For decades, form and function have stood at the core of design practices. But this framework is no longer sufficient. Now we implement intelligent design strategies that incorporate form, function, and sustainability. The needs of our planet cannot be an afterthought.

Making more from less is part of our manufacturing philosophy.

With a commitment to aesthetics and the environment, we aim to deliver custom work that meets our clients’ needs while mitigating environmental impact. In other words, we want to delight our clients with beautiful work and protect our planet in the process.

Luckily, we don’t have to compromise in either direction to make this happen. Just as we’ve done for nearly 100 years, we will continue to design and craft exceptional awards that help people feel valued.  And we will rise to the generational challenge of climate change by continuing to evolve in ways that support our environment.

The impact of symbolic awards

O.C. Tanner custom award designers and creators outlining a new symbolic award for a client, starting with hand sketches, computer rendering, and finally, production

Research from the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2023 Global Culture Report found that symbolic awards produced a higher emotional impact in employees than cash, gift cards, and generic awards.

And when a recognition experience includes an award with symbolism, employees’ feelings of connection with their team, leader, and the organization increase.

  • Symbolic awards can improve individual performance by as much as 12%
  • Employees who receive a symbolic award are 3x more likely to remember that experience
  • Symbolic awards build connection to leaders and teams, improving employee engagement
  • Symbolism increases the probability of engagement, great work, and retention, all which impact business outcomes

The power of symbols is right there in your company’s culture, history, stories, and milestones. The best symbolic awards are thoughtful and intentional in a way that feels personal for the recipient.

All acts of recognition contribute to a positive workplace culture and strengthen employee connection. Symbolic awards amplify the impact of recognition experiences.

Responsibility in action

Since everything we make impacts the planet in some way, we must transform the way we make our products. To do this, we choose to take responsibility—to adapt for the future by changing course in the present.

Just as we’ve done for nearly 100 years, we will continue to design and craft exceptional awards that help people feel valued.  

O.C. Tanner is committed to shaping the most sustainable manufacturing process in the recognition industry. Our thoughtful workplace awards are designed to delight and built to last. Crafted with meaning and delivered with care, they are the opposite of disposable.

Ready to start designing your own sustainable workplace awards? Schedule a demo with our team.

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