Topic: Employee Recognition

Recognition for Global Workforces With Guest Kelley Lynch

season 2, episode 19

Welcome to The Work Place, where we’re hot on the trail of what makes great workplace cultures tick, and what we can all do to make the ones we work in better.

This episode, we’re talking with Kelley Lynch about running a thriving recognition program for a diverse, global workforce—and why community service plays a larger role in shaping workplace culture than you might think.

Kelley Lynch is the HR Director for Capital One, where he leads their Rewards and Recognition AND Sales Incentives Execution teams. With a passion for people leadership and career development, Kelly spends most of his days finding ways to make each person at Capital One feel valued for what they do and who they are. Which is one of the best job descriptions for an HR Director I’ve ever heard. And if after the interview you find yourself wanting to steal him away from Capital One, good luck—he’s been there more than two happy, impactful decades.

Kelley was interviewed by me, and while he was a late addition to the season 2 lineup, our conversation ended up being one of my favorites. It’s always great to talk with someone who’s job doesn’t just inform workplace culture, it IS workplace culture.


Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas out of the walk-in of a middle school cafeteria and grind them up into tiny patties, which we double-batter before tossing them into the deep frier until they’re a crispy, golden brown nuggets—because it’s Monday, and Monday is always nugget day.

1. The first is that if you want to improve the culture of recognition at your company, it doesn’t actually have to change. Rather than the purely top down approach where you try to shoehorn in a program that you think will work within your culture’s unique environment, instead, find and elevate the individuals and initiatives in your organization that are already succeeding at the recognition game, and recognize them. By spotlighting examples of recognition already working inside your culture, you’ll make it easier for executives to get on board—and easier for it to spread to other teams and departments once they do.

2. The second is that community service should be part of every workplace culture. We’re not talking about sponsoring a section of the local highway, we’re talking about empowering your people to give back to their community in the ways that matter most to their community. That could mean volunteering at the local food bank, teaching resume writing to refugees at the community center; or simply matching employee donations to a disaster relief fund. By encouraging people to spend company time serving others, you connect your organization, and its culture, to the community.

3. The third is that before Cookie Monster delighted generations of kids on Sesame Street, he was the spokes-monster for Frito-Lay—selling Munchos chips under the name Arnold. It’s true. Look it up. 1969 was a weird year. But, much like Kelley Lynch, Cookie Monster knew the importance of community service. That’s why he quit his job and signed with PBS—to serve others and give back to his community. And also because of the unlimited cookies clause in his contract.

As always, this episode was written and read by yours truly—with additional writing, production, and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.

If you liked this episode, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

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