Topic: Employee Recognition


The Power of Empowering Recognition With Beril McManus of American Airlines

season 4 episode 1

Welcome to The Work Place, where we talk about the cultures we work in, and how to make them better for everyone. I’m Andrew Scarcella.  

This episode, we’re talking with Beril McManus about how to recognize the progress you’ve made without resting on your laurels. She’ll discuss her holistic approach to building a culture of empowerment and recognition and share a few inside stories about the success they’ve had at American Airlines during these less than conventional past couple of years.  

Join us after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we’ll talk about the ideas and actions we can take with us and implement in our own workplace cultures.

Beril is the Senior Manager of Recognition, Events and Engagement at American Airlines where she has worked for an impressive 21 years and counting. Since assuming her current position in 2017, McManus has worked on a number of initiatives to strengthen her company’s culture of appreciation, including their employee recognition program “Nonstop Thanks” which allows team members to recognize their peers right from a mobile app on their phones. When covid hit, this program was put to the ultimate test as airlines were hit harder than most companies by the dramatic drop off in world-wide travel. Undeterred, American Airlines doubled its efforts to support its employees and as you’ll hear, managed to inspire 100% of its leaders to utilize it’s recognition program in 2020. If that’s not a measure of success…I don’t know what is.

Beril was interviewed by me, and she had so many insights into the power of recognition, we could have gone on for hours and hours…but don’t worry, we kept it tight so we could bring you only the shiniest pearls of wisdom in our episode today.

Tangible Takeaways:

Now it’s time for tangible takeaways, where we take 3 ounces of big ideas and grind them to coarse powder, place them in recycled cone filter, and heat our filtered spring water to 195 degrees before pouring it through the grind, elegantly unleashing our ideas’ subtle notes of toasted coconut, clove, and hazelnut, aaaand some of its less subtle flavors, like lemon drop, chicken cacciatore, and...kimchi?

1. The first is that if you want a benchmark for measuring success after introducing a new recognition program at your company, a reliable indicator may be that when your employees reply to surveys with fewer responses like “Oh…we have a recognition tool?” and respond more often with something like… “Is this the right tool for recognition in this particular situation?” It reveals that you’ve brought the program into the mainstream for your teams, after which you can begin to build out more specific aspects and uses that employees can deploy across a variety of situations. I know you won’t rest on your laurels, but it’s good to recognize when your recognition program is working.  

2. The second, is that if you’re diligent enough to reach a point where 100% of your leaders are using your recognition program, it’s then time to start looking at the percentage of employees that are being reached by that program. It’s clear from the research that when employees feel cared for and recognized for their work, they are happier, more productive, and they do better work. Just imagine the impact of reaching every single individual at your company with powerful recognition and respect from a leader or peer. Only then can we possibly take our laurel crowns off our heads and start weaving them into makeshift daybeds for the teeny tiniest workday siesta. More of a micro-nap, really.  

3. The third, is that if you’re like me and you happen to have some airline credits held-over from that cancelled trip to cancun in the spring of 2020, why not cash them in on a trip to somewhere a bit antipodean. You could journey to South Island, New Zealand. Did you know they fjords there?! At night, you can hike up to the University of Canterbury’s Mount John Observatory and gaze star-struck at the majesty of the milky way. Or check out Queenstown where they have not one but two of the most accessible glaciers in the world. Just a suggestion…

This episode was narrated by yours truly, and was executive produced by Annika Rapp, with writing, music 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 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 modular platform for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, leadership, and more.

If you want your organization to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to

related Resources

Insurance Company: Elevating Culture with Recognition

See how one insurance company elevated their recognition programs from good to best-in-class.

ICF: Making the World a Better Place, One Recognition Moment at a Time

See how recognition can predict turnover at ICF.

Sustainable Workplace Awards

Learn how O.C. Tanner incorporates sustainable practices into the sourcing and creation of custom symbolic awards for recognition moments that help both people and our planet thrive.