Baudville re-focuses on day-to-day employee recognition

August 14, 2009
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Brad Darooge, president and CEO of Baudville, a workplace recognition solutions company, knew something was about to happen with the economy but wasn’t sure what, said Kristy Sherlund, vice president of product and merchandising.

What Darooge did know pre-recession was that it was time to start strategizing the company’s future for when the recession lifted.

“(We) really used this time to get our act together while everyone else was scrambling. We became very disciplined in the strategic planning process,” Sherlund said.

The executive team at Baudville took some time to research and brainstorm on how the company could not only maintain its position during the economic downturn, but also make sure the resources would benefit the company once the recession ended.

“Baudville, historically, had been really focused on employee recognition, but we dabbled everywhere,” said Sherlund. “We were really known for our themes and our messages, and we said, ‘We’re really going to spend our energy for the next year rebirthing ourselves as the experts in day-to-day recognition. We all came back and said, ‘Day-to-day is it. What does day-to-day mean?’”

Sherlund described day-to-day recognition as a way for people to say a simple thank you in a personal but informal way. The Baudville team embarked upon finding ways to express this notion by examining their own backyard — or cubicle space.

“When we walked around and looked at our offices, and through our focus groups, we realized that people had notes pinned up, and it’s mostly cards from friends and coworkers,” she said. “We had focused on day-to-day and then we wanted to translate that into a consumer-based product — things a manager can give to an employee that they would buy themselves.”

A thank you card might suffice, but Sherlund said what Baudville wanted to do was to connect the thank you with job performance.

“You could just go to Hallmark, buy a box of thank you cards and hand them out. … What we wanted to do was have a way for a manager to link it to goals and objectives or be performance-based,” she said. “Teaching (managers) how to say, ‘Good job, Kristie, on getting your report done on time,’ and giving them just a small amount of space to recognize them for the activity, but not too much that they feel overwhelmed on how to give the recognition.”

Baudville’s brainstorming led to 250 new products, including its popular Kit & Caboodle line. The company also revamped its image. The old image showcased a shooting star. The new image emphasizes the company’s new slogan: “The place for daily recognition.”

The company created the new products, a new Web site, a catalog and new branding between September 2008 and June 2009. The hard work has paid off. Baudville has seen its new products take hold in the marketplace and be recognized by the Society of Human Resource Management as one of the most relevant companies for its industry.

The kudos came because of Baudville’s focus on the future. Instead of focusing on cutbacks and laying people off, Baudville wanted to help companies create an atmosphere of positive thinking.

“Everybody else is kind of dealing with HR and downsizing. What I have been saying to people is, ‘Where are your people going to work when they have a choice again?’” said Sherlund.

“Right now everyone is fat and happy, saying that the people who are here are just happy to have a job. There is some real truth to that, but where are they going to go when they have a choice?”

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