From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

“Your Work Is Recognized!”

There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.

John Burke

It all began in Everett, Washington, where my project team was in the process of implementing one of our business systems. One morning, as I walked through the parking lot with one of my employees, I found a penny and picked it up. Playfully, I presented the penny to the employee and said, “This is a discretionary award for your efforts.” He put the penny in his pocket. “Thank you,” he said.

About six months later, I was walking with the same employee, this time in Los Alamitos, California, when I again found a penny and gave it to him.

Later, I had an occasion to go into his office and there, taped on a piece of paper, were the two pennies. He said he was displaying them as his recognition for a job well done.

Other employees noticed the pennies proudly displayed and began asking why they hadn’t received any. So I started handing out pennies, explaining that they were for recognition, not for reward. Soon, so many people wanted them that I designed a penny holder. The front features a place for a penny and beside it the phrase, “Your work is recognized!” The back has slots for 30 more pennies and the phrase, “Your achievements count!”

One time, I spotted an employee doing something right and wanted to recognize her, but I didn’t have a penny, so I gave her a quarter. Later that same day she stopped by and returned 24 cents.

That’s how the “Prestigious Penny Award” was born. It’s become a significant source of recognition in our organization.

Gary Hruska

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