This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When employee recognition is a company's entire reason for being, it's natural to wonder how well it does with its own workers. If that company is O.C. Tanner, the answer is: outstanding.
In fact, for the second year in a row O.C. Tanner was celebrated as one of Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, along with Google, REI, Goldman Sachs, Whole Foods Market and Adobe.
Dave Petersen, CEO of O.C. Tanner, says he is honored that O.C. Tanner is part of the exclusive list, and thanks his fellow employees for their efforts. "It's great to be on the list and we're proud of that. But we're even more gratified that our people made that happen," says Petersen. "They're surveyed and they talk about it, what it feels like and what it is like to work here. We love being on the list, but what we love even more is being a great place to work. It's our people that make it happen and as a leadership team we're really quite excited about that."
The Salt Lake City–based company develops global strategic employee recognition solutions. This includes leader training, brand-name merchandise, custom award design and manufacturing, and cloud-based SaaS technology for rewarding and tracking appreciationall to help organizations reward employees. Back in 1927, company founder Obert C. Tanner believed that when companies recognize employees who achieve, it inspires individuals to accomplish things they didn't know they could.
So, how does jewelry fit into the company's mission? Petersen explains: "While we're primarily in the corporate recognition business, beautiful symbolic jewelry is often included in the award offerings for our clients, most of which is manufactured here in Salt Lake. We also have three beautiful retail stores where the finest jewelry, time pieces and gifts can be found. These two businesses actually have a lot in common. Companies hire us to help them express genuine appreciation to their employees and individuals shop at our stores to find beautiful gifts to express appreciation to their loved ones. They go hand in hand."
That spirit is alive today at the company, which has over 1,500 employees and does business with thousands of customers in 150 countries. Petersen says the "secret sauce" to O.C. Tanner's own high employee satisfaction ratings is that, at its core, it's a people-affirming business. "Everything we create here, every award, trophy, or reward, is eventually given away," he says. "Our employees know the work they do is going to wind up in a setting where someone is being thanked for doing something valuable. That's a pretty great feeling."
When it comes to shining a light on O.C. Tanner employees, the company is its own best customer. Or as Petersen puts it: "Yes, we walk the talk." One of the company's flagship offerings, Yearbook, is a web and print-on-demand product that lets leaders and co-workers upload photos and stories to create a celebration among friends for significant anniversaries. The company also has a robust "above and beyond" performance recognition program through which O.C. Tanner employees can recognize one another for a job well done.
Perhaps the program that garners the most employee satisfaction and pride is the company's longstanding corporate giving initiative. Petersen points out that the money doesn't come from a separate foundation; rather, under board chair Carolyn Tanner Irish's direction each year the company contributes 10% of pretax income to several dozen organizations in and around Salt Lake City that address the arts, education, poverty, and the environment.
"Our people love it because whenever O.C. Tanner creates something good in the community, they feel such a strong connection to it," Petersen says. "They know their great work directly contributed to that outcome, and it just rubs off on us all in the best possible way. We are all grateful to be part of this company"