Foods Includes Whole Self
Waves With Employee Recognition
High Flying Division Shows Company The Way To Participation
Just Another Word
and Lows Of Participation
People gasp as orcas soar through the air. Children laugh as penguins slide across the ice. And everyone tightens just a little as nine-foot sand tiger sharks glide through the water. But what about the people who make this all possible? Well, thanks to a new employee recognition program, Sea World employees are getting some of the credit they deserve.
The Make Waves program at Sea World of California, in San Diego, began in January, 1997 to revamp an aging employee recognition system. Sea World implemented TQM five years earlier and Make Waves was designed to reinforce the values of TQM, recognize employees who work in a team-based environment, and involve everyone in meeting the goals of the entire park.
A design team of five people created the program - three
from human resources, one business analysis manager and Donna Parham, a
total quality administrator. According to Parham, "The old employee
recognition program was losing pizzazz, there was little excitement around
it, and management wanted to get everyone involved with the TQM program."
Through Make Waves, now everyone from animal trainers to cafeteria staff
is being rewarded for their contributions.
While there is no actual team dynamics training, Parham believes, "In retrospect, that might not have been a bad idea." However, there are 35 facilitators and 21 quality mentors available to help with team meetings and goal setting.
How It Works
Splash: Awarded for exemplary displays of teamwork and performance, this individual recognition is bestowed by fellow employees who feel their coworkers are making an extra effort. Each team member is allotted four Splashes per month to dispense as they see fit. Not all four must be given every month, it is entirely up to the individual. Employees may redeem their Splashes for awards - two Splashes for something small in the cafeteria, up to ten for a nice meal - or save 20 and trade up for a Wave.
Wave: Every employee on a team earns a Wave when their team meets or exceeds a quarterly goal from the balanced scorecard. With five scorecard areas and four fiscal quarters, there is potential for each team member to receive 20 Waves in a year. Combined with any Waves gained through culmination of Splashes, individuals can save all their Waves until reaching an award level of their choice. Nine Waves are worth a $50 gift certificate - with a broad array of alternatives ranging from restaurants to paint ball events - up to 18 waves worth a $100 gift certificate.
Ripple: Awarded to individuals by supervisors, managers, directors or vice presidents, a Ripple is recognition that someone is making a difference in one of the balanced scorecard categories. A Ripple can be cashed in for prizes or exchanged for a Wave.
Swell: "Basically an employee of the month program in disguise,"
Parham describes the Sea World Exemplary Leadership League (SWELL) as recognizing
team members who exemplify the qualities of service leadership, continuous
improvement and teamwork. Any team member may nominate another for induction.
Each month a volunteer panel of nine park employees from different departments
(currently no managers are serving on the panel) preside over the entries
and select up to 10 nominations they feel are most worthy. Inductees select
a prize (or a Wave), receive a reserved parking place for one month (normally
reserved only for assistant managers and above), lunch with the park's
Young and Evolving
The park is currently on schedule to meet or exceed their safety and financial goals, while for other slightly less quantifiable goals, it is still too early to tell. And while the animals may still draw the crowds and steal the show, the employees are getting a lot more than fish for their efforts.