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Building a Culture of Employee Appreciation: “Tay of the Day”

What started as a fun way to set the mood at the Kimpton Armory Hotel in Bozeman, Montana, evolved into a meaningful way to appreciate and recognize employees' exceptional contributions at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And now we’re sharing this rock star employee appreciation idea with you!

Taylor Swift inspires employee recognition program
Taylor Swift inspires employee recognition program at Kimpton

Swiftys Unite

Kaitlin O’Hara started the “Tay of the Day” at the Kimpton Armory Hotel in Bozeman, Montana as a way to motivate her front office team. “The original concept was to pick a Taylor Swift song to fit the vibe of the day. AKA – someone’s first day is “Welcome to New York” or we have a crazy turn that day “Fearless” and so on,” Kaitlin explained. A photo of T Swift was put in the back office as a reminder.

When the team from the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge wanted to gift their General Manager, Tara Rothberg a visit to the Kimpton in Bozeman, they reached out to Kaitlin in Montana. They ended up bonding over their shared love of Taylor Swift. So much so that when Kaitlin mailed the gift certificate, she included a Taylor Swift “Tay of the Day” pic for their Front Office bulletin board.

Recognizing Rock Stars

Crossing state lines, “Tay of the Day” morphed from setting a mood to recognizing greatness, in Cambridge at the Kimpton Marlowe the “Tay of the Day” is awarded to team members exhibiting rock star qualities. “If someone cultivates a ridiculously personal experience, that’s for sure Tay worthy,” says hotel manager Tara Rothberg. “Championing diversity, especially women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights would be another big one. This totally aligns with Kimpton's core values. I’d also say crafting anything fun for pets, especially cats would be worthy of the Tay of the Day,” Tara added with a smiley face emoji. (In case you’re not a Swifty, she is very into cats!)

Kimpton Marlowe Front Office Manager Sophie Fleming loves giving out the “Tay of the Day,” to recognize team members for a job well done. She even gave it to her boss, Tara, for a smooth rollout of a new corporate program.

“When I noticed the ‘Tay of the Day’ had my name on it, I squealed in delight!!" General Manager Tara Rothberg tells us, "As a hotel manager, you don’t really know how your team feels about you, especially when we are in the process of changing procedures. I was so touched by the sentiment.”

In a recent study by HR software Nectar, 81.9% of employees agree that recognition improves their engagement. It comes as no surprise, a culture of appreciation fosters a sense of belonging and the "Tay of the Day" is a perfect example of how a simple recognition program can create a positive ripple effect.

Kimpton Hotels Tara Rothberg

Three Best Practices for Building a Culture of Employee Appreciation (i.e. Why the “Tay of the Day” Works)

  1. Make recognition a regular practice: it should not be a one-time event but a regular practice woven into the fabric of the organization's culture, that aligns with your core values and business goals.

  2. Be specific and timely: recognition should be specific, timely, and meaningful. Be clear about what behaviors or actions you are recognizing and why they are important. Don't wait until the annual review to recognize employees' accomplishments. Instead, recognize them in the moment, as soon as possible after they've demonstrated exemplary behavior or achieved a milestone.

  3. Involve employees in the process: don’t make it a top-down system, great ideas for recognition can come from anywhere, even another hotel. This will not only help personalize recognition efforts but also foster a sense of ownership and buy-in.

In the words of Taylor Swift herself, “But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving. It’s like I’ve got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright.” – Shake It Off

Let us know if you give it a try!!

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