At Ultimate, recognition for a job well done transcends simple in-office praise or the proverbial pat on the back. Our people know Ultimate truly appreciates hard work because of the myriad awards, gifts, notes, reward trips, and celebratory events given throughout the year. This appreciation is present across the entire company, and several awards at Ultimate are peer-driven, in that recipients are nominated by their colleagues—not just by management—and typically recognized publicly during a large employee gathering or thank-you celebration.
Reward Trips as a “Thank You”
The most unusual thing about Ultimate and reward trips is that people in all departments earn them—NOT JUST SALES PEOPLE. All departments have reward trips that serve as a “Thank You” for great work. Ultimate pays all of the major expenses and frequently includes family members or significant others. For some, these trips occur annually and for others every other year, depending upon the department’s budget, trip destination, and other factors. In some cases, all employees in a department are included and sometimes only those who have met their annual objectives, depending upon the goal structure of the specific department. In departments where family-inclusion trips are restricted to those who have met goals, there are also learning and development trips outside the office that include ALL employees, so the net result is that ALL employees at Ultimate have an opportunity to enjoy a 1- to 5-day event offsite each year at a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels.
The Ultimate MVP Award—Companywide Award—Annual
The Ultimate MVP award is an award that is really bestowed by our people since they submit nominations that explain why a particular person deserves to win. Anyone at Ultimate can nominate a person who represents “the passion, dedication, personality, attitude, and work ethic that everyone at Ultimate should possess.” The winner of the MVP award receives a trophy that is held by the recipient for the year and passed on to the next recipient, two first-class airline tickets to anywhere in the world, and $500 cash…plus a new Rolex watch. Our Chief People Officer sends an email to everyone with quotes about the winner from the nomination forms (without the names of people who wrote these nice things). The winner’s picture is placed on a plaque on the Wall of Fame in our headquarters’ atrium, along with the plaques of previous winners. Typically, one person wins annually, but we have had as many as three winners tie for this award in the past, and each wins the full award package. Winners have all been people in mid- or lower-level positions.
Peer Recognition (Spot Bonuses, Marketing Masters)
Teamwork is essential to success, and while teamwork is common at Ultimate, our team members like to reward one another for going above and beyond on special projects. Our Products team, for instance, awards year-round spot bonuses based solely on peer nominations. Winners are recognized at biweekly team meetings. The Marketing team’s “Marketing Master” awards are also 100-percent peer-nominated and are awarded as personal shout-outs to colleagues who take extra steps (often without even being asked). Winners receive these awards during department meetings. There is no shortage of appreciation and love among Ultimate’s departments—evidenced by the fact that winners often receive multiple nominations and awards from peers, sometimes for helping several colleagues in different ways on the same project.
Every year, our Services department recognizes four team members for exceptional performance. The P&O Hero Award is bestowed upon an employee who brought passion, relentless dedication, and a positive attitude to their work throughout the year, as a way to thank them for helping “make US better.” The Service Excellence Awards are given to one employee from Services Initiative Management, Decision Support, and Services Technology, in appreciation of their devotion to the ideals of exceptional service upheld by the Services team.
Technical Resolution Team Awards
In September 2014, our Technical Resolution Team (TRT) held a special celebration and awards ceremony. The team, which formed in 2013 to resolve open cases in the service queue, congratulated its members for reducing the open case load six-fold in a year, and recognized individuals with prizes for their contributions to the team’s ambitious goals. Two members received iPads®: Bernie Hernandez, for ensuring that customer reports are responded to in a timely manner and handled with respect for customer and technician alike, and Marcus Eberling, for leading the TRT with passion and an eye for unconventional solutions, and for striving to learn while assisting customers. Two team members also received gift cards: Vladimir Meyman, for going above and beyond, taking on great technical challenges, and showing how to accomplish a high volume of tasks at a high level; and Keith Klein, for his diligence, showmanship, and humble attitude—qualities that make him an ideal teammate.
Ultimate’s five Customer Success teams are dedicated to serving our clients passionately and honestly in every interaction. When a Customer Success team member performs this mission at the highest level, their satisfaction surveys from customers and internal success with co-workers make them an eligible nominee for their team’s UltiExcellence award. Each trophy is customized to represent a specific team or region, including a “Crème de la Crème” award for our virtual team members. Winners receive a custom UltiExcellence jacket, lunch with team directors, the regional trophy, and plenty of bragging rights.
All-Star PDIS Awards — Twice Per Year
In our Product Development and Information Services (PDIS) departments, the PDIS All-Star award is given out once in June and once in December. Two people win each time, and the winners are chosen on the basis of several criteria: taking strong ownership in his or her role, providing us with innovation, working well as a team member, and collaborating with others for the good of Ultimate. Anyone who is not part of the senior staff is eligible for nomination. Individuals are nominated by their peers via the Praise feature in Yammer. The senior leadership team selects the winner from the nominations, and winners each receive $1,000, 40 restricted shares of Ultimate stock, a Lucite award, and dinner in their honor.
iPad Fund for Random Awards
Our CTO invests $50,000 annually in an iPad Fund to reward individual contributors who have gone “above and beyond” in their work. Typically, people who win the new tablets have worked through a weekend to solve a challenging problem related to engineering coding, have stayed late multiple nights in a row to make a tight deadline, or have given generously of their time to a team other than their own. Recommendations are made by managers, and recipients can elect to receive a Kindle or tablet other than an iPad, even though we call this the iPad Fund.
Peer-Driven Spot Bonuses: Frequent Recognition, $50 Gift Cards
Our PDIS team has a reward program that puts rapid, everyday recognition in the hands of our people. Anyone (not just managers and executives) can submit a spot bonus for anyone else (up, down, or sideways on the org chart). All they have to do is post a blog entry explaining what was so great about what another person did. The recommended person is awarded a $50 American Express gift card. These awards usually result from peer-based recommendations but can come from leaders.
Passion for Perfection Awards
Our Services team has a recognition program called Passion for Perfection (PFP) for any customer service employee, no matter what team, who receives an unsolicited commendation from a co-worker or customer about ongoing exceptional service given or a specific example of excellent service. For each instance, team members receive a PFP pin for their personal banner, which is proudly displayed at their desk. Quarterly a raffle is held for the PFP recipients, and winners receive AMEX gift cards. The number of PFP pins earned varies each quarter but can number in the hundreds.
“Customer Service Hero” Award
Annually, the Customer Success teams nominate individuals in support who have gone that extra step to keep their customers and co-workers happy and routinely perform beyond expectations. The winners are chosen based upon peer recommendations. The winner receives $500 and 2 round-trip airline tickets, and the runner-up receives $250. Both the hero and runner up earn automatic qualification for Services Club trip.
Customer Service Awards: Earning Extra Money and Workdays from Home
Our Customer Success team members receive recognition and rewards for several things:
- They are rewarded for earning specific industry certifications (20+ on the list) through a spot bonus. For some certifications, such as Certified Payroll Professional, they are awarded a merit increase in salary. Ultimate pays for study materials and reimburses for testing expenses as well.
- They are compensated for volunteering to be “on call” during off-hours at $100 per call.
- They can earn up to 2 virtual days per week based on tenure and job performance. After 6 months of tenure, they can earn one virtual day per week, and after 12 months of tenure, they can have one additional virtual day per week.
- They receive $2,000 for any new business lead they bring to the table that is closed.
MVP Awards for Activation Consultants — Annually
We have an MVP award for both our Enterprise and Mid-Market professional consultants. CEO Scott Scherr gives a Rolex with the award at each of the ceremonies, and peers nominate one another with leaders selecting the winners.
Wall of Fame
We have a Wall of Fame in our atrium for all kinds of recognition our people have earned. There are plaques recognizing our MVPs, our Customer Service Heroes, 10+ Year People, and a variety of awards for charity and team work.
Personalized Gift Selections for Exceptional Performance
Our CEO has given out personalized gifts to our people for more than 20 years. When a small team brought our first few customers “live” in a hosting environment, CEO Scott Scherr and the team lead brought in champagne and ice cream for the team at the end of the day as a mini-celebration and thank-you. This type of spontaneous thank-you celebration is common at Ultimate. Another example is a candlelight bowling spree that one team had after they had a hard day moving into a new office. When a Customer Success Manager told Scott that she was getting married and taking her honeymoon in Italy, he arranged for her to have a dinner with her husband at a luxury hotel in Positano, Italy. Scott is known for this type of spur-of-the moment gift for no reason other than he thinks it would be enjoyable for the person.
When an executive, team leader, or a sales person has had an exceptional year in the area of results, CEO Scott Scherr often gives that person a gift he’s personally selected, based upon the recipient’s interests.
Personalized, Hand-Written “Thank You” Notes
To show their appreciation for a colleague’s thoughtfulness, help on a challenging project, or any otherwise-selfless effort, UltiPeeps will often send hand-written thank-you notes and surprise gifts to deserving peers. In today’s fast-paced Digital Age, with quick emails and texts often replacing personal conversations, these notes and gifts serve as special expressions of gratitude.
Saying “Thanks” with a Day at the Ballpark
In addition to the annual thank-you and award trips our teams take on behalf of Ultimate, our people also enjoy group and family outings at sporting events. Sports play a big role at Ultimate, and serve as great inspiration to work together, persevere, and strive for championships every day. Employees and their families have opportunities to attend local events, such as a Miami Marlins baseball game, and cheer on the team from the comfort of Ultimate’s private party suite—complete with food, drinks, and camaraderie. It’s another way Ultimate says, “Thank You,” for the great work we do each day.
Recognition Wall—“Thank You” to Our UltiPeeps from the Community
A core part of Ultimate’s “People First” philosophy is volunteering, serving, and giving back to the community. Over the years, various charities and non-profit organizations have presented Ultimate with plaques and other tokens of appreciation for the support our employees have given. These awards, plaques, and mementoes were presented to our employees and so we proudly display them on our Recognition Wall in the atrium of our Weston headquarters as a reminder that our community appreciates UltiPeeps as much as we do. It’s a small “Thank You” for the many hours they donate.