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The Value of Ribbons: Recognition and Reward

Posted on 05/22/14 in Way to Go!
Employee efforts and achievements should be recognized. Bestowing ribbons upon the highest quarterly earner or the staff member who displays exemplary leadership skills is a traditional and classic means of showing appreciation. From participation in a summer swim meet as a five year old to being awarded for a great military achievement, ribbons are used at all ages and for all events.

Originally regarded as a sign of nobility and prestige, the ribbon has retained its significance over the years. Ribbons first became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, when traders from Asia would sell exotic ribbons of silk or other precious fabrics to wealthy European families. They were used to show status and to customize the dresses or clothing they were added to. They soon became a popular fashion accessory for all classes, but the symbology of ribbons as markers of achievement remained.

Even now, military organizations use specific ribbons to designate rank and experience. Medals such as the Gold Star, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Service Star are suspended from a ribbon or attached to the ribbon bar on a uniform, and there are a restricted number of medals to each ribbon.

While ribbons given out by a company to award good performance by its most productive employees may not have the same value as a Purple Heart Medal worn by an Army Veteran, a ribbon still communicates success and commands a level of admiration. Keeping the ribbons and medals exclusive also raises the esteem and honor of the award.

In sports children participate in, like a swimming league, for example, everyone who swims receives a ribbon for participation. This makes all the young swimmers feel proud of their achievements. As sports become more competitive, however, the criteria for being awarded a ribbon change. In something like a swim meet, ribbons are awarded as follows: blue for first place, red for second place, and white for third place.

The rarity of the ribbons can make them mean more, and the fact a swimmer only receives a blue ribbon for being the very best in his or her category makes it even more significant. Similarly, all ribbons awarded for exceptional performance should be something the winner can be proud of, and not simply a sign of their participation.

If a company chooses to offer promotional ribbons to their employees to reward their valued service, they are participating in a time-honored tradition. It would be best for the company, and the employee, to recognize the ribbon's worth and the meaning behind it, instead of seeing it as simply a strip of fabric.

Author: Robert Stillman CEO

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