Terakeet’s Employee Recognition Toolkit

Samantha Lewis

Editor’s Note

The Terakeet culture around supporting one another goes back to some of the earliest days of the organization. The few employees that we had would roll their chairs away from their desks to the middle of the room and huddle up in a circle Friday mornings. There, the longstanding tradition to get together as a team was born. When the team grew a bit larger, one day our Circle Up emcee, Ralph Torrillo, asked if anyone had any “shout-outs” to share, and the question stuck. 

Today, we continue to celebrate wins big and small, and try to provide many channels and opportunities through which employees can take part in the practice of acknowledging their colleagues for their work. 

Read on to find out more about our different approaches to employee recognition.

Terakeet employees gather around for Circle Up in the offices’s kitchen area, circa 2014.

Circle Up shout-outs

Throughout the company’s history, Circle Up has morphed to fit whatever the current landscape of the organization needed. From a handful of folks in an actual circle to a tightly-packed office space, over time adding a webcam for remote employees dialing in, to now nearly the entire organization joining through Zoom, we still make time to gather for our bi-weekly Friday company-wide meeting.

Our trusty host Chief Risk & Compliance Officer Ralph Torrillo sets the stage with an agenda of topics and always reserves time at the end for shout-outs. Those who don’t mind speaking in front of the whole company are welcomed to the spotlight to share their story and the recipients of their recognition. And although he claims he is rusty at it, Ralph will chime in with his own “shout-out to the first time shout-outer” for anyone he realizes is, in fact, a first-timer, returning some of the esteem back to the shout-outer for having the courage to take the metaphorical mic themselves.

Host Ralph Torillo leads a hybrid Circle Up from the office in 2022.

Terakudos with partner RecogNation

Within the last couple years, our colleagues in HR were determined to add another way for ‘Keeters to acknowledge each other. With the remote nature of our workplace, we wanted to try to find another fun way for employees to connect from afar. They found and partnered with the recognition program RecogNation, that helps us get new hires swagged out in Terakeet gear, and gives everyone the ability to send e-cards to each other.

The Terakudos program lets anyone share their appreciation without having to get up in front of the entire company Friday morning (a sometimes daunting prospect to be sure). This is an especially important component of this option, because each one of us is different. This recognizes that, while not everyone will want to give an “in-person” shout-out to someone they appreciate, they still want to share their appreciation with that person.

Marc Murray Award 

In 2011, Terakeet employees lost their friend and colleague Marc Murray after he’d lived with Leukemia for several years. He was the kind of person who lived by the phrase “above and beyond.” Every year, Terakeet works to honor his memory and acknowledge the impact his legacy continues to have through several mediums, including a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the internal Marc Murray Award.

Once a year, we ask the company for nominees who, like Marc, live out our core values, go beyond the call of duty, and find ways to make meaningful connections with their fellow employees.

The spirit of the Marc Murray Award is deeply connected to our company’s mission and core values. For this reason, being nominated is one of Terakeet’s highest honors. An honor open to anyone whose character reminds us of our “main man Marc Murray.”

The Marc Murray Award logo featured on an office window.

Slack and finding a more personalized approach

Before we had Terakudos, we had Slack. For those unfamiliar, Slack is a communication tool that allows you to start conversations with one individual, a few teammates, or create channels for groups of people to contribute to. Not only do teams utilize these channels but different interest groups form so that colleagues can still take part in some of that water-cooler chat of the old “in-office” days. 

As it relates to recognition, some people prefer to give or receive acknowledgements in a more private manner. As people get to know their teams, they find out who may not want public attention and Slack allows them to instead connect directly in real time. 

These virtual team spaces are also often shared with people who have more relevant context to the work being acknowledged than the wider company might have. Recognition and appreciation in these smaller team settings often means even more than a company-wide shoutout because of this shared knowledge, and the direct impact someone’s contributions may have had on the team. Often, it even encourages more shout-outs!

It can be easy to get caught up in the tide of day to day work, so with workflow integrations or reminders that can be set up in Slack, teams have gotten crafty to ensure they make time to recognize their colleagues at their own pace.

No matter which way colleagues prefer to give or receive recognition, we know finding ways for employees to stay connected and share their success stories is an important way we can support our teams in our remote environment. After all, with the level of excellence that Terakeet employees strive for, and achieve, there is always so much to celebrate.