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   October 2012 Meet Our Team     Need Ideas?     Read Our Blog   

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How to Start an Employee Recognition Program
While it’s true positive feedback and encouragement are powerful motivators, studies show a formal recognition program offering tangible rewards is the most effective way to motivate employees. According to the Incentive Research Foundation and Incentive Federation 2011 study, The State of Tangible Incentive Research: the Use of Tangible Incentives, employees think more frequently about awards—even when they are an equal value to cash—and the increased interest leads to higher performance. (To learn more about the study, click here.)

Many companies recognize employees for length of service, exceptional performance, and sales achievements. Others add retirement and peer recognition to the mix. When you’re ready to design a rewards program, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Plan your program. The first step is to identify the behaviors you want to reward. Reduced accidents? Reduced absenteeism? Cost-savings? After identifying the program goals, determine how you’ll measure effectiveness. Knowing why an award is given encourages future positive behavior.

Educate your audience. If recognition programs are new to your company, you’ll need to show both employees and managers at the start how your program will both inspire and celebrate their accomplishments.

Carefully select the rewards. People like choices. Spend time choosing the rewards to ensure they appeal to all ages and types in your workforce. Be sure to incorporate the input of employees, not just managers, when making selections.

Track results. If you will be managing your program in-house, this step is critical. How else will you be able to evaluate the success of your program and improve it over time?

Present awards with a splash. To create goodwill in your organization, and increase the meaning of the rewards, schedule the time to properly honor recipients. Don’t just treat the award as an item to distribute. Be sure to make the presentation meaningful and tell the recipient – and others – how his or her achievement made a difference in the organization.

If you’d like to explore starting a recognition program – or yours needs to be revamped – please call or email us. We’ll share examples of recognition programs we’ve established for other companies and brainstorm ideas for a program that will resonate with your employees.

Everyone at National Premium supports efforts to increase awareness of Breast Cancer and raise funds for research to fight the disease. This year we are featuring three products – Rallywear Yowie, a Pink Ribbon Umbrella, and a Pink Ribbon Bag -- and donating 10% of the proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If you’d like ideas on how to present one of these gifts to your audience, let us know!


On June 23, 1967, Dick Schmidt came home from work and announced to his wife that he wanted to quit his job to start his own business. They had four kids at home, ages 7, 5, 3 (me), and three months. It was all risk, he explained, with lots of downsides if he messed up. Years later I learned that my mom -- as you can imagine – was less than thrilled.

As a kid, I cleaned toilets, cut grass, and helped in the warehouse at National Premium. Dad also brought home assembly jobs for me and my siblings to do at night. I remember placing slotted lids on milk can banks, placing a patriotic sticker on the front, polybagging and boxing the banks for shipping. We earned one cent per job and about one dollar a day.

In 1988 I joined the company full time. Turns out I was good at helping companies effectively use their promotional dollars. From time to time over the years my dad asked if I had any interest in running the company. I always said no. I loved sales.

When my dad passed away suddenly two years ago I stepped into the leadership position. Looking back, I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity to learn more from him about running a company of this size. (We have 100 employees in 7 global offices.) But he still taught me volumes through his actions. For example, Dad knew all of our employees by name, the names and ages of their spouses/partners/kids, and how they spent their free time. And he always remembered their birthdays. He personally shopped for a card that suited each employee, always with a humorous tone, and he always enclosed a crisp, new, $20 bill!

I have the awesome responsibility of filling my father’s shoes, large as they are, but fortunately, he built a caring, customer-centric global company. We all have a passion for our clients, this place, and each other, which I’ve never witnessed in other companies of our size. Many clients say they feel it, too. Hopefully you’re among them. If not, please let me know. I don’t want to mess up what my dad started 45 years ago. Among the lessons I learned from him is that we’re in this together.

The goal of our new e-newsletter is to share ideas and make sure you’re aware of all the ways we can help you build your business. Please call or email at any time to tell us about marketing opportunities or challenges ahead of you. We’re here to help.

Scott Schmidt
National Premium, Inc.
Office: 262-513-2430

Telephone: 800.755.0335 Email: Web: