How Ninjas and Dinosaurs Set the Culture at Home Care Pulse

A simple idea turned out to be surprisingly effective—and the story might hold a lesson for the home care industry. 

Our employee recognition program at Home Care Pulse uses ninjas, dinosaurs, and—this month, at least—cheetahs.

What might have seemed like a silly idea turned out to be a simple and effective way to strengthen ties between employees and create an overall culture of recognition at the company. Here’s how it happened.

A Little Background

It’s no secret that giving consistent recognition is an important element of any company, in the home care industry and throughout the business world. Employees who feel appreciated for their work tend to stay longer, do better work, and feel happier at work. In addition, recognizing employees helps contribute to building a strong company culture—one of the most important intangible assets any company can have.

Employee recognition was heavy on Aaron Marcum’s mind when he was CEO, and he’s instilled its importance in Erik Madsen and the rest of our leadership team. We’ve tried various recognition programs over the years, and frequently give public shout-outs to team members and other rewards for outstanding work.

However, when our leadership team decided they wanted a program that did more to encourage team members to recognize each other for achievements (rather than all the recognition coming from the top leadership) as well as keep the company focused on our core values, our finance department stepped up to the plate with a novel idea.

How It Works

The idea is simple: when someone on the team does something that you feel exemplifies one of our Core Values (we’ll look at those in a minute), you give them a little figurine from a stock that we keep in our office. After you give them the figurine during the week, they bring it to the company Lunch and Learn we hold each Monday where you give them a certificate for the specific core value they showed.

We change the figurines every month or so. So far, we’ve used—you guessed it—ninjas, dinosaurs, and miscellaneous plastic animals. When you give a colleague a figurine, you can always just hand it to them, but most of us prefer to hide the figurine in their office somewhere. (Try going for a drink out of your water bottle and finding a dinosaur figurine shaped like the Loch Ness monster floating inside.)

Sometimes, You Just Need An Atta Boy

Where some of our recognition programs have struggled to get off the ground, this one was more or less immediately embraced by the entire administrative team. You can chalk it up to the simplicity, the warm-and-fuzzy-element, or the fact that it’s just a little bit quirky and weird.

Whatever the cause, it’s been a highly popular program at virtually no cost—and it’s contributed noticeably to what was already a strong, positive company culture.

The program doesn’t replace other forms of recognition, like performance bonuses or merit-based compensation. However, it fills an important niche of cheap, everyday validation. Sometimes, you just need an atta boy.


Our Core Values

These are the core values we live by at Home Care Pulse. We hire, fire, recognize, and reward based upon these principles.

  • Service Minded – A can-do attitude. Generous with our time. Selfless.

  • Passionate – Contributing. Positive attitude. Shared WHY.

  • Driven – Ownership. Forward thinking. Pro-active. Committed.

  • Problem Solver – Resourceful. Collaborative. Attentive. Data-driven.

  • Continuous Learning – Teachable. Humble. Vulnerable. Insightful. Self-improvement.

The Home Care Industry’s Lowest Score

At Home Care Pulse, we survey thousands of clients and caregivers each month. One of the most frequent comments we hear from caregivers is that caregivers want more simple recognition for their efforts.

In fact, in the 2018 Home Care Benchmarking Study, recognition was the industry’s lowest caregiver satisfaction score. We’ll see whether this has improved when the 2019 Home Care Benchmarking Study comes out in a few months—but for now, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of room for improvement in this area.

Caregiver Appreciation Ideas


50+ ideas for recognizing your caregivers and increasing caregiver retention.

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Your caregivers (and office staff) want to be recognized for their hard work. The resource above can get you started–but don’t stop there. Listen to what your caregivers want and keep looking for your own creative ways to reward your employees and create a culture of recognition.

Sometimes, a little ninja goes a long way.

Jan 9, 2019|Categories: Articles, Success Stories|

About the Author:

Before coming to Home Care Pulse, Connor worked as an organizational training director specializing in creating repeatable processes to help organizations grow. He is passionate about organizational dynamics, improving messages and operations, exploring wilderness, and eating any dish made with pepper jack cheese and green chili peppers. On any given Saturday, you can find him hiking through a national park with his wife.

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