Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma ramps up recognition program

Senior directors discuss challenges of leading one of the largest federally recognized tribes

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma ramps up recognition program

Benefits and perks remain a crucial element of company culture, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has increased its investment in such accommodations and amenities to illustrate employee appreciation.

“Like every other employer, we’re fighting over the same labor pool,” Duane Winship, senior director of total rewards of the sovereign nation, told HRD. In fact, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is the third largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. 

Read more: HRD America’s Best Places to Work 2022

“We’ve been tasked within our respective areas to develop a strategy to better attract and retain. We’ve had to adapt quicker over the past year, adopting initiatives, such as creating competitive cash compensation and flexible benefits, at a faster rate than we have in the last 20 years,” Winship says.

The entity, which has roughly 11,500 employees, runs three performance recognition programs: Employee of the Quarter, Simply the Best (awarded monthly and annually), and Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Health care organizations use a third-party reward and recognition program, which allows managers to award points for various activities, such as volunteerism and excellent customer service. Meanwhile, employees in the nation’s casinos receive “free play” promotions throughout the year for birthdays, Christmas, winning awards, and other celebrations.

Incentives play a large role in how the nation motivates its workforce. For example, there’s a smorgasbord of bonuses available for everything from sign on to annual performance to continuing education to being vaccinated for COVID-19. There’s also a Service Award program, in which depending on their years of employment, recipients are awarded between $100 and $4,500.

“There has been a lot of discussion about what monetary bonuses will be of value that will help us keep the associates we have and attract new ones,” Karla J Shugart, senior director of associate experience at Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, told HRD. “We’re hoping associates feel valued, especially during the pandemic. That’s why we’re trying to ramp up our recognition program – it’s one of those key areas that we know our associates appreciate.”

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has been named one of HRD America’s Best Places to Work 2022. Read the whole list here.

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