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Six Employee Recognition Lessons from SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special

I grew up on Saturday Night Live. I was thirteen when it first premiered, and it had a huge influence on my comedic sensibilities growing up. So watching Sunday night’s mega-special was not only fun, but hugely nostalgic for me. It was also a good reminder of what great organizations do when it comes to celebrating success and recognizing employees. Here are just a few of the reminders from SNL’s 40th anniversary special:

1. Celebrate your significant milestones. Obviously that was the entire reason for the Saturday Night Live special – to pay tribute to their 40th year on air. So what are you doing to recognize the significant milestones in your organization? Celebrating your anniversary doesn’t just give everyone a reason to feel good, it pays tribute to your heritage and helps keep your stories alive. It can boost pride in your legacy and help your employees remember where you came from.

2. Recognize your pioneers. Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray…all the surviving original cast members were on hand for the special, and rightfully so. What are you doing to honor the work of your pioneers?

3. Recognize the game changers, the heroes. Eddie Murphy was singled out for his role in helping to save the series when it was faltering. What are you doing to recognize your workplace heroes?

4. Don’t forget the ones who are gone. SNL paid homage to Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, and several other on- and off-air contributors who have passed away over the years. What are you doing to remember the employees you’ve lost over the years? Is there a special way you can keep their memories alive?

5. Don’t forget to involve the new kids on the block. By giving roles to some of their youngest, newest cast members, Saturday Night Live made the link between old and new, and by doing so helped in some small way to acknowledge the passing of the torch onto the next generation and instill a sense of pride in the newest team members.

6. Recognize the unsung heroes. Naturally, the stars on any production get all the acclaim. Which is why I thought the best part of the SNL special was when Wayne and Garth revealed their #1 item on their “Top-10 Things About Saturday Night Live” list: The crew! Which prompted a rousing standing ovation by everyone in attendance in honor of all the behind-the-scenes’ employees. What are you doing to give a “standing ovation” to your support crew?

Michael Kerr, February, 2015.  Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of “The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.”






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