Alicia Black is an emergency and internal medicine client services representative in the small animal emergency room at NC State, where she is responsible for checking in patients and answering the phone at the front desk.
Black’s job can be challenging when she is the only person working at the desk, pet owners are calling because their pets are in distress and, at the same time, worried pet owners are standing at the desk waiting to be helped.
On those hectic days, whether Black asks for help or not, she can depend on Katie Bennett, an emergency and critical care nurse, to help her answer the phone or check in patients. For the countless times that Bennett has assisted Black, Black thanked her by sending her an electronic card via NC State’s new PAWS and Say Thanks program.
“You are a true gem!” Black wrote to Bennett.
University Human Resources launched PAWS and Say Thanks — an on-the-spot, peer-to-peer recognition program — in March. The program gives employees a quick and easy way to recognize colleagues when they go above and beyond their job duties. From the PAWS and Say thanks webpage, employees can fill out a form, and the system will automatically send their colleagues an e-card. Since the program’s launch, employees have sent more than 250 electronic cards.
Black and Bennett recently met with Howl You Know via Zoom to discuss the new program.
Black said she began to think about whom she should send a card to soon after UHR sent an email to employees announcing PAWS and Say Thanks.
“I thought about who here at NC state has really helped me out, who’s been my rock,” Black said. “Every time I would think about who has helped me, who’s been able to answer my questions, who has always been nice and kind, it was Katie. I went, ‘You know what? I’m going to give this lovely young person the most glowing review I can because she’s amazing.'”
Bennett responded, “I’m blushing, but you can’t see it.”
Black and Bennett often work the same shift at the Terry Companion Animal Medical Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine. During those shifts, Black often transfers calls to Bennett so Bennett can determine whether pet owners should bring their pets to the emergency room. Bennett is also responsible for triaging and assessing animals that are brought to the ER by their owners.
“I do everything that an RN would do,” Bennett said. “I just do it on small, fluffy things.”
Black filled out the PAWS and Say Thanks form as she and Bennett worked the same shift on the morning of March 7. After Bennett read the email that morning, she went to the front desk where Black was working.
“I remember saying, ‘Thank you,’ and how sweet it was,” Bennett said. “I remember thanking her for her work and everything that she has done to help me out over the last couple of years.”
Meghan Kerr, director of research administration for the College of Sciences, first heard about the PAWS and Say Thanks program during a meeting. After the presentation, she knew exactly whom she would send a card to: Monique Burnette.
Burnette is an operations manager in the Office of Research and Innovation. Kerr and Burnette closely work together on contracts, grants and sponsored research for the College of Sciences. Kerr relies on Burnette for a lot related to those awards, from sorting out problems and helping contact hard-to-reach people to making sure deadlines are met.
“You are always there for us, answering questions, responding to last-minute requests, providing helpful guidance, and you do it all in a kind and positive way,” Kerr wrote to Burnette.
In an interview, Kerr called Burnette a lifesaver.
“It makes me feel really good to have someone whom I can depend on, whom I know and can trust their caliber of work will be excellent,” Kerr said.
When Burnette saw the email in her inbox, she almost didn’t open it.
“When I read it, I think my first response was, ‘Aah, Meghan,’” Burnette said. ‘”You didn’t have to do that because I just consider what I do as just part of my job.’
“I do tend to sometimes go that extra mile just to make sure we’re all on the same page. To receive this lets me know I must be doing something right because somebody cares, and somebody noticed.”
If you would like to send a PAWS and Say Thanks card to a colleague, visit the program’s webpage and follow the instructions. The recipient will receive an e-card. Physical cards also are available to send. Go to the webpage to learn more information about those cards.