Employee Recognition

Discover the irrefutable case for employee recognition

You’ve seen the YouTube videos of happy flight attendants creatively rapping the in-flight safety instructions, or read the stories of employees who have gone way beyond their job duties to help a customer. These make for great stories, but you can’t help but notice that most of these employees work for winning companies. Would the employees have gone above and beyond if they didn’t have a great work environment? Or would the companies be so successful without engaged employees?

You may think your employees are engaged now, but have you planned for the future? What will change when baby-boomers retire? What if your company could be more successful just by recognizing your employees? Here are a few reasons you need an employee recognition program:

Impact of the future workforce

Baby boomers are retiring, and they are taking much of the skill and experience in their companies with them. This year, 60 percent of new jobs being created require skills held by only 20 percent of the population. Millennials are already starting to take over; earlier this year, they surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. You need to have the feedback channels, communication strategy, and collaborative environment to be able to recruit top millennial talent during this generational transition.

More employees work outside the office

The workplace is changing — literally. New communication tools are making it possible and easy for employees to work from home or other remote locations. As mobile trends continue and mobile apps become more advanced, more work is going to take place away from the office. How will your organization make these people feel like they are an engaged and valued part of the team? Do you have recognition programs in place that allow your mobile team to participate seamlessly?

Customer service is linked to employee engagement

The customer is always right, and that is even truer today. In a world where one tweet or a short video clip can do major damage to a company’s reputation and bottom line, it is critical that customer-facing employees are engaged and motivated. The good news is, you can empower your employees to provide great customer service and create repeat customers. Consider the ROI of this new strategy; organizations that prioritize customer service make 60 percent more profit!

Reinforce the right behaviors

Employee recognition does more than just give people warm and fuzzies. It is a strategic investment that aligns employees with corporate objectives. Employee recognition works by reinforcing behaviors that help achieve goals, and it solidifies people’s emotional connection with their jobs and the company. Engaged employees who are aligned with business objectives will work harder to achieve goals and serve customers, meaning they will push the company to succeed.

Get senior management involved

Although we often hear executives say that employees are the organization’s greatest asset, they are also often viewed as the biggest cost. So how are you going to justify an employee rewards program that increases the cost? By explaining the ROI. Use numbers and provide examples of the outcomes that can be achieved.

Winning companies have a great work environment. Great work environments are created when employees are aligned with business objectives and rewarded for meeting goals. It’s time you created a recognition strategy that can push your company to the next level.

Want to learn how to create a recognition strategy that’s tailored to engage and align all of your employees? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Employee Motivation

Why you should identify your employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivators

New generations entering the workforce have unique perspectives and expectations about meaningful work and motivating rewards. Savvy employers understand the difference between intrinsic and external (extrinsic) motivators and develop engagement programs that recognize and reward employees for exercising the right behaviors and aligning with company goals.

Outside in: intrinsic versus external motivators

A motivated employee is more likely to go beyond minimum work expectations, deliver high-quality work, and seek out new challenges. Motivation is a quality that energizes and guides behavior, and each of your employees has different motivators:

External (extrinsic) motivators: An employee motivated by external rewards performs work to specifically earn a reward meted out by the employer. The rewards are tangible and often monetary, like pay increases, new benefits, bonuses, or promotions.

Intrinsic motivators: Employees motivated by intrinsic rewards complete work because it is personally rewarding. These are psychological motivators, and they typically fall into four reward categories: meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress.

You need to understand the different sources of employee motivation so that you can train managers to match the right rewards and recognition styles to the right employee. If you don’t understand what motivates the multigenerational workforce, you might start losing talent. As the economy picks up, many workers are no longer satisfied staying in jobs that don’t feel rewarding most of the time.

Motivating at all ages

The workforce is now composed of four generations of employees: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (millennials).

Traditionalists typically get satisfaction from doing a good job, and so are considered self-motivated. They’ve also worked for decades for organizations that rewarded strictly through salary increases and anniversary awards, so they tend to expect less praise and fewer spot bonuses.

Baby Boomers tend to be more motivated than the Traditionalists by work-life balance. They are loyal to their organizations and enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience. Baby Boomers often appreciate more traditional rewards, like items with monetary value, and recognition that they are balancing external duties in their personal lives.

Gen Xers typically have a more individualistic perspective about work. People in this group are after the traditional trappings of success, such as promotions, corner offices, and financial benefits that will help them support their families.

Millennials usually appreciate rewards that let them control their work time, enjoy personal activities, and support their passion for charities, the environment, and social causes. They often prioritize work flexibility over salary and monetary rewards. Millennials also tend to crave feedback, so they can be motivated well by pats on the back and public praise.

Developing an impactful reward system

Salary increases and annual bonuses alone are not the answer to raising levels of employee engagement. A review of 120 years of research found a weak link between salary and job satisfaction, and this is true globally. Salary is important at the point of hiring but becomes less important once an employee is on board. Global employers, in particular, are challenged with engaging and motivating a geographically dispersed workforce. How do you:

  • Understand and address each employee’s motivators
  • Engage the workforce as a whole
  • Align workforce performance across the organization
  • Develop an impactful and fair reward system that includes both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives

Single platform for multiple results

The answer is found in technology. Reward & recognition platforms (like the Achievers Employee Success Platform™), allow employees to earn a mix of public praise and appreciation (which taps into those intrinsic motivators), as well as redeemable points (which tap into extrinsic, monetary motivators).

When you provide employees with a marketplace of items they can shop for with the points they’ve earned, you’re providing a truly tailored experience for each person. Employees are empowered to select the item that’s most meaningful to them, whether it’s plane tickets for a dream vacation, a designer bag, charitable donations, or a Visa® prepaid card they can use for daily expenses.

Forget hierarchy and status

The single platform as a reward system has two important advantages. You can collect global performance data at every level of the organization, and employees can pick the rewards that mean the most to them. The rewards are not tied to an employee’s tenure or their status in a hierarchy, like most traditional reward systems.

You can continue to link the remuneration to your employee’s role, but any reward system should be flexible enough to acknowledge external motivations and the four groups that comprise opportunities for intrinsic motivation. Attract, engage, and align employees, and give them the rewards they want for exhibiting the right behaviors. It’s the formula for a successful employee engagement strategy.

Employee Recognition

Trend alert: Employee recognition is hot and lapel pins are not

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but a lot of employees think sporting a company lapel pin is about as “in” as wearing socks with sandals. There are much better ways to reward your employees and reinforce your brand besides just handing out tchotchkes.

Companies today are getting extremely competitive when it comes to culture and perks. Does your employee engagement strategy reflect what employees truly want and even expect from their employers?

What’s out? Passé trends include:

  • Ad hoc and disconnected recognition
  • Hierarchy
  • Annual or semi-annual feedback & bonuses

What’s on-trend today is:

  • Collaboration and bottom-up communication
  • Cross-team recognition
  • Tailored but fair rewards

Modern recognition strategies are necessary to win in today’s competitive business landscape, and these strategies must be transparent and advanced – just like the modern workplace. Evolving your engagement strategy reaches beyond what’s “on-trend” and extends to the bottom line. We curated this list of ten reasons why you need to replace the lapel pins with real-time recognition:

  1. Create better shareholder value.
    Recognized employees will work harder to satisfy your customers, which has a direct effect on your organization’s stakeholders.
  2. Align employees with business objectives.
    This reinforces the right behaviors and makes recognition more purposeful.
  3. Get employees engaged.
    Recognition solidifies employees’ emotional connection with your company.
  4. Celebrate individual accomplishments.
    While team recognition is important, employees want to feel that they have made an impact at an individual level too.
  5. Employees will work harder.
    80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance.
  6. Maximize retention rates.
    Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations.
  7. Leverage your greatest resource.
    Recognition is the easiest and most meaningful way to motivate your people.
  8. Become more productive and profitable.
    Organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive and 40 percent more profitable than organizations with low engagement levels.
  9. Develop your future leaders and motivate them to stay.
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better.
  10. Reinforce positive behaviors.

When great work is recognized, it’s repeated.

Wonder what other recognition styles are in this season? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to find out!

Dogs at work

Do dogs at work actually improve employee engagement?

Dogs at work are the latest perk to have employees salivating with envy. From Nestle Purina’s “bring your dog to work day” to the “woof-top” dog park built on top of Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters, a growing number of companies are letting employees bring their pooches to work.

The office is not your home, however. If it’s not appropriate for your employees to wander around in their PJs, why should you welcome dogs at work? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, and whether it actually affects employee engagement:

Pooches reduce workplace stress

Employees who bring their pets have less stress. In one study, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that workers who had dogs nearby experienced declining levels of stress throughout the day, but stress levels spiked by 70 percent for workers who left their dogs at home. From a work-life balance perspective, bringing your dog to work means that employees don’t have to worry about their four-legged friends sitting home alone all day. Pooches also contribute to the casual feel of the work environment and introduce a tangible sense of fun that relieves stress.

Staff members become more sociable

One of the reasons pets have such a marked effect on workplace-related stress is because they encourage the staff to open up socially. Even on the most hectic days, team members walking past a dog tend to engage in mushy, one-way conversations and scratch the dog’s belly. A dog’s antics give co-workers something to laugh about, and this binds them together — making for a friendlier office environment that, according to Purina, boosts productivity.

Dogs can distract co-workers

While a study by Central Michigan University confirms that dogs at work could help build camaraderie and trust, the study also admits that pets can distract some employees. What if co-workers have an allergy or phobia? Employees are unlikely to work efficiently if they must chain-swallow antihistamines or cower in their office to avoid canines. Also, what impression might clients get if they hear barking in the background?

Pet-free zones can help

Employers who ignore the wishes of canine-loathing staff do risk alienating a portion of their workforce. That’s why it’s crucial to lay down the ground rules before you invite your tail-wagging friends — and that includes designating pet-free zones for workers who are uncomfortable around dogs. Ultimately, the burden of avoiding messes and aggressive behavior lies with the pet owner. It’s a perk that comes with responsibility.

Inviting dogs to work may not be for everyone, and staff buy-in is crucial. However, if both the dog and team are happy, then maybe it’s worth giving dogs at work a trial run.

Employee Recognition

Revamp your employee recognition strategy to drive results

Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition

Everyone likes to know that people around them notice and appreciate them.

This applies to the workplace too. We often hear organizations say that their number-one asset is their people. Considering this, businesses should be concerned that only 49 percent of North American employees are happy at work. According to WorldatWork, 89 percent of organizations report that they have some type of recognition system in place, but with these staggeringly low employee engagement rates, it’s clear that these programs are far from effective.

It’s not simply a matter of sending out thank-you cards; organizations need to ensure that their employee recognition program is planned and executed to deliver certain results. Here are some tips:

  1.       Start at the beginning

If you were renovating a house, you wouldn’t begin painting until you had finished drawing the floor plan, framing the walls, and hanging the drywall. It’s important to take the same approach with creating a meaningful employee recognition strategy. If you don’t start by creating an employee retention plan that will work at your company, all of the other employee engagement efforts will go to waste. Try administering a baseline employee engagement survey. This will give you insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Determine where your employee engagement levels stand today, and then create reasonable timelines and benchmarks for growth.

  1.       Ask, “What’s the point?”

Once you’ve determined where you currently stand, you can create goals. Why do you want to improve your employee recognition program? Do you want to improve employee retention, or align global employees with a common goal? Maybe you want to foster team spirit and collaboration. Whatever your goals are, they need to be defined so that you can build a program that centers on fulfilling these objectives.

  1.       Look at the big picture

In order for the program to run smoothly between departments and deliver the intended results, recognition needs to be tied in with compensation and benefits, performance management, rewards, career development, employee engagement and alignment, and retention and recruiting.

  1.       Go mobile

People are doing more and more on their mobile devices, and they expect to be able to use their phones and tablets for work. Your recognition program needs to be accessible to employees on the field, telecommuters, and even your global workforce. If you use a software platform to manage rewards and recognition, ensure that you have a cloud-based, mobile-friendly solution.

Whatever your needs are, it’s important to start with objectives and execute on a plan that’s sure to deliver results. A cohesive strategy for employee recognition will result in greater engagement, higher retention, better customer service, and a company-wide culture of recognition and success.

Want to know more about creating an employee recognition program? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Onboarding new employees

2 things that set new hires up for failure

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, employers lose an average of 23 percent of all new hires within their first year. Among those who stay, one third of employees don’t meet expected levels of productivity.

These are alarming statistics. They indicate that new hires are not receiving the quality guidance and onboarding they need when starting a new position. It also means that you, the employer, are probably spending far more in hiring costs than you need to.

Onboarding new employees should be a priority initiative for your HR team, because it can have a dramatic impact on retention, productivity, and future hiring success. While there’s no single magic formula for successful programs, there are a couple of fundamental ways to get it wrong.

Unidirectional information

Experienced candidates might hit the ground running on their job’s technical aspects. However, they’ll still have plenty of basic questions they need answered: “Can I help myself to a stapler, or do I need to fill out a requisition form?” “Is this organization’s culture built around email communication, or should I speak to people face-to-face?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Most onboarding programs are designed to give information that the organization prioritizes, like the company history, executive bios, and corporate mission statements. While this information is important, your programs should also incorporate the needs of the employee. If you want new hires to feel more welcome, make sure they have an “office buddy” — someone who can set up their workspace and show them the lay of land. The earlier you can integrate the new hire into your company’s culture, the more productive they’ll be.

Not setting clear goals and milestones

Believe it or not, only 39 percent of companies set clear goals and establish milestones for new hires. Yet without clear performance criteria, employees may end up with too much or too little work, or perform tasks in a way that upsets the apple cart. So take the time to show them how you do things, and be open to suggestions if they know how to make a process cheaper, faster, or better.

Preparing the team is critical in this process, especially if another team member was overlooked for promotion. Managers can smooth away lingering resentment by explaining why the new hire was selected for the job. It helps if you can establish a set of team goals and objectives to help the new hire — and the team as a whole — succeed.

Successful onboarding requires viewing your organization through the new hire’s eyes. Quickly integrating them into company culture, and preparing the troops for the new arrival, allows the team to gel — and that can lead to higher-level functioning, greater collaboration, and increased productivity.

How to run a meeting that engages employees

5 ways to make meetings more engaging

All too often, business meetings are unproductive, unfocused, and just plain boring. While meetings may have a bad reputation, that doesn’t mean your team can’t work together to create a positive experience for everyone involved. When employees feel engaged in a meeting, it can generate an environment where ideas flow, team collaboration improves, and social bonds are strengthened. Here are five tips for how to run a meeting that increases employee engagement:

  1. Stand up and get the blood flowing

While many people have anecdotal evidence that standing meetings improve attention and engagement, there’s now research to support this claim. The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that people in their study had increased levels of engagement when they stood up during a meeting compared to a control group. If you feel that the level of participation isn’t as high as you would like, or if you’re losing your audience, have team members get out of their chairs.

  1. Be sure to get people involved

If you want people engaged, you have to be sure to include them. Think about implementing different strategies to get people sharing ideas, collaborating, and speaking with one another. To do this, try routinely hosting a round at different points in a meeting where participants can contribute, share opinions, and even voice complaints. Think about breaking people up into groups or partners, or even using “speed dating,” where everyone switches partners quickly to bounce ideas off one another. Also be sure to ask for feedback on meetings and query participants about how meetings can be improved in the future.

  1. Have clear goals and objectives

Meetings that go off on tangents or don’t have a clear goal can often leave attendees frustrated and disinterested. There should be a set framework in advance of your meetings, with key points outlined and a good idea of what the meeting needs to accomplish. This can help make brainstorming sessions more focused, help you stay on point, and keep your team going in the right creative direction.

  1. Get visual

Visuals are an excellent way to increase engagement in a meeting. But just adding some pie charts to a presentation isn’t going to cut it. Think about using a white board or pin boards, mixing up colorful markers, and distributing post-its throughout your meeting room. Encourage people to write their own ideas down, express themselves visually, and even vote on ideas by placing a sticker with their name next to the proposals they like best.

  1. Try to make a meeting special

People tend to like a bit of variety in life, and meetings are no different. Think about inviting leaders and educators to speak to meeting participants. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be entirely related to the meeting topic or objective. As long as the speaker is innovative and challenges orthodoxy, there is an opportunity that he or she will educate and inspire meeting participants. You can also think about introducing a novel environment to help jump start creativity. It could be as simple as bringing people out to a park or hosting a meeting on a patio, but a change of scenery can go a long way to getting the engagement you want.

Elements of Employee Engagement

The 8 elements of employee engagement

Since you’re here on the [engage] blog, you already know that engaged employees are an invaluable asset in today’s competitive workforce. You understand that engaged employees are committed, passionate, and inspired — and they inspire others with their example. But how can you foster employee engagement at your own organization?
Based on our research and experience, we’ve determined that there are eight primary elements of employee engagement that an organization needs to support in order to have a truly engaged team.

In fact, we believe so strongly in the importance of these pillars that we’ve recognized companies who excel in each area at our annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards. Take a look at the list and see where your organization excels, and where you can improve.

Leadership

Employees are desperate to have meaningful relationships with their managers. Did you know that praise from a direct manager is almost twice as effective at motivating employees as giving them stock options? And praise is free! In fact, the single greatest predictor of employee commitment — whether those employees will continue working at your company — is their relationships with their managers. We can’t overstate this: when it comes to engagement, good management is critical.

Communication

Wondering what makes a good manager? Start with good communication. Make sure you communicate with your employees openly, honestly, and often. Don’t shield your employees from news of business failures — they’ll only hear about it elsewhere, and hearing it from you will engender trust.

Culture

A positive corporate culture results in happy employees who want to come to work every morning. Not only that, but the better the culture, the more profitable the company. If you aren’t convinced, researchers at the University of North Dakota determined that investing in companies from “Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For” consistently yields a larger return than the overall market — larger, even, than investing in the S&P 500.

Rewards and recognition

More than three quarters of employees say they would work harder if they were recognized more.  This includes formal recognition, like years of service or employee-of-the-month programs, as well as informal programs like company “points” or thank-you cards. A well-defined recognition and reward system allows employers to effectively differentiate between good and poor performers and tie recognition and rewards directly to the behavior that matters for the success of the organization. What gets recognized gets repeated.

Professional and personal growth

The opportunity to develop new skills and capabilities is critically important to ambitious employees. Most employee development occurs on the job in the form of new projects or responsibilities, but could also include regional conferences, new reading materials, or certification courses. Keep your employees engaged by finding out how they’d like to stretch and giving them appropriate opportunities for growth in that direction.

Accountability and performance

Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. People who perform well feel good about themselves —and where they work. But like any team, they need coaches who can provide honest feedback. Immediate praise reinforces desired behaviors, and timely criticism can help avert future problems before they snowball.

Vision and values

Engaged employees understand the big picture and how they fit into it. A clearly communicated vision and statement of core values give employees something to rally around. If employees feel like a part of something bigger than themselves, they are much more likely to go above and beyond to contribute to that greater purpose.

Corporate social responsibility

Employee engagement levels are twice as high among employees who say they are proud of the contributions their organization has made to the community. Successful companies tend to be deeply connected with their communities, committed to social outreach, and they encourage employees to participate in worthy causes that make the world a better place.

Do any of these qualities fit your company? Good news, we’re now accepting applications for the 2016 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards! Apply now for the chance to win this prestigious designation.

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Awards

The route to employee engagement

Infographic: The route to employee engagement

The most successful businesses are rooted in an engaged workforce, where employees are valued for their contributions. It seems simple, yet many companies are missing the mark when it comes to connecting their employees with core engagement factors like their company’s mission, their experience of recognition at work, and their workplace culture.

This is the “greatness gap” that many employers are dealing with today. HR and business leaders work hard to create a company mission and vision, craft a culture statement, and roll out employee recognition programs … yet something’s still not clicking. That’s why we decided to survey hundreds of full-time employees throughout North America to determine how engaged they feel at work, how often they get recognized, and whether they feel aligned with their company’s mission. The results were pretty shocking — and we’ve highlighted some of the biggest stats below.

We encourage you to get the rest of our employee engagement insights by downloading the full Achievers 2015 North American workforce survey results right here.

Greatness-Infographic-FINAL_smaller

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