Important HR Strategies

3 HR Strategies You May Have Overlooked

Create employee handbooks

Track employee hours

Draft contracts for new employees

Manage company benefits

Handle employee complaints

The list goes on and on. Across many industries, the role of HR has traditionally focused on endless paperwork and organizational policy development.

However, in today’s technologically-enhanced workforce, the traditional role of HR is swiftly shifting. Many organizations have undergone significant changes in light of new employment regulations and more diverse, younger employees who demand modern HR departments. Above all, experts agree that the role of the HR team is now genuinely impacted by the rapidly expanding availability of technology and digital tools.

So the role of today’s HR director, manager or executive must parallel the needs of their ever-changing organization. Successful companies also realize they must become more adaptive, resilient and customer-centered.

Taking a More Strategic Approach to HR Management

The evolution of technology allows HR professionals to take on more strategic roles in today’s HR landscape. Organizations must shift towards strategic human resource management or use the HR department to formulate HR strategies based on the company’s short- and long-term goals.

As a result, the decisions that departments make must reflect goals that the company has set. For example, if the organization plans to expand, HR’s recruitment strategy should focus on creating systems that will allow the company to recruit and hire top talent. Within this new type of environment, the HR team acts as a strategic business partner as well as a change mentor.

Here are three additional HR strategies your organization may be overlooking:

Create a Retention Strategy

Did you know that the costs of employee turnover can range from 30 percent to 150 percent of the employee’s salary? Retaining talented team members can distinguish truly successful companies from not so successful ones. Many employees leave their jobs when they are disengaged. So today’s HR professional must identify what could make people in their company disengaged and figure out ways to remedy these issues.

A strong work-life balance helps create a solid retention strategy. Organizations that promote a positive work-life balance report lower turnover and recruiting costs and increased productivity from satisfied, engaged employees.

Additional successful retention tactics might include giving employees additional time off, supporting working parents via on-site day care or job sharing, and offering flexible schedules to accommodate busy families or supporting continuing education. Employees who have time to spend on maintaining their home life look at work less like just another chore to finish.

Encourage a C-Level HR Support Strategy

If you read anything about organizational change, it typically begins with the need for executive buy-in and support. Changing HR’s role is no different. While many of today’s leaders and CEOs do understand the need for HR’s role stand on equal footing as any other business function, others tend to get stuck in a different mindset that is focused on keeping HR behind the scenes.

To shift management’s support of HR from providing transactional processing to offering valuable business insight, experts suggest first creating a business case for change. This method can compel HR to specify why their HR strategies need a more forward-thinking model, and clearly and effectively spell out the major advantages to the company.

Develop an HR Analytics Strategy

If you want to make your HR processes as efficient as possible, implement the right tech tools for your company, especially those tools that focus on analytics like business intelligence, employee feedback or employee recognition and engagement data. The power of analytics allows HR departments to use employee data to help management make more informed decisions about their team members and improve overall performance. Additionally, analytics can provide insight for effectively managing employees to reach company-wide goals more efficiently. With an analytics strategy firmly in place, executives can also better forecast a company’s future staffing needs.

One of the most critical advantages of incorporating an HR analytics strategy is having information ready and available for future leadership needs. Companies can develop everything from recruiting and development plans to succession tactics with data they’ve collected. Often an overlooked area, a succession plan can help minimize disruption by identifying vital roles in a company and employees who possess the skills to assume these positions immediately should someone leave.

HR teams can also track and measure data to continually improve organizational processes with an analytics strategy in place. For example, much of the HR technology available on the market today can help businesses make more informed decisions about what metrics are most critical to the company culture and overall business goals, as well as track them to drive employee engagement.

The Bottom Line

It is important to understand that implementing the latest HR strategies is an ongoing process. HR should plan to regularly review its approach and adjust various elements as the company changes.

Ultimately, to remain competitive, HR professionals today must clearly articulate their key role regarding the actual value they create for their organization. Equally important, senior executives must support and invest in HR as if it were its own business, surpassing the stereotype of HR professionals as simply support staff and unleashing their full potential as company-wide strategic partners.

How strong are your HR strategies? Do you have a retention strategy in place? Get started with Achievers’ infographic on 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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About the Author
Lisa Dunn
Lisa C. Dunn a freelance writer, copywriter and ghostwriter who develops high-quality content for businesses and non-profit organizations. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous PR and digital marketing agencies, and her work has been featured in well-known publications including Forbes, VentureBeat, Mashable, Huffington Post, Wired, B2C, USA Today, among many others.




celebrating Achievers' Employees

Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Celebrates Employees

Here at Achievers we love Employee Appreciation Week! In celebration of Employee Appreciation Week, we want to turn the spotlight to Achievers’ employees. We’re highlighting some of our favorite Achievers moments within the past year, from fun culture videos to employee recognitions. To kick things off, we want to bring it back to our Achievers Carpool Karaoke video which we played during our company-wide Recognition & Rewards (R&R) meeting. You don’t want to miss this:

Achievers Carpool Karaoke Video

One of the most loved initiatives we have here at Achievers is the Achievers Women’s Network (AWN). The AWN committee aims to help others develop the leadership skills and career advancing opportunities needed to drive success – this is done by sharing information, best practices, education, and experience. For International Women’s Day, the AWN committee spearheaded a video project featuring Achievers’ employees standing by the #BeBoldForChange campaign. Check it out:

Achievers #BeBoldForChange Video

Employee Appreciation Week wouldn’t be complete without highlighting actual employee recognitions delivered via Achievers’ own ASPIRE recognition program. While we don’t have the space to feature all of our employees in one blog post (wish we could!), every member of the Achievers family deserves massive recognition for all the A-mazing work they do. Thank you A-players for staying engaged, recognizing your peers, and helping our customers boost employee engagement in their own workplaces.

ASPIRE Recognition 2018ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018 ASPIRE Recognition 2018

It’s important to spread employee appreciation across your organization frequently, not just during one week of the year. You’ll be surprised at how impactful it can be. After all, 69% of employees cited Recognition and Reward as a motivator to stay at their current job in 2018. Take the first step and recognize someone today for a job well done.

Looking for fun ideas on how to show employee appreciation? Check out our blog post 20 Fresh Ideas for the Best Employee Appreciation Week Ever.

Remember, don’t fall short when it comes to engaging your employees. Learn the consequences by accessing Achievers’ white paper The True Cost of Disengagement.

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We’re excited to share that Achievers has been nominated for the Canadian HR Reporter’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards in two categories: Employee Engagement Programs and Recognition Programs & Awards. Share your love for Achievers and vote for us today before the March 19, 2018 deadline. Vote here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and Achievers’ social media presence, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.





The Power Behind Engagement

Top Four Benefits of Employee Engagement

People are always complaining about their jobs; whether it’s a boss who drives you up the wall, work that bores you to tears or even the nagging suspicion that you’re being underpaid, each unhappy employee has their own reasons for dreading a Monday morning. But when all this unhappiness and discontent gets added up, it turns out it’s having a profound impact on economies everywhere: we’re in the midst of a global employee engagement crisis, with just 13% of employees worldwide engaged with their jobs.

So what exactly does this mean? An easy way to think about employee engagement is to look at your existing staff. Engaged staff are often your best performing employees – they’re efficient, motivated, understand their role and tackle it to the best of their ability. Naturally, we think all employees will be like that when we hire them – otherwise, why bother?

During job interviews, most candidates are very enthusiastic about the job on offer and if you hire them, it’s normally this enthused and engaged person that you actually want working for you. Yet if you find yourself looking at that same excited candidate a year into the job and seeing that they’re unmotivated, checked out and unhappy, it’s clear that they’ve become disengaged. If that’s the case with many of your employees, you might have a problem brewing.

employee engagement table

It doesn’t matter if your business is a tiny start-up or huge multinational corporation – disengaged staff can run it to the ground. As employee engagement drops off, business owners find that deadlines start getting missed, staff are constantly off sick and employees start leaving the business in droves. Work slows down to a crawl, leaving engaged staff to pick up the slack and heightening their stress levels (possibly leading to them hating their jobs too!)

Luckily, by focusing on employee engagement and happiness, you can revive even the most lifeless of workforces. Read on to find out about the top benefits of employee engagement, along with some tips on how to improve it throughout your business.

1. Cost-Savings

Disengaged staff are slowly draining the life out of your business. In the UK, employee disengagement is costing businesses around £340 billion every single year in lost productivity, while in the USA Gallup estimates this figure rises as high as $550 billion.

It’s easy to see how – if you’re paying someone to do a job and they’ve only put in half the effort necessary, they’ll still get paid even if you don’t get the results you need. As for very disengaged employees (often easily identified by their miserable and disruptive attitudes), you may as well be giving money away. Employee disengagement can easily decimate the return on investment on salaries.

On the other hand, engaged employees will improve your profitability and drive revenue. In fact, workforce opinion surveys show that highly engaged employees can boost business performance by 30%. This is because engaged employees are emotionally committed to their company, its values and its goals. They want the business to do well and will do their best to help it succeed. The hard numbers prove this too – companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.

Luckily, there are ways you can help to foster this sort of commitment. For instance, people who are bored to death at their jobs are unlikely to care about it much, whereas 78% of employees who say their companies encourage creativity and innovation are committed to their employer. It’s easy for businesses to get into a “this is how we’ve always done it” rut and resist change, but data like this shows that this attitude is detrimental to employee engagement. Instead, actively encourage employees to innovate and explore new ways to do things. They’ll enjoy their jobs more, be more committed and help to power your business forwards.

2. Lower Turnover

Did you know that whenever a staff member leaves, it can cost 33% of their salary to replace them? Hiring recruiters is expensive, but even if you look for someone independently you’re going to need to spend valuable time and money on advertising the position, and screening and interviewing candidates. And that’s not the end of the problem – it’s unlikely a new person will be as comfortable in the role as their predecessor – they’ll require training and time to acclimatize to their new job. In fact, a new employee can take up to 2 full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. In the vast majority of circumstances, that’s going to mean some degree of lost productivity.

It’s clearly in a business’ best interests to retain as many of their staff as possible, but with widespread disengagement becoming more and more of a problem, employees are more likely to leave their jobs than ever before. A job for life has become a thing of the past. Estimates vary, but research suggests that as many as 51% of employees were looking to leave their jobs in 2017. And for those who are worried about employees being poached by recruiters and competitors, you might have reason to be paranoid – 81% of employees would consider leaving their current role for the right offer.

On the other hand, a marker of engaged staff is company loyalty. Highly engaged staff are 87% less likely to leave an organisation than less engaged staff. So if you want to reduce staff turnover, it’s worthwhile to take a look at exactly what’s ruining engagement and driving people to leave:

With this in mind, who you hire as a manager and the way you train them is absolutely vital for employee engagement. Audit your existing managers to ensure that they’re fit to lead, and be selective when hiring new ones. An effective manager prioritizes supporting their staff, leaving employees feeling far less disenchanted with their jobs. Furthermore, by implementing company-wide recognition programs, staff will feel more appreciated and motivated to work (rather than just motivated to find a new job).

3. More Productive Employees

As Albert Einstein once said, “The best creative work is never done when one is unhappy.” This remains true in the modern workplace, with overall productivity increasing by 20-25% when employees are engaged.

A big factor in reducing productivity and engagement is work overload and excessive stress. Some managers think that by setting more work and piling the pressure on, they’ll get better results. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at work, you probably know that the opposite is true:

It’s clear that stress is not an effective motivator. Instead, take a positive and constructive approach to each employee’s work to ensure that workloads are manageable. Implement effective and personalized feedback and communication structures that allow employees to raise any problems they’re having in a non-judgmental setting.

4. Happier Customers

Happy employees create happy and satisfied customers, and the numbers prove it: companies with a formalized employee engagement program enjoy 233% greater customer loyalty. It makes sense, really – if you’re unhappy at work, the last thing you want to do is have a chirpy, helpful conversation with a customer.

It’s worth noting that part of the reason for this is that engaged employees are often well-trained employees. Far too often, companies neglect thorough training programs in favor of ad-hoc and informal “on-the-job” style training.  This sort of training often delivers inconsistent results, with employees feeling they lack the skills and knowledge to perform their role properly: 28% of employees feel they’d be more productive with better training.

Meanwhile, employees who have received comprehensive training deliver superior customer service and achieve better results for their company. For salespeople, formal and dynamic coaching can improve their win rates by 28%. Furthermore, a lack of training frustrates employees and gives the impression there’s little room for development in their current role. Indeed, ongoing employee development programs beyond initial training periods are absolutely crucial; in a survey by CV Library, 31% of respondents cited a lack of development opportunities as the top reason for wanting to quit their job. If you want engaged employees, you need to invest in their future. After all, you stand to benefit too!

The Bottom Line: Employee Engagement is Worth the Investment

At the end of the day, your employees are more valuable and important to your business than any other asset. People spend a third of their lives at work, and it’s in your best interests to make sure they’re not miserable that entire time.

Management shouldn’t be about forcing as much work as possible out of employees at any cost. You want employees that are happy at work & want their company to succeed, rather than someone who’s looking for a quick exit because they’re unhappy.  By prioritizing employee engagement, you can enjoy all the above benefits: greater profits, lower turnover, more productive employees & happier customers…It really is a win-win situation!

To learn more about the importance of employee engagement, take a look at Achievers white paper The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Becca Armstrong Becca Armstrong is a content writer for MadMax Adventures, a purpose build outdoor activity center near Edinburgh, Scotland. They run corporate away-days for businesses that want to improve organisational performance by developing more cohesive teams, rewarding high performance or building relationships with valued customers.





Celebrate Your Employees

10 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Employees

Are you celebrating your employees on a regular basis? The people who work for your organization perform essential functions for you, and in return you should respect them, appreciate them, and be supportive of them. It’s time to celebrate your employees with thoughtful gestures that can take their employee experience to the next level. Here are 10 meaningful ways to show your employees how much you appreciate everything they do:

1. Eliminate the Bullies

Even careful hiring and screening procedures can fail occasionally, accidentally adding a bully or troublemaker into the employee mix. This can demoralize the rest of your staff, and you may lose some of your more dedicated workers. A 2017 nationwide survey of workplace bullying found that 60 million people are affected by bullying on the job, and 29 percent of the victims remain silent about it. Basic concern for your staff begins with making sure they feel safe at work.

2. Get to Know Your Employees Better

Communication works more effectively when people know each other better. Zappos, famed for its employer brand, has an “80-20 rule,” which mandates that managers spend at least 20 percent of their time with their team members. Zappo’s Insights trainer Kelly Wolske says, “When you get to know each other on a personal level, mutual respect grows. Knowing someone’s triggers as well as their strengths can also improve communication.”

3. Offer Employee Recognition

Levi King, CEO of Nav and founder of Lendio and other businesses, emphasizes the importance of acknowledging everyone’s contributions as a way of showing appreciation in the workplace. He writes, “Go out of your way to acknowledge unique efforts and success. Recognition is the icing on the cake of achievement, and it tastes delicious.”

4. Design Workspaces That Encourage Movement

Innovative companies are taking a second look at the layout of workspaces and increasing their employees’ productivity by encouraging them to move around during the day. A recent paper by design company Teknion notes that most office jobs keep workers tethered to a chair, while “alert, engaged, and healthy workers are most often those who are afforded a stimulating and inspiring work environment that encourages movement — to sit, stand and walk around.”

5. Define a Career Path for Each Employee

A major factor that leads workers to seek new employers is stagnation at their current jobs. “Workers who stay longer in the same job without a title change are significantly more likely to leave for another company for the next step in their career,” according to Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. Neglecting employee development can also have a measurable negative effect on your company’s bottom line.

6. Set an Example of Positive Energy

If you don’t seem glad to see your employees each day, those workers aren’t going to feel that they matter to you. Show that you care about them as people by putting out vibes that are encouraging and upbeat. Leadership trainer Shari Bench tells managers, “Do not wait for others to create the positive, rewarding, motivating environment that you have had the power to create all along.”

7. Ask for Employee Opinions

When you care about people, their opinions are important to you. The reverse of this statement is just as true: If you ask people about their thoughts, preferences and creative ideas, they will feel that you value them as individuals. Entrepreneur recommends that managers “ditch the suggestion box” and instead create a culture of transparency and fearlessness, in which everyone feels encouraged to speak up.

8. Reward Good Efforts

According to a study published in Business News Daily, “85 percent of workers surveyed felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered, and 73 percent described the office atmosphere as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ during an incentive period.” The article notes that reliably offering employee rewards and incentives elevates levels of employee engagement, an essential element for building a sustainable business.

9. Encourage Employees to Take a Break

We don’t just mean coffee breaks here. Your workers need to have your permission — and in some cases, your friendly insistence — that when they leave work at night, they can ignore work emails and focus completely on the rest of their lives. To maintain good health and avoid burnout, they need to take all their vacations days as well; American workers left 658 million vacation days unused in 2015, lowering their productivity and depressing their attitude about their jobs.

10. Don’t Forget Free Food

No discussion of valuing your workers would be complete if we didn’t mention snacks. Food is one of those perennial forms of caring guaranteed to delight almost everyone. In a recent survey of millennials, 48 percent said that if they were looking for a new job, the availability of snacks would be a factor in their decision, and in one company, workers said the introduction of a seltzer machine was “life-changing.”

The common thread among all the measures listed above is that employees feel valued when their needs and efforts are individually recognized. To optimize your company’s productivity and attract the best talent in a competitive market, you must create a culture of recognition. To learn more about how to establish best-practice methods for giving employee recognition and rewards, download our e-book, “Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.”

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A Culture of Learning

5 Reasons to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

Traditionally, a six-figure salary and 401k options were enough to attract and retain top talent. We no longer live in a traditional world—and the modern workplace has come a long way from what it used to be. While these benefits are still important to employees, they’re not prioritized like they once were. Today, employees are more focused on finding a company that has a positive, strong company culture revolved around learning and growth.

To cater to the “modern” employee and remain competitive in your respective industry, you have to focus on the development of a strong company culture that supports learning and employee growth.

Here are five more great reasons to bring this culture of learning to your organization.

  1. Employees Want to Learn

Today’s employees are eager to develop their skills. According to DevelopIntelligence’s 2017 DI Developer Survey, 55 percent of those surveyed said they seek out training in order to meet current or upcoming needs or to advance their careers. Organization’s that embrace a culture of learning not only encourage learning, but have an opportunity to provide their employees with these opportunities and experiences.

Try it: Start by asking each team what they want to learn about. Perhaps they’ll be interested in attending one big conference, rather than having a series of smaller in-office seminars. The more interested your employees, the more effective the opportunity will be.

  1. Employees Want to Grow

Not only do employees want to learn, they also want a chance to grow professionally and advance their careers. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials said development is important in a job. Learning and development go hand in hand, help employees become the successful employees they want to be.

Try it: Tie learning and promotion opportunities together. Give employees a chance to show they can take on a new position, empowering them to advance themselves both professionally and personally within the workplace.

  1. Learning Reduces Turnover

Did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their job within five years? On the other hand, a Columbia University study found that that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture is a mere 13.9 percent. Make learning a part of that culture and you may see your turnover rate plummet to zero.

Try it: Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk by providing training that’s actually valuable, actionable and useful for every employee. Liz Alton, contributor to ADP’s Spark blog suggests implementing a Learning Management System (LMS), developing paths for every employee, and creating learning processes, like mentorship, which is found to be more effective than seminar-style opportunities.

  1. Engaged Employees Are Productive

Giving employees the opportunity to learn, develop, and grow will increase employee engagement—and engaged employees produce better results. According to Gallup’s 2017 Employee Engagement report, those companies in the highest quartile experience 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales, and 21 percent higher profitability among many other positive metrics resulting from higher engagement levels.

Try it: Pair learning opportunities with an HR technology platform like Achievers, which allows you to keep employees engaged with recognition, milestones, and rewards. With an effective employee recognition program, you can ensure employees are being frequently recognized and rewarded by both peers and management for their achievements in learning and development.

  1. Learning Fosters Innovation

Companies that emphasize continuous education and development are able to develop the talents of their employees on a regular basis. This focus on talent development is a top priority for 80 percent of top executives, according to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report.

Try it: Use Intrapreneur programs to empower employees to use their new skills to innovate within the organization. As you build your program, keep these four building blocks in mind.

Create a Culture of Learning This Year

Employees want to learn. Learning keeps employees engaged. Engaged employees are productive and happy. Creating a culture of learning benefits everyone involved, and can be brought into any business, big or small. Use these simple reasons as inspiration to help your employees become the people they want to be, while taking your business to the next level.

Take the first step towards improving your culture by accessing the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.
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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.





Employee Engagement Predictions

5 Employee Engagement Predictions for 2018

Employee engagement is critical to retention. Don’t believe us? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median period people stay in their jobs is just over four years. And for those age 25 to 34 it’s even less (2.8 years). Broaden this to all millennials, and you’ve got a group that’s even more on the move – a scary prospect given they make up roughly a third of today’s U.S. workforce. So what’s a company to do? Read on for 5 employee engagement predictions – and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

1. Employee Engagement Deniers, Seek Help Now

The biggest prediction for employee engagement in 2018? Adoption is not an option; it’s a necessity. If you don’t have already have an employee engagement strategy, get one. Even Fortune 500s compete with the gig economy, which trades the traditional work perks of a guaranteed salary and benefits for freedom, flexibility and creativity. Make sure your engagement strategy reflects those desires.

Not only must you have a strategy, you have to be ready to deploy it in as many ways as possible and as early as possible. Passing the drug test shouldn’t be the top onboard “win” for your new hire. Look into attractive benefits plans, flexible work hours or locations, gamification software, or learning opportunities that you can present during the interview process. And remember: today’s employee knows far more about you than you know about them when they walk in the door.

2. Your Employee is Your Customer

Forbes writer Denise Lee Yohn has dubbed 2018 The Year of Employee Experience (EX). This concept transcends traditional employee engagement (better HR, perks and swag, employee as customer, integrated communications) and encompasses “everything the employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization.” Consider who your employee is outside your building. Yohn cites compelling research that EX grows corporate stature and profits. We’re not saying to ignore the basics, but nobody buys the house for the foundation. And don’t be surprised if you start seeing “CEXO” – Chief Employee Experience Officer – creep into the C-suite.

3. Make Work Less Work

Before we get to the sexy stuff (integrated platforms!), let’s talk about some employee engagement basics: how people get their daily work done. In a 2016 Oracle Global Engagement study, only 44% of employees felt their companies used the latest technology to support their work. Are you making things easier or harder for your employees? And are you looking beyond the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite (please)?

Today’s tools (e.g., Slack, Basecamp, Quickbase) feel more collaborative because they are. It’s not about a single person getting their work done, anymore. It’s about teams getting better work done together. But don’t forget to plan for change management. The best tech tools are worthless if they’re not adopted. It’s critical for you to answer “What’s in it for me?” for each employee. Desire is a powerful CPU.

4. Integrate, Analyze, Improve, Repeat

Whether you’re just now designing your employee engagement platform or fine-tuning it, you’ve got to think holistically and create an experience that supports your employees’ entire career path – unless you want it to be with another company.

From platforms that manage basic employee reward and retention programs to more sophisticated offerings that integrate social media, gamification, and even budget targets, technology-based employee engagement is on the rise. For example, Achievers offers a robust employee recognition and engagement platform with a full suite of tools to keep HR continuously informed and employees engaged. The more components included in your solution, the richer the data. It’s like having your own personal dashboard of what motivates your workforce.

Stephen Hunt with SAP Human Capital Management Research writes: “We will see exponential growth in the use of artificial intelligence, chatbots, intelligent services, machine learning, mobile solutions, and social platforms to make work more enjoyable, simple, and engaging.” Critical to these platforms is user-friendliness, mobility, and real-time feedback (think Pulse surveys, not the antiquated annual breed). And speaking of employee engagement, you might want to involve your employees and company brand in your platform’s design if you want it to succeed.

5. Wellness Tech Will Rival Work Tech

Collaboration tools: check. Integrated platforms: check. Health tech? Absolutely.

Even in wellness, tech is playing a bigger role in employee engagement. FastCompany reports that BP, Bank of America, IBM, Target, and other big names are putting wearables in their employees’ hands (and on their wrists). In 2016, FitBit launched Group Health, putting its product at the forefront of corporate wellness programs that are increasingly integrating downloadable fitness data into their health incentive tracking dashboards. In 2018, more and more companies will be helping employees get their 10,000 steps – understanding that an active body outside the cube promotes a more active mind inside it.

These are just a few of the ways great companies are thinking about employee engagement in 2018. Remember: you don’t have to be Google and your office park doesn’t have to be a self-sufficient compound to offer an awesome employee engagement experience.

To learn more about where employee engagement is heading, check out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” 2018 survey.

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About the Author
Laura Beerman
Laura Beerman is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. Her insights have appeared in RevCycleIntelligence, Becker’s, InformationWeek and other outlets. She has spoken nationally on population health, long-term care, and been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal for her accountable care predictions. She resides in Nashville with her Canadian husband and American kittens. You can find her on LinkedIn.





Support Team Well-Being

6 Ways Managers Can Support Team Well-Being to Drive Engagement

Helping companies and employees feel more connected, Limeade and Achievers have joined together to create a seamless, simplified employee engagement experience. Read more about the partnership announcement here.

At Limeade, we believe true engagement happens when people feel good and have a sense of purpose.

We define employee engagement, or “Big E” engagement, as the extra energy and commitment that comes from this sense of purpose and connection. We look at engagement through the lens of well-being because our research shows that well-being is a precursor to engagement — and how your organization supports well-being is a critical part of the equation.

After a deeper look into our research, we found that the single most important way to support employee well-being is through immediate managers.

This year, make sure your managers are supporting employee well-being by following our six tips.

  1. Schedule frequent 1:1 meetings with your team members. Listen and invite an open dialogue to cultivate discussion about their projects, tasks or roadblocks.
  2. Be a role model for well-being improvement by communicating your own well-being priorities with your teams. Tell them about your goals and the steps you’re taking to reach them.
  3. Send frequent messages of support and encouragement to your teams to call out their great work. Thank you cards or real-time recognition, whether monetary or social, during team meetings are a great way to show your employees you care.
  4. Get to know your team on a personal level in order to understand what matters to each employee. Some employees will want to focus on work-related topics while others will open up about their goals and challenges.
  5. Invest in your employees for the long-term by providing career development or cross-functional training. Side projects that help them develop new skills will show them you care about their development.
  6. Assume positive intent from your employees and give them more control over their schedules. It’s about trusting employees to get their work done on a schedule that works for them.

It’s time for managers to transform themselves into leaders, and it starts with supporting employee well-being with these six tips. Do you want more tips and tricks? Check out this full list of steps to help elevate your authentic commitment to employees.

Do you want to learn more about Achievers and Limeade’s partnership? Watch the video below to see the partnership in action.

Create a connected employee engagement experience with Achievers and Limeade.

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About the Author
Limeade is an employee engagement platform that builds great places to work by improving well-being and strengthening workplace culture.


The Neuroscience of Engagement

The Neuroscience of Employee Engagement

Job satisfaction is at the heart of employee engagement. And as early as 1959, it received decisive momentum when Psychologist Frederick Herzberg published the Two Factor theory of motivation. Herzberg’s research suggests that fulfilment at work is due to two set of factors:

  1. Motivators – intrinsic conditions of the job
  2. Hygiene factors – extrinsic factors causing in dissatisfaction if absent

With more advancements in brain science over past decades, Herzberg’s psychological studies have been given deeper scientific substance. Today, neuroscience (the study of the nervous system) can explain the fundamentals of human motivation at a molecular level.

This makes me question: how can we leverage neuroscience findings to help optimize employee engagement initiatives?

Let’s explore …

Neuroscience and Motivation

In “Motivation on the Brain – Applying the Neuroscience of Motivation in the Workplace”, Kimberly Schaufenbuel details the four core drivers of motivation at work:

  1. Drive to Defend: this is the only brain circuit triggered when people feel threatened.The most common “threat” at work is to feel undervalued. Usually triggered by lack of feedback or line manager interactions, it can be fixed through continuous, positive feedback.
  2. Drive to Acquire: the need to seek, to take control, and to retain objects and personal experiences of value in pursuit of immediate gratification.This can be fulfilled with short term gratification through employee recognition and rewards.
  3. Drive to Bond: the brain is wired to be social, and this drive allows like-minded people with shared interests to work cooperatively together.This is strengthened by a company culture where collaboration is valued, and leaders positively “walk the talk”.
  4. Drive to Learn: The natural desire to make sense of our world and ourselves. It exists in a cooperative atmosphere where curiosity is rewarded and knowledge freely shared.Through appreciation and gratitude, you can encourage creativity and learning.

Address the Drive to Defend: Continuous Feedback

Drive to Defend- Neuroscience and Engagement

Did you know that our brain interprets “social pain” much like physical pain?

This is the conclusion of the work by Naomi Eisenberger, Psychologist at UCLA.

Let’s take employee feedback and annual reviews for instance. If sporadic, people can experience those as an attack on their “status”. The brain is quick to perceive feedback like a physical attack, and reacts with a defensive strategy.

Achievers, a leader in employee engagement and recognition, has been an advocate of continuous feedback and listening. Egan Cheung, Vice President of Product at Achievers, shared at the 8th Annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference in New Orleans:

“To engage a modern workforce, an organization needs to be continuously listening to its employees.”

Access to constant feedback is now real. Achievers recently released Listen, where employees can provide feedback to management on their day-to-day issues via check-ins and pulse surveys.

Achievers’ Listen goes even a step further, taking into consideration the importance of positive feedback. Allie, an intelligent, digital “coach”; interacts with employees in a familiar conversational way, while guiding employees with effective feedback and providing recommendations back to managers.

Address the Drive to Acquire: Incentives

Drive to Acquire - Neuroscience and Engagement

The value of incentives to motivate employees has been debated for long. Still, money can be effective to express appreciation: a survey by Harris Interactive and Glassdoor revealed that 75% of employees consider a pay raise as a form of appreciation.

But some leaders argue material gifts are a short-term fix only. What does neuroscience to say about it?

Receiving a gift triggers an immediate dopamine response in the brain. Described initially by Wolfram Schultzreward more than 30 years ago, reward systems in the brain heavily influences our behavior.

Achievers’ platform is a good example of alternatives to cash bonuses. Through points-based employee recognition, each employee can receive monetary and non-monetary based rewards and recognition.

And it works! As shared at ACE 2017, organizations using a rewards and recognition technology solution reported better levels of employee engagement, employee retention, and productivity over the course of a year.

Address the Drive to Bond: Social Connection

Drive to Bond - Neuroscience and Engagement

Matt Lieberman is the Director of UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab. In his TEDx St. Louis talk “The Brain and Its Superpowers”, he shares:

“Social is not one of our programs. It is our basic operating system.”

According to Matt Lieberman, the default state of the brain (when where we’re not cognitively engaged in anything specific) is to deepen our social cognition network. He shares:

“This network comes on like a reflex to think about other people’s minds — their thoughts, feelings and goals…It promotes understanding and empathy, cooperation and consideration.”

Promoting social bonds is a pivotal dimension of employee engagement. As organizations go global, a common platform to share and connect is a simple way to tap into social drive.

A case study covering Ericsson’s employee engagement and recognition program stated:

“The program spreads positivity throughout the geographically dispersed organization, connecting employees – through recognitions they post on daily basis – to each other, and to the company”

Address the Drive to Learn: Appreciation
Drive to Learn - Neuroscience and Engagement

Small acts of generosity and gratitude trigger a specific neurobiological feedback loop. Glenn R. Fox (Brain and Creativity Institute at USC), conducted extensive research and concluded:

“When the brain feels gratitude, it activates areas responsible for feelings of reward, moral cognition, subjective value judgments, fairness, economic decision-making and self-reference.”

Employee recognition can directly impact employee engagement levels. As the brain responds to gratitude with a positive feedback loop, needless to say that a recognition-based culture can do more than a feel-good effect! The by-products of gratitude at work are serious business assets, such as enhanced creativity, increased happiness and productivity, and better cooperation within teams.

By aligning your employee engagement strategies to main human motivation drivers, you tap into dopamine reward loops and create a lasting positive feeling.

What is the value behind employee engagement? To learn more, download this white paper covering The True Cost of Disengagement. 

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About the Author

Coralie SawrukCoralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully.

Coralie shares her insights on human-centric leadership and leading happy teams on her website.

Get in touch on LinkedIn.



Build an Engaging Office Culture

4 Steps: How to Build an Engagement-Driven Office Culture

The importance of employee recognition and engagement cannot be overstated. Companies everywhere are shelling out billions every year for HR programs designed to enhance their office culture and improve employee productivity. Yet, according to Gallup’s 15-year study, the percentage of American workers that are “actively engaged” at the workplace remains fairly stagnant, with an average of just around 32%.

Gallup StudySource: Gallup

This begs the question: why are some employee engagement programs working while others aren’t?

Designing an engaging office culture requires more than just planning birthday parties or patting a worker on the back for a job well done. Engagement strategies can’t be forced; they need to be implemented carefully and encouraged in order to make an impact.

So what should you do to get your workforce more involved?

If you’re looking to build an engagement-driven office culture, check out these four common traits of successful culture initiatives.

  1. It All Starts with Leadership

Teams look to their leaders to set examples of proper behavior. The effect management has on employee engagement and motivation is astounding. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report, leadership has the strongest impact on employee engagement levels in a workplace. Management is responsible for 70% of the variation in employee engagement levels, and workers who had proactively engaged managers were nearly 60% more likely to be engaged themselves.

There is no denying that managers are largely responsible for the office culture of their organization, and therefore, it is up to them to make the necessary changes for improvement and become employee engagement champions. When they strengthen their leadership practices and become more hands-on, teams will likely follow suit.

One practice that leaders must absolutely do away with is abusing company talent in any way, shape, or form. Only about 20% of office workers feel that management motivates them to do their best. Mismanagement, poor job design, or unfulfilled expectations are some of the leading causes of employee disengagement. Many workers feel that managers misuse their skills in the office by not providing opportunities to use their key skills. Underutilization or overworking employees are both major mistakes that can cause frustration, disengagement, and eventually, higher turnover rates.

Leaders with poor communication skills, micromanaging tendencies, or other negative traits can quickly discourage employees and create negative behavior among the team. In order to push for a more engaged environment, leadership must first establish a set standards and examples for others to follow.

  1. Focus on Culture Fit from the Start

We all have a desire to fit in with our peers, and it can be very frustrating and disheartening to new hires who just don’t quite mesh with the new company culture. In fact, IBM’s study found that 20% of workers left a position because they did not fit in with the company culture.

IBM Study Source: IBM

Culture fit is critical to employee engagement and happiness, especially when it comes to new hires. By focusing more on culture fit from the very beginning during the recruiting process, employers will find it easier to boost employee engagement levels while simultaneously decreasing turnover and increasing retention.

HR technology plays a huge role in employee engagement, and it can simplify the tedious process of finding new talent that are great culture fits. If you really want to be more accurate at finding employees that fit your culture, you can incorporate more data-driven insights into your hiring process. For example, there are certain HR tech platforms out there that can track applicant’s personality traits, problem solving abilities, and even professional values.

  1. Get Everyone Involved in Team Decisions

When you think of companies with great employee engagement programs, one that probably pops into mind is Southwest. The low-fare airline has really set the bar for employee enthusiasm and satisfaction levels by finding new ways to get the team involved with the company. When the business decided it was time to redesign company uniforms in 2016, they allowed employees to select the colors, fabrics, and details. All employees were then able to vote for a final decision.

The airline’s founder, Herb Kelleher, understands the importance of building a business that values everyone’s opinions and participation.

The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty – the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.” – Kelleher

Collecting honest feedback and suggestions is the key to building an office culture of innovation in which everyone can feel open to participate. An engaged employee often feels connected to their organization because they understand the unique role they play in its success.

  1. Encourage Interests Outside of the Office

69% of the healthiest and happiest organizations in the country offer programs for professional skill development, proving that a little extra motivation can make all the difference. Encouraging employees to work on things they are passionate about not only provides satisfaction, but also helps them achieve their fullest potential.

Innovative workplaces that encourage employees to get involved with passion projects will build an office culture that thrives. Google is famously known for encouraging employees to pitch their own business ideas and even pursue personal projects to fuel innovation and engagement.

Finding ways to support non-profits or good causes is more than just a nice thing that businesses can do. Fortune reported that up to 59% of respondents to a survey agreed that they would prefer to work for a company which supported a charitable organization over one that didn’t back any, and many were more likely to buy products from such businesses as well. More and more businesses are urging their employees to get involved with charities. Tom’s of Maine is a great example – they require employees to spend 5% of their paid work time volunteering.

Employee engagement shouldn’t just run from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. It must be practiced beyond the office, too. Keeping everyone inspired to develop, grow, and improve, even after they’ve clocked out, can help everyone in the business aspire to be something better.

Over to You

Businesses that prioritize employee engagement will create more enjoyable office cultures for everyone. Leaders must set the standards, but it is also important to build a strong team from the bottom up. Getting every single person involved by listening to their opinions and encouraging personal interests can help keep the momentum going.

Building an amazing company culture takes time, but the rewards are well worth the wait!

To learn more about the importance of strong culture, check out this white paper on The True Cost of Disengagement

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Start building an engagement-driven culture with Achievers and Limeade. Watch this short video to see the partnership in action.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.


why employees quit

Understanding Why Employees Quit

Knowing what makes employees quit — and then heading off those problems — is the goal of every HR department. While you’ll never be able to avoid individual events that disrupt the lives of workers and their families, it’s helpful to have an overview of preventable causes for employee churn. People leave jobs for several classic reasons, according to Harvard Business Review, all of which are somewhat predictable. The key is to understand each reason well enough to defuse it with a proactive intervention. Here are the main reasons workers cite for leaving their positions, and how you can slow this expensive leakage and build your employee retention:

They Don’t Get Along with Their Boss

This reason is the elephant in the room, and we can’t discuss employee retention without starting here. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton points out the primacy of management know-how: “When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

When an exit interview or other feedback shows that you have a problem manager, you need to rectify the situation as soon as possible. If the person seems open to developing new skills, it’s often worthwhile to provide them with intensive management training. However, if real change doesn’t seem possible, you’ll ultimately save money by replacing them with someone who simply has better management skills.

Their Lives Take a New Direction

This may be unexpected, but research cited in Harvard Business Review notes that job-hunting rates jump by 12 percent right before a worker’s birthday. Researchers speculate that a person is often stimulated by the arrival of their birthday or another milestone to take stock of their life and see if their career is going in the direction they want. While you have limited input into this private self-examination, it’s helpful to incorporate a personal check-in along with celebrating your employees’ birthdays. Are they happy with their job? What are their current thoughts and ambitions?

Their Careers Aren’t Moving Forward

In today’s networked marketplace, your most talented employees are going to keep an eye on opportunities in their field, and Gallup’s 2017 report on the State of the American Workforce finds that 51 percent of them are ready to jump ship at any given moment by actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Harvard Business Review notes that Credit Suisse responded to this tendency by having their internal recruiters cold-call employees to let them know about new openings arising within the company that they might be qualified to fill. This program ended up moving 300 employees into more challenging positions and saved the company $75 to $100 million in employee turnover costs.

They Don’t Feel Challenged

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield warns employers that they have to make sure their workers are actually using their skills and abilities, and Gallup’s report found that 68 percent of today’s workers feel they’re over-educated for their current positions. While this is related to building a career path, it’s not the same. A position may have a title that looks great on a resume, but if the day-to-day operations don’t actually feel interesting and engaging, the worker is going to be looking for the exit door. Heathfield notes, “Work closely with employees who report to you to ensure that each employee is engaged, excited, and challenged to contribute, create, and perform. Otherwise, you will lose them to an employer who will.”

The Company Lacks Vision

To keep great workers, you have to make it possible for them to feel aligned with a company vision that’s both meaningful and tangible. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, in his foreword to the 2017 report, puts it succinctly: “Change from a culture of “paycheck” to a culture of “purpose.” Your very best employees are the ones with a powerful sense of internal motivation, and you nurture that motivation by showing them how their efforts contribute to the overall goals of the company. CNBC notes, “Some of the most successful companies are able to attract and retain great employees because they are great at communicating their vision all the way from the top down to the front-line workers.”

Their Efforts Aren’t Recognized

While it’s essential to give your employees the sense of purpose mentioned above, that alone is not sufficient. Even your top workers, who care passionately about doing a good job, still have a psychological need to be recognized for the effort they expend. Emotional intelligence leader Travis Bradberry comments that a failure to recognize good work is one of the biggest mistakes a manager can make. He writes, “It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all.” Establishing a system for employee rewards and recognition is fundamental to nurturing those human resources that your company is lucky enough to have.

In today’s tight labor market, it’s more expensive than ever to lose a good worker. Josh Bersin of Deloitte points out that employees are “appreciating assets,” while the cost of losing one is generally about 1.5 to 2 times the person’s annual salary. Furthermore, the increasing team emphasis of many workplaces makes it harder than ever to integrate a new hire. Keeping your workers engaged is essential to running a successful business, and every manager needs to stay focused on this goal. To learn more about employee turnover, check out our infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Female Employee Must-Haves

What Female Employees Really Want in the Workplace

This is not the 1960s, but it’s difficult to convince many female employees who function within outdated corporate Human Resources policies. The policies read like a military manifesto by describing rigid schedules and failing to mention recognition and reward systems or establishing promotion policies favoring men. The HR policies form the unforgiving backbone of an organizational culture that disengages the modern woman, even as the organization struggles to understand why it cannot meet gender diversity workforce goals, has difficulty with recruiting and hiring talented and skilled women and is challenged with low female employee retention rates.

Tale of Two Worlds

Gallup data found that 48 percent of female employees say they are actively looking for a different job or watching for new opportunities. Though 73.5 million women over the age of 16 are working, they’re often caught between two opposing worlds. In one, she’s viewed as capable of career success and managing work and family. In the other, she’s criticized for denying her children a full-time mother to pursue a career. For the majority of women, it’s children who have the most influence, so the ability to achieve work-life balance is a major determinant of happiness.

A Matter of Importance

As a business leader, you are challenged with finding ways to make the workplace engaging to female employees by developing an inclusive culture, implementing HR best practices and recognizing and addressing issues of importance. Following is a list of what female employees desire in the workplace to find happiness.

Supportive Culture

The workplace culture influences gender diversity because it impacts talent management practices, interactions with co-workers and managers and career opportunities. A positive culture encourages employees to assist each other and to treat each other with integrity. It emphasizes the meaningfulness of work. For female employees, all the characteristics of a positive workplace culture inspire what they want – respect, compassion and positive relationships.


Talented women need a voice in the workplace because they’re still overcoming biases holding them back from advancing. Traditionally, men worked their way up the corporate ladder to assume senior leadership positions. Historically, women were not hired for higher-paying jobs and are still not fully included in succession planning and career planning, keeping them out of the loop for promotions into leadership positions.

Mentoring experienced and newly hired women gives them organizational visibility and access to decision-makers. A Global Strategy Group study sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation found that only 34 percent of the women surveyed believed their workplace put a high priority on having women in leadership positions. A lack of support from mentors for career advancement and lack of access to career-building personal connections keep women from advancing.

Recognition and Reward 

Properly structured work benefits and perks are important to engaging all employees. Raising the profile of talented women in your organization through a strong recognition and reward system is a success strategy. Implementing a rewards and recognition program enables your co-workers and managers to recognize exceptional effort, innovative ideas, team contributions and leadership.

Family-Friendly Work-Life Balance Policies

A Fairygodboss survey of women attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland found a correlation between the number of weeks of maternity leave allowed and job satisfaction. Employer policies supporting work-life balance are important to women. Your policies can embrace supportive maternity leave and a flexible hours work schedule or a home-office work schedule, for example.

Since children have the most influence on whether women work, the ability to balance work and family responsibilities is extremely important. When a child has a doctor’s appointment or is on school break, savvy employers allow women scheduling flexibility. Flexible work schedules take many forms, from a set number of hours worked from home to the full ability to determine when and where hours are worked.

Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias, embedded in workplace cultural norms, expresses itself in many ways. It limits women’s access to important projects, thus harming their advancement opportunities. It’s expressed during recruitment or performance reviews when men are consistently rated higher than women. It’s found when men are primarily chosen for prime training and development opportunities or promotions. Women want unconscious bias addressed in all its subtlety.

Equal Opportunities and Equal Pay

Statistics say the pay gap persists, with women earning approximately 77 percent of what men earn (figures vary depending on the source). There are a lot of reasons for the gap. In a study reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology, men who act altruistically, such as staying late to work with colleagues, were viewed more favorably than women who did the same thing. Women desire fair treatment, equal opportunities and equal pay.

Opportunities for Meaningful Work

In an ICEDR study, millennial women cited a lack of interesting and meaningful work as the third main reason for leaving organizations. Female employees want the work they do to make an important difference in some way, such as contributing to the improvement of people’s lives.

Paying Attention to Happiness

Paying attention to employee happiness reaps big rewards for organizations. Multiple studies have proven that a gender-balanced workplace enhances employee engagement, increases productivity and profits and improves organizational and brand reputation. Achieving gender balance requires a mix of policies and programs that engage, motivate, recognize and reward, as well as offer equitable pay and career opportunities to women.

Engage Your Employees

Employee engagement is mentioned first because an engaged workforce is inclusive, motivated, productive, recognized and rewarded. Giving employees the recognition they deserve is key to employee engagement. For more information on how to engage your employees, watch this webinar recording on Using Recognition to Drive Engagement.

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To learn more about what makes employees happy by checking out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” survey.

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Important Pillars of HR

5 Pillars of a Successful HR Strategy

How successful is your current HR strategy? The role of the HR department has evolved over the years, transitioning from the traditional “hire and fire” arm of the business to a strategic position. Today, HR departments are not only responsible for recruiting new talent and onboarding employees, but also establishing a positive workplace culture and environment.

Juggling the traditional tasks with those that come with being an HR professional in the modern workplace can be challenging. When trying to meet the needs of the business and its employees, important details can often be overlooked.

Below are five HR pillars every organization should be aware of when developing or refining their HR strategy.

  1. Legal Requirements 

When onboarding an employee, it’s important that you follow and fulfill all legal requirements to ensure that you protect the business and the employee. For instance, every full-time employee should fill out an IRS W-4 form and I-9 form. Another important legal requirement is workers compensation.

Regardless of the working conditions, workers compensation is required of all businesses:

“If you have any employees—even just one—you are responsible for including workers’ compensation insurance (in most states) in your business insurance policy. This type of coverage exists to protect you, your business, and your employees in case any of them get hurt or sick while working for you.” – Experts at USA Business Insurance.

You may also need directors and officers and general liability insurance to protect employees from potential issues with customers.

  1. Employee Engagement

Did you know that only 33 percent of employees in the United States are engaged in their jobs, according to Gallup’s “2017 State of the American Workplace” report? In fact, employee engagement as a whole increased only 3 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to the aforementioned report.

Employee engagement is critical to a company’s success. After all, an engaged employee is a productive one. To increase employee engagement, bring the following into your culture and HR processes:

  • Gamification: Incorporate gamification into employee activities, such as achievement-tracking and peer competition.
  • Incentives: Financial and non-financial incentives, such as rewards and recognition, give employees something to work toward. In addition, they reinforce attitudes and behaviors that will help the organization succeed.You can make the process of tracking these incentives, and the milestones that designate them, with an employee recognition and engagement platform such as Achievers.
  • Employee Surveys: Conduct surveys on a regular basis to let employees know that their voice is being heard and valued.
  1. Career Advancement Programs

An organization’s biggest and most precious investment is its employees. Yet, many organizations don’t invest enough in the development of their employees. A career advancement program helps sustain employee engagement, as employees are given the opportunity to progress both personally and professionally.

In addition, it helps nurture talent within the organization, reducing the time and costs associated with hiring outside employees.

A successful career advancement program should help employees set achievable goals and offer in-house training sessions. Toastmasters International, for example, is a communication and leadership development program that teaches employees to become more effective communicators.

  1. Corporate Image

Maintaining a strong, positive corporate image is important, helping you attract top talent to a growing team. The HR department plays a critical role in upholding an organization’s image:

“Specifically, you [HR professional] should think about how your branding is reflected in your recruitment efforts, workplace and involvement in social media,” – Tiffany Aller, ADP’s Spark blog.

Aller suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • If your branding revolves around innovation, does your company culture reflect that?
  • Are your branding campaigns focused on technology—and does your staff have access to the newest and latest equipment?
  • How is your company reflected on social media, both formally through company channels and informally through individual employees?”
  1. Performance Management System

To make goal-setting successful, you need to have a tracking system in place. Without an advanced performance management system, it’s difficult for employees to gauge their progress and stay motivated in reaching their goals. Not to mention, keeping track manually can get messy and is less reliable.

If you haven’t yet, invest in a performance management system that makes it easy for employees and managers to track and measure progress throughout the year. If you have trouble getting buy-in from decision makers, ask for a free 30-day trial of the product you like most. When your trial is up, you can show higher-ups the benefits, rather than tell.

Be a Modern HR Professional

Today’s human resource departments are responsible for much more than just hiring and firing employees. They play a strategic role in the day-to-day operations of the business, especially when it comes to employee engagement, necessary insurance, corporate brand and much more. When developing or updating your HR strategy or department, don’t forget these five important pillars.

To learn more about how to improve your HR strategy, check out this webinar recording Using Recognition to Drive Engagement – A Best Practice Guide with Scotiabank.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.





UK HR Directors Summit 2018

Event Activities at UK HR Directors Summit in Birmingham, February 6-7, 2018

The latest report from Gallup states that just 1 in 10 UK and EU workers are actively engaged and with UK productivity seeing further falls during 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics – it is no surprise that the UK Government recognizes that the country has an employee productivity problem.  The UK’s newly announced Industrial Strategy is based on “Five Foundations of Productivity”, one of these Foundations being ‘People’. As an organization that lives and breathes employee engagement and sees the business benefits first-hand of the power of putting people at the heart of the strategy, this is welcome news.

The impact of employee engagement on key business objectives is staggering. According to Gallup, highly engaged business units see:

  • a 17 percent increase in productivity
  • 24 percent less employee turnover
  • a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism

The importance of employee engagement on key business performance metrics cannot be ignored. On February 6-7, the Achievers team will be heading to the ICC, Birmingham, UK, for the 16th HR Directors Summit. This year’s pertinent theme is ‘Curators of the New Business Landscape – Guiding Strategic Growth’.

The UK HR Directors Summit is one of the largest gatherings of senior HR Executives from across the globe and welcomes 800+ of the highest level of industry experts, strategic thinkers, innovators, and HR leaders.

It is a leading forum that connects the best in business leadership and promises to arm leaders of all people-focused functions with the tools necessary to transform themselves not only into more functionally-confident business leaders, but to fortify the HR position as a value-generating machine necessary to ensure future prosperity, profitability, wellbeing, and financial success.

The 2018 UK HR Directors Summit will host 150+ speakers in 8 content streams, 70+ Exhibitors, 250+ Match Meetings and 11+ hours of networking spread across 2 days. And with an amazing line-up of keynote speakers, it is a must-attend event for any senior HR professional looking to get inspired and motivated for the year ahead.

Denise Willett, Achievers’ EMEA Senior Director, will be taking the stage on day two at 12:00 PM to discuss ‘Using Recognition to Drive Engagement and Business Results’. She will she share how leading organizations are leveraging HR technology to complete the loop from measure to action, increasing employee engagement and driving business performance.

In addition, some of this year’s line-up of keynote speakers include:

  • Josh Bersin – Principal and Founder
  • Nilofer Merchant – 50 Thinker, Best Selling Business Author
  • McDonalds – Paula Coughlan, Chief People Strategy Officer
  • ABB – Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, CHRO
  • Nokia – Joel Casse, Global Head of Leadership Development
  • Avon – Dr Melissa K. Hungerford, VP Global Talent Management & Inclusion
  • Bosch – Rosa Lee, Senior VP
  • BT – Candice Cross, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusive Culture
  • Countrywide – Kate Brown, Group People Director

And this is just a taste of some of the amazing speakers this year. Check out the entire list of confirmed speakers here.

Don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #HRD18 and by following @Achievers on Twitter.

Tickets are now very limited so register here today! Be sure to pop by to chat with the Achievers’ team at Stand #56 and look out for Denise Willett’s presentation at 12:00 PM on February 7th. And for those looking to book a meeting with Achievers at this event, please book a meeting here. See you in Birmingham!

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About the Author
Ruth Chapman
Ruth Chapman is Achievers’ Marketing Manager (EMEA) and is focused on growing awareness for the Achievers brand in the UK and wider EMEA marketplace. It is her mission to communicate the success that Achievers employee recognition and engagement platform is driving for its clients. Learn more about Achievers here.




HR Technology Trends

Major Trends in HR Technology Software

Employees are the most valuable part of any organization and HR’s responsibility to engage employees is crucial for organizational growth. The latest development in the ever-changing world of HR technology software consists of major disrupters within the recent years, from listening tools to in-depth analytics and much more.

According to an article published by the Society of Human Resource Management, it was claimed ‘Investors, seeking the next big step in breakthrough technology, plunged more than $2 billion into HR tech systems and platforms in 2016.’ This clearly states the massive breadth of advancements the HR world has gained accessed to. There has been a major change in the field of human resources – from simplified employee recognition to enhanced performance management platforms, HR is becoming high tech and data-driven. Manually keeping records on file is no longer efficient and this need to stay in a modern workplace calls for robust HR technology software to assist in taking care of HR goals targeted towards employee engagement and an effortless and unbeatable employee experience.

Below are major trends in the HR technology software world:

Growth of HR Software

Bersin by Deloitte provided an HR Software evolution report in 2016, which clearly showed the evolution and market growth of HR systems over the years.

Bersin by Deloitte provided an HR Software evolution report in 2016

The report shows the progress from the year 2000. Switching from mainframe computers to personal computers was a major shift in the technological world. This led to the growth and development in the field of software and led to the creation of HR software. Client-server software delivered core HR features such as record capturing, hiring, payroll, and learning management. In 2000, talent competition grew more leading to the market for talent management software. The more advancements made in technology, the more opportunity HR had to develop platforms and programs surrounding other initiatives outside of employee record keeping, such as the ability to leverage employee engagement and employee recognition and rewards platforms. And over the years, now the entire hr technology software trend has moved and continues to move undoubtedly to cloud computing.

Switching to a Cloud-Based System

Legacy HR software has always focused on task completion and storing information. But now, companies want to replace their traditional HR software with cloud-based HR solutions. The major advantages of moving to cloud based HR software consists of anywhere access, super user-friendliness, mobile app support, easy upgrades, lesser maintenance and, most importantly, little or no requirements for IT infrastructure like hardware and trained staff. All you need is a computer and an internet connection and you are set to go!

Integration with Social Media and Learning Management

When it comes to trends, social media is leading the charge. It not only allows for network building but now social media can be an effective way to communicate at the workplace. Using simple, fun ways to communicate via emojis and hashtags can contribute to improving the employee experience. Even the ability to send social recognitions across an employee recognition platform can help boost employee engagement.

Also, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are now turning into an old tool. HR is adopting the latest web-based technology for taking interviews. Video-based learning is now a fundamental learning platform and already adopted by multiple companies. Visual element supporting features in HR software are now a must-have given the rise of VR and AI.

Predictive Analysis of Employees

A more integrated approach is being adopted when it comes to communication tools. People prefer to have an end-to-end technology-enabled platform for interpersonal communication. Tools that allow data to be collected and shared across departments and organizations are preferred because it allows quick access to real-time insight.

Pulse surveys, employee recognition and rewards, culture assessments or any other approach that merges all employee needs in one group is required by an HR department – think of it as a one-stop shop for HR. They now believe that building a predictive analysis model and harnessing employee data is more important and today many companies are spending large sums of budget to get this done.

Mobile is “The Platform”

With all this advancement in technology, we can see a whole new world coming up. If you look around, there are more mobile devices than PCs and laptops. People talk on a phone, walk with a phone and now even wake up and sleep with a phone. We prefer to access all information on our mobile.

This means that HR technology software also has to adapt accordingly. For example, mobile applications can be a huge benefit to recruiters as many high potential candidates use their mobile devices to find a job and can apply easily while on the go. HR mobile applications should be mobile-friendly and easy-to-use to stay current with how employees prefer to communicate and engage.

Breakthrough in HR Technologies

As we are now moving ahead of the computer revolution, core technologies are not enough, instead their refinements are given more importance. Simple and smart technologies have taken over the hyped and complex core technologies. User-friendliness and delivering targeted results efficiently is the main focus. Companies now ask if the HR software they are considering buying is easy to use and accessible to their employees. Overall, what matters most is smart data, value for money, and user-friendliness.

The development of HR technology software has a symbiotic relationship with both businesses and employees. It will enable organizations to grow HR initiatives more effectively – whether it is improving performance management, employee recognition, or employee engagement. Technology helps create transparency and enable employees and HR departments to stay updated on progress, engagement levels, and more.

So business owners, let’s get the ball rolling and strive to create a transparent working environment with HR technology software.

To learn more about HR tech, in particular employee engagement and analytics, download the eBook Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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About the Author
Sanjay Darji
Sanjay Darji works as a software analyst at SoftwareSuggest. His interests include HR software, performance management, employee engagement, photography, and food. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his son and catch up on the latest technologies. You can follow him on Twitter at @sanjaydarji01.






Employee Happiness

Understanding the Power Behind Employee Happiness

You likely know that people don’t perform as well when they’re feeling disengaged or distracted, but you may not realize how pervasive a problem this is in today’s workplace. How happy are your employees? Is employee happiness at a low or a high? The latest Gallup poll (collected from over 80,000 workers) on employee engagement tells a dismal story. In 2015, only 32 percent of workers say they’re “engaged” at their jobs. Over 50 percent say they’re “not engaged,” while another 17 percent state that they are “actively disengaged.” Furthermore, this data has shown no significant change since Gallup first started this annual poll in 2000, so the problem is persistent.

Why Employee Engagement Matters

When you go to the office each morning, of course you hope that your workers are feeling energized because it makes the office environment a better place for everyone. But how does employee happiness translate into actual performance and productivity? The numbers are clear; companies with engaged workers outperform other companies by 202 percent. Research published by the Academy of Management Perspectives finds that “stronger emotional ties to the organization serve to significantly lessen the likelihood that employees would leave.” Furthermore, the cost of replacing an entry-level worker is 30 to 50 percent of their salary. This expense increases as the position being filled becomes more specialized. Replacing top workers can cost a staggering 400 percent of their annual salary. And these statistics don’t even begin to address the burnout felt by the coworkers shouldering the extra burden after a colleague leaves the company.

Employee Happiness Begins With You

As a manager, you’re not responsible for every emotion your employees feel but your actions have a profound effect on your team. Research by Gallup notes that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee motivation levels. Furthermore, a survey of over 7,000 workers found that one in two had left a job to get away from a specific manager. Given the power you have in improving employee happiness, what can you do to make your company a great place to work?

Be Engaged Yourself

For starters, evaluate your own personal engagement. Gallup’s State of the American Manager report determined that only about 35 percent of supervisors and HR managers are themselves engaged, and this disaffection has expensive outcomes. The cost of managers who report that they’re “not engaged” is estimated to be $77 billion to $96 billion annually, while the cost of the additional 14 percent who are “actively disengaged” is more than $300 billion per year. On a positive note, the fact that you’re reading and thinking about employee recognition suggests that you’re in the minority of managers attempting to make improvements.

Empower Employees

People feel a deeper commitment to their work when they have some power over how things are done. You can affect your workers’ sense of empowerment in a wide variety of ways:

  • Give them control over their schedules, allowing them to shift their start times or work remotely from home for part of the week. If workers have the chance to fulfill their outside obligations, they’ll feel less stressed and distracted  when they’re on the job.
  • Communicate the ways in which each person’s work matters to the company. Employees will make a greater effort if they understand how their daily contribution furthers the ultimate company goals.
  • Offer the opportunity for professional development, including coaching/mentorship programs. Your workers will feel a greater commitment to your organization if they know you have their long-term well-being in mind.
  • Seek suggestions and feedback. Let every worker, regardless of salary level, have a say in how things are done.

Offer Rewards and Recognition

Everyone should have their efforts recognized, regardless of age or the type of work they’re undertaking. Being recognized leads to a greater commitment to the work itself, as well as a deeper sense of personal identification within an organization. Employee rewards and recognition can be expressed in a variety of forms, and often the non-monetary forms can be the most meaningful. A few words of gratitude or appreciation from co-workers can do wonders for the sense of teamwork, and a supervisor’s acknowledgment can help a worker feel that their effort was worthwhile. 48% of employees stated that management’s recognition of employee job performance, whether through feedback, incentives, or rewards, was “very important.” For these reasons, a system used to facilitate employee appreciation is required for any company striving to be successful in today’s marketplace. Besides, giving employee rewards will make your job more enjoyable as well.

How Happy are Your Employees?

As you take steps to foster employee happiness, it’s necessary to be able to measure success. You may be able to sense the overall mood of your workers, but you need something more than your own intuition — something tangible This is where the HR technology known as pulse surveys come in handy. A pulse survey is a one-click response ( using a scale of images that represent sadness to happiness) that employees can submit anonymously each day, giving a quick indicator of how they’re feeling. This daily information provides an immediate snapshot of both your company’s and immediate team’s well-being as well as displaying the trend of happiness levels over time. The anonymity of the survey facilitates honesty, and when a company shares the results of the pulse survey, it creates an environment of transparency and gives rise to important conversations.

The Technology of Happiness

As HR tech becomes more sophisticated, it integrates with some of our basic social needs. Employee recognition best practices and pulse surveys are effective methods for strengthening organizations and building employee success.

For a deeper dive into this topic, download our eBook The Case for Employee Recognition.

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Reduce Employee Turnover

4 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover and Improve Your Bottom Line

Employee turnover is one of the most bottom line busting costs associated with a company’s workforce. SHRM estimates that, for entry-level employees, the cost to fill an open position hovers near $4,000. Using this insight, if your company loses 100 employees a year, your company experiences a loss of at least $400,000.

While this number is certainly frightening, the good news is that turnover is an easily avoidable problem and with the right tools, your company can ensure that top talent is not leaving your company. It’s also worth mentioning that none of the following causes and solutions presented here exist in a vacuum—when an employee quits his or her job, it’s usually a reflection of many factors that led him or her to finally quit.

That being said, what tools and initiatives will help you reduce employee turnover? Let’s jump right in…

  1. Hire Managers Who Manage Well

Hiring managers and putting people in charge who show compassion and have the skills to manage others is one method to combat employee turnover on the front lines. Achievers employee survey showed that 57% of employees don’t feel recognized at work, and Entrepreneur claims that when workers are not recognized, they are not motivated. Low motivation can make an employee that much closer to quitting his or her job, or even put him or her over the edge far enough to finally quit.

Performing a top-down audit of your management team can have a huge effect on your entry-level workforce. While you may not have direct contact with these employees, the managers you choose certainly do. It is absolutely crucial that your management team is personable and qualified to lead. Poor managers also make it more difficult for an employee to work, and if the job itself (which may already be difficult by nature) is harder than necessary, an employee might find it not worth it to work there any longer. Address this issue early on by being transparent with recruiters about what traits you’re looking for in a manager during the hiring process.

  1. Be Flexible

Work flexibility is important for every employee at every level. I’m sure you can remember the last time you had to leave the office early or take a personal day for an inevitable issue. Being flexible with policies and protocols shows your employees that you understand that life happens. When an employee thinks that his or her employer is understanding, you reduce his or her risk of leaving the company. On the other hand, if an employee thinks that the company doesn’t understand his or her life situation, then it’s more likely that the employee will try to find a job for an employer who does care.

On the same train of thought, flexibility in other areas will show your employees that the company cares about them. Since entry-level employees may not be making as much money as they need to be able to save a hefty sum for emergency expenses, offering financial flexibility is another area to focus on if your company cannot afford to pay them more. One such initiative is allowing your employees to control the frequency of their pay. Simple add-ons to your existing payroll system allow you to do this at no cost to your company and no changes to the way your company handles payroll. In result, a study by DailyPay showed that employees are 1.9x more likely to apply for a position whose job description mentions that it offers daily payments.

  1. Prioritize Recognition and Rewards

Along with the previous point about hiring managers that care, instilling an employee recognition and rewards program that allows you to easily highlight achievements and strong work will also show your employees that you care and appreciate them. Making it as simple as possible for your managers to recognize employees on a daily basis will help ensure that your managers are actively participating. By promoting this type of program across your organization, you are letting employees know that your company takes employee recognition and happiness very seriously.

Recognizing employees will directly help improve your bottom line. For example, an Achievers’ video highlighted the following findings:

  • a 1% increase in employee engagement returns an additional .6% growth in sales for your company
  • 50% of HR leaders said that an increase in employee recognition would boost employee retention
  1. Offer Unique Advantages

In the current job market, it’s becoming increasingly harder and harder to hire top talent due to the record low unemployment rate and tight job market. Employees across all industries and skill levels are continually searching around to see which company will offer him or her the best complete package. Additionally, it’s been reported that if you offer help to improve financial wellness, employees are more willing to work for your company. The plain advice is that offering work perks and advantages that your competitors are not offering will help put your business ahead in overall employee preference.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that your company is doing everything in its power to retain your current workforce and improve its employee retention rate. Since it is incredibly hard to fill open positions, you must prevent the need to fill open positions by retaining your workforce. In turn, your company will save time and improve its bottom line significantly without the recruitment costs and countless hours spent searching for talent. Try out some of these tips and let us know which worked best for your company.

To learn more about employee retention, check out this fun infographic covering 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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About the Author
Seth LoftisSeth Loftis
Seth Loftis works at DailyPay, Inc., a financial solutions company dedicated to reducing employee turnover by improving the financial lives of employees. Employees can receive their wages days before their scheduled payday at no cost to your company or change to your existing payroll system. Learn more at or follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn.





Improve Your Onboarding

How to Effectively Get New Hires Up to Speed

Employees are the moving gears behind a business. For this reason, employers must be sensitive on how they treat and engage their workforce. And it starts from the very beginning, an employee’s first day at work. A new hire’s first day is important because it is the day that they get a real first impression of what your company is like and is critical to setting them up for future success. Why is proper onboarding so important? Because a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. Avoid waiting two years for a new hire to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member by getting them up to speed faster. Below are a few tips to effectively onboard new hires:

Clearly Define Your Onboarding Goals

It is vital that new employees have a clear understanding of their specific goals and objectives at your company. Recruiting new employees without clearly spelling to them what is required will only lead to confusion and lower productivity. When onboarding new hires, be very clear about your onboarding goals and expectations. Strategize on how you can build transparency in your workplace and onboarding programs.

A fun and easy way to get a new employee up to speed and on target with their onboarding goals is by pairing him or her with a mentor within the organization. This will help them stay engaged in all activities that take place and have someone to turn to when they have questions. It not only helps both parties build a work relationship with another, but adds to a more engaging work culture. Choosing a mentor who is well versed in the same career path or team projects would be an effective way for employees to collaborate closer together early on. New employees and their mentor may meet once or twice a week to discuss the new hire’s progress and how they are adjusting to the new job.

Foster Strong Employee Relationships

How an employee engages and interacts with rest of the team is very crucial. As part of the Human Resources department, you have a role to play in helping to foster strong relationships amongst coworkers. Interworking relationships is a huge part of work culture and leadership’s relationship with employees in particular has a strong impact. Leaders need to lead by example and have the responsibility to live out the company’s values daily and communicate with those around them. When employees and leadership develop a strong relationship, new hires gain an instant new sense of teamwork and employee alignment.

When new employees feel free and comfortable to reach out to co-workers because of the healthy professional relationships presented, especially for the first few weeks, the learning process becomes easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings and team members.

Promote Your HR Programs

New employees should be quickly introduced to your HR programs and HR tech platforms. For example, if your company has an employee recognition and rewards program, make sure new hires are aware of it and know how to use it as soon as they start. Employee recognition programs connects employees and allows them to recognize each other for hard work. Programs like this not only provide something fun for new hires to become accustomed to but also instantly immerses them into the company culture and fosters a positive work environment. Receiving public recognition on a digital, easy-to-access HR tech platform boosts employee happiness and gives employees insight on what others are working on and accomplishing.

It’s HR’s job to not only implement HR tech platforms and programs correctly but also keep promoting them to new hires and existing employees so there is optimal use and employee engagement.

Ask for Feedback

Employees want to feel like they can be honest and heard at their company. Asking for continuous feedback and reviews are a great way to have healthy and honest conversations on how to improve the employee experience, especially the onboarding process. What better way to discover how to improve the onboarding process than by asking new hires about their experience?

Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in well-constructed outcome based reviews. This can be achieved by developing structured reviews that may include specific ratings, rankings, and written reviews on a mandated frequency. Employee surveys are also a great way to give new employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their overall experience and onboarding process. Through real-time feedback and pulse surveys, management is able to make the necessary adjustments and assessments for company initiatives. Getting employee feedback provides HR the insight they need to improve the onboarding process.

Provide the Right Material

New hires should not be left on their own. They should be supported from day one to ensure they feel comfortable in their work environment. Be prepared and stock their working stations with easy-to-digest guideline materials and resources so that they know where to go when they have questions. This includes contact sheets, company guidelines, access information, portal details, time-saving tools, and other onboarding material. New hires should be provided with public administration forms regarding their benefits, taxes, and direct deposits as early as day one. The more useful information, the better. And don’t limit yourself to sharing just health benefits and 401k details, add some fun collateral that represents your company culture and engages employees to want to learn more.

Companies need to invest wisely when it comes to their employees and it starts with putting attention on the onboarding process. The onboarding process is critical when it comes to setting employee up for success. When employees are set up for success, they become more engaged, satisfied, and productive. Don’t fall short with your onboarding initiatives and make sure you get your new hires up to speed quick.

To learn more about how you can enhance the employee experience through a culture of recognition, download this eBook.

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About the Author

Addison Jenning

Addison Jenning is an HR manager and a passionate writer who recruits, motivates and contributes to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company’s internal strategy. Addison runs Job Descriptions Wiki and she can also be found on Twitter.





Achievers Knowledge Exchange Event

Key Highlights and Takeaways: Achievers Knowledge Exchange 2017, London

Are you struggling to increase employee engagement? You’re not alone. According to Gallup, only 15% of workers worldwide are engaged. Achievers, a leading employee recognition and engagement solution, aims to help companies effectively engage employees and increase their percentage scores. Achievers EMEA team was thrilled to have so many customers, prospects, and partners at their first-ever Achievers home-grown EMEA event in London. The objective for the inaugural Achievers Knowledge Exchange event was to facilitate the conversation surrounding employee engagement by bringing together HR industry experts and Achievers’ customers to share their success stories behind using employee recognition to drive engagement and business results.

Achievers, first and foremost, wants to take the opportunity to thank our wonderful customer and host, Shop Direct, who generously extended the use of their amazing new workspace in central London. The stunning environment really captures Shop Direct’s company values, ambition, purpose, and passion and provided the perfect backdrop for knowledge sharing, insight, and networking within the HR community.

The Achievers EMEA Team at Shop Direct’s Central London Office for the Achievers Knowledge Exchange Event.

The Achievers EMEA Team at Shop Direct’s Central London Office for the Achievers Knowledge Exchange Event

Greg Brown, SVP International of Blackhawk Network, kicked off Achievers Knowledge Exchange event with an inspiring welcome and eloquently communicated Achievers’ commitment to the EMEA market, Achievers’ wider global expansion, and its valued customers.

Brown was swiftly followed by Jasmine Gartner, renowned Employee Engagement Trainer, Speaker and Author of ‘A Little Book of Big Ideas’ – well worth the read if you fancy an alternative and practical look at employee engagement. Gartner led an interesting session on re-humanizing the workplace through employee engagement. Her presentation gave an insightful view of the unique, local, macro-economic factors impacting our workplaces both now and in the near future – Brexit being an exceptional example. She shared how we can’t accurately predict the likely impact but we do know that attracting, recruiting, retaining, and engaging talent will be increasingly important for economical success.

Gartner was then followed by Denise Willett, Senior Director of Achievers EMEA, who kept attendees on track by taking on the role of event chair for the remainder of the day, introducing the next speaker, Colin Watt, Shop Direct’s Director of Employee Relations, Engagement, and People Services. Colin’s theme was ‘It Takes a Village’ and he shared how Shop Direct has leveraged employee recognition to transform its business.

Following a short stop for lunch, Kerrie Maitland, Managing Director of Positive Dimensions, HR Consultant, and Life Coach shared her learnings around both gaining executive buy-in and top tips for a successful global implementation. Having led the procurement, design, and implementation of two employee recognition programs (both with Achievers) the audience were keen to hear Kerrie’s practical experience.

Next up were the perfect double act. Ramón Edilio Vargas, Director Global Employee Recognition at Scotiabank, and Vanessa Brangwyn, Achievers VP of Customer Success, took to the stage to share the Scotiabank success story on using recognition to drive engagement. Scotiabank is an organization that is leading the charge when it comes to global employee recognition and building compelling business results from successful employee programs.

Egan Cheung, Achievers VP of Product Development, rounded off the day and proudly shared more around the much-anticipated Achievers Listen release. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team’s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers Listen allows you to do just that.

Informal drinks and networking brought the successful day to a close and the Achievers EMEA team would like to thank every speaker, client, partner, and friend for their participation. A special shout-out to the Achievers team from North America for making the journey to be in London with everyone in person. This dynamic event was a valuable day for anyone interested in increasing employee engagement. Stay tuned for more information on Achievers’ next event and make sure to check out photos from Achievers Knowledge Exchange here.

To learn more about how Shop Direct increased employee recognition and engagement with Achievers, download the Shop Direct case study.

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About the Author
Ruth ChapmanRuth Chapman is Achievers’ Marketing Manager (EMEA) and is focused on growing awareness for the Achievers brand in the UK and wider EMEA marketplace. It is her mission to communicate the success that Achievers employee recognition and engagement platform is driving for its clients. Learn more about Achievers here.




The Value of HR Tech

How HR Tech is Making Employees More Engaged Than Ever

Employee engagement of past generations was historically limited to the HR department to address perfunctorily once per year. However, a recent Deloitte report on human capital trends indicates that that is no longer the case. Employee engagement is now a front-and-center business issue, with 87 percent of surveyed organizations citing employee engagement as a top priority challenge.

Why is employee engagement so important?

Gallup has conducted a number of large scale meta-analyses which show that employee engagement levels directly relate to outcomes such as customer satisfaction, profits, productivity, employee turnover, and product quality. And companies that increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

Having a high level of employee engagement can be a vital asset to businesses in today’s competitive market. It is clear that employee engagement is an area that must be monitored. Fortunately, this is easier than ever with advancements in HR tech. Here are five ways HR tech is making employees more engaged than ever.

  1. Social Chatter

Social media is how employees engage with friends and family in their personal lives, so it only makes sense that mimicking that function in the workplace can foster authentic relationships and improve employee engagement levels. Tools like Slack allow team members to collaborate easily across teams and functions, and keep multiple groups informed at the appropriate level. Aside from facilitating improved business functions, social media and chat tools allow employees to have fun — you can send GIFs, use emojis, share inside jokes, celebrate occasions like birthdays or work anniversaries, and more.

  1. Thanks 2.0

Never underestimate the power of thanks. In a survey of 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month reported being satisfied with their job. An appreciated employee is an engaged employee, but as teams grow and become more remote, staying on top of employee recognition can be a challenge. Plus, while many companies have a (even if half-hearted) process in place for manager to direct report recognition (i.e. performance reviews) they lack a way for peers to praise peers. Tools like Achievers are taking “thanks” to the tech-driven next level, ensuring that employee recognition is actually recognized as a critical part of day-to-day operations and overall employee satisfaction.

  1. Tailored Training

One important workplace trait often mentioned in employee engagement surveys is workplace training. A very human trait is the desire to grow and learn more. None of us likes to stagnate. However, training in the past meant long, dry conferences that took employees away from their critical daily work. Today, learning management systems (LMS) make it possible for employees to learn on their time and even better yet, in their way. While conferences of the past tried to put all employees into a one-size-fits all lecture box, LMS varies training techniques and includes gamification best practices to make the most of learning.

  1. Easy Check-ins

Sometimes the most important thing to do to increase employee engagement is to ask about it. Many businesses might think they have an effective employee engagement plan in place, but it can’t be done without frequent check-ins with employees. There are HR tech tools to assist with easy check-ins; such as allowing management to monitor moods of employees and receive feedback on a more frequent basis. This helps employees to feel heard more often. And managers can notice and nip problems before they get out of hand. When employees see that management listens to and addresses their concerns promptly, they will want to stay long-term.

  1. Simplified Communication

Record numbers of employees are now working remotely, whether it’s the occasional work-from-home day or an entirely remote team. This trend can be hugely beneficial for work-life balance, as it allows employees the flexibility to keep a job they love while adapting to changing personal needs (I.e. a move, a growing family, and so on). However, it can also present an employee engagement challenge. Without the right HR tech tools in place, remote employees can feel isolated, particularly when a larger group of employees work in an office together and only one or two are remote. In addition to the chat tools mentioned above, video calling and web conferencing solutions make it possible to have both one-on-one or entire team face time. Simply seeing a coworker’s smile across the miles can give any employee a big boost.

A final consideration to note is that technology needs are generational. As millennials move into management roles and Gen Z starts filing into the workforce, the types of HR tech that will be most natural for your teams to interact with will shift. Stay on top of HR tech trends because while the available technology is always changing, one thing isn’t — the importance of engaging your employees.

To learn more about how to engage your employees, check out this webinar recording Using Recognition to Drive Engagement.

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About the Author
Krystle DisneyKrystle Disney, M.A., PHR is a human resources consultant and writer for TechnologyAdvice. She obtained master’s degrees in community counseling and clinical psychology from Gonzaga University and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively. Krystle resides in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, two children, and two very stubborn beagles. You can find her on LinkedIn.





Navigate Your Culture Transformation

How to Navigate a Successful Culture Transformation Process (Part 2)

Are you ready to transform your company’s culture? In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the process for a successful culture transformation. In this blog, I’ll discuss key tips and reminders to help you through the process. Let’s start by understanding that although this is not a quick and easy process, it can be done.

Transformations Take Time

The transformation of habits and attitudes does not occur overnight, especially when employees have been allowed to operate in a certain way or in status quo for a long period of time. Employees will naturally resist change at first, so the first thing to remember during a transformation process is that you need time. The good news is that you usually have more time than you think. While poor customer feedback, slumping profits, or even a crisis can create an incredible sense of urgency that something must be done now, the more time you plan, prepare, and work with your managers, the more likely your culture transformation will be successful. You cannot just focus on the employee base to successfully transform the service culture of your organization. As discussed in Part 1, the key to successfully transforming your culture is to focus on your front-line managers, enabling and empowering them to drive and be responsible for the change process. You also need the change to be led from the top, so in effect, everyone in the organization plays a part.

It Is All About the Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle

Strong work habits are the key to successful execution. To change and improve your corporate culture, you must identify the habits or behaviors that need to be removed and replaced.  It is important to explain why certain habits need to change, but more critical, is to know what new attitudes and behaviors must be introduced. While new habits can generally be introduced relatively easily and quickly, it is the removal of old or outdated habits and thinking that takes time. As economist John Maynard Keynes rightly suggests, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” To escape from old ideas, you cannot rely on training alone. You must take time to stimulate thinking and conversations that highlight why current habits and attitudes are hurting the business, brand, and interactions. At SGEi, we utilize a three-pronged approach of stimulation, training, and socialization to help remove old habits and introduce new ones.

Begin With Stimulation

Before you deliver any training on the new work habits you want to see, you must get people out of status quo and begin having conversations that promote thinking. We like to utilize various media like posters, quotes, videos, and business cases to help get the conversation started. It is not important that people are able to explain ideas or answer questions correctly, rather, it is necessary to focus on getting everyone in the organization talking and having conversations. This is the first part of the management team’s training, we take them through communication training and how to deliver effective messaging. Getting daily or weekly meetings started where managers are creating conversations is an important part of the stimulation process. As the stimulation process evolves, conversations around why certain habits are unhealthy or outdated are included.

employees in conference

The key to the stimulation process is to ensure you are providing the management team with the important sound bites you want them to repeat and talk about with their teams. In the previous blog, I talked about the importance of manager accountability. So to ensure stimulation is happening correctly, it is important to observe and listen in as the managers talk to their teams. Also, it is important that the managers begin demonstrating the desired behaviors and habits before the staff go through any training.

Deliver Great Learning Experiences

For training to be effective, it should occur after time has been spent talking about why change is required, why certain behaviors or attitudes are no longer effective, and what the expectations of performance look like moving forward. If done correctly, the employees should be asking for training and information regarding how they can improve in the future.

When it comes to training and development, keep in mind the following ideas:

  • Keep training sessions under two hours at a time and do not overload them with too much content.
  • Conduct the training with cross-discipline groups so that staff can get to know other staff outside of their immediate area.
  • Make the training fun and interactive so it is memorable. Remember, staff will not walk out of training ready to adopt new habits—that will occur with socialization—so consider training as just an interrupted opportunity to communicate.
  • Spread the training out so that participants have time between sessions to process and practice on information presented.

Deliver the Change You Want Through Heavy Socialization

Probably the most important part of this process is socialization. Once staff have gone through training, you need to reinforce key messages and communicate them repeatedly. Have a communication plan that continually shares information with your employees about the transformation process. All executives and managers must be involved in this, not just the Human Resource team or a few managers who speak very well. Communication is the most important leadership tool. Therefore, no manager can make the excuse that they are not good at it. An inability to communicate is an inability to lead, so this is an important test of the management team.

employee presenting

In addition to ensuring your managers are reinforcing the new habits in their daily and weekly communications, you should provide learning reinforcement of any classroom training with e-learning so staff can learn on their own in their own time. For some employees, learning on their own time is most effective. You also have to allow time for staff to practice. One of the best practices we have implemented on various projects is to schedule rehearsals for staff to attend each week. It is amazing how habit transformation is significantly enhanced by providing practice time to staff away from your customers. One hour per week for four weeks is a great opportunity to transform mindsets and behaviors. Ensure you have the managers lead these small group sessions (no more than twelve people), so they can practice explaining why the change is important and what is expected as well as practicing giving feedback. This best practice is a win-win for all.

The final critical element in habit transformation is to ensure your managers are providing clear, timely, and consistent feedback that provides insights into what the staff are doing well and what they can improve on. In Part 1, I explained how all managers must have a responsibility for the change process. The change process can only be successful when managers are reinforcing the training through continuous feedback and coaching.

Remember That You Are Building a Movement

We stress that in the early stages of transformation you must focus on those staff that are excited by and already embracing the change rather than those that resist. There will always be those that resist, and yet, so many times we spend all our energies trying to change them. The reality is they might not ever change. In the meantime, we fail to capture the hearts and minds of those that want change. To transform successfully, you must find and embrace those that are excited by the change. As they get on board, they will find and embrace others. Successful transformation is a numbers game—the more people you have supporting, excited by, and leading the change, the more likely you are to help everyone in the organization successfully change. Of course, there will be those few that resist, but many of them are smart enough to shift their perspective when they see such overwhelming support for the changes ahead.

Don’t Forget to Recognize a Lot

employees high fiving

Recognition is a key component of employee engagement. Remember that your managers need recognition too. Ensure you make a big deal about those managers, teams, or departments who are leading the way. I recommend enhancing your company’s employee recognition program during the critical parts of the transformation process, particularly when managers are communicating with their teams regarding the transformation and as front-line training begins. This provides positive reinforcement for those embracing the transformation process.

Cultural transformations are not easy, but they are necessary for continued success. By understanding the process and following these key tips, you will find yourself better prepared for this undertaking. Know that while the initial transformation process can be difficult, it is amazing once you get traction in a movement, start recognizing successes, and celebrating people’s change. You will quickly have your people tell you they wish you had done this a lot earlier.

“At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, then it is done, and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” —Frances Hodgson Burnett, English writer

To learn more about how to enhance your company culture through recognition, check out this eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets, Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit to learn more.

About SGEi
At SGEi, we help executive teams develop a cultural transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. And we design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.


Strengthen Leadership

How to Strengthen Your Manager’s Leadership Practices and Why It’s Crucial to Enhance Employee Engagement

You know it, and I know it: The key to improving employee engagement and culture is through strengthening management’s leadership practices and capabilities. Being good at management isn’t enough. Today, more than ever, managers need to practice great leadership to manage change effectively and to seriously help others grow. Doing so results in higher employee engagement and motivation, and higher engagement ultimately improves productivity and the overall health of the organization.

Why You Need Great Leadership

If you ever need to convince others about the need to motivate and engage managers, just show them a copy of Gallup’s State of the American Manager. After years of studying data from millions of managers and employees from just under 200 countries, Gallup reports some insightful data including these highlights from their 2017 report:

  1. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units…just 30% of U.S. workers are engaged, demonstrating a clear link between poor managing and a nation of “checked out” employees.
  2. One in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.
  3. 35% of managers are engaged, 51% are not engaged and 14% are actively disengaged.
  4. Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually.
  5. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.

How to Strengthen Management’s Leadership Practices

Have you ever worked at an organization where HR distributes copies of leadership books and articles to managers? This happened a lot when I worked at Lowe’s. At Ceridian, my VP gave all her managers a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. When I was at Lowe’s, our leadership development team would bring in nationally known speakers such as Ken Blanchard and Liz Wiseman. While giving managers books and bringing in speakers is helpful for raising awareness about leadership, more needs to be done to help managers shift from knowing to practicing leadership.

In my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, I share what I call the 21st Century Leadership Development Roadmap. The roadmap has four stages. At Stage Two, many managers realize that the old ways of managing are ineffective at engaging and building team culture, but managers fall short of putting leadership into practice. Something blocks them from reaching the third stage.

Leadership Is a Skill

To move to the Roadmap’s third stage, managers need to develop leadership the same as with any skill. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine that Player A and Player B want to get better at racquetball. They tried this by spending a week practicing for five-hours per day. During that week, they played against better opponents, and at night, they read articles about how they could improve their game.

Here’s one difference: Player A had a coach. Periodically during that week, the coach stopped the game, gave feedback, showed ways to improve form, and then gave more feedback. After a week, guess who improved more? Player A did.

In The Servant, James Hunter explains that leadership needs to be developed through practice, feedback, and follow-up. When managers just read books or attend leadership talks, their effort isn’t enough. He writes:

“Has anyone ever learned to swim reading a book? Has anyone ever become an accomplished pianist studying piano history? Has anyone ever become a great golfer watching Tiger Woods DVDs?…I have met many people over the years who know all about leadership but don’t know leadership.” (pp. xxiii-xxiv) – James C. Hunter

To get managers to adopt leadership practices sincerely, Hunter recommends a three-phased approach: Foundation, Feedback, and Friction. Foundation is acquiring leadership knowledge. This helps managers advance to the Roadmap’s Stage Two. To advance further, you need feedback and friction.

Without Feedback, You’re Left in the Dark

If you’ve ever administered 360-feedback reviews, you know that managers can act surprised by the feedback’s revelations about their behavior. Sometimes these discoveries hurt and aren’t easy to receive. But without knowing their blind spots, managers won’t know what or how to improve.

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, feedback is how he learns what his clients should focus on. He writes:

“I wish I had the power to snap my fingers and make these people immediately see the need to change…But I can’t and I don’t. Instead, I show these people what their colleagues at work really think of them. It’s called feedback. It’s the only tool I need to show people, “You Are Here.” (p. 8) – Marshall Goldsmith

From feedback, managers might identify several things to improve, and if they’re Type A people, they may want to attempt to resolve all behavioral issues at once. While admirable, that’s not good. If you’re administering the feedback, help managers focus on one or two behaviors that can have the most impact.

Friction: The Process for Making Sustainable Change

Getting managers to accept their feedback is one thing, but it’s another to get them to act upon the feedback effectively. Fortunately, you can guide managers by using a structure that Hunter and Goldsmith advocate. Here are the high-level steps for what you should guide managers to do:

  1. Acknowledge and apologize to those affected by their faulty behavior.
  2. Ask the affected people to help them get better. This could include calling them out when managers revert back to old habits.
  3. Advertise to others that they are trying to get better at a specific behavior. Goldsmith explains that if you don’t, people won’t notice.
  4. Rigorously follow up monthly with people affected and find out how well they’re doing. Employees and others affected by past behaviors need to realize how serious the managers are at trying to improve.

Call to Action: Guide Managers through Feedback and Friction

It’s easy to read books and attend leadership talks, but It’s not easy for managers to receive critical feedback. It’s even harder getting them to commit to the friction phase and doing the steps, especially the follow-up. In Triggers, Goldsmith writes, “People don’t get better without follow-up. So let’s get better at following up with our people.”

Guiding your managers through this process will change the dynamics and health of their teams. Fixing key behaviors could have a chain reaction to improve other behaviors, and managers modeling the drive to change will have a cascading affect upon their people. When managers get better at leadership practices, everyone on the team gets better and healthier!

Two More Things…

In addition to the Foundation/Follow-up/Friction approach, you might want to try Goldsmith’s feedforward process. His free article, Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback, is worth reading and introducing to your managers. Managers who read this will learn a positive way to change future behavior without dwelling on the past.

There are other ways to help managers, especially those in middle management. For several insights and tips, check out the eBook The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success.

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About Gary A. DePaul
Gary DePaul
Gary DePaul is a speaker, author, and leadership curator. He provides performance consulting services to help organizations identify gaps between what executives expect managers to do (in the current and future states) and what managers actually do. He has more than twenty years of professional and scholarly experience and has worked for companies such as Lowe’s, Ceridian, Fidelity Information Services, Johnson Controls, and Arthur Andersen. Gary welcomes inquiries and the sharing of ideas. You can reach him at





appreciate employees during the holidays

7 Holiday Ways to Spread Employee Appreciation

While you may do your best to spread seasonal cheer and appreciation, it’s important to keep in mind that this time of year is not all sparkles and snowflakes for your staff. Many of them will be trying to balance holiday schedules and family complications while feeling added stress due to end-of-year work tasks. Furthermore, absences and vacations often leave big holes in staffing right when the duties are most intense. With only 34.1 percent of employees engaged at work without the distractions associated with the holidays, don’t be surprised if the holidays bring a decline in productivity and a decrease in employee engagement.

There is a fix for this. Expressing employee appreciation during the holiday season is a powerful way to build good will that will last long after the candy canes have been composted. Here are seven tips for sharing true merriment (or at least momentary comfort) with your workers over the holidays.

1. Deliver Individual, Handwritten Notes

Almost all our written communications now take place online, so the simple act of putting ink on paper adds a real sense of importance to whatever is being said. Concentrate on each employee’s specific strengths, challenges, and achievements, when acknowledging their contributions on a nice sheet of paper. Avoid using holiday cards for this purpose, because you don’t want it to seem like an obligatory act. Research at Wharton School of Business found that when managers take time to express gratitude to workers, productivity increases by 50 percent.

2. Facilitate Relaxation

Weathering the winter holidays is hard work; a survey conducted by Healthline shows that between 61 to 65 percent of workers feel elevated stress during the holidays due to factors including money, family expectations, heavier work duties, and scheduling and travel demands,. You can brighten everyone’s day by bringing in a massage therapist to offer free shoulder massages or in-chair back rubs. Another inexpensive option that can be helpful is a wrap station. Encourage workers to bring in their stacks of unwrapped family gifts and provide a space with free wrapping paper and various tools and supplies. Employees can socialize during breaks while they get a personal chore accomplished.

3. Be Flexible

Winter weather complicates commuting, and if children’s schools close, you may end up with frustrated employees who are torn between commitments. Letting your people work remotely or adjust their schedules can go a long way toward relieving family stress, and employees will be able to concentrate on job duties if they aren’t having to text a stranded family member. With half of the modern workforce holding a job with some workplace flexibility, this initiative might be one to keep year-round.

If your company’s tasks cannot be handled remotely, you can win huge points by encouraging employees to bring their children to work. Buy a few games or hire a temporary childcare worker; for a small investment, you can earn months of heartfelt gratitude from busy parents. Besides, you’ll be helping your company save money. One snow day in Massachusetts costs the state around $265 million, most of it in lost wages.

4. Provide Free Food

While employees welcome edible contributions any time of year, food is one of the strongest ways to put something tangible behind your holiday employee appreciation campaign. In a workplace survey, 51 percent of respondents said that perks involving food made them feel valued and appreciated by their employers, and the holidays give you a ton of options for fun food treats. Keep some of the offerings vegetarian and gluten free, and include more than sugary desserts if you want to help people concentrate on work. If end-of-year tasks are causing your staff to burn the midnight oil, ordering in some pizzas can make all the difference in people’s commitment to stay until the job is done.

5. Host a Volunteer Day

Building a company culture of volunteerism pays valuable dividends in the form of employee morale and brand perception, according to a Deloitte study. This is especially helpful during the holiday season, because many people get depressed when they feel that celebrations have lost a central purpose of generosity and caring. You can divide staff up into different teams, depending on the volunteer setting, and help with a toy drive, holiday meal program or other community cause.

6. Encourage Employee Recognition

Employees need to feel appreciated by co-workers as well as by supervisors. In a “recognition-rich environment,” according to Gallup, employees who feel adequately recognized (including by their peers) are only half as likely to quit during the following year as those who don’t feel appreciated. The holiday season offers fresh new approaches for co-workers to gift each other, including “Secret Santa” programs and cookie or gift exchanges. Provide the initiative to get the ball rolling, and offer logistical support to any employee who wants to spearhead a recognition program of seasonal fun.

7. Leave the Holiday Party Early

This last tip might sound confusing, but it’s good to start the new year without taking yourself too seriously. Regardless of how cool you are, you’re in a position of authority, and your employees will inevitably feel somewhat self-conscious in your presence. Leadership consultant Tine Thygesen reminds managers that “while bosses are (mostly) nice people, it’s a well-known fact that no one wants to sit next to them at the Christmas party, because then they have to behave.” She urges bosses to show up during the first part of the event, circulate in a friendly way, and then leave while everything is still underway, so that employees can relax and really bond with one another.

Rewards and recognition are an important part of your company culture all year round, however the holiday season provides you with unique opportunities to show your employees that you care. For more handy tips, check out this report: The Art of Appreciation

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Employee Recognition Spotlights

Spreading Employee Recognition and Appreciation Across Achievers

It’s that time of year again, time to give thanks! And what better way to give thanks than to thank our very own employees here at Achievers. A business is nothing without its employees, which is why we encourage frequent employee recognition and appreciation. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the top employee recognitions sent across our ASPIRE platform, powered by Achievers’ HR technology. We’re proud of our employees and everything they accomplish day-to-day. Check out some of our favorite recent employee recognitions and get inspired to thank someone in your organization for a job well-done!

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Huge shout-out to Achievers’ employees for everything that they do. If you want to know what it’s like to work at Achievers, check out our fun Achievers Facebook Photo Album. And discover how other companies are spreading employee recognition and appreciation with Achievers by checking out their customer stories here. Did I also mention that we’re hiring? Apply now.

Don’t let employee appreciation be limited to the holiday season. Start encouraging employee appreciation throughout the entire year with an unbeatable employee recognition and rewards program! Take the first step by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition.

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About the Author
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Senior Social Media and Editorial Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.



Take Advantage of HR Tech

5 Creative Ways to Engage Employees with HR Tech

It’s no secret that an engaged employee is a productive employee, but fostering and maintaining that initial focus and enthusiasm is no easy task. Employee engagement relies on sparking an emotional investment in the company and creating an atmosphere in which everyone is motivated to work toward common goals. Considering only 29 percent of workers say they’re actively engaged at work, this is an issue most businesses contend with on a daily basis. Digital technology has rewritten the rules for both business and personal interactions. It’s surprising that 89% of the workforce feels they aren’t provided with the latest technology when it’s become such a necessity in the modern workplace. For savvy HR teams, there are myriad ways to bring positive change to the workplace and encourage employees to communicate, share and participate leveraging HR tech. Let’s take a look at a few ways technology is changing HR for the better.

  1. Play Around with Gamification

About 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations use some form of gamification to keep their employees engaged and invested, but what is it and how does it work? Gamification is simply a way to apply elements typically found in games – achievement-tracking, peer competition, immediate feedback and so on – onto a variety of real-world situations. HR tech platforms use these factors to tap into employees’ psychological motivators, encouraging good-natured competition and social sharing that drives determination and fun.

  1. Personalize the Employee Experience

Every employee wants to know that their unique needs and abilities are frequently recognized, and one way to accomplish this is through delivering a personalized working experience. This means making the extra effort to understand each employee’s specific wants, needs and preferences and catering to them, from the initial hiring process all the way through day-to-day activities and tasks.

Software platforms simplify this task, making it easier to customize everything from onboarding to benefits enrollment to ensure that each employee has the support and experiences they want. If your company offers a wide range of benefits, you can also leverage computer algorithms to help your employees identify the benefits that are most useful to them. This kind of individualized attention drives home the point that each employee is valued and respected, making them more likely to invest personally in their work.

  1. Manage Employee Feedback

When it comes to employee engagement, few things are more important than providing ways for workers to give feedback on the issues that matter to them. Employees need to know that their voices are being heard, and pulse surveys are one way to ensure that happens. Pulse surveys can be used to gather data on virtually anything, from gauging feelings about a recent significant change within the company to tracking the effects of action initiatives. This allows employees to offer real-time feedback and also provides managers with the valuable information they need to guide their decisions and inform strategy. However, it’s important that you have a genuine commitment to acting on the results of these surveys, as engagement may actually suffer if employees feel their input has fallen on deaf ears.

  1. Reward and Recognize Employees

Everyone wants to be recognized for their good work and achievements, but many employees feel their efforts go largely unnoticed. One way to remedy that is through HR tech tools and cloud-based platforms such as Achievers that encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Whether it comes in the form of leaderboards, awards or social and monetary recognitions, these tools keep employees engaged by recognizing achievements and creating a fun, friendly competition in the workplace. In fact, 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month reported being satisfied with their job.

  1. Stay Connected

At 43 percent of all employed Americans, a greater number of employees than ever before are spending at least part of their time working remotely. While remote working on its own has been connected to higher employee engagement and greater employee satisfaction, it’s still important to make the employee experience as smooth as possible. Meeting with workers at their home office will require some different approaches and balance acts – consider exploring communication and web conferencing tools to keep in touch without a keyboard. If your remote workers need to use a variety of different systems during the course of their work, APIs can be used to tie disparate platforms together into a convenient and efficient whole.

No company can thrive without happy, motivated workers. In fact, companies with engaged employees typically outperform those without by up to a staggering 202 percent. By leveraging the technologies laid out above, you can streamline your HR responsibilities and help foster a friendly, productive environment that encourages your employees to reach their full potential.

To learn more about the importance of employee engagement, check out this fun infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a freelance contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL where she continues to live and write. You can find her latest work at

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Develop Employees

How Neglecting Employee Development Affects Your ROI

When businesses need to balance the books, they tend to cut corners in areas where they find it difficult to prove a return on investment. For this reason, employee development is often an aspect that gets hit – if not by outright budget cuts, then by general neglect and a lack of increased investment.

While a ROI on employee development programs can sometimes be difficult to prove, making increased investment tough to justify, it is an area where businesses get out what they put in. Below, we take a look at how neglecting your employee development programs can negatively impact your ROI.

The Value of Employee Development

The primary reason for investing in employee development programs for your employees is to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their tasks. However, there are many ripple effects as well, ranging from improved productivity amongst those who are well-trained, to a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Of course, the value of employee development also extends to the customer as well. Generally speaking, organizations that invest in comprehensive development programs can expect to see a higher number of sales, as well as improvements to customer retention resulting from superior service.

When people think about staff development, they often view it as a synonym for training, but continuous coaching also has a role to play. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that formal and dynamic coaching processes improved sales reps’ quota attainment by as much as 10 percent.

Impact on Employee Retention

One of the biggest effects of neglecting the development of your employees comes in the form of staff turnover. There is a direct link between the amount of time and money you invest in development, and the likelihood of staff members choosing to leave your organization.

For example, businesses on the Fortune 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list provide almost double the number of training hours for full-time employees compared to companies that aren’t on the list. Those Fortune 100 organizations saw their ROI manifested in increased employee retention; they had 65 percent lower staff turnover than other businesses in the same sector.

In the CSO Insights 2015 Sales Compensation & Performance Management Study, it is revealed that turnover is five times higher among sales employees than the US national average. This is problematic, because a single salesperson leaving an organization has the capacity to disrupt that organization for up to a year.

Essentially, what this shows is that neglecting your development programs decreases your overall return on investment, while investing fully in development programs results in a much greater ROI.

The Consequences of Neglect

Crucially, however, it is not simply investment that wins the day. Continuous employee development is a vital part of talent management, meaning that development programs must be in a constant state of evolution, adapting as products, services, business practices and market conditions change.

Neglecting employee development by failing to update procedures, can result in outdated product knowledge, longer ramp up times and a competitive disadvantage when compared to other businesses in the same industry. Worse still, neglecting development by putting it off completely can result in poor morale and unskilled staff.

“Developing employees is the classic example of a management function that’s both highly valued and highly neglected,” says Victor Lipman, writing for Forbes. “For busy managers, generally with too much to do in too little time, it’s a very easy task to put off to some indefinite point in the future.”

Finally, it is crucial that investment in employee development extends beyond new hires, to experienced staff members. According to the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Manager Enablement Report, those who spend more than $5,000 per year on developing sales managers see increased quota and revenue attainment, and improved win rates. Nevertheless, sales managers are three times more likely to receive no training at all than salespeople are.

Important Takeaways

Staff development programs require significant investment, both in terms of time and money, as they must be high in quality and evolve along with business practices and market conditions. However, employee development is also an area where it can be difficult to prove a clear ROI, which is why it is often neglected.

While the most obvious form of neglect is the reduction or removal of development services, it can also manifest as a lack of increased investment when it is needed to meet business demands. Yet, high-quality coaching and training have clear benefits when it comes to improving win rates, as well as revenue and quota attainment.

The consequences of neglecting employee development are numerous and include lower levels of customer retention, out-dated product knowledge and poor quality customer service. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between training provisions and staff turnover, with neglect resulting in more employees leaving a company.

For these reasons, neglecting employee development has a detrimental impact on your ROI. The only way to generate the right level of return from your employee development program is to invest sufficiently, spend ample time on development practices and ensure development is continuous, rather than being targeted exclusively to new hires.

To learn more about employee retention, check out this fun infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention

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About the Author  
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global employee development and sales training firm. It helps organizations develop effective talent management strategies through talent ready assessment. She enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts on talent management strategies and best practices.


Identify skilled leaders

5 Leadership Skills to Look for When Promoting In-House

Promoting in-house is a smart way to grow your business and invest in your staff towards leadership development. Companies that promote from within often have higher satisfaction ratings from employees and there’s nothing like the possibility of a promotion to keep your team working hard. According to Adam Foroughi, a co-founder and CEO:

“Outside hires can sap the motivation for mid-level and junior-level talent to work harder and move up the ladder. When you promote from within, your employees know that the sky’s the limit, so they always work hard and deliver more for your company. In my experience, this ‘sky’s the limit’ approach creates an atmosphere of optimism that has a positive effect on everyone.”

As you look to various employees who may be similar in terms of work ethic, company loyalty and passion for the business, look for these leadership traits that set them apart. Employees who exemplify these characteristics will be better suited for a leadership position, allowing you to promote the most qualified and excited employees.

  1. Confidence

Confidence is one of the best indicators of potential success with an in-house hire. Fear of personal failure affects a staggering 31 percent of Americans according to a 2016 survey. The same survey even found that 6.1 percent of respondents had given up a promotion due to fear of failure.

While having these fears is common, employees that are confident in their decision-making skills will be more effective leaders. How do you identify confident employees? Look for the following traits, as outlined by Jeff Haden, of Inc.:

  • They take a stand—not to be right, but because they aren’t afraid to be wrong.
  • They listen more than they speak.
  • They duck the spotlight to shine it on others.
  • They freely ask for help.
  • They think, “Why not me?”
  • They don’t put other people down.
  • They aren’t afraid to look silly.
  • They make their own mistakes.
  • They seek approval from only the people who matter.
  1. Social Skills

One of the best ways to know if your new hire has leadership potential is the ‘beer and barbecue’ test, according to Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands: Would you want to have a beer with this person? Would they have a good time and make connections at a company barbecue?

If so, the person shows leadership potential, because leadership is all about effective communication. You’ve seen this employee in action, and have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. If communication is one of them—they tend to be social at group events, often organize fun shindigs in the office, or are always the first person to answer a group email—then they may be one of the top candidates.

It’s also important for leaders to recognize others and show appreciation for hard work. Only 41% of employees feel recognized at their desired frequency and 60% feel their managers don’t recognize them enough. Recognition goes a long way and understanding the importance of employee recognition can positively impact employee engagement levels.

  1. Vision

The best leaders have a good idea of what they want to bring to the table. Business News Daily says that a good internal hire will already be showing signs of this kind of vision. They’ll be motivated, focused, and already striving to make company practices as streamlined as possible.

Look for employees that are ‘hustling’ and doing their best to make the company better, rather than simply showing up and going through the motions each day. You can trust that employees who share your vision, and maybe even have their own ideas for the growth of the company, will improve the organization when in a leadership role.

  1. Critical Thinking Skills

Managers are required to think critically every day: “One of the most common duties of a manager or supervisor is to make sure that client, customer, and employee obstacles are being removed or lessened. This includes making sure questions are being answered, proper actions are being taken, and problems are being resolved,” says Lindsey Burke of Select International.

Work with the potential candidates’ direct superiors to assess their work on the last few projects. Ask questions like:

  • Have they shown the ability to analyze a situation thoroughly instead of responding to it immediately?
  • Can they find effective solutions, or do they flounder?
  • Do they regularly offer solutions in brainstorming sessions and meetings?
  1. Ownership

If you’re considering an employee for a promotion, start by giving additional responsibility as a trial; even if they don’t know they’re being considered for the promotion or that this is a trial. Then watch closely as the employee(s) inevitably make mistakes and learn through these new tasks.

Employees that show ownership of mistakes they’ve made, and can move past them and see the learning experience that comes out of it, are the employees you want to promote, according to The Muse. The skill of ownership is difficult to teach, but invaluable when it comes to leading a team. Employees that embody this trait will often be the best people for the promotion.

Start Promoting

Use these tips to find the best candidates for an in-house promotion. There are budding and excited leaders among you, it’s just a matter of finding them. Look for confidence, vision, ownership and more to identify the employees who want to help grow your business and their career.

Discover why it’s important to recognize employees and promote in-house by checking out the eBook The Case for Employee Recognition.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

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Offer the right perks

What Hourly Workers Really Want (It Might Surprise You)

Hourly workers are among the most unhappy employees in the workforce. They often take fewer vacations, have worse benefits, and are passed over for promotions compared to their salaried counterparts. This isn’t surprising. When most companies hire hourly workers, they often focus solely on the dollar amount they must pay to attract qualified candidates, rather than the perks and benefits that can set them apart from other potential employers.

Don’t be MOST companies.

With hourly rates climbing in most major cities, it can be hard to make your job look enticing. However, it turns out that hourly workers value much more than their pay. Employee engagement is more important than ever before. Companies should be considering techniques to attract and engage their hourly workforce

Let’s take a deeper look at what hourly workers really want and how your company can use that to stand out amongst the competition and hire great talent!

Work Flexibility 

It turns out that one of the perks hourly workers value most is work flexibility. In a recent study conducted by Snagajob, nearly 36% of hourly workers reported that work flexibility was the most important perk but only approximately 50% of employers planned on offering job flexibility. So, it begs the questions:

  • How can your company offer flexibility?
  • Is it possible for hourly workers to set their own schedule?
  • Can you offer unlimited vacation time (even if it’s unpaid)?
  • Can your workers choose how many hours they work?

If any of this is possible, your company will greatly improve its odds of making a hire and can even potentially offer a lower hourly rate to prospective candidates.


Another work perk that hourly candidates care about is a performance-based employee bonus.

In the same Snagajob survey referenced above, it appears that 27% of candidates thought bonuses are the most important work perk, so much so that 54% of workers surveyed would change jobs if it meant a bonus structure was included in their compensation plan. Although this seems like the same thing as paying more per hour, which most hiring managers can’t do, bonuses are different.

That’s because bonuses are usually based on work performance. Therefore, if you pay an hourly worker less but offer them a large bonus if they perform well, it’s a win-win situation. If they don’t meet their goals, you don’t have to pay as much. And, if they do, you pay more but you get great results.

See if there is a way your company can offer a bonus tied to performance.  You’ll be able to attract more candidates and it will also give them a great employee incentive to work hard.

Vacation Time

Nearly 13% of workers said that the number one perk they look for is paid time off. However, many hourly employers don’t offer much PTO if they offer it at all. And this, on the surface, seems like a good idea. Why give workers time off when you can have them in the office being productive?

Well, there are a couple very good reasons. Offering PTO is clearly important to workers which means that offering more vacation time will allow you to offer a lower hourly rate or hire more qualified employees. Secondly, many workers don’t even use the vacation time they have earned, so it won’t impact your organization as much as you thought it might. Finally, if your company is in a position where it can offer hourly employees unlimited vacation (even if it’s unpaid), it will be difficult for a candidate to pass up, even for a higher wage. And, as outlined above, they probably won’t use an excessive amount of vacation, even if they do have the option.

Employee Recognition

Don’t just roll your eyes and say “Ugh, Millennials!” Employees, even hourly or contract employees, thrive on engagement, recognition, and general feedback. After all, these are building blocks for improvement and advancement in any career. And even better, deficits in employee recognition are simple to address and can (and most often will) cost you zero dollars. In the meantime, employee recognition improves company culture, increases retention and boosts morale.

There are simple ways to get an employee recognition initiative started. A manager can start by simply sending an end-of-week email highlighting the highs (and lows) of the week. This kind of constructive feedback will enhance an employee’s work. You can even gamify employee recognition, create an employee shout-out on social media or simply give a pat on the back at the end of a grueling project or difficult day. Try taking it one step further and consider implementing HR technology or an employee recognition program across your organization to encourage daily peer-to-peer recognition. Decide what sort of employee recognition best fits your culture and put it into action today!

Employee Engagement

Many hourly employees feel like they’re not really part of the organization or that they are simply temporary workers. However, studies have found that hourly employees usually want to be more engaged with the company they’re working for. There are numerous ways a company and its managers can work to keep hourly employees feeling engaged.

A great way to start is to create a culture of inclusion and make sure that hourly employees are treated and communicated with just like full time or salaried employees. Secondly, managers and other employees should invest the time to get to know hourly employees and form personal relationships.  If an employee integrates particularly well, it may be a good idea to keep them on a salaried basis. Third, managers should communicate regularly with their hourly employees. Many hourly employees complain they are set on a task and are unable to communicate with their boss on a regular basis. Setting up an open line of communication and checking in regularly will not only help an hourly employee stay on task but will also make them feel more engaged with the company and team.

How Does All of This Help Your Company?

If you find ways to stand out amidst an ever-crowded, you can make better hires and pay less per hour by offering the right work perks for your employees. Work perks like flexibility, employee engagement, and vacation time cost your company very little but are incredibly valuable to hourly employees.

If you have any other ideas for great perks that hourly employees highly value, let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you think!

For more information on how employee recognition can help your company, check out the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Will Zimmerman is a writer for Proven.


managerial tips

5 Ways Managers Can Transform Themselves into Leaders

A quick search on indicates that there are more than 187,000 books with “leadership” or related words in the title. That’s a lot of content written on a single topic.

However,  the word “leader” has been applied to so many different areas of activity that it has become meaningless. Apart from political and military leaders, we have business leaders, market leaders, industry leaders, thought leaders, and so on.

The concept has become so overused that we’ve lost a true understanding of exactly what leadership is. As a result, today’s employees don’t trust their leaders like they used to. And because of this, many areas of the business might suffer, like employee engagement and employee retention.

That said, earning the title of “manager” is one of the greatest professional milestones a contributor can achieve. It means you’ve been deemed capable enough in your current job to be directing others to do it.

Even though this is a leadership role, actually being seen as a leader is no easy task. It takes a great deal of devotion, stamina, and determination.

A manager is someone who keeps operations running smoothly and ensures tasks are completed to meet the defined criteria. A leader, on the other hand, pushes the envelope and drives innovation.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King

Make no mistake, both managerial and leadership roles are essential in business. However, leaders are the ones who tend to be remembered and cement their legacies in the history (and self-help) books. Here is what you can do to be one of the crème de la crème…

1. Exhibit Emotional Intelligence

An emotionally intelligent leader can be defined by five major components:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation/passion
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

Plain and simple, business is about people, both internally and externally. A good leader is well-aware of this and uses these components to pick up on the sensitivities of those around them. They can see the big picture and acknowledge opinions in the correct context of how they fit into it. Even more, they can anticipate reactions and proceed appropriately on instinct.

In terms of emotional intelligence, perhaps the most valuable trait of effective leaders is their ability to listen critically and observe neutrally. In addition to understanding what others are saying, they also take mental notes of the emotions behind the words. In many cases, these are much more important than the words themselves.

Leaders are visionaries. They know how to work with what they are given and inspire others to collectively achieve long-term goals. Speaking of vision . . .

2. Commit to Your Vision

Managers are committed to an organization and its goals. Their loyalty is to the company, and they have the reliability and inflexibility typical of the “good soldier” in that commitment. They’ll ask staff to push ahead, chasing the company’s aims. But their primary duty is to the organization.

By contrast, leaders are committed to their vision. We hear a lot about how leadership goes hand-in-hand with disruption, but unless you’ve worked with a true leader you don’t necessarily realize that disruption starts at home – in the leader’s own organization. Managers want to keep the show on the road. Leaders ask if it’s the right road, the right show, the right cast. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams and teamwork, has this to say:

“Every team needs a deviant, someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning.”

While managers want each day and each operation to run smoothly on well-understood lines toward predefined goals, deviants are the ones who stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backwards or turned it inside out?”

When the Hackman deviant is just another team member, not a leader, they can be shouted down or frozen out, especially by over-organizing managers. But when they’re the one in charge, the whole team is moving toward innovation.

If you want to be a great leader, expect – and cause – the ground to shift under your feet in ways no manager would ever want. Change your vision of commitment before you commit to your vision.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty

Most great leaders have a common trait: their subordinates trust them and demonstrate unflinching loyalty to their cause. To achieve this, you must prove that you are willing to put yourself in the trenches and not delegate any task that you wouldn’t do yourself.

In other words, you must practice what you preach and not be afraid to jump into the thick of things. Working side-by-side with your subordinates will give you a better idea of exactly how things run on the ground level as well as working knowledge of the tools and methodologies your team uses to complete their tasks and streamline job management.

At the end of the day, demanding respect won’t give you the results you want. To actually earn it from those around you, one of the best things you can do is exhibit an all-for-one and one-for-all attitude.

4. Build People Up

When looking at the concept of people management, there are two major theories to consider.

The first one is Theory X. Managers who fall under the purview of Theory X are more pessimistic and generally assume subordinates do not like their job, avoid responsibility, and must be constantly controlled. These managers are typically known for stifling ideas and not focusing on the unique value each person offers. When this is the case, employees can easily lose motivation, resulting in a high turnover rate. In fact, a study by Gallup found that the odds of an employee being engaged are only 9% under such circumstances.

On the contrary, Theory Y is the one most often adopted by respected leaders. These managers live under the assumption that their subordinates are self-motivated and can work on their own initiative. When the work environment of an organization assumes and provides for such a culture, employees feel fulfilled both personally and professionally, and are motivated to do their best work.

Ultimately, it’s much harder for an organization to develop when managers tend to hold people back. A good leader encourages others to speak up and be meaningfully involved in completing the mission, rather than just following orders. Essentially, leaders coach and mentor, managers give commands.

The key to becoming a “Theory Y Leader” is by promoting transparency in the workplace. Make it a point to encourage open communication. Ask for honest feedback and value everyone’s opinions. This is how company cultures evolve and employees feel more engaged.

5. Challenge the Status Quo

As previously stated, managers keep operations running per usual. Leaders are known to break the mold and take risks. Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft. Alexander the Great marched a tired but undefeated army on and on. The best leaders are not remembered for playing it safe when opportunity arose.

To establish yourself as a leader, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone, without being intimidated by the idea of failure. While you should always take appropriate precautions and “manage” risk, remember that leaders embrace change, even if there is nothing wrong with the current status quo. Great breakthroughs don’t happen without a significant risk factor.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Leadership is about finding new and innovative ways to improve the norm. When you take risks, you are not judged by the extent of your success or failure. You are defined by the thought process underlying your approach, how you reacted throughout the execution, and what you did with the outcome.

Over to You

It’s important to note that leadership and management are not mutually exclusive roles. Leaders are managers by nature, and vice versa, in many instances. There will always be a need for someone to keep operations going steady. But for a business to see significant growth and development, managers must strive to push boundaries and claim new territory. The impact of a true leader is profound and influences the way people work and live. Ultimately, true leaders are those who make the world a better place.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to see how leaders can effectively engage, align, and set their employees up for success.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.


Implement HR Tech

3 Steps: How to Effectively Implement HR Technologies in the Workplace

It can be challenging and cumbersome to implement new HR technology in the workplace. According to a Brandon Hall Group study, 29% of workforce management solutions have been in place for five years or more and 45% wanted to alleviate the burden of manual tasks from HR. So, how exactly do you effectively implement HR technologies in the workplace? The success of a new HR technology rollout depends on several key aspects being clearly thought out beforehand. If the HR technology touches multiple people internally, it is important that all stakeholders are onboard from the beginning. Your goals should be to make an HR technology rollout as pain-free as possible, and the benefits of the new HR technology easy to understand for employees. Here are three ways to ensure a smooth implementation:

Get Employee Buy-In

First and foremost, you should find an HR app or technology your workers will love. How do you that? Ask them which apps or technologies they are already using on their own. This includes apps outside of work. The more you can understand how your employees interact with technology, the better the adoption curve when looking for a solution that your employees might already be familiar with.  In fact, you might be surprised to find that half of your workers have already banded together to use similar applications on their own.

Ask them which HR apps or technologies they wish they could use at work. They may have heard from a friend that their company is using a particular app.

If you already have an HR app in mind that you would like to implement, you can first ask employees for their thoughts and see what your workers think of it. If that goes well, the next step would be to pilot the HR app with a small group of employees. If they love using the new app, then present the idea of rolling it out to the rest of the team and ask for feedback. If all goes well from there, then plan for a company-wide rollout.

Communicate the Purpose and Benefits of the Technology

When presenting the new HR app or technology to stakeholders, it’s important to communicate why the company is rolling out the new HR app or technology. Equally as important is discussing the benefits the workforce will see from using the new HR app or technology. Tell them how it will make their lives better!

There are many ways to do this. Individual managers can discuss the new HR app or technology with their teams. A special email can be sent out giving specific information about the rollout. Posters can be displayed in break rooms displaying the benefits of the new HR app or technology (like an advertisement). A special event, like a pizza party, can be held to entice workers to attend an informational session about the new rollout.

Clearly, there are many ways to go about communicating to your team why you are rolling out a new HR app or technology and how it will improve their working lives and the company.

Create an Easy System for Onboarding

It’s important to provide a seamless onboarding experience. Onboarding is often laborious when rolling out an HR app or technology. But it doesn’t have to be! If you choose apps and technologies that are easy to find, easy to download, and have a built-in tutorial, it takes some of the pain out of getting your team on board. A dedicated FAQ section or knowledge base with videos and tutorials is also helpful as a quick reference guide that can be viewed at anytime.

It’s up to you to decide how and when an existing employee or new employee finds out that they are to be using the HR app or technology. Offering incentives for employees once they start using the new HR app or technology always helps to get them onboarded faster.

Another important consideration when thinking about onboarding is how upgrades will take place. One way to eliminate this worry is to select HR apps and technologies that have dynamic upgrades. With this feature, when it comes time to upgrade, the process will be done automatically.

Rolling out any new HR program is a costly venture. Even more costly is having to re-rollout a technology. If your organization focuses on the three tips above, the long-term viability of the technology will be adopted earlier and will lessen future training and implementation costs. Once your company comes up with a plan for a technology rollout, you will be able to replicate the plan for future rollouts and make adjustments as needed. This will help make future technology rollouts even faster and less expensively.

 To learn more about HR tech, check out this webinar recording on disrupting HR technology.
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About the Author
Atif Siddiqi is the founder and CEO at Branch Messenger, an employee mobile self-service platform for shift workers. An LA native, Atif relocated the company to Minnesota to participate in the TechStars & Target Retail Accelerator Program. Branch has thousands of employees that rely on the app from companies like Target, McDonald’s, Walgreens, 24 Hour Fitness and more.

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Shocking HR Stats

13 Scary Employee Engagement and Recognition Stats That Will Spook You This Halloween

Are you haunted by worries that your best people might quit right before a key deadline? Does lack of team alignment keep you awake at night? Don’t let the tentacles of leadership doubt creep into your brain during hours when you should be rejuvenating. Read through these thirteen hair-raising employee engagement and recognition statistics below and banish any lurking shadows from your company culture.

1. Workers are Still Rewarded Just for Existing

In a scary throwback to the mid-twentieth century, 87 percent of employee recognition programs center on how long the person has been at the company. While it’s true that minimizing turnover is helpful, nobody comes to work every day because of recognition they’ll be awarded in some future year.

2. Frequent Recognition Gets Overlooked

We know, your life as a manager gets hectic, and you may assume employees can read your mind when you don’t express the appreciation you feel. Pro Tip: They can’t. A Gallup survey finds that only 1 in 3 workers strongly agree that they have been praised or recognized within the past week for doing good work.

3. Most Workers are Not Engaged

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, 51 percent of employees state that they are not engaged in their jobs, which means they’re likely keeping an eye open for a new job. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? And don’t even think about the distracted workers doing jobs that have a direct bearing on other people’s health and safety.

4. Leaders are Falling Down on the Job

Gallup provides some truly alarming figures related to the failure of leadership in today’s companies: Only 15 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their management gives them confidence about the future of the company, and only 13 percent state that the company’s leaders communicate effectively throughout the organization.

5. Actively Disengaged Workers: A Problem Waiting to Happen

The number of “actively disengaged” workers, at 24 percent, is nearly double the 13 percent of workers who say they are actively engaged. This can be expensive to your business, as Gallup points out that each instance of employee turnover costs your company an average of 1.5 times the employees’ salary.

6. Recognize Them or Lose Them

Research published in Human Resources Today finds that “the number one reason why people leave jobs is limited recognition and praise.” This is a simple statistic, easy to remember, that will help you keep your talented workers on board for the longer term.

7. Criticism Impairs Thinking

You may think constructive criticism will elicit star performances, but neuroscientists disagree. In fact, criticism activates higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which researchers say “shuts down the thinking center of our brain.” Praise, on the other hand, stimulates the basal ganglia to release pleasure hormones dopamine and oxytocin, which improve performance and attention levels.

8. Lack of Recognition Interferes with Performance

Do employees who aren’t praised work harder, in hopes of eventually being appreciated? Harvard Business Review says “No.” Their research points out that 40 percent of American workers say they would put more effort into their jobs if their employer recognized them more often.

9. Don’t be Part of this Statistic

The Harvard Business Review study cited above also found that the average employee in their survey reported that it had been 50 days since they last felt recognized for anything they did at work. What number would your average staff person mention, if a surveyor were to ask this question?

10. Millennials Can Slip Away

A recent Deloitte survey found that 2 out of every 3 millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020. One major reason for this restlessness is that this generation feels their skills are not recognized. Only 28 percent of respondents stated that their organization is currently making full use of their skills. To keep your younger workers engaged, you need to recognize their efforts by offering development opportunities.

11. Millennial Need for Flexibility is Overlooked

Chances are good that the millennials working for you want more flexibility. Eighty-eight percent of younger workers want more schedule flexing authority, while 75 percent want the opportunity to work for home. Meanwhile, only 43 percent of these workers are allowed to work from other locations… so it’s a good bet that some of your staff are surfing the web looking for more adaptable jobs

12. It’s Up to You

Management accounts for 70 percent of the variance in engagement scores. That’s both good and bad news. It means you have a huge influence when it comes to upping your employee engagement scores, but it also means that no other techniques for increasing engagement will be successful if you ignore your role in the solution.

13. Don’t be Overconfident

You’ve just read a dozen statistics indicating just how big the room for improvement is. Here’s one last warning to take with you: 89 percent of senior managers feel that their company is actually very good at recognizing their workers. This means they probably won’t change. Don’t be part of that overconfident group.

The figures above come from a range of sources, but they all deliver one single message: Rewarding and recognizing your employees is a no-brainer. You work hard on all kinds of complex tasks in order to bring success and sustainability to your company. Don’t overlook the most obvious — and simple — building block of workforce loyalty: prompt, varied employee appreciation.

For more insight on the importance of recognition in the workplace, check out Achievers’ eBook, Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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Strengthen Leadership

What Does a Self-Aware Leader Look Like at Your Organization?

Although most organizations spend much of their training budget on technical skills, a large percentage of leaders do not have the necessary skills and emotional competencies to manage the demands of the new economy.

In Dan Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, his research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is twice the indicator of leadership success as IQ and technical skills combined. He further explains that once people leave school and enter the workforce, IQ and technical skills are often equal among those climbing the professional ladder. The differentiator is emotional intelligence (hear Goleman discuss his research in this video on YouTube).

Mr. Goleman has written several books and articles about how stellar career performance requires a leader to have a combination of business strategy knowledge and interpersonal skills. Many leaders don’t have the qualifications to mentor, lead, adapt, inspire, and manage others on their team.

Drawing from decades of analysis of great companies, Mr. Goleman has identified that powerful leaders excel by connecting with others using emotional intelligence (EI) competencies like mindfulness, self-awareness and empathy. These skill sets exist outside the domain of technical skills or IQ.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in psychology and neuroscience. It suggests that when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally.

Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis. Providing tools to leaders on how to self-manage and successfully communicate with others is highly effective in times of tension and complexity. We need more leaders who can deliver a difficult message in an authentic way, creating a trusting environment without hidden agendas.

What can you do to start to build on your own EI skills?

It starts with self-awareness. How do you respond in high-pressure moments? Are you able to understand and recognize your strengths and areas of challenge? Is there a voice in your head that is saying you are not good enough?

To become a self-aware leader, it takes time, guts, vulnerability, and experiencing failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Here are some things you can do to become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Test yourself or take assessments:
    Participate in a 360-Assessment, StrengthFinders, Disk, Myers-Briggs or Color Code. There are several assessments, and each one offers a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Know your strengths and areas of challenge and get to know your peers and team members. Understand what ignites you and what triggers you.
  2. Ask for feedback
    Do you know how your emotions impact behaviors, and can you recognize when you have impacted someone else negatively? Ask your circle of influence how you are doing and what can you do to improve. Sometimes the best advice comes from others on your team. Find a mentor – someone who can offer constructive feedback without you becoming defensive.
  3. Identify patterns in your own decision making and behaviors
    Write down why you made a buying decision or why you hired or fired someone. Did it turn out as you expected? Understand your own emotional needs and what causes you to be triggered. Understand how you respond during pressure moments and move away from bad habits that sabotage your best performance. Identify things that have happened in your past that may not be serving your present or future.
  4. Learn from your setbacks or failures
    Don’t let a failure define you. Optimist view failure as a short-term setback. Are you willing to do something different and have you changed your game? Be willing to take a risk or be vulnerable to grow as a leader. Look at opportunities to balance intuition with reason and logic when taking risks.

Effective self-awareness cannot be thought of as a soft science or new age meditation. It is vital to your leadership growth. As a business coach, I find many leaders are not aware enough to admit they have a problem or opportunity for growth. Often, awareness does not come to them until they experience a significant setback. Don’t wait – work on your self-awareness right now and see the impact on your Emotional Intelligence, and then see how Emotional Intelligence will change the way you work and live.

If you would like to learn more about EI, check out the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix, Arizona.  She can be reached at






Execute Great Performance Management

Building Blocks of Great Performance Management: 3 Common Goals

Before we hit that reboot button on our performance management programs, let’s be absolutely clear on what performance management actually is, and why we should be doing it. As diverse as organizations are (and as diverse as their PM solutions should be) it is helpful to anchor our thinking within a basic framework. This framework represents the universal outcomes of strong performance programs— outcomes that I’ve come to recognize as indicators of great organizational performance. Think of these three interrelated goals as the essence of all performance programs and the basis from which each organization’s unique differences evolve. More simply, consider them the fundamental building blocks for the design project ahead of you.

In my experience, every high performing organization is ultimately using its performance management program to:

  1. Develop people’s skills and capabilities
  2. Reward all employees equitably
  3. Drive overall organizational performance

How these goals are prioritized or emphasized—what “good” looks like related to each goal—will differ from organization to organization. So too will the way each organization sets about making those goals a reality. But any high-performing organization will have some combination of these three ingredients in its performance management recipe.

Now let’s get familiar with our ingredients.

Goal #1: Develop People

It seems obvious that the development of employees should be a key outcome of any performance solution. After all, isn’t that what performance reviews and career discussions are all about? Well, yes, they should be. But as we discussed earlier, this objective is often the one that loses out. And things get especially muddled when we get hung up on our rewards and ratings processes. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So let’s think about what a strong performance management solution that’s truly focused on developing people might look like. First, it should provide in-the-moment coaching, helping individuals to understand what went well and what could be enhanced the next time around. We all know this intuitively, but many of us are so used to stockpiling this feedback for the annual review that we don’t do this for our employees. Further, in-the-moment coaching provides suggestions to support their growth in an environment that allows them to absorb this feedback without feeling threatened or having something at risk (like their pay raise).

Next, individuals should have information at their disposal that provides insight into what is expected in their current role and any future roles to which they hope to advance. Resources for development might include mentors or coaches who are their advocates within the organization. There should also be self-assessment and training tools that would link to their development plan, providing ideas and resources to support their unique goals.

Goal #2: Reward Equitably

First, let’s be clear on what the word really means. ‘Equitable’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘fair and impartial.’ It’s important to note that ‘equally’ and ‘equitably’ are not the same thing. For example, let’s say you worked for three weeks writing a strategy for a new business unit, and your peer had proofread it and tuned it up for you. I’d sure hope you’d want your peer to receive some recognition for her support, but I doubt you’d be happy if her reward and recognition was equal to yours. Instead, you’d want the recognition to be equitable, meaning each of you would get as much credit as you deserve.

When organizations speak of differentiated pay and rewards, they are looking for those rewards to be distributed in an equitable manner—fairly, unbiased, and consistent with the level of contribution or impact. It’s also important to note that rewarding equitably is not just about pay. We’re talking about total rewards: compensation, formal and informal recognition, benefits, promotions, project assignments, you name it.

It’s also important to remember that, from an employee’s perspective, equity is all about fairness. While extrinsic rewards are rarely a driver of human behavior, the belief that a system is unfair or biased is a significant driver for dissatisfaction. In other words, confidence that the system is equitable makes for happy and engaged employees. In order to achieve that sense of fairness, you need to get a clear view of what reward equitably means to your organization and how you can best achieve that goal in your unique environment.

Goal #3: Drive Organizational Performance

There’s been plenty of research that has demonstrated the correlation between an employee’s connectedness to the mission and vision of his or her company and the measurable performance of that organization. We now understand how important it is to assure that teams and individuals are fully aligned to the goals of the company.

I’m talking about individuals and teams feeling an emotional connection to the purpose of the organization. That means they understand the vision, they believe in it, they want to be a part of it, and they see how their work and roles contribute to the broader goal. Remember, however, that this connection must also translate into a framework that helps each employee make good decisions and focus on the right work, day in and day out.

Driving organizational performance might sound like it has more to do with the organization than the employee, but it doesn’t. Sure, organizations want their teams and employees aligned, doing the right work, and not wasting time on efforts that are off-strategy. But we have to recognize that, as humans, we also crave the feeling of being a part of something. Most people want to feel like the work they are doing is important and purposeful. This connectedness is a vital part of an employee’s career satisfaction and overall performance, and considering that career satisfaction is of value to both the organization and the individual, we must find ways to make sure it happens.

As I’ve said, each organization is unique, with differing levels of maturity, mixtures of employee demographics, and diverse cultures and values. You will—and should—interpret and emphasize the Three Common Goals in a way that makes the most sense for you and your strategic goals. But make sure you think long and hard about each as you’re building your new solution. Ignore these important building blocks at your peril!

For more information on how to accurately measure key business objectives like performance, check out Achievers’ eBook Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.





Elite 8

Meet the Elite 8 Winners Recognized for Exceptional Commitment to Employee Engagement

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards aim to encourage companies to reflect on the work environments they’ve curated. The quality of an output, whatever it may be, is defined by the people who execute on the process and is indicative of how engaged they are with their work. There is no exact science to employee engagement: its composition varies based on the values and mission of a company, but there are 8 elements that consistently align with engagement. As we reviewed the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards applications, we kept a special eye out for applicants that excelled in these specific elements of employee engagement: are you ready to meet the Elite 8?


Alliance Data Systems is the engine behind loyalty and marketing campaigns for more than 1,000 consumer-facing companies worldwide. Leader transparency and interaction is a priority for them: their CEO visits most of their locations around the world every year to speak with associates, answer questions and share the long-term vision.


Electronic Arts is a leading global interactive entertainment software company that delivers games, content and online services across a variety of platforms. Agile goals that evolve alongside career development plans or business priorities paired with real-time feedback ensure constant, candid communication flows.


ARI combines ideas, technology and human perspective to curate an automotive fleet management experience that optimizes performance and impacts customers’ bottom line. Family defines their culture: from internal priorities that foster career development and recognition, to an emphasis on personal interaction – caring is key at ARI.

Rewards & Recognition

ATB Financial takes an Albertan-centric approach to banking to help foster successes within the communities of Alberta. They strive to embed recognition in their company DNA to increase personal equity, company commitment and customer service.

Professional & Personal Growth

ArcelorMittal Dofasco is Canada’s largest flat-rolled steel producer and a hallmark of advanced manufacturing in North America. From global assignments and leadership development to apprenticeship program and tuition refund, emphasis is placed on helping employees grow their careers internally.

Accountability & Performance

Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited transforms communities for a vibrant tomorrow: one of largest owners, operators and developers of retail, office, mixed-used properties in North America. Company-wide objective setting and performance coaching ensures alignment on business objectives and clarity surrounding expectations of team members.

Vision & Values

Reynolds American (RAI) and its operating companies have a bold vision to achieve US market leadership through the transformation of the tobacco industry by meeting emerging marketplace demands for innovative tobacco products while redefining how a tobacco company can help reduce the harm caused by smoking. RAI employees are innovative trailblazers who are connected by common core values to drive innovation and ignite the breakthroughs that are changing an entire industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Total Quality Logistics is a freight brokerage firm in North America that keeps the economy moving by connecting customers needing to move truckload, LTL or intermodal freight to carriers with the capacity to move it. They established their program to organize and amplify employee’s philanthropic efforts.

There you have it. Eight companies who have identified and developed the engagement element that drives their success. An idea can only thrive if it has the right people to execute on it: employee engagement matters.

Learn more by reading the press release announcing the Elite 8 here.

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About the Author

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.




engage your workforce

Smart & Final: Effectively Engaging 10,000+ Employees

How do you effectively engage over 10,000 employees? This was the challenge presented to Smart & Final, a major chain of warehouse-style food and supply stores. Smart & Final has over 10,000 employees and approximately 211 stores in 5 states. Their previous employee recognition strategy consisted of a ubiquitously disliked service awards program that was perceived by employees as being impersonal and demotivating. This type of employee experience was unacceptable and something had to be done about it. The Smart & Final team took on the huge task of overhauling their employee recognition strategy and finding a new way to boost employee engagement across the entire organization.

With 66% of HR leaders currently updating their employee engagement and retention strategies, Smart & Final is not alone. Companies worldwide are finding immense value behind putting more time and resources into employee recognition and engagement programs. For starters, 60% of best-in-class organizations have stated employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance and 50% of HR leaders said that an increase in employee recognition would boost employee retention. If that isn’t enough, a 1% increase in employee engagement equates to an additional 0.6% growth in sales for companies.

Businesses share why employee recognition and engagement matters

It’s a no-brainer why so many companies, such as Ericsson, Rogers, and Availity are jumping on the employee recognition and engagement wagon. Smart & Final wanted to make sure their new HR strategy would hit employee recognition numbers out of the park. And that’s exactly what they did. After Smart & Final implemented its new Spotlight program with Achievers, they saw stronger employee alignment, activity rates, and revenue. The business impact was significant with amazing results, including:

  • Increased monthly recognition activity at 11 times the normal average
  • More than 43,000 recognition moments in one month alone
  • Sales grew 1.1% on average
  • 96.8% of employee recognitions were sent without points attached, making the cost virtually free

Joe Tischbern, Manager of Learning and Engagement at Smart & Final, has seen a shift in perspective from executives on employee recognition after kicking off Spotlight. In our customer testimonial video, he shared:

“Some of our executives were skeptics when we started this. They’re no longer skeptics because they see the impact that a recognition they give has on the hourly associate working in the store. Our CEO himself has said that he’s seen the difference. He’s seen the fact that when he has the opportunity to recognize people, he sees a change in their behavior.”

Not only did Smart & Final’s new employee engagement strategy convert recognition naysayers into believers; sales numbers, employee happiness, and customer satisfaction all improved. Tischbern further shared:

“Sales actually increased during the process because associates were excited. There was a better attitude. The customers were more excited because our associates were more excited.”

Smart & Final’s Spotlight program successfully increased employee engagement across its entire organization. With only 13% of employees engaged worldwide and disengaged employees costing organizations between $450-$550 billion annually, it’s important to address the current state of employee disengagement sooner than later. Avoid high turnover rates and unnecessary costs by re-evaluating your current employee engagement strategy today. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How are you currently engaging employees? Is it working?
  2. Are you successfully measuring employee engagement at your company?
  3. Would you consider your company culture positive or negative?
  4. How often do employees recognize colleagues at your workplace?
  5. Are your employees overall happy at work?

If you are unsure how to answer the questions above or unsatisfied with your response, it might be time to join the 66% of HR leaders who are updating their employee engagement and retention strategies. Follow in the steps of Smart & Final and start making a change to create an unbeatable impact on employee engagement.

To learn more about Smart & Final’s Spotlight program and HR success, download Smart & Final’s case study.

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If you’d like to learn more about another employee engagement success story, check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Senior Editorial and Social Media Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.





ACE 2017 Key Takeaways

ACE 2017: Key Highlights and Takeaways

There really is no place quite like it…

New Orleans was treated to an eclectic mix of HR professionals as customers from across the globe flocked to the Big Easy for ACE 2017.

The 8th annual Achievers Customer Experience conference was an unparalleled success, as clients and prospective customers exchanged ideas with independent HR thought leaders and decision makers representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a series of lively and engaging speakers who introduced the various themes that were weaved throughout the rest of the talks. From the intersection of technology and personalization to navigating organizational change with an aligned workforce, the introductory speeches laid the foundation for a series of thought-provoking breakout sessions aimed at changing the way the world works! Major announcements were made during the event, including Achievers revealing the 2017 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Awards and the release of Achievers Listen, a suite of tools that is taking employee engagement to the next level.

From the grand ballroom of the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel, attendees were introduced to some of the developing trends in the employee engagement work space and various success stories from members of the Achievers family:

Achievers’ Chief Technology Officer, Aris Zakinthinos, introduced CHRISTUS St. Michael, who discussed how the implementation of their employee success platform in 2012 had a monumental impact on their business objectives, including a significant increase in recognitions given and leadership engagement as well as a remarkable decrease in their turnover rate, down to 6.4%, well below the industry standard of 19.4%. To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

Next up was Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who discussed how to use the Achievers platform to drive innovation within your organization. Drawing on first-hand experience, Ms. Roche outlined the benefits of creating an engaged workforce and how recognizing and rewarding their creative potential yields great returns to your bottom line. Ms. Roche went on to highlight some of the success other members of the Achievers family were having with their respective programs.

One of the more recent success stories comes out of Michigan, home to Meijer Inc., a supercenter chain with stores across the United States.

From President and CEO Rick Keyes and Recognition and Engagement Manager, Randi Roehling, we heard about the monumental impact their focus on employee engagement has had since they launched late last year. Discussing how they laid the groundwork for a successful launch of their M-Team program, the duo illustrated the importance of executive buy-in, highlighting the amazing 12,000 recognitions sent out by Mr. Keyes in a few short months.

Next came Achievers’ very own Vice President of Product Development, Egan Cheung, who proudly announced the launch of the much-anticipated Achievers Listen tool. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team‘s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers new functionality allows you to do just that.

Closing out the morning discussions was an incredible speech from one of the most inspiring young women many in the crowd had the privilege to see. Hannah Alper capped off the introduction to ACE 2017 with a discussion on how minor actions can lead to big change, leaving the crowd both humbled and inspired, ready to springboard into a trio of speaking tracks which individually focused on thought leadership within the HR space (Aspire), best practices for running successful programs (Achieve) and the exciting product functionality and releases from Achievers (Accelerate).

The first day closed out with an amazing event hosted by Achievers. Nearly 300 conference attendees joined a traditional second line parade and enjoyed a lively march through Bourbon Street. The end destination was B.B. King’s Blues Club, where all were treated to some of the best cuisine and music New Orleans has to offer.

After an unforgettable night in the Big Easy, the crowd gathered on Day 2 for a rousing and humorous presentation on Fearless Leadership from Cary Lohrenz, a celebrated author and leader who became the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Her experience navigating the inherent challenges of breaking down barriers and shifting individual perspectives prompted unique insights into strategic leadership and diversity training, topics that significantly influence any business’s bottom line.

Closing out the conference was none other than David Novak, author and former CEO of YUM Brands (parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). Voted the “2012 CEO of the year”, Mr. Novak knows how to build powerful and diverse organizations. As the leader of over 1.5 million employees, he understands the awesome power of recognition. In his own words, he succinctly drove home what much of the conference covered: “Everyone brings value, worth, and individualism. You need to bring your team together. When you give people respect, appreciation and let them know that they count, they’re going to go to the moon for you.”

With that, ACE 2017 wrapped up. From keynote speakers to customer success stories, the conference illustrated the importance employee engagement and how to get the most of out of your workforce. With the sights, sounds and flavours of New Orleans still fresh on their minds, participants will be able to apply fresh ideas to their programs and drive success within their organizations.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in this year’s events. Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2018 in Toronto. Check out photos from ACE 2017 here.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at ACE 2017? Check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology, which was written by ACE 2017 attendee and analyst Ben Eubanks.

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Also, while you’re at it, make sure to check out ACE 2017 attendee Coralie Sawruk’s blog post covering her ACE 2017 experience and why she is an advocate for employee recognition.

About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.







ACE 2017 Achievers Customer Experience

ACE 2017: Day One Highlights

Achievers annual mix of festivity and networking is in full swing with the 50 Most Engaged Workplace Awards Gala and day one of Achievers Customer Experience 2017 (ACE 2017) already in the books.

The 7th annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces took place on Monday, September 11th at the historic Saenger Theater in New Orleans. Amidst the finely dressed titans of the HR space, exquisite cuisine, and glamorous ambiance was the highlight of the show, celebrating the companies that go above and beyond in the employee engagement space as determined by a panel of employee engagement experts. After this incredible evening of industry elegance, Achievers announced the crème de la crème, the eight most engaged workplaces. This year, the Elite Eight consists of:

• Alliance Data for Leadership
• Electronic Arts for Communication
• ARI for Culture
• ATB Financial for Rewards & Recognition
• ArcelorMittal Dofasco for Professional & Personal Growth
• Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited for Accountability & Performance
• Reynolds American, Inc. for Vision & Values
• Total Quality Logistics for Corporate Social Responsibility


50 ME Marquee

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala, always a marquee event

Brie Harvey

Brie Harvey, the face of ACE

50 ME Awards

50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala

After an unforgettable night of celebration, ACE 2017 kicked-off on a positive vibe. Prominent members of the Achievers Leadership team shared the success story of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. After partnering with Achievers in 2012, CHRISTUS St. Michael saw:

• a 4,500% increase in recognition given compared to the organization’s prior “home-grown” manual paper solution.
• a 10% increase in associate engagement specific to leadership recognition from 66% to 77%.
• a decreased turnover rate to an impressively low 6.4%, significantly below the industry standard annual turnover rate of 19.6%.

To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

In addition to the A-players of Achievers, the opening session featured Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who said of the event, ““This is all about celebrating the success you have with Achievers. One of my favorite topics is about innovation. Achievers’ platform is used to drive not just business results, but also innovation through engagement. It’s about how to use a platform to deeply engage. Engaged employees matter to company success. Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher financial results.”

After the keynote speeches ended, it was onto the fantastic slate of HR thought leaders discussing hot-button HR tech topics like employee engagement, rewards and recognition, and how to gain executive buy-in for engagement initiatives. Among the many memorable sessions was a presentation from Rocky Ozaki of NOW Innovations, who shared culture and operational best practices you should adopt to compete in the NoW. Beginning with a brief glimpse into the history of work, Rocky explained how the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have solidified that the future is NoW.

With the war for talent raging, attracting top talent is harder than ever before. There is a remedy that can alleviate the need for competing for the most talented candidates on the market: retaining the top talent you do have. Cara Silletto, President and Chief Retention Officer of Crescendo Strategies offered insight into how companies can be better aligned with the wants and needs of a constantly evolving workforce, ensuring that the talent you’ve worked so hard to obtain stays with your company for the long haul.

ACE 2017 also featured numerous testimonials from Achievers customers illustrating how an investment in employee engagement can lead to tangible business results such as decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and an improved bottom line. Becky Etsby, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Coborn’s, an employee-owned grocery store with more than 120 locations, stated as much during her presentation, “When employees are engaged, they really do care about the company and can affect a company’s profitability”.

After day one of ACE 2017 ended, it was onto B.B. King’s New Orleans to enjoy the sights, sounds, and taste of the Big Easy, check out the photos below:

A-player smiles

A-players with A-plus smiles

ACE Social Event

Achievers’ Greg Brown and Chase Dolomont getting their grub on

ACE 2017 Stilt/Juggler

Post ACE march to B.B. King’s

ACE 2017 Tarot Card Reading

“I see in your future a trip to ACE 2018”

After such an amazing day, it is hard to believe there is more to come. With speakers like Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, day two of ACE 2017 is sure to be equally amazing. Check out all the amazing photos from Day 1 of ACE 2017 here.

Follow the conversation on social media with #AACE17 and follow us on Twitter @ Achievers.


hack your culture

The 4 C’s That Should Define Your HR Department

Since publishing my new book, Culture Hacker, a couple of months ago, I have had some great conversations and brainstorming sessions with Human Resource leaders and Executives across organizations about how to hack their culture and improve their overall employee experience. One outcome has been the development of my ‘Four C’s’ that I believe highlight the required direction of Human Resource leaders and their departments in the future. The 4 C’s refer to the HR leader and department being a Catalyst, Coach, Conductor, and Consultant within their organization. Let’s consider each in detail.


As a Catalyst, the HR team must be proactive and stop waiting for permission to facilitate a cultural change. I have spoken to many HR leaders who seem to be waiting for approval to begin their culture initiatives. First, culture is not an initiative- it is the collective mindset of your people. The question is not whether you have a culture, because you do. The real question is- what are you doing to positively influence the attitude of your staff to be great with customers, perform at a high level and contribute to your organization? The area of opportunity is to partner with your operations teams and work on how to improve the experience of their employees so that they are better at what they do and focused on staying where they are. Retaining employees is a key topic in today’s business world, as research from Gallup suggests that a staggering 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job. Furthermore, 51% employees are actively looking for new jobs or watching for openings. The time is now to be the catalyst for a great employee experience.

As a catalyst, you must also be inspirational to those in the organization. Challenge the status quo and mundane by stimulating how employees in the organization think. This can be done by offering training classes, marketing ideas or quotes in screen savers or posters, circulating videos, putting out company challenges, and being a spark for thoughtful conversation when in meetings. You can stimulate the brain at any age and as long as the brain is being stimulated, people are thinking, evolving, and changing, which is necessary in today’s business environment.



As a Coach, the HR team must be out in the operations providing feedback to the managers on how they lead their teams. Author, John Le Carre, said, “the desk is a dangerous place from which to judge the world”, and I think HR spends way too much time at their desks. HR managers should spend time alongside managers guiding them on how to be better with their people. We believe 60% of all learning happens on the job, so HR cannot just limit their influence to only the classroom. 20% of all learning comes from getting effective feedback, yet it is rare for managers to get regular feedback on how they are leading. When was the last time your training team was in the operation giving feedback to managers on what they taught them in the classroom? Good trainers have operations and leadership experience and are not afraid of working alongside those they teach. They teach leadership development and have experience in managing teams. However, the reality is that many of the trainers teaching leadership classes today have little experience inspiring teams. This point leads to my next piece of advice for HR Leaders, be a conductor.


As a Conductor, HR Executives must, like an orchestra conductor, oversee a group of experts rather than generalists. There are many aspects to being an effective HR department and I often see people moving around various roles in order to gain experience in everything that makes the department run. As a result, we often have very smart and capable generalists filling the positions, but the problem is that HR Executives need to be more focused on building a team of experts.

As an example, HR needs its own data specialists because for HR to be an effective partner in the modern business, they must be collecting and understanding data from a number of touchpoints. When it comes to training, stop promoting the capable administrator who always wanted to teach others. The great trainers, the ones that make you think and feel at the same time, have specific skills, personality traits, and experience that make them stand out. Also, developing content that resonates and stands out is not as easy as putting together a few bullet points on a slide. I truly believe the reason so many employees do not like training is because we do not have expert trainers designing and delivering content.

I also believe you need to have a manager coaching your team, or someone with management experience who can be a guide, resource, and support to your managers. HR needs to put all of its efforts into enabling and empowering their management teams rather than doing things for them, like facilitating tough conversations. I see HR departments putting too much emphasis on the staff and therefore largely ignore the most important group they should influence – their managers. Get experts on your team and elevate your office’s ability to deliver real results throughout the business.


My final point is to be a consultant. As a consultant myself, I rely on data, introduce new ideas and best practices, develop plans, get the right people involved to execute that plan, and ensure the plan is executed. As indicated already, HR needs accurate data that will reinforce the importance of the employee experience in performance, customer satisfaction, retention, and even profitability. There are plenty of business cases, such as Lowe’s in my book, indicating that happy employees lead to better customer satisfaction, sales, and overall performance. Each HR business unit needs to have their own data.  As author Daniel Keys Moran says, “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” A focus on data will allow you to focus on facts- not feelings, which will introduce an ability to develop the right plan over the one you have used a dozen times before.

Next, ensure you are up to date with best practices and ideas that influence how employees are working today. There is so much HR technology available that has intentions to elevate the employee experience. If only the HR department would make it a focus…

Once data and ideas come together, develop a plan that includes objectives, measurements, due dates, assignments, and an understanding of the resources required. Too few HR teams have plans that are being shared across the organization, which is crazy because any HR plan should involve and affect every part of the organization. Once you have a plan, get the key people from across the organization on board and engaged with it. As the consultant, you will work through other managers and teams to make the positive changes you are looking to implement. And remember, you must hold everyone accountable to deliver as required. Managers work to fulfill their list of priorities and if they think the HR plan is not a priority, then it becomes an after thought. As a consultant, I require direct access to the organization’s President or owner so that I can be assured I can enforce the responsibilities assigned. It is important for you to have the same support and access.

This may seem like a lot, but then again what isn’t these days. In companies today, culture is no longer just an HR thing, it is a business thing. By being a catalyst, coach, conductor, and consultant within an organization, you elevate the credibility, relevancy, and influence of your team to truly help everyone else deliver a great business. Good luck.

Learn how to create an unbeatable culture and employee experience by downloading the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets Inc., Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit to learn more.

Follow Shane on Twitter: @_ShaneGreen
Connect with Shane on LinkedIn: Shane Green’s LinkedIn Profile



Improve Work Culture

Using HR Tech to Strengthen vs. Separate Your Company Culture

How many of us have ever been out to dinner and looked around to see that every person at the table is on a mobile device? Or observed a group of young people hanging out “together” while barely lifting their eyes from a screen? When we see technology being used this way (or are guilty of too much screen time ourselves) it can be easy to assume technology is pushing human beings apart.

And while internet addiction is a real thing (as one psychologist put it, we’re “carrying around a portable dopamine pump”) there is little evidence proving that technology as a whole is hurting our ability to communicate or empathize. In fact, when used correctly, it can improve these qualities.

In our personal lives, the proper use of technology can give us greater exposure to different perspectives and ways of expressing ourselves. In the workplace, HR tech can strengthen company culture by providing more avenues to engagement and socializing, while increasing productivity.

Here are five ways you can use HR technology to strengthen your company’s culture:

  1. Make Communication Comfortable (and Fun)

Many HR tech platforms include social feeds that allow employees to chat as a group, in smaller channels, or one-on-one. These channels are constantly adding fun features like emojis, reward badges, and GIFs that make using chat applications similar to how employees communicate with friends outside of work.

Far from making it less likely that employees engage with each other face-to-face, internal social channels enhance communication. They allow employees to connect, collaborate, and share a laugh, even during busy periods. They also create the freedom for employees who are introverted or not comfortable in a live, large group setting to be involved. And they create opportunities for employee recognition, particularly for remote teams.

  1. Create Transparency

Transparency is a bit of a buzzword in the modern workplace. It’s important to company culture because it implies trust, which is the basis of any strong relationship. But transparency can be hard to facilitate. First, leadership and managers across the organization must agree on what transparency means to your company. Next, a company must ensure that transparency is equitable. Is your CMO sharing profitability data with his team while your CTO is failing to share the same with hers?

HR tech can revolutionize the way you approach transparency. You can use social feeds to ensure the same messages are going company-wide, create universal trainings in your learning management system, and democratize access to your company leadership. You can also compile and share data on company culture itself, so employees can monitor progress.

  1. Prove the ROI of Culture Initiatives

When budgets are tight, it’s often employee-focused expenses such as team outings or performance awards that get the boot. These costs have long been considered as “nice-to-haves” that may bring out the smiles, but won’t bring in the revenue.

Using HR tech, you can disprove this line of thinking by tying real analytics to your company’s culture initiatives. After each culture effort, you can track real-time data to see how both performance and engagement have been affected. You can then use that data to discuss the ROI of these initiatives with your leadership. Happy employees impact the bottom line in a couple of ways. First, they are more productive. Second, they are less likely to leave (or even be absent) which means less money needs to be spent recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

  1. Increase Benefit Engagement

HR teams spend vast quantities of time researching and implementing employee benefits that they believe will strengthen company culture. However, many employees aren’t taking advantage of those benefits from employer 401k matching to health and wellness to time off.

Often, lack of engagement with benefits is due to a lack of knowledge — the options, setup, or fine print are confusing; vacation days aren’t properly tracked; the right channels don’t exist to answer questions. HR tech can make benefits more approachable upfront and manageable in the long-term. You can use them to house benefits training opportunities, to make set-up simple, and to make it easy for employees to monitor their own usage. You can also automate reminders to both employees and managers, so that everyone knows, for example, when you need to push someone to take a vacation day.

  1. Revamp Employee Recognition

In our high-speed lives, it can be difficult to find time for “niceties” like employee recognition. And with only so much bandwidth available to focus on their teams, managers often turn their attention to employees who need extra support to succeed, assuming their top-performers are just fine on their own. While those people may be independent operators, it’s still vital that they’re acknowledged for their work. Recognition for a job well done is a huge component of employee satisfaction. In fact, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more.

HR tech can automate both the reminders for and the process of recognizing employees. It can also track these efforts so you know if some employees are being accidently left out.

HR tech is no longer just about payroll and performance management, it’s about people. When you shift your thinking of HR tech as a help, rather than a hindrance, to communication and connectivity, you’ll see your company culture shift as well.

To learn more about the evolution of HR technology, check out Achievers’ blog post A Brief History and Future of HR Technology.

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About the Author
Taylor Burke is a contributor for She’s passionate about great company cultures. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


strengthen engagement

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: Strengthening Employee Engagement

Is your workforce recognized at an acceptable rate? According to Gallup’s analysis, probably not. In a recent survey, they found that only 1 out of 3 U.S. workers feel they received adequate recognition in the past seven days. Even worse, employees that aren’t recognized at a satisfactory level are twice as likely to leave their job compared to those that are. Why should you care? Because 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated and companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate of 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest levels of engagement.

It’s clear that an effective employee engagement program that makes recognition timely and ubiquitous can help your company reach new heights. Take Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) for example.

With a commitment to serving with excellence and dedication, Horizon BCBSNJ has worked to deliver quality health insurance to the people and businesses of New Jersey for over 80 years.

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

This commitment to dedication and enrichment isn’t limited to external recipients. HBSBCNJ understands that their success as a business would not be not possible without an engaged and committed workforce. Because they place such an emphasis on the well-being of their employees, they have historically scored high on employee engagement surveys.

But in 2013, seeking to replace their manually facilitated employee recognition program with a streamlined, automated solution, Horizon BCBSNJ partnered with Achievers to offer their employees an unbeatable platform that would better leverage the modern workforce’s affinity for frequent, specific recognition to obtain key business objectives.

Horizon BCBSNJ debuted their employee engagement and recognition program, Step It Up, to more than 5,000 employees across four locations and saw almost universal adoption from the get-go. The program reached a 90 percent activation rate by year’s end, with that rate further ballooning to the 97 percent it sits at today. In addition to the extremely high activation rate, Horizon BCBSNJ saw other positive results, such as:

  • A 6 percent increase in overall employee engagement scores
  • A 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to employee recognition

Gallup states that recognition “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.” Horizon BCBSNJ is not missing out on this massive opportunity for management; their leadership team is among the most active users on Step It Up, solidifying the employee engagement and recognition program as a very important pillar of their employee strategy.

Furthermore, with trackable data flowing through the system, Horizon BCBSNJ’s HR team has a better understanding of concepts that used to be a guessing game, such as employee morale, and can swiftly pinpoint the cause of any decrease.

The results realized at Horizon BCBSNJ is proof that any workforce can benefit from an effective employee engagement and recognition program, even one that is already engaged. To learn more, access Horizon BCBSNJ’s Case Study.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.





Recognition Provider Spotlight

Achievers Named #1 Overall Recognition Provider in Baker’s Dozen 2017 by HRO Today

Employee recognition is a very important part of company culture. So much so, more and more HR Tech is dedicated to making employee recognition easy for both employees and managers. And it can address important business objectives relating to employee engagement, like attracting top talent and increasing productivity. In fact, 40% of workers in the U.S. said they would go the extra mile for a company that rewards and recognizes them on a regular basis. This means even the smallest investment in an employee engagement platform could have a big impact on your company’s bottom line.

Here are just a few of the key business objectives HR tech, employee recognition and employee engagement can address when working together:

With more and more HR tech providers offering a solution addressing employee engagement and recognition, it might be hard to decide which is the right one for your company. But according to HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen Survey, Achievers is the cream of the crop. As announced on August 17th, 2017 Achievers finished first out of 13 ranked vendors in both the overall score category and the Breadth of Service Category.

HRO Today ‘s rankings are based on the buyers of the services, rather than the opinion of HRO Today staff. The overall category ranking is derived from three components: features breadth, deal sizes, and quality. Check out what Elliot Clark, CEO of SharedXpertise and Publisher of HRO Today, said about why Achievers won:

“Employee recognition leads to better employee retention and engagement, and companies seeking recognition and motivation service partners consider the information provided in the HRO Today magazine Recognition Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Survey to provide extremely valuable insight to a successful RFP process. Achievers led this year’s ranking in the No. 1 position, overall and for breadth of service, differentiating itself as an exceptional provider in this highly competitive industry.”

This is a tremendous honor for Achievers. As Greg Brown, Achievers General Manager, commented:

“The eagerly awaited HRO Today Baker’s Dozen results are considered by buyers to be the gold-standard for recognition providers. Achievers is honored to have earned the No. 1 ranking in both the overall category as well as breadth of service. Achievers understands the challenges organizations face today to attract, recognize, and retain top talent. We are committed to helping our customers excel in employee engagement.”

Having pioneered the concept of social recognition, Achievers remains the innovation leader in the industry, continuously developing new approaches that drive employee engagement by delivering best-in-class employee recognition tools. Among Achievers large customer base, clients like Ericsson and Shop Direct have already seen results, such as:

  • A 3 percent increase in engagement score for Ericsson, up from an already astounding 81 percent
  • A 17 percent engagement survey increase for Shop Direct

Over one-third of Achievers’ employees are a member of a service team, existing as part of its Professional Services, Customer Success, or Member Experience team dedicated to giving the best client experience. It is this emphasis on customer service that has led Achievers to receive consistently high scores on customer satisfaction surveys.

If you’d like to learn more about the Achievers and start running an award-winning employee engagement and recognition platform across your organization, schedule a demo today.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.





empathetic engagement

Emotions in the Workplace

The emergence of the millennial generation in the contemporary workforce has led to a greater need for companies to emphasize an employee-centric workplace. The importance of organizations understanding the expectations of an employee is greater than ever before, leading to stronger ties between corporate and private life. This phenomenon is not just limited to human interactions. With the surge of technology over the past ten years, the lines between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ have become even more blurred. From BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) programs to securing laptops for ‘work from home’ opportunities, the ties between employer and employee have become intertwined. Consequently, it has become harder to bottle up what could be perceived as negative emotions in the workplace. Who hasn’t wanted to throw their computer out a window after a terrible meeting?

Because believe me, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s being passed over for a well-deserved promotion, a document closing unexpectedly or what seems like everything in your day is going wrong – we get emotional at work. And although people have been running into the bathroom stall to have a good cry for generations, the current state of the workforce has introduced a new landscape for emotional expression. On the contrary to cultural norms, I believe that fully experiencing your emotions and acting proactively because of them, will lead to a more productive and successful career.

Anne Kreamer, author of the novel It’s Always Personal, says, “By denying the range of emotional expressiveness intrinsic and appropriate to the workplace, we find ourselves at a loss for how to handle this brave new boundary-less world.” In my experience, being able to express all emotions within an office environment directly reflects the people that work within a company and creates a culture that makes it a great place to work. The idea of positive corporate culture is more prominent than ever before because we are finally able to correlate it to organizational success.

Regardless of the type of industry, the size of the organization or the culture already in place, the volatile nature of businesses will eventually present itself, leading to ups and downs in every workplace. Finding the emotional balance and practice that is best for your productivity is often difficult but nonetheless key to adapting to any situation and navigating towards your idea of successful career. Here are five steps I use when approaching a situation that seems to take my breath away:

Learn to Greet Your Emotions

At the heart of any mindfulness practice is the ability to become “witness” to your own emotions. Being able to recognize an emotion that is coming up and identify it before reacting is one of the first steps in healthy emotional digestion. Greeting these emotions without judgement or attaching to the idea that they somehow represent the entirety of YOU, starts with awareness of exactly how you are feeling and how you physically react. Starting with the simple idea of “Oh, that’s frustration,” after clenching your jaw or “Hello, anxiety” after biting your nails, will bring familiarity to your triggers.  Because once you have the power to take a step back from those initial reactions to your true emotional state, you will be able to fully process and continue with a controlled, thoughtful next step.

Get to Your ‘Why’ Reasons

After I hold up the accurate emotional flag (the true emotion I am seeking to exhibit in a situation) without responding immediately with my default reaction, I always ask myself…why? Getting to your “why” reason will help you get to the true internal issue that prompted a reaction.  Being inquisitive until you get to your truth, not blaming external sources will help you proactively face insecurities and build a foundation around those feelings. One of my greatest yoga and mindfulness teachers, Jean Mazzei, taught me this concept and suggested I start by practicing through a journaling exercise.  I begin these sessions by asking myself questions like “why did I have want to cry after this?” or “why did this situation trigger XYZ?” and keep asking why to the prior answer in the most open and honest fashion. I get to my Why Reasons quickly and most of the time come to the realization that it wasn’t external factors like co-workers, deadlines or my commute that were really bothering me. Instead, these intense emotions come from within, only now I deal with them knowing I need to take responsibility for only what I can control. 

Know Your Limits

As stated earlier, it’s almost impossible not to have emotional ties to your work. Similar to a major project you have championed for a long time, work becomes a part of you.  When you’re coming in early or staying late every night, it’s an individual’s passion that gets them across the goal line. One of the best things about getting to your Why Reason, is learning what really motivates you, the driving factor behind why you make the choices you do, and finding out what your personal limits are. Being able to effectively draw a line in the sand and create healthy boundaries around your work is key to finding emotional balance. Just because you may be practicing empathy and not being reactive, doesn’t mean you want to constantly be putting yourself in a situation that gets you upset or angry. Knowing what your limits are and sticking to them will show you how far you are willing to go and help you better sustain a positive mindset in all aspects of your role.

Harness Your Empathetic Engagement

Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller, said it best, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

At the end of each day, what matters is what you made of it. “Emotion, as defined by Webster’s dictionary is “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others.” The ability to effectively channel overwhelming negative or positive emotions to more productively react to your circumstances, mood and relationships at work will only better your effectiveness within your role. Encouraging yourself and others to create a culture of enthusiastic people (that don’t always have perfect days!) will ultimately drive positive values that align with your organization. I constantly make mistakes and wish I would have acted differently, but by practicing these steps, I am able to forgive myself and learn what I can do better, one day at a time.

For some tips on how to cultivate mindfulness at work, check out my previous blog post here.

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About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!





Encourage Time Off

Why More Vacation Time Will Make Your Employees (and Your Company) Healthier

If you ask a job candidate about his or her biggest flaw, chances are good they’ll say that they tend to work too hard. This isn’t just a convenient way to elude a difficult question; it’s probably the absolute truth. Furthermore, even though it might seem like this excessive diligence will contribute to your company’s productivity, the truth is that such excess work habits are harmful to employee happiness and to your company culture as well.

The Surprising HR Statistics on Work Habits

You’re very accustomed to seeing statistics focused on the fact that American employers in general provide much less paid time off than employers do in other countries, but there is a more puzzling set of figures that bear looking at as well. Even when American workers are given paid vacation time, they barely even use half of it. On average, workers in the United States use only 51 percent of their available paid time off, and 40 percent of these workers leave unused vacation time on the table. This is true even when those vacation days are lost for good, and don’t roll over into the following year. Moreover, 61 percent of workers in the same survey report that when they do take vacations, they continue doing at least some work remotely.

When you examine the reasons behind this puzzling tendency to leave a valuable resource on the table, the problem is clarified. Read on to understand why you need to enforce your company’s vacation and break time if you want to build your employee retention and facilitate the safety and wellness of your workers.

Many Employees Skip Vacations Due to Fear

When researchers dug deeper than the surface statistics and worked on finding out what was preventing employees from taking time off, the main reason that surfaced was not employee engagement — it was fear. Many supervisors and managers don’t give any encouragement to their employees to take holiday breaks or other out of office time. A survey published in MarketWatch found that two-thirds of American workers report that their company says nothing at all about the importance of taking all their available employee holiday time, and one-third of supervisors acknowledge that they never bring this topic up. The same survey found that there’s a lot of anxiety among workers: 40 percent of respondents say that if they take time off, they’ll return to an unmanageable “mountain” of work, and 35 percent feel that the organization simply won’t be able to function if they’re not present.

Human Resources Departments Should Lead the Way

It’s not that managers don’t recognize the emotional perks and benefits of their workers having some time off: 93 percent of managers found that taking time off results in better employee motivation, and 84 percent stated that they saw a productivity increase after an employee break. However, the illusion that more hours result in better employee success still attracts many supervisors, and 17 percent say that they feel employees who take all their allowable time off are showing that they have less dedication to their jobs. HR professionals and HR technology both have a role in creating the company-wide message that the organization’s mission and values center on physical and psychological health.

Better Management Includes Facilitating Delegation of Tasks

Good leadership includes proactively reassuring every worker that they can feel free to take their allotted time off without having to worry that they’re creating problems by handing tasks off to co-workers. A primary management goal must be to make sure that coverage is adequate within each team, so that work gets done even if an employee needs to take some time away. Cheryl Rosner, CEO of hotel bidding site, also advises managers that “it’s super important to model the behavior you want to see, and we want people to get out and take their time off.” Furthermore, FastCompany’s Lisa Evans noted that 82 percent of small business owners find that they perform their duties with more energy if they take some time away from work.

Build a Work Culture Around Work Life Balance

Say you’ve successfully facilitated teamwork to cover each person’s functions, and you set a personal example by not overworking yourself. Is there more you can do? The answer is yes, and it centers around employee incentives. Rosner’s company offers employees $200 in hotel credits when they take time off work and go traveling. Sometimes it takes rewards and recognition to bring about a shift in perspective, and offering rewards for taking time away from work is one of the lesser-known employee recognition best practices.

Encourage Teams to Give Employee Appreciation

Many workers fear that taking time off will upset their colleagues. In some cases, this fear is even stronger than the concern that the boss won’t like it. When HR technology offers an easy channel for peer recognition and rewards, it sends an unmistakable message to co-workers that their colleagues support a culture of personal health.

An important benchmarking report on human capital strategy highlights the benefits of an employee rewards program that targets healthy habits. This extensive research points to the advantages your company can enjoy in recruiting and hiring, because millennials in particular are focused on maintaining a full life outside of work. Your company’s success will be strengthened when you equate your employees’ health and well-being with that of your entire company.

Hurry and take action to ensure your employees are taken care of and happy to come to work every day. Start by accessing the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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encourage employees

5 Ways to Empower Employees to Do Their Best Work

A business or team can only be as successful as the sum of its parts. There are several companies with effective leaders that struggle with employee turnover or poor performance. According to one Gallup poll, 24 percent of employees who aren’t in a leadership or management role feel disconnected from the company or team.

This can decrease employee satisfaction, which significantly affects performance; if employees no longer care about their job, why would they care about doing it well? Empowering your employees to do their best work and be an integral part of your company can reduce their disengagement, and in turn, boost performance.

Here are a few ways to do exactly that:

1. Challenge Your Employees (Within Reason)

To avoid employees becoming bored or stagnant with their duties or roles, set goals. This helps to push them past their comfort zone and realize their potential. The goal is to set the bar high, but not too high—the goals should be attainable, yet still challenging to reach.

To set goals that empower your employees, keep these seven tips in mind:

  • Align goals with company objectives.
  • Allow employees to identify their own job-specific goals.
  • Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) rule.
  • Make them attainable.
  • Keep goals between employees consistent.
  • Reward those who achieve their goals.
  • Work closely with those who miss the mark.

All of these tips allow you to use goals as a way to empower employees. They’ll just need a little guidance along the way.

2. Define Opportunities for Upward Mobility

No employee wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. If your staff feels there is no opportunity to advance in your company, they’ll seek opportunities to do so elsewhere. Be transparent and communicative about how staff members can earn more money, take on a bigger role, or advance in leadership.

“Even in the best-case scenario where managers are holding regular performance reviews with their employee, employees often don’t understand how to move either horizontally or vertically in an organization,” according to Louis Efron from Forbes. He continues, “But, for any employee that is worth retaining, a manager must make clear to them how and where they can move forward on their career path.”

In many cases, there may not be a clear trajectory for an employee within a company. In this case, uncover employees’ strengths, desires, and interests to see how they can take a larger role within the organization. When they know there’s room for growth, they’re empowered to get to that next level.

3. Encourage Open Communication

Do you have an open-door policy in your office? Do your staff members know that they can talk to you or other managers when they have questions, ideas or concerns? It’s important that your staff members feel their input matters instead of a dividing line between management and lower-level employees.

“When employees feel they can communicate freely with their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to feel valued, satisfied and motivated at work,” according to experts from The Office Club. “Finding a boss who eagerly listens to questions or concerns is harder than you think, so make your company and leadership style stand out with effective communication.

To encourage open communication, give employees the opportunity to share feedback on big, company-wide projects. Don’t forget to include every team whenever possible and use monthly meetings to remind employees about where they fit within the greater scheme of things. When they see how their work is having an impact, they’re empowered to do more.

4. Offer Praise and Recognize Strengths

While employees should be intrinsically motivated to do a good job, there still needs to be an aspect of humanity involved in the workplace. In short, workers need frequent feedback and praise. They want to know their efforts are appreciated and that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

You may think you don’t have the budget for this, but praise and recognition doesn’t necessarily mean monetary rewards. There are countless ways to recognize your employees for a job well done, including:

  • Regular verbal praise
  • “Shout outs” (flyers, cards or emails)
  • Activity-based rewards
  • Small gift cards for coffee, food or other items
  • Half-day at work

Be specific in your praise, this will help employees identify what it is they bring to the table; when they realize they’re good at something, they’re empowered to do more of it because they know they can make a difference.

5. Promote Vacation Time and Work-Life Balance

Even the most dedicated employee gets burnt out if he or she doesn’t have a work-life balance. Happy employees are both career-oriented, and dedicated to their life outside of the office. When you let them have time for the things that are important to them, they’ll have more focus and energy during the time they spend at work.

“Your employees will actually be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well-rested and rejuvenated,” says Peter Daisyme, of He continues, “You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated but actively supported.”

When you’re sympathetic to their needs and circumstances, they’ll be more willing to work hard. You show appreciation to employees and in turn, empower them to do the same.

Empowering employees to work harder and better improves the entire company and boosts retention—a win-win for everyone.

For more information on how you can empower employees to survive the most daunting corporate difficulties, such as massive change, check out this blog post on Staying Engaged During Corporate Change.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.




top 10 work must-haves

The Now of Work

In my last post, I wrote about how the Future of Work is NoW (Now of Work) and it’s time to move away from this notion of some future state of work. If you’re taking your time preparing for this future, you are already left behind.

I hypothesized that the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have inspired forward thinking companies to fundamentally change the way they attract, engage and retain their top talent.

Now of Work - NoW

What I didn’t share were the characteristics of the NoW of work based on my experiences and research and data from the employee experience survey STARFiiSH. While the below list is not exhaustive, they are the top 10 must-haves in my honest opinion:

#10 – Non-Hierarchical

This doesn’t mean you don’t have ‘levels’, but that everyone in the organization should be empowered to challenge the status quo and present innovative ideas. It means people over process (bureaucracy) and treating everyone equally regardless of title.

#9 – Trusting and Transparent

Trust is a complex term with no definitive definition in the context of organizational culture. If you haven’t yet, read the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni for the meaning that I subscribe to. I combine transparency because when you achieve that described level of trust you can vastly elevate the sharing of information throughout the organization. It’s commonly believed that outside of the balance sheet, organizations should share all aspects of the state of the company – from the P&L to the most damning customer feedback.

#8 – Remote and Flexible Working

If this isn’t offered to some degree in your business, you’re already on the endangered list.

#7 – Highly Collaborative

Cross-functional projects and teams elevate creativity and shared goals. Team members, with any amount of experience or tenure, have ideas to tap into, and they’re itching to share!

#6 – Constant Feedback

How often? I say weekly and I’ve seen and heard much success with tools such as 15Five to maintain a rhythm. I’m also a believer that nothing beats in person so schedule regular walks and coffee chats. For smaller team, how about lunch!  There is something very powerful with breaking bread together.

#5 – The Best Tools

It’s important to supply the right tools for success. If a team member prefers a MacBook, give that person a MacBook. If they are a Surface fan, then oblige. Tools include hardware, software, desk design, and even the whiteboard markers.

#4 – Personal Development

It’s no longer just about developing your team members to be better at their job, or preparing them for their next work challenge. Work life balance is dead; it’s just life. If you believe this, then invest in getting to know your team members as people first (with understanding of time off and personal development budgets) and help them achieve their short-term personal life goals.

#3 – Belonging

Diversity can often just be a vanity metric. Inclusion, when done right can be much more effective. What we are finding though, is that language matters and in the context of D&I, we are hearing that people want to feel like they belong – whether they are a visual minority, person with disabilities, a woman facing a glass ceiling, and yes, even from the majority group.

#2 – Innovation

In an exponentially changing world every company must develop organizational cultures where creativity and failure is encouraged. For what it’s worth, I believe that every company is a technological company and that you can expect to be innovated, disrupted or be made redundant by technology, likely faster than you probably believe.

#1 – Agility

Overused buzzword? No chance. When I think about the NoW of work, being agile in your operations and organizational mindset always rises near the top of my list. Traditional companies and industries, and unionized environments arguably have the most difficult time adopting this mindset.


Every characteristic of the NoW of work can lead you quickly down a slippery slope if you commit too much, or too fast. Balancing this with the pressures of future proofing your business and subscribing to the NoW of work can be both complicated and frustrating.

On September 12-13, 2017, I’ll be in New Orleans speaking and then leading a workshop at the annual ACE Conference put on by Achievers. I’ll be sharing some of my experiences on how to work through this complex dilemma. Hope to see you there!

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About the Author 

Rocky Ozaki

Rocky Ozaki, Co-founder, NoW Innovations
Rocky is the co-founder of NoW Innovations, an organization that inspires and brings people and companies together to collectively thrive in the NoW of Work. Join them in their quest to change our mindset to the NoW of work!




Performance Management Reboot

It’s a Small (but diverse) World: Performance Management for the Global Organization

I’m not going to lie to you: rebooting your performance management to effectively drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably requires a good deal of serious thought. Managing performance at a global level, however, warrants serious thought on steroids. You must have a solid understanding of the legislative and regulatory issues, demographic trends, and labor laws from every jurisdiction in which you’ve got people. Hard enough. But the most critical global consideration for rebooting your performance management is to understand the cultural differences in your workforce. 

If we were to take a peek at what organizations have historically done to recognize these differences, we’d see that the tactics range dramatically from barely a nod (bad) to localized approaches custom-designed for each unique culture (excellent). Sadly, ‘barely a nod’ tends to prevail. And so many global organizations continue to struggle to optimize their talent management processes in the ever-expanding global market.

What is the right approach for implementing a performance management program for a global workforce? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you agree with me that culture is the most important factor, then you’ll be sure to put a respectable amount of effort into understanding those cultural differences and how they will weigh into your solution design. And you’ll make sure your leadership is aligned with how you plan to manage various global employee groups differently from one another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for what will and won’t work here, I recommend turning to the extensive research conducted by Geert Hofsted on cultures in the workforce. In his research, Hofsted found five fundamental value dimensions that can be used to explain cultural diversity in the world. The “5 Dimensional Model”1 is one of the only models that’s based on rigorous cultural research, rather than opinion (which is why I like it). The five dimensions are:

  1. Power Distance (PDI): The degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society.
  2. Individualism (IDV): The degree to which taking responsibility for oneself is more valued than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty.
  3. Masculinity (MAS): The degree to which people value performance and the status that derives from it, rather than quality of life and caring for others.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI): The degree to which people develop mechanisms to avoid uncertainty.
  5. Long-Term Orientation (LTO): The degree to which people value long-term goals and have a pragmatic approach, rather than being normative and short-term oriented.

What does this all mean for designing performance management systems? Let’s have a look at the traditional review process. The annual review is a widely accepted practice in countries like the US and the UK. In the US (and other countries with similar cultures) we score low on power distance (the degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society) and high in individualism (the degree to which taking responsibility for yourself is valued more highly than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty). With those defining cultural factors, we find it easy to accept the idea that very direct feedback is “the right way” to improve performance. This notion falls flat in high power distance countries, such as Japan. In fact, very direct feedback in these cultures is likely to be seen as dishonorable and disrespectful. This means that we have to take a different approach that fits these cultural norms and expectations.

Another interesting dimension to consider is how your planning horizon may vary from culture to culture. When I was at Hitachi Consulting, I learned to appreciate the very real impact of working within an organization heavily influenced by Japanese leadership. One of the most notable differences was the manner in which the Japanese leaders thought about the short and the long view. In the US we had a much shorter planning horizon in contrast to our Japanese peers. This difference in focus radically influenced how each group defined what ‘good’ looked like in both the short and long terms. At times this created conflict and stress when setting targets and measuring success.

When putting together your team to build your new global performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand cultural differences.

Rewarding equitably can be another tricky area as you navigate from culture to culture. The cash-is-king individual performance bonuses that we default to in countries like the US and UK are not a good fit in cultures that focus on greater responsibility, larger spans of control, and wider territories. Again, this showed up in my experience at Hitachi. The Japanese executives were quite surprised by our vice president’s bonus model, while the US leaders were struck by their Japanese counterparts’ lavish spending allowances. As they say, different strokes for different folks (or in this case, different cultures, different expectations). In some cultures cash rewards may even be perceived as petty. The headline? Tread carefully in this arena. If you’re planning a bonus program, be sure to consider which cultures value and expect bonuses, how you should measure them if you use them, and whether team or individual incentives would work best.

Beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed? Let me reinforce a few ideas that may help keep you grounded. First, when putting together your team to build your new performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand these cultural differences. They can be a voice for what will work and what is likely to fall flat. Get comfortable with allowing for differences across cultures. Your goal should be finding balance between meeting your desire for consistency and creating great experiences for your global team. Also, before you roll out your solution, test it in different geographies and cultures — not just the solution itself, but also the supporting content, since some degree of localization is likely to be needed on that as well.

In the end, keep humanity at the forefront of your design, and never forget that this is about your people, not the process!

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author

Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.


1. Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations (London, UK: Sage Publications, 2003).

STEM Talent

Competing for Tricky STEM Talent and What Performance Management Has to do With It

It seems like nearly every company I’ve worked with is struggling to attract and retain strong technical resources, whether their organization competes in the technology space or not. We can chalk up the demand to the advancement of science and technology’s role in nearly every industry, service, and product out there—combined with a shortage of the necessary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) talent to support those needs. And while there’s a lot of literature available on how to meet the needs and expectations of this audience, it seems worth adding a few words on this tricky employee group, specifically in regards to performance strategies.

Let’s start with the employee’s point of view. While acknowledging that no two people will ever want or care about the exact same things, some macro themes come up again and again that resonate with STEM-oriented personalities. First, this group cares a great deal about their skills, knowledge, and experiences. They want to be current in their field, work with the latest and greatest in technology or science, and rub elbows with the best and brightest. Second, they like to be recognized for that mastery. This recognition can come in many forms, such as awards and certifications, patents, published works, or speaking at conferences—or simply being recognized by their peers as a ‘rock star’ in their space. They also care deeply about having the freedom to invent, build, design, explore, and play in their field. After all, how can you ever be a master if you don’t have the time and space to practice your craft?

Now let’s look at what the organization needs from this group. Clearly, the aforementioned mastery skills are important to organizations. Yet many companies struggle to give STEM talent the tools, training, and experiences needed to stay on the cutting edge of their field of practice. The more the performance solution you build for them can focus on identifying and aligning your best technical talent to the ‘coolest’ work, the better.

Another common tension organizations face is wanting all that STEM brain power aimed at the right work, rather than being distracted by other things. While we definitely want to put more focus on directing that talent to the best work, we also need to balance that with this groups’ desire for time and space to do their own thing. I get it: when you’re short on critical technical talent, it’s hard not to fully dedicate the talent you do have to your priority agenda items. However, you need to be a little more flexible to keep this very agile group happy. Google and other forward-thinking companies have proven that letting your people use some percentage of their time on their own pet projects pays big dividends down the line.

So how should the desires and interests of both employee and employer influence your performance design? I recommend focusing on what both care about – in other words, the win/win. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  1. Keep your approach simple. Why? This group tends to hate formality and bureaucracy, so do you really want to irritate them with the process? Also, this is a valuable resource, so optimizing their time is essential.
  2. Push as much authority and ownership as you can down the ranks. STEM folks don’t like hierarchy any more than they like bureaucracy. The flatter your structure, the better. Create more opportunities that allow them to work in networked teams with control over their own resources. This also means more employee-driven and peer-based approaches. Let them be the rock star in their crowd.
  3. Invest in building clear technical career paths, and in creating the content necessary for enabling and communicating those paths. Share information on how they can build their mastery within your organization, and provide them with resources outside the walls as well.
  4. Build a model where you can assess the technical skills, knowledge, and capabilities that are housed within your organization. A strong technical competency/capability model will do this. It will also help to have the technical career path agenda mentioned above.
  5. Ensure that your talent review processes prioritize mobility. In other words, keep your STEM talent moving across the org to increase collaboration, the sharing of knowledge, and to enhance their growth, experiences, and learnings.
  6. Celebrate their brilliance (often). Find ways to highlight progress, solutions, invention, things of beauty, and innovation. This may be at a team level as much as it is at the individual level. Recognition can be as simple as a toast at the Friday happy hour or as formal and highly visible as company-wide recognition like displaying patents or other awards prominently in the office halls, or granting annual innovation awards internally.

And remember, always connect your investments and their rewards to the things they care about: building their mastery, recognition of that mastery, and the time and freedom to play.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.




Employee Engagement

Why Your CEO Doesn’t Care About Employee Engagement (Yet)

It seems that we can’t turn around today without having a conversation that touches on employee engagement. Yet despite all the attention, it hasn’t really moved the needle. In the time that Gallup has been measuring engagement, it hasn’t changed–engagement levels are hovering right around 30 percent. At the same time, Google data shows that there’s been a steady climb in searches and interest in the topic for the last five years.

But to what end? Many companies are trying to improve this measure with little or no success.

I’m going to offer two answers to this question that not only illuminate the problem, but give you some options to consider as you try to combat the problematic issue of disengaged employees.

Engagement Should Not Be an HR Program

The first response many leaders have when they get that annual feedback survey from employees to say, “Oh, no! Engagement is down. Let’s create a program to push engagement up!”

Good luck with that.

The truth is that employees are probably tired of your “programs.” Programs begin and end. A great employment relationship does more to drive engagement than a one-size-fits-all program that’s going to last a few weeks and fade into memory. Plus, as long as the company is meeting the basic elements of an employee’s needs financially, other factors come into play for influencing the level of engagement, according to motivational theory.

A large chunk of money isn’t even going to work, even though many companies can’t afford to offer that to each of their staff. More money has been shown to reduce dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t drive happiness or increased satisfaction for the employee.

The challenge is to see engagement not as a one-off activity, but as a holistic view of the employee experience. Being able to tie each of those disparate activities together into a cohesive experience that employees are proud of is a key element to ultimately driving engagement numbers. That means everything from the first moment the person applies for a job all the way through to managing work schedules, getting performance reviews, and beyond.

Every opportunity for interaction with the organization is either a plus or a minus in the engagement column, and while we can’t expect to win every battle every time, the goal is to keep that number going in a positive direction over time (and reaping the rewards of that increased engagement, which we’ll talk about below).

Engagement Should Not Be the Ultimate Outcome

Some leaders check engagement scores as if they were the latest sports scores, hoping for good things but feeling no control over the outcome. In reality, engagement is not the outcome we are shooting for–we are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It’s time to change the way we think about this HR metric, because it needs to become a leading business metric. Consider the following examples of how engagement can lead to increased value for virtually any company:

  • Innovation. Companies everywhere are trying to create more innovative atmospheres for employees. But what if the answer isn’t open office space but a higher engagement score? Innovation is a key outcome of engagement. Research by Gallup found that 61 percent of engaged employees feed off the creativity of their colleagues, compared to a mere 9 percent of disengaged employees. In addition, it found that 59 percent of engaged employees believe their job brings out their most creative ideas, compared to only 3 percent of disengaged employees.
  • Retention. The only thing better than engaging our employees is keeping them around to deliver excellent results over time. Towers Watson research points out that retention is tied in with many of the factors that play into employee engagement, such as career advancement opportunities, confidence in senior leadership, and a manageable amount of work-related stress. Manage those factors well, and employees will stick around and produce results.
  • Revenue. In a discussion of concrete impacts, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the one that matters most to many organizations: the bottom line. There are several pieces of research that demonstrate the link between engagement and financial results. According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6 percent higher net profit margins, and Kenexa research points out that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

Each of these points helps to paint a more nuanced picture of employee engagement, establishing it not as a standalone program or an end result, but as a holistic journey towards greater business results. And that, ultimately, is how we can get the CEO, the leadership team, and the rest of the company on board with the idea of promoting and supporting engagement as a long-term business strategy.

Want to learn more about this topic and dig deeper into the concept? I’ll be leading a session titled Stop Measuring Engagement For Its Own Sake at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 event in New Orleans and I’d love to have you join me for the discussion.

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About the Author
Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research
Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe. Ben also co-founded the HRevolution conference for HR and recruiting leaders and is one of four members that holds this annual event, attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe since its inception.



revamp performance management

Your Performance Management Is Not Fine: Defending Against the Naysayers

One busy Friday, I met with a West Coast client in the morning and then returned to my office to take a call from one of my East Coast clients in the afternoon. In the span of a few scant hours, both of my clients used the exact same phrase to describe their current performance management programs: “Our performance management program is fine.”

All weekend that phrase was stuck in my brain like an annoying popcorn hull wedged between my teeth. I pondered what those words meant to each of them and what ugly truths might lurk beneath an innocuous word like “fine.” I think that phrase spoke loudly to me because I’d heard it so many times before.

So, what do people mean when they tell me that their performance program is fine? Perhaps it’s this:

Performance Management FINE Chart

The low expectations expressed in the phrase “Our performance management is fine” are indicative of how much we’ve lost sight of our people. We seem perfectly happy to settle for “fine” on their behalf. But if our intentions for investing in performance management are to connect our teams to our strategies and goals, to recognize outstanding contributions, and to enhance the development of each individual’s capabilities, how can we possibly continue to tolerate “fine”?

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re someone who is already at least partially on board with the idea of rebooting your performance management. But no matter how comfortable you are with the idea of throwing everything out to start over (or not – after all, I’m advocating a custom approach that’s tailored to the needs of your business, and yours might not need a thorough overhaul), one of the biggest stumbling blocks you’re likely to encounter is doubt, skepticism, and downright antagonism from the old schoolers in your organization.

When I have a debate with someone who is defending the traditional performance management approach or with someone who is fearful of making changes to such a deeply rooted process (and trust me, I have many such debates), I always hear the same counterarguments. So much so, in fact, that it’s worthwhile to prepare you to answer those same objections in your own organization. Do any of the phrases below sound familiar?

“My boss will never buy it.”

It is always wise to pay special attention to “the boss.” Engage, educate, and bring him or her with you. Of course, you can’t expect this to happen overnight, especially if the boss in question leans more toward the PM traditionalist mind-set. Meet leaders where they are, build a plan, pace your progress, and maintain your resolve. Find out what they really care about, then connect your case to that theme. Be diplomatic and creative, and make sure they understand the real costs (both soft and hard costs) to your business of continuing with the old way — in terms they understand.

“We can’t trust our managers.”

Other than getting leaders on board, this is the second most common concern I hear from people, and it’s a legitimate one. Since I’m advocating implementing a design that relies heavily on good, or preferably great, managers, this problem often stops teams in their tracks. It’s not a simple issue, either. It’s cluttered with questions of structure, role definition, and manager expectations. Many organizations suffer from being over-managed and under-led. This happens because we often promote managers for technical or functional expertise and not for their people or managerial skills, and because most organizations have historically underinvested in building great leaders.

If this resonates with you, I’d encourage you to use it as motivation to address the bigger problem (i.e., the fact that you don’t trust your managers). Start by peeling your own onion to get at the root of your manager concern. Do you have too many managers or too many levels? Are they not the right people? Are their goals out of alignment with what’s valued by your organization as a whole? I’m not saying that these issues can be fixed quickly or easily; in fact, this may create a completely new agenda item for you. But the fact that you don’t trust the capability of your managers has much more far-reaching consequences than its impact on your performance management. It’s something that you’re going to need to address, no matter what.

“Legal will have a fit!”

We know we need a paper trail to document behavior and performance problems, and we think our annual review cycle does that for us. Too often, though, it doesn’t. We’re human: we tend to rate people too leniently, and to downplay or completely gloss over potentially awkward issues. This is one reason why the reviews of underperformers and good performers often read very much the same. The problem then is that if a legal issue does arise, or we simply want to take action in response to an employee’s behavior or performance, we’re caught in a bind between what we really know about that employee’s history and a series of reviews that don’t appear all that bad. This can lead to a messy situation. It’s better to avoid this potential pitfall by documenting issues as they arise. Then the issues will be fresh and more accurately recorded—giving you better legal footing and a more actionable position overall.

“Why change? Everyone else does it this way!”

While the majority of organizations still use a traditional system, the tide is definitely turning. Today we’re seeing respected and forward-thinking organizations trying to drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably in new and innovative ways. These pioneers have received significant positive exposure for their innovative programs. And that attention certainly doesn’t hurt their employer brand (a measure of how positively prospective employees view you compared with your competitors). You have a decision to make here: Are you ready to be out front, or would you prefer to wait until your competition has passed you by before you take action?

Maybe you have to wait because you feel you have bigger issues to tackle. Or maybe you’re simply going to procrastinate until you’re finally dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of performance management at some point in the future. But like it or not, the world is changing, and our old accepted practices will eventually crumble under the weight of the research and the evolving expectations of our employees.

Lead or follow—the choice is yours.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
M. Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.