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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.

 

 

 

 

For Recognition to Have an Impact, Make It Strategic

We’re way beyond the old paradigm of years-of-service plaques or holiday gift cards as a form of employee recognition. We know that such rewards, tied to tenure or sporadically bestowed on an individual employee for a job well done, fall short of achieving any larger goal. For employees, they do little to spur a sense of being truly valued by an organization. For the organization, they don’t spark the levels of engagement that we know drive performance and lead to desired business outcomes. Why is this an issue? Gallup research this year found that only 33 percent of US workers feel engaged at work (it’s a mere 13 percent worldwide!). That’s nearly the same figure it was 10 years ago.

And even if organizations do connect recognition to driving individual performance and achieving desired business outcomes, how many have a recognition program that actually works? Achievers’ 2015 “The Greatness Gap” survey of the North American workforce found that most employees are far from satisfied with how, when, or why they receive recognition — if they do at all. They don’t feel they are recognized at their preferred frequency (41%) or get a manager’s in-the-moment feedback (60%) They don’t feel recognized for making progress (57%) or achievements (53%). Based on these findings, disengagement, not engagement, seems to be the rule.

But this gap is more than just a gap in driving engagement via feedback. It represents lost intelligence on how to improve the employee experience and better align it with business goals. To play an effective role in an organization’s success, a recognition program needs to serve a powerful strategic function for both employee and employer.

Strategic recognition serves a number of dual roles:

 

It’s part of a widespread, unified system of employee engagement —

that can be customized into any format, platform and frequency.

 

It’s aligned to the vision and values of the organization —

and can be tailored to meet individual employee preferences.

 

It generates powerful insight on employee performance and behavior —

but “learns” from even the delivery of a “smile” emoji or an e-thanks.

 

It’s closely aligned to business goals and targets —

While also recognizing employees for “softer” contributions & achievements as well.

 

It builds bridges between the executive/management and employee sides —

and enables uphill, peer-to-peer, team-to-team, and intrateam recognition as well.

 

It functions from a single, Cloud-based nervous system, regardless of organizational side or geographic location—

but always feels local and human in scale and tone.

 

It identifies out-in-front performers and succession candidates —

while pinpointing gaps and trouble-spots as well.

 

A strategic program of recognition builds engagement — and therefore has a positive impact on retention — supports talent management, and is closely tied to business goals. It is also the foundation of a cohesive, supportive environment. It also looks at the future as well as the present. It may be further refined to fit organizations shifting to more autonomous, team-based structures — a coming workplace shift identified by Deloitte’s 2016 human capital research. Or it may already be addressing profound shifts in workplace demographics (4 generations working together) and geography (global organizations with multiple hubs).

How long does it take for a strategic recognition program to take root and deliver game-changing results? Shop Direct, a multi-brand digital online retailer with some 4,500 employees, launched its highly successful recognition program across multiple global sites two years ago and it is already being credited with having a major positive impact across the entire organization. 

Shop Direct’s Shine program was designed to reinforce the organization’s purpose (to “Make good things easily accessible to more people”) and values (Trusted, Together, Proud, Ambitious, Innovative), and to drive performance. The program enabled instant recognition and rewards across multiple sites. And with features like at-a-glance data and in-the-moment messages, it soon turned into a keen motivator that has boosted engagement levels by 14%. But perhaps the clearest indicator of success has been the high level of adoption that the program has achieved. In less than one year, Shop Direct employees had sent more than 355,000 recognitions, and activation rates stood at an impressive 97%. Shop Direct has since garnered multiple awards for its innovative thinking — including being ranked as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces.

Likewise, communication and network services giant Ericsson (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), needed a strategic solution to its employee recognition challenge. The platform had to be able to connect over 15,000 employees in dozens of hubs across North America — and improve on existing manual recognition programs. After implementing the Achievers solution, Ericsson’s HR team was able to automate recognition among geographically-dispersed employees, track program spend (without once going over budget), and use program data to link recognition to business results. Employees enthusiastically embraced it, making it the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented.

If no man or woman is an island, no employee should feel like he or she is working alone. Whatever job we do, we all want to be appreciated. What’s most profound about a truly strategic recognition program is that is answers that very basic human need. But all the while, it’s an incredibly powerful driver — and monitor — of a much larger success story: the organization itself. That’s a win for everyone.

Check out Meghan Biro’s second guest blog post It Takes a Recognition Culture to Spark Engagement.

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About the Author

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

manager and employee recognition

Managers don’t believe in recognition? How to shift the mentality

Employee recognition is foundational in building your company’s long-term success. Employees who feel genuinely appreciated stay more engaged in their work because they understand the value that they bring to their team and the organization. This greater level of engagement will, in turn, stimulate higher productivity, a more pleasant workplace climate and much lower staff turnover rates. All these benefits translate into cost-effectiveness and a stronger bottom line for your business.

Team leaders are essential to your recognition program

In some cases, you may have team leaders who developed their management style before the importance of workplace recognition was widely understood. They may not feel that formal appreciation is relevant to the workplace, and may figure that receiving a regular paycheck is as much recognition as any worker needs. Here are three tips for how HR (and/or other leaders) can bring these managers on board and help them see the bottom-line value of giving positive feedback:

  1. Take recognition to a higher level

Effective recognition for good performance is not a concept limited to lower-level or line workers. As Firebrand founder and CEO Jeremy Goldman writes, “What do your boss, colleagues, and office janitor have in common? All of them want to feel appreciated.” By recognizing and rewarding team leaders for increasing the number of formal appreciations they offer their direct reports, you can jump-start positive change throughout all levels of your organization.

  1. Hold an offsite retreat

This may initially be a tough sell to managers already working hard to get through each day’s tasks, but it’s a plan well worth pursuing. Stepping outside the daily hustle is essential in order to think about cultural changes such as placing higher value on workplace recognition. Changes in outlook require thoughtful consideration; they don’t magically emerge from being placed on the latest “to-do” list. Additionally, getting out of the office helps task-oriented managers gain a clearer view of why interpersonal workplace relationships matter.

  1. Invest in leadership development

A good way to approach a manager who isn’t supportive of employee recognition is to offer an opportunity for further training. Anyone who is serious about their own career will be eager to pursue a high-quality educational opportunity, especially if it’s underwritten by their company. Good leadership training programs should include a substantial emphasis on the why’s and how’s of employee recognition, and your managers may bring back new insights and techniques you hadn’t even considered.

Building a culture that recognizes employees is part of maintaining your company’s competitive edge. Supervisors and team leaders will be your strongest change agents once you help them recognize the importance of their role.

 

Employee Recognition

4 employee recognition best practices

Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:

R: Regular

People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.

I: Immediate

To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.

S: Specific

Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”

E: Encouraging

Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.

The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.

Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Finding the right social employee recognition solution: partner, platform, program

Employee recognition — done right — is today’s must-have for business. Social employee recognition systems appear on Gartner’s Hype Cycle, climbing the curve to become a standard business system — but how do you choose the right system? It’s a choice that comes with very high stakes. Pick the wrong partner and you not only risk throwing your money to the wind; you could also alienate your entire workforce. Ouch.

Let’s consider what to look for to better your chances of finding the right fit.

It starts with finding a partner. This means the people and services that stand behind the solution. Ultimately, a platform is only as good as the people who bring it to life. The success of your employee recognition program hinges on the support and expertise your vendor provides.

A platform: The core technology system that your employee recognition program will run on. Enterprise platforms – rather than a mobile-only solution for example – give you the place to consolidate all of your employee programs and get visibility and control over program spend. Platforms that offer an API enable you to integrate the solution with other enterprise applications. It’s a great opportunity to keep employees productive by having recognition right within their flow of work and enables you to bring your workforce data together, ultimately getting more value out of your investment in each application.

Ability to create your unique program. Getting results relies on how well the set of features and functions you’ll be using can be tailored to the culture and objectives you’re targeting.  It might go without saying, but recognition tools need to be front and center.  Here is a short list of some of the essential recognition features to look for that will ensure your program will be successful.

Recognition tools to look for:

2016 Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Learn more about what you need to consider to find the right employee recognition solution for your organization in our new 2016 Buyer’s Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Employee Recognition

Why you need to celebrate employee milestones

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.

4 ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries

We’re big advocates of everyday recognition, but we agree that there are some employee milestones that deserve extra-special recognition. Whether it’s anniversaries, retirements, or other major accomplishments, observing milestones is a great way to show an employee that you care about their contributions. Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate milestones with a bigger bang:

  1. Collaborate on a personalized reward

HR can collaborate with team leaders to figure out what type of employee rewards or celebration would be most meaningful to the employee, whether it’s a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, or a cake in their favorite flavor and color. Going the extra mile to personalize the celebration is a great way to make the employee feel understood and appreciated.

  1. Send a company-wide recognition email or online video

Recognition of career accomplishments is important to all employees, whether it’s a tenure of one year or 10. When a manager sends an email or video to all employees, recognizing a work anniversary and mentioning specific accomplishments, the employee has verification that work contributions are recognized as important to business success.

  1. Give the employee a choice

You can develop an employee rewards system with different items for each year of service and let the employee have fun by choosing. For example, a five-year-anniversary employee might have three options: a gift card, free lunch, or a company-sponsored donation to the charity of their choice. The 20-year employee could choose between a weekend trip with family, a gift of top-of-the-line technology, or paid sabbatical time.

  1. Generate company-wide support with interactive cards

Most managers will pass cards around the office to drum up signatures and well wishes, but we think that electronic “cards” make for more dynamic keepsakes. Our product Celebrations allows employees across an organization to share congratulations, encouragement, and memories whenever an employee celebrates a new milestone.

Achievers Fall Product Release

This card makes it easy and interactive to celebrate the employee through social recognition, but also with certificates, commemorative items, gifts, points, or all of the above. It’s a great way for employees from across the globe to contribute to their coworker’s special day.

Of course, you can still throw the traditional office party, but small parties have a limited and short-term impact. The recognition process must be inspiring as well as consistent, personal, and timely to deliver the biggest bang.

Employee Recognition

5 tips for creating your employee recognition road map

Remember how good it felt in grade school when the teacher put a sticker on your test because you got a perfect score? If you’re like most employees, not a lot has changed. You probably like recognition and rewards just as much now as you did then. Employee recognition fulfills our intrinsic need to be acknowledged for our achievements, and motivates us by making us feel accepted.

Not only does recognition make employees feel good, but companies that inspire their employees with meaningful recognition perform better in the marketplace. Consider the companies that earn a place on Fortune Magazine’s “100 best Companies to Work For” list. Since 1998, the publicly traded companies in that group have outperformed the S&P 500 index by nearly 2 to 1.

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work ForImplementing an effective employee recognition program requires specific considerations and a program that fits your company’s needs. Here are a few tips on how to implement a recognition strategy that will engage and align your employees.

Determine your budget and criteria

It’s time to put your money where your mouth is; determine the criteria for rewards, and set your budget. Be sure to determine the behaviors needed to achieve business objectives, and base rewards on these behaviors. Most organizations spend about one or two percent of payroll on their employee recognition programs, but be sure to allocate the amount of money needed to execute your plan and achieve your goals.  Remember that engaged employees perform better, and think of your rewards as an investment.

Ensure recognition for all

Recognition and rewards need to be executed across the entire organization to have a lasting impact. Everyone in all levels of the company must use recognition, and the program should allow for people at all levels to recognize each other. With mobile or desktop service, recognition can and should happen anywhere, at any time.

Eliminate barriers for recognition

Empower your employees to appropriately recognize each other. Eliminate barriers, such as approvals for recognition and rewards. Program adoption will likely suffer if employees aren’t able to freely recognize each other, which will put the success of the program at risk. Trust your employees to know when rewards and recognition are warranted.

Make recognition visible

It’s great to celebrate employee contributions, but sometimes visible rewards aren’t appropriate. There are three types of recognition visibility:

  • Public: online newsfeed
  • Group: In front of the employee’s team
  • Private: employee/manager one-on-one

Encourage employees to adopt recognition by giving them high visibility. Consider what level of visibility will work in your organization, but remember that high visibility helps to reinforce the right behaviors by setting an example.

Measure results

You won’t know if you have been successful unless you measure the results of your employee recognition program. During the planning stages, decide what will be measured. Consider whether you have created an engaged, aligned workforce, and whether this has had an impact on business results.

Employee recognition programs need to involve more than a sticker for a perfect score, but remember that the effect is similar. In order to engage your workforce, they need to understand that their contributions are valued and will be rewarded.

Interested in finding out more about how to create an employee recognition strategy? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Employee Recognition

Why recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment

When it comes to business success, engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization. As more employers start to understand the power of engagement, we see businesses strive to achieve a powerful trifecta of senior leadership, managers, and employees who align to achieve bottom-line goals.

In her Forbes article, “How To Succeed At Real-Time Talent Alignment,” Meghan Biro comments that to achieve alignment, “Ideally, your recruiting process should be linked to leadership, culture and the on-boarding process. How you bring a new employee on board will determine whether or not you keep them for more than 18 months.” She’s right. This cohesion is essential to recruiting and retaining top talent; but how exactly can employers achieve this alignment? The key is recognition. Not only does recognition make employees feel valued, but managers who inspire their employees with meaningful recognition drive alignment and perform better in the marketplace.

Biro highlighted four opportunities that every employer can seize to drive real-time talent alignment. Here, we’ll show you how recognition plays into these scenarios to ensure engagement and alignment across the organization.

Get to know your employees

Employee recognition is the spark that gets it all going. It fulfills our intrinsic need to achieve and motivates us because of our inherent desires for acceptance and belonging. Encourage managers and leadership to get to know the people on their teams and what motivates them, and recognize them for their accomplishments. This will build trust and loyalty among your organization and ultimately drive alignment.

Be prepared to make changes fast

Here, Biro discusses the importance of equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed, and being prepared to gracefully offboard them if they don’t. To ensure that top talent live up to their potential and that their performance meets your expectations, recognize employees for living the company’s core values. Make sure employees understand what behaviors are measured and why. If you reinforce desired behaviors with positive feedback, those behaviors will be repeated.

Don’t hire a resume, hire a human

When filling leadership positions, many companies have a habit of taking their best performers and creating the worst managers. Before you fill a management role, consider what types of skills this position requires beyond the list of qualifications. Does this person have coaching skills, recognition experience, and a track record of success working with a team? Evaluate how you can equip your leadership with the recognition tools they need to be great coaches and ensure alignment.

Hire ahead of need

The number of available jobs is on the rise, and this is creating a job-seekers market in many areas. If you wait until you have an urgent need to fill a role, you might find that it’s harder than you expected to attract top-quality candidates. Plan ahead by building your employer brand and by promoting a culture that is rooted in recognition, engagement, and alignment.

Interested in learning more about how recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to learn tips and strategies you can implement today.

Source: Lockwood, Nancy R. “Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role.” HRMagazine Mar.2007: 1-11. SearchSpot. ABI/INFORM Global (PQ). Web. 8 Apr 2013.

Cox Automotive

Rewards & Recognition + Community Relations = A Winning Combination

At Achievers, we love our customers. We’re interviewing them to highlight their expertise, advice, and secrets to success. 

Cox Automotive, a leading provider of products and services that span the automotive ecosystem worldwide, has nearly 25,000 employees working across more than 24 brands, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, and a number of other best-in-class companies. Cox Automotive’s expansion over the past few years has created an interesting opportunity for Heather Markle, Cox Auto’s Manager of Rewards & Recognition.

How many of you remember your Achievers launch? Heather’s first launch was in October of 2012 and her 9th launch will be September 30th.  With at least three more launches planned for 2016, Heather and her team are not only focused on scaling their program as they acquire new employees — often thousands at a time — but also on keeping their existing program fresh and top-of-mind for legacy users.

Spark, which Cox Auto’s iteration of the Achiever’s platform, is a fun play on words for the automotive industry that reflects their dedication to “sparking” motivation, inspiration, and engagement through social recognition.

We sat down with Heather and her colleague Stephanie Hogge, Analyst, Rewards & Recognition, to find out how they’ve managed to keep their program relevant and engaging with so much growth at Cox Automotive.

Q. Is there any one thing that you can share with us that has contributed to the success of Spark?

Heather: Sure, if there is one thing I’d like to stress today it’s the value of partnership. We’re constantly looking for ways to embed our program into company initiatives, contests, and events. That level of alignment reinforces the value of the program and helps us leverage Spark points to drive behaviors. What we’re most proud of is our partnership with our Community Relations Team. Stephanie can share how we work together to offer meaningful rewards to our employees while also allowing them to give back to their favorite charities.

Q. Stephanie, how did you help build this partnership? 

Our partnership really began when members of the Community Relations (CR) team approached us after a big event to see how they could recognize volunteers in Spark. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the team to make sure all of our employee volunteers get the public recognition they deserve. We are always looking for ways to integrate Community Relations and Spark. For example, last year we co-sponsored an event for our Atlanta employees celebrating the 100,000th recognition sent through Spark. Each attendee was encouraged to make a small donation, which the CR team then distributed to some of Cox Auto’s favorite charities. Earlier this year, we were excited to announce that every donation made through Spark’s “Give Back” feature is now eligible for matching through CR’s matching gifts program.

Q. How have employees responded to this partnership? Have you received any feedback?

Employees have been incredibly positive about this partnership. This is made apparent to me every time I look at redemption activity in Spark, and see how many people have decided to donate their hard-earned Spark points to a deserving organization. In 2015 alone, Cox Auto employees donated almost $9,500 worth of Spark points to 70 unique organizations. I think people appreciate the ease of making a donation through Spark especially because the dollars are automatically matched by Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive

Q. What’s next for Cox Automotive?

Heather: Our company is truly global now. We are working to expand our program to the UK and Australia hopefully next year. We not only focus our adoption efforts on acquisitions, but through enhanced partnerships like the one we have with our Community Relations Team.

As we became Cox Automotive, our Achievers platform was the first platform to launch to our entire employee population. Spark was the first site to bring our company together. Having that level of buy-in from our leaders goes a long way to set us up for success. We look forward to getting our passport stamped in early 2016 as we help to spread our culture of recognition world-wide.

To learn more about how Heather has transformed the culture of recognition at Cox Automotive, and to hear how she’s using the Achievers platform to engage both online and offline employees, be sure to attend her presentation at this year’s Achievers Customer Experience. See the full agenda and register here: www.achievers.com/ace

 


Heather MarkleHeather Markle, Manager of Rewards & Recognitioni
n-tra-pre-neur (In¹tre-pre-nur) n. A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product.

I stumbled upon AutoTrader.com five days after I graduated from Oglethorpe University with a degree in Business and Behavioral Science. Fifteen years and eight roles later, I have become a strategic, multidisciplinary designer & intraprenuer with an eye for innovation and pixel perfection. I continue to look for opportunities to fill gaps with unique approaches to common problems. My creative skill set and passion for new technology make me a natural fit to lead our Rewards & Recognition team, define our awards strategy and champion our platform adoption efforts.

Employee Motivation

Why you should identify your employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivators

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

Outside in: intrinsic versus external motivators

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

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

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

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

Motivating at all ages

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

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

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

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

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

Developing an impactful reward system

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

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

Single platform for multiple results

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

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

Forget hierarchy and status

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

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

Employee Recognition

Revamp your employee recognition strategy to drive results

Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition

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

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

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

  1.       Start at the beginning

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

  1.       Ask, “What’s the point?”

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

  1.       Look at the big picture

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

  1.       Go mobile

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

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

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

Social Recognition for Introverted Employees

Life in the shadows: Don’t let one star employee outshine your team

It’s easy to recognize the employees that talk the loudest or most often, but are they the only ones with something to say? What about those deep thinkers who enjoy creative time alone or in silence? Which social recognition strategies should you use to bring out the best in all of your employees, including those who don’t fight to be heard?

The extrovert often gains energy and insight while spending time with others. They feed on the interaction and thrive in a collective atmosphere. An introvert comes up with solutions and ideas most easily in a quiet environment, often alone, with time to think deeply. They can be good at spotting flaws in an otherwise accepted line of thinking.

These differences can lead to hearing only half of the available employee ideas. Here are some simple ways to be sure that you’re engaging all of your employees:

Give introverts time to think

Provide an agenda or information about what will be discussed at the next staff meeting. An extrovert may brainstorm solutions on the spot, but having a list of meeting goals and topics ahead of time will motivate an introvert to bring their ideas to the table. If you can give even an hour’s notice before a meeting, your introverted staff members will have a better chance to contribute what might be a critical solution for your company.

Facilitate employee interaction

Foster low-pressure opportunities for your employees to mingle throughout the day. Common spaces in the office can give employees who might not otherwise communicate the chance to interact. Create open areas with comfortable seating, snacks, and coffee, where people can talk and collaborate. You might just lure an introvert into interacting with other team members more regularly. It’s far easier to speak up at meetings if you’re familiar with fellow employees. It’s also easier for extroverts to encourage ideas from the introverts they’re getting to know on a casual basis.

Offer social recognition

Consistent recognition is valuable to all employees, both introverted and extroverted. Your outgoing employees might relish public praise in a meeting, whereas your introverted employees may prefer to receive a personal message that doesn’t put them on the spot.

Social recognition platforms give you a way to publicly praise all of your employees on a consistent basis, and they can help managers track who they’re recognizing and how often. This is a great way to ensure that the recognitions are distributed to the people who most deserve them – not just the people the people who command the most attention.

3 keys to social recognition for HR professionals

This month, Brandon Hall Group released their recent Employee Engagement Survey, which suggested that a strategic employee engagement solution dramatically impacts an organization’s bottom line. For many companies, investing in social recognition solutions has had an incredible impact on retention, performance and productivity.

But how can HR professionals use social recognition to successfully implement an employee engagement program and align their employees to their organization’s values and business objectives?

Read on for three keys to understanding social recognition for HR professionals, and how to build the business case for implementing a social recognition solution..

Current engagement strategies aren’t effective
Only 32% of organizations have implemented formal engagement strategies. And just about everyone else relies on engagement surveys conducted by HR teams. While surveys can provide insight into the health of the organization, they represent a static point in the past, and fail to capture engagement in real time. Brandon Hall Group’s research revealed that one key to a comprehensive, long-term employee engagement strategy is consistent recognition. Adopting a social recognition platform brings employee success to life and increases engagement levels, boosting organizational performance.

It’s not about money
Many businesses use monetary incentives as tools to engage their employees. Brandon Hall Group urges organizations to think differently when it comes to employee engagement. Although monetary rewards can easily be paired with a recognition, the power of social recognition shouldn’t be overlooked. Today’s modern workforce values immediate feedback, and uses it as a springboard for innovation. When employees experience immediate recognition for their contributions, it naturally increases recognition levels across the organization, further driving business results and establishing a culture of recognition.

Link engagement to performance
In order for companies to effectively boost engagement levels, they need to ensure that recognition is part of the culture. The best way to facilitate this is by implementing a social recognition platform. From there, leaders can use the tool to align individual performance, productivity and engagement to company performance. The link between engagement and productivity is innate: employees who are engaged at work are driven to outperform.

 

Learn more about how investing in a social recognition platform can positively impact your business. Download the Brandon Hall Group report, Building the business  case for social recognition solutions.

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MGM Resorts International and Achievers

MGM Resorts: 2 Takeaways from a Game-Winning People Strategy

What does it take to implement a remarkable employee engagement strategy?

Last week, Achievers had the pleasure of hosting Christopher Henry, VP of Talent and Organizational Development for MGM Resorts International, on the webinar titled, How to Put Employees First to Win Customers. Chris shared with us how MGM’s investment in the development of their people and culture is largely responsible for the brand’s amazing turnaround.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been exposed to MGM’s awesome People Strategy; MGM submitted a stellar application that won them a spot in the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards in 2013. Since last year, MGM has continued to shape and improve its employee engagement plan to adapt to a growing company and workforce.

Christopher highlights four of the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ responsible for the biggest improvements in employee performance and happiness at MGM. Under each dimension, he provides an impressive list of initiatives. Here are three of my favorites:

–          Unified Vision, Mission, and Core Values

  • MGM makes sure all employees are united under a common mission and educated on what MGM stands for. When employees are working towards a common goal, communication and teamwork improve.

–          Effective Communication and 2-Way Feedback

  • All employees have the opportunity to give and receive both real-time and milestone feedback. Managers are then held accountable for proposed changes by the “YOU SAID IT, WE DID IT” initiative.

–          Corporate Mentoring Program

  • Managers and directors are assigned coaches two levels up from them (i.e. Managers paired with VPs) to solidify the mentee’s development of MGM’s seven core leadership competencies.

Selecting just three highlights was difficult – MGM’s People Strategy is pretty high-level. In fact, for an outside company trying to come up with or revamp an employee engagement strategy, MGM’s approach might be a little intimidating. Thus, I think it’s important to consider the following two points:

1.       There really isn’t a “one size fits all” employee engagement strategy.

Every business is different, every company culture is different, and most importantly, the workforce is constantly evolving. MGM’s approach of focusing in on individual elements of employee engagement works very well for them – but a more holistic approach might work better for a smaller business. A great employee engagement strategy is unique to that company and adapts to corporate changes and the always-evolving workforce.

2.      A superior employee engagement strategy takes time – and effort!

Implementing a new people strategy isn’t easy; it tends to be a lengthy process with many steps – researching and evaluating employee satisfaction, analyzing data, devising a strategy, implementing that strategy, evaluating its effectiveness, and making changes as needed.

It’s important to remember that big shifts in engagement rarely happen overnight. But take it from MGM – that extra investment in time and effort WILL be worth it.

Hear it for yourself! Tune in as Chris shares all the specifics on MGM’s game-winning People Strategy on “How to Put Employees First to Win Customers.”

Watch On-Demand

Chris Henry

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Employee Recognition

Square Peg, Round Hole: 7 Recognition Tactics that are Moot in the Modern Workforce

The modern workforce is eager to engage with your company, drive immediate results and advance their careers. But it can be difficult for today’s employees to stay motivated when they’re paired with businesses that practice dated and ineffective engagement and recognition strategies.

When it comes to putting a square peg in a round hole, we’ve highlighted the top seven obsolete recognition tactics that are still commonly practiced by many businesses. Ditch these pitfalls and refresh your engagement techniques to expertly engage, align and recognize the modern workforce. Read more →