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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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.



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.





EAW Success Stories

A-Player Appreciation: How Achievers Clients Celebrated Awesomeness during Employee Appreciation Week (EAW)

All businesses are comprised of a variety of capital, with human capital being the most critical to sustainability and success. The minds that drive innovation, the behaviors that build culture, and the personalities that forge relationships are all components of human capital. Employee Appreciation Week (or Day, Month, Year; however your organization chooses to celebrate it) provides companies with an annual occasion to be hyper-focused on their employees and express their gratitude in a public manner.

In today’s employee-centric world, where workers have many choices of where to lend their talents, it is important to reaffirm their decision to work for you. We know there was a plethora of appreciative gestures on or around Employee Appreciation Week, but we’d like to share some of the unique ways our clients leveraged the Achievers platform during the festivities to make their employees feel the love.

Creativity Through Messaging

Technology provides access to a bevy of different mediums and channels that can be used to convey a message. Bill Gosling Outsourcing took the opportunity to get creative with their Employee Appreciation Week approach. Bill Gosling CEO David Rae tried out his acting chops by starring in a heartfelt (and humorous – a blooper reel was included!) video message that was shared across their social media platforms. They wanted to make a direct appeal to employees by sharing a genuine message through a popular medium. And it certainly worked to promote positive recognition activity across their Achievers program. During Employee Appreciation Week, their total recognitions received increased a staggering 402.6% and their total unique recognitions (not including bulk recognitions) sent increased by 619.6%. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?

What’s In It for Me?

Give a little, get a little was the approach Mercedes-Benz Canada took to foster an inclusive Employee Appreciation celebration. With a relatively new recognition program that launched in February 2017, they strategically leveraged launch momentum to promote the program and explain the motivation for implementation. Their campaign integrated multiple elements to drive adoption and participation by showing top-down support of their program through a bulk recognition from the CEO and behavior-based incentives where members were rewarded with points for positive recognition activity. Participation they wanted, and participation they got: received recognition index increased 300% and sent recognition index increased 389%! Looks like the Mercedes-Benz team is on the road to cultivating a culture of recognition.

A Little Competition Goes a Long Way

Friendly competition is an excellent way to spur participation, especially if it’s paired with a clear call to action. A client who is a large financial institution took this approach in developing and rolling out a #payitforward type of challenge across their lines of business (LOBs), with the winner demonstrating the largest percentage increase in recognitions sent during Employee Appreciation Week. The challenge was promoted through themed graphics and communications across their intranet, on the Achievers platform and via digital displays. The results were notable on multiple fronts. The top two LOBs increased their sent recognitions by an impressive 37.12% and 37.1% respectively, with overall recognitions sent growing by 26%. The number of recognitions sent on the first day of their 2017 #payitforward challenge came close to surpassing the sum of all recognitions sent during their 2016 EAW campaign. Inspiring robust recognition activity through competition? Check.

Have Something for Everyone

ESS launched a robust Employee Appreciation Campaign with multiple opportunities for employees to get involved and also offered incentives to help drive participation. Their campaign was not only a reflection of their huge appreciation for their team, but a strategy to garner increased participation in the festivities. Incentive programs, including the distribution of additional points to award, prizes for being a top recognizer and account activation bonuses (to name a few), ran alongside graphics and communications promoting Employee Appreciation Week. The verdict on their approach? A roaring success: total recognitions received increased 128% and total unique recognitions sent increased 215%.  If you want to drive specific behaviors, incentivize; whether with points, prizes, or a good, old fashioned “Thank you!”

At Achievers, we like to say that Employee Appreciation Week is the Oscars of recognition. If there is ever a time during the year to go all in on recognition, this is it. As the above examples demonstrate, when you come up with creative ways to promote recognition, the results speak for themselves. The important thing is to encourage participation and program adoption in order to build a culture of recognition that honors the contributions of your workforce. After all, a company’s most valuable asset is its human capital.

Check out just one of the many ways we celebrate Employee Appreciation Week here at Achievers by reading our blog post Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

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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.