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Shift to Recognition

The Shift from Years of Service Awards to a Culture of Recognition

We’ve all been there. Your coworker Sam is moving on to a new opportunity. Goodbyes are being said. Personal email addresses are being exchanged so everyone can “stay in touch”. Sam’s cardboard box is filled with the usual suspects: family photos, a mousepad with the Dallas Cowboys logo, the chrome stapler he secretly lifted from the supply closet and a Ziplock bag full of client business cards he has gathered over the years.

employee turnover

Now, here is where the real fun begins. Sam’s footsteps can still be heard in the hallway when the vultures swoop in at his desk. The Pilot 2.0 pens, the ones that draw the super clean lines without smearing, go first. The post it notes and desk calculator go next. Bill from accounting grabs the XXL Chili Cookoff sweatshirt for his 6’4” nephew who plays nose tackle in Idaho. By the time the dust settles, inventory has grown scarce. However, a few items have remained unclaimed despite numerous scavengers passing by. Sam’s three “Account Executive of the Half” awards have zero bids. What is Sam supposed to do with these? Set them up on his desk at his new gig? Another drawer holds the faux leather briefcase with the company logo stitched on it that he received for his five-year work anniversary. Sam only had three options for his award and he selected the briefcase over the whiskey decanter (he already has one) and the cherry wood desk clock (his watch works fine). Sam won’t need it in the future as this company is now firmly in his past.

Why would Sam leave his years of service award behind? These type of awards are meant to be a reward for the culmination of five years of hard work! Does an unused briefcase truly represent the appreciation his previous company had for him? Sam has worked his tail off for 260 weeks and his big thank you comes in the form of a pleather bag to carry to work – the same bag that has been gathering dust in his desk drawer since the day he received it. To make matters worse, every employee next to Sam receives the same type of awards at their five-year work anniversary which makes the gesture less personalized. Whether your work performance is the strongest or the weakest in the company, everyone gets the same reward. Logic would assume that a costly rewards program would focus on performance yet 87 percent of recognition programs focus on tenure.

This brings up a legitimate question –  is a tenure of 5 years the benchmark to define loyalty? Do employees not take actions on a monthly, weekly or daily basis to benefit their company and confirm their commitment? For Sam, there were dozens of moments during that time span that were worthy of recognition. Like the time he renewed his biggest client despite them having given a verbal commitment to his competition. What about the time Sam worked 10 hours on Thanksgiving Day to finalize the forecast projections the CFO dropped on everyone at the last minute? Or maybe the 11 folks he acted as a mentor to when they were new hires. If you demand Sam’s loyalty, you must recognize him in the moments he displays it. After all, 59 percent of employees are not recognized at their preferred frequency. Nobody is sticking around for half of a decade just to get a lapel pin, gold watch or acrylic awards. In fact, the high majority of employees will never make it to a 5-year anniversary at a company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job tenure in the US is just 4.2 years. And the millennial workforce, who is expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, will switch jobs four times in their first decade out of college!

What’s the solution? How do you build loyalty in the modern job-hopping workforce? The secret lies in building a true culture of recognition. Employee recognition should be given frequently and in the moment. This can include performance achievements, learning and development accomplishments and even celebrations such as birthdays and work anniversaries. Below are six keys to a successful recognition strategy.

  1. Speak to employees in their preferred language
    The modern employee wants convenience and information delivered in a manner that is easy to use, available via mobile and in the flow of work.
  1. Increase the frequency in which you recognize to drive behavior
    Letting employees know that their positive contributions are noticed drives discretionary effort because what gets recognized gets repeated.
  1. Celebrate milestones in the moment
    Find reasons to show employee appreciation such as finishing an onboarding checklist, completion of modules in a learning management system, birthdays, service anniversaries, etc.
  1. Integrate multiple programs into your recognition and engagement platform
    Make your recognition and engagement platform into a one-stop shop. Integrate other company programs such as HRIS, LMS, Wellness, Charity, Innovation and Referrals.
  1. Incorporate a non-monetary recognition strategy
    Not all recognitions have to include a monetary reward. Allowing for social recognitions increases frequency and drives incremental effort.
  1. Research successful employee recognition programs
    You’re not alone when it comes to building an impactful recognition strategy. Take a look at how other companies are successfully engaging their workforces through employee recognition. For example, you can gather inspiration from Horizon BCBSNJ’s and Smart & Final’s success stories. Access more HR success stories from leading companies here.

As the modern workforce shifts from year of service awards to sophisticated recognition and engagement platforms, it’s important to keep in my mind my six keys to a successful recognition strategy. From now on, avoid having the next Sam walk out your door by showing him appreciation from the start and on a regular basis.

To learn more, download Achievers eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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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
Clinton Bean Headshot
Clint Bean is an Enterprise Account Executive at Achievers dedicated to helping large corporations better understand the evolution of engagement. He resides in Texas with his wife and 3 sons and can often be found on the sidelines coaching basketball and soccer or enjoying a round of golf. Connect with Clint on LinkedIn.

 

 

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

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.

 

 

Reduce Unneeded Stress

7 Ways to De-Stress Your Workplace

Stress is the single worst enemy of productivity. A stressed-out worker is usually not an efficient worker. Furthermore, high employee stress levels can lead to higher rates of employee turnover and absenteeism; who wants to work at a job with constant stress?

Not only is stress an obstacle to productivity, it can work against a business’ attempts to attain key business objectives. We all know that a business must be profitable to survive, but without recognizing the danger of pushing workers too hard, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary to counter mistakes made by tired, depressed, and stressed-out individuals.

Follow my 7 tips below to help your employees bounce back and minimize unneeded stress:

  1. Get Creative

Stress on the brain will squash creativity. It’s harder to “think outside the box” and be at your best when you’re chronically stressed. If you’re in a role that emphasizes mental nimbleness and dexterity, the consequences of stress can be a major roadblock to your (and your company’s) success.

Consider implementing a few creative strategies to lighten your employee’s mental load. Daydreaming is typically seen as a bad thing, however a few moments of structured mind-wandering every hour can help your workers recalibrate and better stay on task. Breathing exercises and “mindfulness” activities can also lessen workplace stress. Encourage workers to green up the office and bring in plants, which have a soothing effect on the soul. And if conditions allow, furry friends are also a wonderful addition to the workplace. According to WebMD, taking even a few minutes to play with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

  1. SuggestScreenFreeTime.

The modern workforce spends most of its time glued to a computer screen. The problem with sitting in a cubicle and staring at a glowing rectangle all day is that it is a highly unnatural and inert way to spend one’s time. Interaction with other people, and with one’s environment, is needed to stay mentally healthy and engaged.

Hopefully, your employees already understand that they should step away from their screens several times throughout the day. You can take this further by suggesting the use of software tools, like F.lux, that make the light emanating from a computer monitor more natural and less straining on the eyes. This program makes the monitor show more typical “daylight” colors, which can help reduce computer screen fatigue.

  1. Offer Financial Counseling Services

Many people find that financial issues cause them the most stress. Promoting financial wellness and addressing the negative effects of money-related stress on employees is often overlooked by companies when they seek to lessen the stress level of their workforce. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted in its 2016 Employee Benefits survey report that 61 percent of HR professionals polled last year described their employees’ financial health as no better than “fair” and 17 percent reported their employees were “not at all financially literate.”

Given the statistics above, there is much you can do to help your employees meet their financial goals. Consider bringing on a financial counseling professional that can assist your employees in determining their financial health and offer personalized, actionable advice. If adding staff isn’t an option, try designing a financial wellness program that motivates employees to be more proactive in saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or paying back student loans. You will find that as your employees gain clarity about their financial situation, they will not only be less stressed, but possibly inspire them to improve other aspects of their lives – including their productivity at work.

  1. Engage and Recognize Your Employees at Work

Higher employee engagement leads to higher employee productivity and happiness, so it’s critical to find ways to engage your workforce. One method used by many companies is establishing a recognition and rewards program. Recognition has been found to be the number one driver of employee engagement, so by building a culture of recognition, and having employees feel appreciated for what they do, you’ll see more positive social engagement and better performance. Encourage your employees to take time out of their day to de-stress by recognizing others for their hard work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way!

  1. Involve Your Employees in Exercise

There is nothing that gets people moving and motivated like a physical wellness program. Exercise is healthy and stimulating for both body and mind. There are various ways that you can get your employees involved in daily exercise habits that help them fight off illness, obesity, and other physical manifestations of stress. Could your company partner with a local gym, or give membership discounts to employees? Is there a yoga teacher willing to offer in-office sessions? Options such as these require minimal financial and time commitments for your company, so instituting at least one of them seems like a no-brainer.

  1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Many studies have shown that flexible work arrangements can benefit employers as much as they do employees. Remote work and other flexible options can be a huge boost to many worker’s mental well-being, which in turn boosts your company’s bottom line.

Most people make money to support their families, but the long work hours needed to earn it mean a constant tension between work and familial responsibilities. Flexible work options, such as telecommuting, part-time roles, and flexible scheduling, can have a major impact on an employee’s quality of life. In fact, just the idea of a flexible work arrangement helped some companies improve their employee retention rates – before workers even started taking part. That’s right, simply by suggesting the concept of more flexible work, you can indirectly encourage employees to work harder and stay with your company longer.

  1. Promote Healthy Living Habits at Work

Remember that your employees’ health and welfare is key to increasing productivity and fulfilling the goals of your company. By offering free healthy snacks and encouraging your employees to maintain healthy habits at work, you are helping establishing the groundwork of a healthy lifestyle that could transfer over to the rest of their lives. As they say, you are what you eat – so by making sure there are healthy (even organic) options in the break room or at company meetings, you’re doing everyone’s bodies and minds a huge service.

Banishing stress from your workplace is an ongoing battle, but learning how to identify the symptoms of burn out and fatigue is a step in the right direction. Help your employees stay mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally healthy, and you’ll see your efforts reflected in a better bottom the company back in dividends.

To learn more about how employee wellness can lessen tension in the workplace, check out 5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.

 

disengagement and incentivizing

How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce

Management strategies have been evolving, over the last two five years, to favor more bottom-up measures to drive greater workforce productivity. While many Best-in-Class companies are retaining and using labor investment resources in payroll and compensation management, many of their peripheral Human Capital Management (HCM) investments are moving away from pure labor cost quantification to favor goal-based platforms in rewards and recognition. Are you currently offering incentives, such as rewards and recognition, to your employees?

With the inherent uniqueness of the individual in the corporate workforce, it is a virtual impossibility to find a one size fits all approach to incentivizing employees. An unincentivized employee is likely a disengaged one, meaning aspects of your business such as innovation, productivity, and retention could suffer. Furthermore, a workforce should be recognized and rewarded for embodying clearly defined corporate values or meeting specific company goals in a highly visible way, otherwise, employees may lose sight of the relevance of their work to the overall company mission, leading to disengagement and eventually attrition.

Moving from Disengaged to Incentivized

In their recently published report, Tomorrow’s Management Today: Incentivizing Workforce Innovation, The Aberdeen Group further stresses the importance of instituting and maintaining a well-defined, highly visible recognition and rewards program. Specifically, the report finds that employees at Best-In-Class companies were 31% more likely to stay with their employer if they felt that their work was relevant, and visibly impacted the organization. One of the easiest ways to ensure that recogntion reinforces successes aligned with company values in a highly visable way is by investing in an HCM system that offers a robust, goal-based recogntion and rewards component.

In-line with Alignment

Employees shouldn’t have to guess as to what the values and goals of their given organization are, nor should it be difficult to recognize and reward them for adhering to these values in pursuit of the stated goals. These shared goals and values should be apparent to everyone in the company, regardless of job title. Difficulty in effectively communicating key corporate objectives on an enterprise-wide level, isn’t a new phenomenon; companies have long been challenged with providing granular clarity to lower-level employees. Merely, announcing these goals at a quarterly kick-off meeting or sending them out in yearly newsletter does little to align individual employees’ around these goals.

Aberdeen Quote

Bottom-Up Drivers of Greater Productivity

Where it was once difficult to measure concepts such as productivity, innovation, etc., the continuous evolution or HCM systems, specifically those emphasizing recognition and rewards, can offer a tangible measurement as to the employees demonstrating those qualities a company values most. In this report you will learn how best-in-class companies are beginning to focus their peripheral HCM spend on goal-based platforms in rewards and recognition and how they are favoring bottom-up measures to drive greater workforce productivity.

Now that you have a general understanding as to the major cultural shift emphasizing employee engagement, download Aberdeen’s report on Incentivizing Workplace Innovation for more information, including recommendations regarding the selection of an HCM ecosystem.

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About the Author

Iain Ferreira

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

 

 

 

Workplace Trendsetter

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An engaged, aligned, and recognized workforce separates you from the pack. Get inspired. Be a trendsetter.