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How to Plan Employee Engagement Contests That All Your Teams Will Love

Thirty-three percent. It’s a fairly low number. We wouldn’t want to see that number for our customer satisfaction or client retention rates. But that’s the number of American workers who report being engaged at work. And if a figure that low isn’t acceptable when it comes to our clients, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to employees either. Low engagement leads to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover. But there are ways to combat this disengagement. Employment engagement contests help keep people motivated and gives everyone a common goal beyond just doing well at work. You want to make sure your contests are inclusive of everyone within your organization, regardless of department or job title.

Here are a few tips for building employee engagement contests that everyone will love.

Get Out of the Office

When you have different departments with different goals and responsibilities, it can be hard to manage an in-office contest. You can’t pit them against each other to see who can close the most sales or enter the most data, because there will be very clear winners before they even begin. Instead, focus on contests that everyone can reasonably participate in, regardless of their job title or skills.

This often means getting out of the office. Though you might have the time, budget, and resources to execute numerous company outings, planning even a single event a year where employees can get together outside of work for a little friendly competition can help make everyone feel a little more engaged within the company. Do trivia at a bar, play a few rounds of mini-golf, or even see which department can collect the most cans for a community food drive.

Ask Employees What They Want

Employment engagement contests are only effective if they are actually engaging. While no one idea will likely ever satisfy every single employee, it is still a good idea to at least try and get a good idea of what your employees might like to do. After all, this about them.

An employee-led committee to plan contests can incorporate employees from various departments to make sure everyone is represented.  Or you can even use surveys to help you figure out what kinds of contests everyone might be interested in. Most enterprise chat systems have polling features built in. And many HR suites offer employee feedback tools like surveying as well.

Not everyone will excel in every single contest. But you should have a pretty decent understanding of your employees that allows you to tailor your contests for a high chance of success. Contests are a lot less motivating when few participants can succeed. Make sure everyone is gaining something.

Make it Regular

Of course, you can’t host one contest and expect everyone to remain engaged long term.

To keep employees engaged, contests should become regular events.  As is the case with anything good, you don’t want to overdo it. But you also don’t want to introduce your employees to something they enjoy only to never bring it back. Then they’ll just be demoralized on top of being disengaged.

Establish what “regular” means for you and what works for your organization, then stick with.

Whether it’s once a year or twice a week, having something consistent to look forward to always makes work a little more enjoyable. Plus, the more regular these inter-departmental contests are, the most opportunities employees have to mingle and get to know each other.

Reward Teams for Little Tasks

Rewards can go a long way and the be the incentive your employees need to go the extra mile. Come up with contests that involve everyone doing their job but aren’t dependent on specific positions. For example, everyone, regardless of position, should be showing up to work on time. So consider building a contest around perfect attendance and punctuality. Even something as simple as free lunch for the entire floor if the dishwasher gets loaded and unloaded for 30 days in a row can engage employees around a common cause.

Show Off the Results

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing something well and getting no recognition. No matter what kind of contest you decide on, consider displaying the results somewhere or sending them out to the whole team. It’s important to recognize and reward employees for their participation.

You can keep a leaderboard in the break room or leverage a recognition platform to showcase results so that those who didn’t win will be encouraged to work harder next time, and those who did win can appreciate their own victory.

Implement Initiatives to Help With Goals

Have departments in the office compete and see who can hit the gym after work the most days per week or eat the most fruits and veggies for lunch? Is a group of employees working together to raise the most money for a local charity? Help these freelance efforts out! Initiatives like a company-sponsored gym membership, catered lunches, or charitable giving matching can all help employees reach their own goal. Even simple acts like these can increase employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable

Getting different departments on board for a contest can be tough. Making sure everyone is involved can make it a little easier. Managers need to set the example for other employees by participating in contests, and by giving it their all.

Seeing managers compete can be good motivation for employees to step up their own game, and the idea of winning a competition against their boss might make people work even harder!

Finally, Be Proactive

The best way to maintain employee engagement is to never lose it in the first place. This is easier said than done, of course, but you should be taking steps to ensure that every employee is engaged from day one, and that they all stay that way.

No matter the age, everyone likes the chance to have some fun at work. Incorporating simple contests into the daily routine can be incredibly effective in helping your teams bond and work better together.

Learn more about what incentives to offer in your next employee engagement contest by accessing Achievers’ e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Laura HudgensLaura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

 

 

 

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Recognize Your Employees and Strengthen Your Bottom Line

If you’re a supervisor or manager, you probably know how much more productive your team is when you make the effort to recognize each person’s contribution. In order to take employee recognition to the next level, however, and establish a company-wide system of rewards, you’ll need to be able to present the investment to your CEO or CFO in terms of the financial bottom line.

Fortunately, a growing body of research makes this easy. A Workplace Trends Report finds that recognition programs yield 50 percent higher sales, 27 percent higher profits and 21 percent better retention. With a solid positive ROI to back it up, an employee recognition program can be treated as part of your company’s overall strategy. A Cornell University paper on recognition in the workplace points out, “While recognition is not new, it is finally becoming more strategic as programs align recognition with business objectives and desired behavior.” Here’s some of the research that describes the nuts and bolts of why rewarding employees ends up boosting the company’s bottom line:

Rewards and Recognition Strengthen Employee Engagement

The benefits of expressing your appreciation of employees begin with engagement. Unengaged employees can cost your business thousands of dollars, because they’re not concerned about being efficient during their work hours. Instead, they tend to waste time and engage in countless distractions, just trying to get through the day in whatever way they can. If you have an employee who wastes just 15 minutes a day, that’s an hour and a quarter per week, or 3.125 percent of a work week. Looking at a sample service business with $3 million in revenue, this lost productivity from just one worker can add up to $93,750 in a year.

To avoid the lost revenue of alienated workers, you might be tempted to block social media sites from company computers, or institute various rules about not coming back late from breaks. However, the fact is that what really motivates people is positive reinforcement. Recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement, according to our Achievers’ video, and every 1 percent increase in engagement results in an additional .6 percent growth in your company’s sales. The Cornell research paper mentioned above notes that when employee engagement varies, 41 percent of that variation is directly due to the amount and quality of recognition that the employee receives.

 
The Value of Recognition and Engagement 

Engaged Employees Show Up and Pay Attention

Balancing work and outside life is tricky for everyone as our lives become more complex, but when employees are highly engaged in their jobs, they manage to show up to work despite the outside commitments that compete for their time. A Gallup research study states that engaged employees take fewer than three sick days each year, on average, while disengaged ones take more than six sick days. Your HR department is probably all too well-acquainted with the high cost of accidents and absences, and anything you can do to reduce these figures will contribute to the long-term sustainability of your organization.

There’s Space for Your Company at the Front of the Pack

Despite the proven fact that dedicating resources to employee recognition is financially prudent, many organizations still hesitate to follow through with this strategy. In a Forbes article, Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast, points out that “One of the top concerns for HR executives in 2017 is how to raise employee engagement, and for good reason. Engagement is on the decline across the world, and that spells trouble for business leaders everywhere.”

Gallup adds to this picture: Fewer than one-third of employees would strongly agree with the statement that they have received recognition or praise for doing good work within the last seven days. The authors of this Gallup study state that the role of recognition in producing engagement “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers… in their search for new ideas and approaches, organizations could be overlooking one of the most easily executed strategies: employee recognition.” The fact that many companies are still missing out on the benefits of having a strong employee rewards program means that you can gain extra ground on your competitors by putting the power of recognition to work in your organization.

Employee Recognition Is Key to Staying Competitive

It’s beautifully logical, when you put it all together: Embracing a system to optimize employee appreciation and recognize others within your company will yield an abundance of benefits. According to the Cornell research, “Recognition programs, on their own, can help instill and reinforce corporate values, help with retention, and positively impact financial results. They also boost productivity, engagement, profit margins, customer retention, employee retention, ROE and ROA.” Taken together, these advantages will provide a robust return on your investment to recognize employees. Furthermore, they will add luster to your employer brand and help you compete for the top talent in your industry.

To learn more about how to recognize employees and build a strong business in a time of declining employee engagement, download our ebook Employee Recognition: More Than Just a Day.

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Using Recognition to Drive Engagement: Inside Scotiabank’s Pay It Forward Campaign

Are you currently using recognition to boost employee engagement across your organization? You should. Scotiabank, a leading financial services provider, is already ahead of the curve and finding innovative ways to spread employee recognition across 90,000 employees globally. Before diving straight into Scotiabank’s recognition success, let’s get to know the company a bit. Scotiabank was founded in 1832 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With close to 90,000 employees around the world and over 23 million customers, Scotiabank is a leader in financial services in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America, and Asia-Pacific. They offer a broad range of advice, products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets.

In order to maintain and build their strong global reputation, Scotiabank had to make sure they focused on their employees to maximize productivity and business success. Where did Scotiabank start? The answer is with their Applause 2.0 informal recognition program, powered by Achievers.

A Round of Applause for Scotiabank

Scotiabank was running on a legacy platform from the early 2000’s before upgrading to its Applause 2.0 recognition program in March 2016. Applause 2.0 leverages advanced HR technology that enables ongoing employee recognition at all levels, linking to the company’s core values. Scotiabank’s employees across the world are able to participate in the program, including regular and contract employees. To simplify the employee experience, Applause 2.0 was integrated with other core systems, including Scotiabank’s internal social collaboration platform. With the ability to earn points through point-based recognitions, employees can work towards redeeming from a wide variety of reward items in the catalogue.

Let’s Pay It Forward With Recognition

In order to keep the momentum going with their employee recognition program, Scotiabank decided to build a 2-week campaign to create excitement in the workplace and keep the program fresh. The campaign, named Pay it Forward, encouraged employees to view each received recognition as an opportunity to pay it forward and recognize another peer. To further empower employees during the campaign, individual contributors, who typically only have access to social (non-monetary) recognition, were given access to points to award.

A domino effect shortly followed after the campaign launch and the results were extremely positive. So positive that Scotiabank has run the campaign two years in a row. In 2018, 86,243 total recognitions were sent during the same campaign period as the previous year, resulting in a 46% increase year-over-year for all recognition activity on the platform. Also, 20% of all employees sent more than one recognition during the campaign period, revealing that this campaign wasn’t all about the points for employees – it was about being intentional and conscious, and recognizing others based on performance. Scotiabank’s recognition program and Pay It Forward campaign truly aims to seek out employees that have gone above and beyond their normal duties. What other success did Scotiabank see with their Pay It Forward campaign in 2018? We’ll tell you.

Scotiabank saw the following positive results:

  • 47,586 Pay It Forward points-based recognitions were sent
  • 1,677 users activated their account during Pay It Forward, bringing Scotiabank up to 86% activation globally
  • 37% of employees sent at least one recognition during the campaign, an increase of 13% compared to 2017

It’s clear that Scotiabank’s Pay It Forward campaign was a huge success. But, what about Scotiabank’s KPIs? Did their KPIs see a positive impact as well from the campaign? The answer is absolutely. Employee participation from Pay It Forward ended up positively impacting KPIs in 2017, which was a great win for Scotiabank’s HR team.

2017 KPI results included the following:

  • People managers sent 3.0 recognitions on average in the campaign period, up from a 2.0 two months prior.
  • Recognition coverage jumped to 65%, resulting in a 10% increase month-over-month
  • 70% of employees globally logged into the platform, resulting in a 20% increase month-over-month

Scotiabank saw tangible and outstanding results from their targeted Pay It Forward campaign every year and it showcases the true value recognition has towards driving employee engagement. Let’s give a round of Applause to Scotiabank and their employee engagement success!

To learn more about Scotiabank’s recognition journey, check out this webinar recording on Using Recognition to Drive Engagement – A Best Practice Guide with Scotiabank.

Are you looking for another HR success story? Discover how Cox Automotive increased employee engagement across their organization by checking out this blog post on Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration.

About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

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Incentivize Your Workforce

Why Today’s Incentive Thinking Is Different

Ever since people started working for each other, supervisors have tried to figure out the best way to reach their performance goals and keep workers on task. Too often in human history, this meant that people with less power were simply compelled to work, and incentives — if they existed — consisted merely of being allowed to survive. After several evolutionary waves, we have a deeper insight into what truly motivates people, and today’s incentives are about far more than compensation. As the Forbes Coaches Council puts it, “In decades past, motivating employees was all about raises, promotions, and bonuses. Those days are gone, and today’s employers are quickly learning that engagement stems from different kinds of incentives — ones that impact an employee’s emotional, rather than financial, health.” Here’s a quick look at how incentive thinking has changed over time, and how wise use of employee rewards contributes to today’s workplace culture.

The Beginning of Management Science

The examination of work incentives really began in the “scientific management era” from the late 1800s to about 1920. During this period, laboratory discoveries about reward and motivation began to be applied to the workplace. Employees were frequently paid at a piece rate, providing them with a straightforward pay incentive to be as productive as possible. When the innovation of pay by the hour or day was introduced, it was controversial. A widespread fear existed that if you paid workers only according to the time they spent, that they would “take it easy” and not try as hard. This was also brought up as an objection to the concept of profit- or gain-sharing programs, since it was felt that weaker workers would share equally in the rewards and thus not be motivated to try harder.

The Central Challenge of Giving Incentives

These differing opinions revealed the central challenge of providing incentives: Workers must experience a certain sense of fairness and equality, while at the same time the company must find a way of rewarding its top performers. This challenge led to elaborated systems that integrated bonuses and standards, so that all workers received a base-level pay, but those who reached higher productivity levels would be awarded a bonus. Later developments included paying the supervisor or foreman a higher rate if their team achieved set production goals. It was considered important to increase efficiency, and managers were seen as having a role in this effort. Many of the early discoveries about incentives are still applicable today, but the context in which they are given continued to evolve.

Twentieth Century Workplace Traditions

During the 20th century, companies generally offered rewards for staying with the company. Longevity bonuses and regular wage increases recognized employees for performing the core duties of their jobs, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). In the case of sales jobs, competitive (and sometimes cutthroat) relative incentives were introduced. The extreme form of such competition was classically demonstrated in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” in which Alec Baldwin’s character says, “As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

Incentivizing Innovation and Adaptability

It doesn’t take much deep insight to recognize the toxic nature of the Glengarry scenario. Research by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University shows that pitting workers against each other for rewards often causes team-minded players to scale back their efforts in order to equalize things. Furthermore, as the IRF puts it, standard compensation systems that rewarded people for just showing up and completing their baseline tasks are no longer enough. “To differentiate themselves today, companies rely on people going beyond their core job — innovating, training recruits, adapting their performance to new challenges, expanding their skillsets.” The incentives that are most successful at eliciting these behaviors include a wide variety of short-term incentives overlaid with authentic employee recognition. They must be customized to the individual and closely aligned with the company’s mission and values. This combination is what is now recognized to lead to the best outcomes and the highest prosperity level for your company.

Stats That Prove the Value of Incentives

Just how important is it to offer the right incentives? Let the stats tell you:

  • 70 percent of all U.S. businesses now use gift card incentive programs.
  • Workers who do not feel recognized for their efforts are twice as likely to say they’re planning to quit in the coming year.
  • 90 percent of large enterprises use technology to implement their incentives and reward programs.
  • Companies with effective recognition and reward programs experience 31 percent less voluntary turnover.
  • 69 percent of employees in an Achievers survey say that receiving recognition and rewards would motivate them to stay at their current jobs.
  • 85 percent of workers in one British survey reported that they “felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered.”
  • Corporations that implemented an employee rewards program found that their overall profits increased by an average of $123,600 per week.
  • When companies initiate a reward program, they see a 14 percent improvement in their employee engagement.
  • 55 percent of employees state that their job performance is affected by the quality of their company’s recognition program.

Today’s best practices are evidence-based, and some departments are already seeing success from implementing the right incentives program. A research report in HBR highlighted a call center as they explored the growing importance of “adaptive” rather than “tactical” performance. Workers who were only rewarded for the number of calls in a call center saw their results go down because they were sticking to the given scripts (being tactical). When a test group of call center workers were given the incentive of having ownership of their customer group and the freedom to improvise (or be adaptive), their results were twice as good as the control group.

Fast Company profiles a construction company that improves performance by offering employees the incentive of leaving early. Construction manager Collin Hanks says, “I give my crews benchmarks to work towards instead of them punching the clock and working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. regardless of what they get done. The benchmarks let them know that if they work hard and get stuff done faster, they can go home early and are still paid as if they worked till 5 p.m.”

As the business world draws on decades of psychological research and actual workplace experience, HR practices have substantially evolved. The right approach to employee rewards is key to maintaining your company’s agility in a changing marketplace. For some fresh ideas about how today’s incentives can strengthen employee engagement, download our ebook on how to incentivize the modern workforce.

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Are you free in October? Learn how to incentivize your workforce and increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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The do’s and don’ts for rewarding your sales team

It is not uncommon for employers and workplaces to become accustomed to certain sales processes and a particular work environment.   Comfort is typically equated to stability, but for companies to exceed goals and truly establish themselves as industry leaders, scaling people to push boundaries by focusing on aggressive annual sales goals is critical to helping the organization get ahead.

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