Spread Employee Appreciation

20 Fresh Ideas for the Best Employee Appreciation Week

At Achievers, we couldn’t quite wrap our minds around designating just one day a year for employee appreciation. One special employee appreciation week, though — that can be a great opportunity to renew your commitment to showing your employees how much you value them.

Below are a few fun ideas you can use to really show your employees what they mean to you.

Optimize the Workplace

1. Create a Mentoring Program

Mentoring shows each worker that they matter, and creates new bonds of connection within the company.

2. Non-Work Lunch With the Boss

Take your team members out to lunch, either individually or in small groups. Keep the conversation away from work topics; instead, spend the time getting to know each person better.

3. Team Games

Make a list of fun activities (like bowling or laser tag) and ask your team to vote on their favorite. Be sure to offer appealing alternatives for anyone with physical limitations.

4. Do Your Employee’s Job for a Day

Draw names from a hat to choose one worker whose job you will do for a day. The chosen person will supervise you and make sure you do it right. You may just get a bird’s eye view of problems you weren’t aware of.

5. Crowdsource Innovation

Send out an employee survey asking for suggestions on ways to make the workplace run more smoothly, then hold a vote and promptly implement the winning idea. Your team will feel valued and you may well see an uptick in productivity.

6. Add Fun to the Break-Room

Sometimes, having a puzzle to work on is a great form of mental relaxation. Toy stores feature an incredible selection of cute, wacky, challenging and compelling amusements for all ages, and just seeing them will lighten up everyone’s mood.

7. Upgrade Office Furniture

Do people’s chairs need replacing? Providing your staff with ergonomic office furniture is a great way to ward off possible back problems and improve productivity. Your team will appreciate the fact that you care about their health.

Tip the Work-Life Balance

8. Massage or Manicure

Bring in two specialists and let each team member choose which luxury they prefer. Whether they end up with fancy fingernails or more relaxed shoulder muscles, it’ll brighten their day.

9. Housecleaning or Window Washing Coupons

Arrange for a bulk discount at a local housecleaning agency, and give all employees coupons for a single session at their homes. Even the tidiest housekeepers will welcome a helping hand.

10. Free Pass for Time Off or Late Arrival

These passes are sure to be coveted, and they’ll demonstrate that you respect your workers’ outside commitments. The flexibility of being able to pick a day to come in late, leave early or stay home will reduce the stress of conflicting demands, and will increase employee engagement.

11. Add a Fountain for Mental Refreshment

The sound of water is proven to bring a sense of calm and well being. Add a small water feature to your office, with a fern or two, and green up the atmosphere of your workplace.

12. Gift Certificates for Childcare and Dinner

It’s great to offer workers the chance to go out on a real date, but this can create extra expenses for those with young children. Professional child-care agencies offer gift certificates, allowing your employee to enjoy the luxury of a real evening out.

Offer Rewards and Recognition

13. Handwritten Notes

Yes, we mean just sit down with a pen and a stack of paper. Think about what each person has accomplished this year, and thank them for their specific efforts and achievements. It’s simple and straightforward, and will put a lasting form of validation into your employees’ hands.

14. Flowers

Natural beauty isn’t just for women; dramatic and colorful floral arrangements can be created to appeal to all tastes, and show that you care about aspects of life deeper than just the bottom line. For large teams, a major assemblage can be placed where everyone can see it.

15. Gift Cards

Everyone loves the luxury of getting to shop for free. Choose gift cards according to each workers’ preferences, or pick a type that covers so many different items that it’s guaranteed to delight every recipient.

16. Free Gym Memberships

This will add to your productivity by upping your workers’ fitness levels, and the extra exercise will improve their emotional health as well. Pair the memberships with some schedule flexing so employees can find time to actually get to the gym.

17. Artisan Food Delivery

Does your city have a gourmet cookie or cupcake delivery service? Handmade artisan food treats are becoming more common, and nothing says quality and caring like treating your workers to the best edibles out there.

18. Serve Breakfast to Your Team

Reserve the first hour of one day for a truly great catered breakfast. Once the food has been brought, grab a coffee pot and start pouring the coffee and serving the waffles. It will show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your people!

19. Create a Team Scrapbook

Ask everyone to contribute a few photos, and take some of your own as well. Use photo-editing software to create a printable book, add some personal compliments and then print one copy for each person on your team.

20. Broadcast Your Appreciation

Take to your company’s employee recognition platform and give a shout out to everyone on your hardworking team. Recognition, whether monetary or social, is always welcome, and it takes on extra power when it’s offered publicly.

Employee appreciation is most effective when it’s given out on a consistent basis and is an integral part of your daily routine. For more in-depth discussion on building up your employee morale, download our report on The Art of Appreciation. And make sure to check out our infographic highlighting results from our 2018 survey on “New Year, New Job?”.  You’ll be surprised to see how many people are planning to look for a new job this year and what it takes to retain them.

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Are you looking for a great eBook? Check out our newest eBook highlighting 3 ways to make recognition an everyday event.

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Do you have any other fun employee appreciation week ideas? Share your comments below.

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.



Female Employee Must-Haves

What Female Employees Really Want in the Workplace

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

Tale of Two Worlds

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

A Matter of Importance

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

Supportive Culture

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


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

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

Recognition and Reward 

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

Family-Friendly Work-Life Balance Policies

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

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

Addressing Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

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

Equal Opportunities and Equal Pay

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

Opportunities for Meaningful Work

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

Paying Attention to Happiness

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

Engage Your Employees

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

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

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Top 10 Company Perks

10 Irresistible Company Perks for the New Year

In a recent survey of millennials, more than 30 percent said that they’d like their workplace to be “more fun” – and this element seems to be in short supply. Survey respondents noted that “fun and humor” were job aspects for which daily reality fell far short of their wishes. In order to entice and retain the most talented workers in today’s competitive job market, it’s important to come up with company perks that will add fun to your environment. Here are 10 amazing possibilities that could make your employer brand sparkle in the new year:

1. A Place in the Spotlight

Every company has a few would-be stars yearning to strut their stuff for colleagues. AOL has found that events like lip sync battles, happy hours, and ping pong or Foosball tournaments are great at keeping staff engaged. Andrea Marston, AOL’s senior director of talent acquisition, notes that “Offering these company perks helps keep AOLers happy and excited to come and have a productive work environment.” Bain goes farther afield with its “Bain World Cup” soccer tournament for employees once a year.

2. Vehicle Maintenance Service

Okay, we know that having your vehicle worked on doesn’t really qualify as fun. But the opportunity to painlessly take care of routine auto maintenance or bike repair on the clock leaves your team more time outside of work to do something more enjoyable. Adobe offers this service worldwide, while adding kayak storage at its Seattle campus. And, in order to make sure that transportation is never a problem for its employees, Adobe also offers shuttle service and a guaranteed ride home.

3. Company Yacht

This one only works if you’re located near the right body of water, but many organizations on the San Francisco Peninsula are realizing the potential benefits of proximity to the bay. One of these is iCracked, with its Redwood City headquarters right next to a communal dock. Employees who need a break can take the yacht out for a spin on the bay to clear their heads and breathe in the fresh salt air.

4. Flex Time for Surfing

It’s hard for staff members to feel down when the workplace reception desk posts daily surf reports – and then offers flexible hours so they can take advantage of those days with absolutely perfect waves. At Patagonia’s Ventura campus, HR director Shannon Ellis says, “Whether it’s playing volleyball or going down to the beach, we encourage people to take a moment of time to reconnect and enjoy summer.”

5. And Snowboarding…

Vermont snowboard maker Burton, located in Vermont’s Green Mountains, offers its workers flexible hours so they can catch the powder while it’s fresh. Free lessons and demo equipment lure newbies and veteran riders out onto the slopes, with free passes and discounted lift tickets thrown in. Meanwhile, office attire at Burton includes “jeans, flip-flops, mud boots” and anything that the workers feel like wearing.

6. In-house Cooking Lessons

For employees who want to actually enjoy a home-cooked meal (rather than dining at one of the company’s specialty cafes), Adobe hosts cooking classes by the company’s executive chef in the “Learning Kitchen”. These type of company perks may not fall under traditional forms of worker training, but it’s bound to keep team members on the company campus for longer hours.

7. Workspace in the Woods

Spanish architecture company Selgas Cano located its office in an actual forest (conveniently located in downtown Madrid). Workers sit at eye level with the leafy forest floor, under a curved glass wall and partial roof that let in abundant natural light. The structure is partially embedded into the ground as well, making it comfortable regardless of season or outdoor temperature.

8. Wrap-Around Lifestyle Benefits

Cutting-edge companies like Yahoo pull out all the stops when it comes to company perks. The team can get a haircut, massage or dental care; visit a farmer’s market; get their car washed; play volleyball; exercise in the fitness center; do yoga and enjoy free meals three times a day – all without leaving work. Yahoo Director of Communications Carolyn Clark states, ” [We want] our employees to feel excited about coming to work every day and making a difference.” With benefits like these, employees might never want to go home.

9. Concierge Service

For employees who are too busy with work tasks to take care of personal errands, Wisconsin household product brand SC Johnson employs a full-time concierge. This person may do anything from standing in line for concert tickets to taking an employee’s car in for an oil change – helping workers with that tricky work-life balance.

10. Employee Recognition

All the parties, boat rides and cooking lessons in the world can’t substitute for giving your employees frequent individual recognition. HR technology introduces creativity into your workplace and also provides a streamlined way to reward your team members for their unique contributions. Coworkers and managers can all participate together, while workers enjoy the fun of being rewarded for their efforts.

More than three-fourths of millennial workers state that “the culture and atmosphere of their workplace is just as important as pay and benefits.” In today’s tight job market, you’ll keep the edge over competitors if you provide unbeatable company perks and make your company into a place where people simply enjoy hanging out. To learn more about attracting and retaining employees, download our infographic on Six Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Employee Happiness

Understanding the Power Behind Employee Happiness

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

Why Employee Engagement Matters

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

Employee Happiness Begins With You

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

Be Engaged Yourself

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

Empower Employees

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

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

Offer Rewards and Recognition

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

How Happy are Your Employees?

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

The Technology of Happiness

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

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

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Take Advantage of HR Tech

5 Creative Ways to Engage Employees with HR Tech

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

  1. Play Around with Gamification

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

  1. Personalize the Employee Experience

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

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

  1. Manage Employee Feedback

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

  1. Reward and Recognize Employees

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

  1. Stay Connected

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

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

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

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

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hire on a budget

Tips and Tricks: Hiring on a Budget

If you’ve ever touched the recruiting process, you’re well aware that hiring can be expensive! However, you probably also know that making a bad hire is even more expensive. According to Forbes, a bad hire can costs an employer “thousands of dollars”. So what are the best ways to hire with different levels of budget? We’ve helped compile some top tips and tricks for those hiring on any budget.

Under $50

If you only have $50 to spend on hiring you’re largely limited to free options which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes it takes going back to the basics to get someone’s attention. For example, start with printing or buying a help wanted sign and putting it in the window of your business. The best employees are often customers of your business since they already understand what your business does and are obviously willing to support it. You’ll also want to consider posting help wanted flyers on bulletin boards around town.  Once you’ve posted your ad physically, you should turn to social media and post it on your company and personal pages. Encourage your employees to share it since they often have friends and a large network who might be looking for new jobs.

Then of course, there are the online options. Place your job ad on some of the free online job boards. There are thousands of these boards so pick three or four that best fit your target audience, create an ad, and consider it ready-to-go. Here is a quick list of free job boards to help you get started.

$51 – $100

So now you have a some money to spend on finding a perfect employee, congratulations! You should still start by doing everything in the under $50 budget because it will maximize your results without taking up any of your current budget. The next step is to start looking at paid options to promote your ad. Although you can’t quite afford some of the more expensive job boards like Monster, you should be able to create job postings on a number of sites such as Indeed, Craigslist and more. Because you can only afford one posting, it is important to optimize that posting as much as possible. A simple Google search on “How to Optimize a Job Posting” can help you take your strategy a step further and increase your chances of getting results from a job listing.


As stated before, you should definitely start by doing everything in the budget categories listed above. Fortunately, you now have a fairly decent sized budget to post job ads. You can now afford to post to some of the more expensive job board options such as Glassdoor, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc. or you can create multiple ads on some of the cheaper job boards I already mentioned. Your best bet is to test both options – you never know what works well until you start measuring. If an inexpensive Craigslist ad is working well for you, post a few of them. If not, consider posting to some new job boards. Every business and audience is different, and prefers different job posting channels. The extra budget will give you the flexibility to get insights and take your hiring to the next level with more strategic thinking.  


If your budget is hitting in the thousands, then you’re given the opportunity to heavily invest in hiring top talent and that will pay off big time. At this level of budget you have much more flexibility as far as advertising your job opening. In addition to the previous budget levels, you can look at hiring more specialized recruiters that focus on specific industries and job types. Consider hiring someone to write great job ads for you – the right job ad copy can dramatically impact the amount of applicants that come through. To prevent wasting your budget however, you’ll want to test different options to see what works. Start by looking into paid packages on job board platforms that provide you more features to help distribute and measure your job postings for maximum performance and impact.

The next time you’re recruiting with a new budget, consider our top tips and tricks. With today’s competitive job market, it’s important to recruit smarter in order to bring in a strong job candidate pool and hire the right person for your company.

To learn more, check out the white paper The War for Talent is Here: Is Your Workplace Ready?

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will zimmermanAbout the Author
Will Zimmerman is a content marketer for Proven, the small business hiring tool. He is from Boulder, Colorado, and when he’s not writing awesome content, he enjoys all things outdoors including, but certainly not limited to, skiing, camping, hiking, and surfing.




Implement HR Tech

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

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

Get Employee Buy-In

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

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

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

Communicate the Purpose and Benefits of the Technology

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

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

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

Create an Easy System for Onboarding

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

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

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

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

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

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First-Time Managers Guide

Leading the Team: Tips for First-Time Managers

Congratulations, you’ve been promoted! Your hard work, enthusiasm, and initiative has finally paid off and you’ve been tasked with leading a team of your own. But how? Now that you find yourself standing in front of a sea of expectant faces, are you supposed to do that?

Transitioning into a first-time manager can be a very stressful experience and the importance of effective management has never been clearer. According to Gallup, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%), and when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). Now is the time to seize your new opportunity as a first-time manager and develop into a strong and influential leader for your team.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer up some handy tips for all you first-time managers to help you get off to the right start and put those leadership skills of yours to good use.

But first…

A Word of Warning About Management Styles

We all have bosses, managers, and influential people in our lives who we admire and strive to be like. Nobody forgets a great leader, so it’s only natural that we should want to imitate their style.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and asking yourself, “What would my favorite manager do?” when you encounter a tricky situation. However, trying too hard to do things your management idol’s way will only limit your own potential in the long run.

Committing to a leadership style before you’ve begun to lead might be comforting, but it makes as much sense as deciding to dress for summer all year-round just because you’re a fan of warm weather—as well as looking spectacularly out of place most of the time, you’ll probably end up doing yourself more harm than good!

So by all means, be aware of the most common management styles in your industry, but don’t be too hasty to pigeonhole yourself. After all, you were hired for being you, not your ability to mimic someone else.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to those all-important management dos and don’ts.


Lay Down the Law

It can be tempting to try to exert your authority early on by adopting a tough, no-nonsense persona in the workplace.

By going out of your way to establish yourself as authoritative, however, you’ll inevitably end up overreacting at some point and respond to a situation inappropriately.

Come down too hard on your team and you’ll cause them to question your leadership abilities, not to mention make them reluctant to come to you in times of need. Keep calm, keep it real, and be yourself.

Shake Things Up Too Early

If this is your first management role, you’re probably itching to show the people at the top that they backed the right horse when they chose you for the job. However, you should hold off on making any drastic changes to your department until you’ve been in your new position for at least a month.

It’s perfectly natural to want to make your mark on your team, and you’ll undoubtedly have targets to hit, but the people you’re managing already have one major new thing to get used to: you. Don’t complicate matters further by making any drastic changes until you have a solid understanding of what works and have earned your team’s trust.

Try to Be Everyone’s Buddy

In some situations, employees get along well with their managers. Their personalities gel, and with so little friction in the workplace, they come to forget all about the boss-employee dynamic that exists beneath the surface.

Sadly, situations like these are rarer than we might like to think.

Trying to be everybody’s buddy at the same time as overseeing their work can eventually run into problems and in some cases, be met with suspicion from your team, who’ll interpret your attempts to befriend them as insincere.

By all means, extend the hand of friendship to the people you work with, but don’t be surprised (or offended!) if they’re reluctant to take it right away.

Be a Control Freak

Nobody likes working under a manager who over-delegates. On the flipside, though, you should be careful not to keep your staff on too short a rein.

A good manager knows how and when to delegate, trusting the members of their team to follow instructions and carry out work unsupervised. By trying to take on the bulk of the work yourself, you not only risk burnout, but your team will come to resent you and will start looking for more challenging positions elsewhere.

Besides, how will you ever know what your team are really capable of if you don’t give them the freedom to do their thing?

Take the Credit for Your Team’s Work

Be careful not to take the credit for the work that those on your team have done in your quest to show your skill as a new leader.

You might wish that you’d been the one who came up with that great new idea for a product or way to cut costs, but don’t forget that as a manager, you’re there to bring out the best in your people and for your ability to spot a good idea when it’s floated.

Embrace your role and celebrate your individual team members when they achieve something great—if you do, your team will embrace you in return as their manager.


Be the Employee You Want Your Employees to Be

Nobody likes working for a boss with double standards. It’s no fun when your manager rolls into work late, misses their own deadlines and spends the morning chatting by the watercooler, only to berate anyone on their team who behaves similarly.

A team is only as good as its manager, and if you want your team to commit to their roles, then you need to be a living, breathing example for them to follow, every single day.

That means showing up on time, sticking to your own deadlines, keeping your promises, and resisting the temptation to take those extended lunch breaks under the guise of “business meetings”.

It’s not all about working hard though—your team will also be taking cues from you on how to strike a healthy work-life balance. Be sure to impress upon them the need to step away from their desks at lunchtime. Take regular breaks to refresh yourself during work hours. Book your vacation time well in advance and encourage them to do the same.

Get Yourself a Manager Buddy

No matter how strong your team is, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself having to handle a difficult or awkward situation in your new position as manager. Often, you’ll have to rely on your gut feeling, but it’s a good idea to reach out to a fellow manager so that you can ask their advice and share your experiences.

Your manager buddy needn’t be someone that you have contact with every day, but it’s helpful to have someone within your company that you can confide in and ask for guidance.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help—you might have been promoted based on your aptitude for leadership, but that doesn’t mean that you have to work everything out on your own 100 percent of the time.

Show Humility

“Fake it till you make it” might work in the world of show business, but as a new manager you should never be tempted to bluff your way through a tricky situation just to save face.

Your team will be watching you very closely during your first few weeks, trying to work out what kind of boss you’ll be and whether they can rely on you. There’s nothing wrong with feigning confidence if you’re nervous, but if your team catches on to the fact that you’re making things up just to avoid embarrassment, they’ll immediately lose faith in you.

It’s far better to show a little humility in your work and admit it when you need to go and check something before making a decision. Sure, your pride will take a hit, and you’ll look slightly less infallible, but being straight with your team will make you much more likeable, and your staff will appreciate your honesty.

Look for Opportunities, Not Weaknesses

It can be tempting to prove your worth as a manager by immediately highlighting any obvious weak links within your team upon your arrival, but keep in mind that it’s your job to bring out the best in people, not point out their faults.

Try to think of yourself as a sports coach who has been brought in to train an existing squad. Every member of your team, having been recruited by your talent scout, is there for a reason. They’re up to the task. What you’re there for is to nurture their abilities and get them working as a unit.

Talk to them individually. Identify the areas where they can improve and look for ways that you can play to their strengths. Your end goal is to grow your team to the point that its members can one day go off and become managers themselves.

Take Responsibility

There are few things worse than a manager who deflects responsibility onto their team when things go wrong.

Being promoted to the rank of leader might grant you additional perks and higher pay, but it also strengthens, rather than weakens, your connection to the team you’re managing. Therefore, when a member of your team drops the ball, you should consider it your fumble just as much as it is theirs—you don’t get to join the other managers on the sideline, shaking your head.

Take responsibility for your team’s missteps and show solidarity with your players—it’s the only way to win their full support and prove that your “we’re all in this together” mantra isn’t just corporate lip-service.

Embrace Your New Opportunity

Being promoted to the rank of manager can be scary, but it’s also a hugely exciting time in anyone’s career.

Instead of obsessing over the need to prove your worth, focus on getting on with the task at hand. People will judge you on how you conduct yourself, your willingness to succeed, and the change you ultimately effect. What they won’t do is applaud you for adopting a realistic managerial persona and the amount of time you spent stressing about acting the part.

Now that I’ve wrapped up a quick guide for you on how to get started as a first-time manager, it’s time to embrace your new role. Good luck!

To learn more about how to be an effective leader, check out Achievers’ blog 5 Pillars of Great Leadership.

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About the Author
Phil KendallPhilip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.



empathetic engagement

Emotions in the Workplace

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

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

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

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

Learn to Greet Your Emotions

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

Get to Your ‘Why’ Reasons

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

Know Your Limits

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

Harness Your Empathetic Engagement

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

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

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

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





Get In the NoW

The Future of Work is Now

evolution of work

For seemingly a decade now, we’ve heard the term the Future of Work (FoW) and how the workplace is going to be dramatically different…in the future. In my opinion, it’s time to change the vernacular and mindset to the Now of Work – or fittingly, the “NoW”.

Why do I believe this?  Well, I’m no scientist, but I believe another evolution is taking place.  Here’s my thinking:

Beginning of Work BOWBack in the day, there lived a dude, let’s call him Bartholomeus. He existed during the Beginning of Work (BoW). He was literally bowing down a lot, and as part of a family and tribe, shared responsibility for survival. These were difficult times but life was presumably straightforward – hunt, gather, eat, make fire, make shelter, make babies. Work and life were synonymous.

Legacy of WorkFast forward a few hundred million years and you’ll meet Larry. His generation made a profound impact after the second industrial revolution, but this period of wealth creation also created inequalities and dare I say…greed. Most people began living to work. The accumulation of wealth and status came at the expense of health, faith, family and friends. I call this the relative LoW point in the history of work. It’s this Legacy of Work (LoW) that I believe is long past it’s best before date. Say buh-bye to nine-to-five, lifetime jobs, strict hierarchy, suits, male dominated boardrooms, profit before planet, and the dreaded annual review.

Future of WorkNext came Frankie. For the last seven years or so, there’s been a mainstream push for companies to prepare for the Future of Work (FoW). Thought leaders and futurists started to predict that an exponentially changing world meant rapid automation, AI/machine learning, and loss of jobs to robots. What jobs do remain will look very different from, say, 2010. They’ve told us we better act more like a startup tech company and let the millennial “wants” prevail. Fear, from either robots or the millennial hipster, had arrived. The FoW to many people has become an unknown, and even scary or irresponsible proposition.

Now of WorkLuckily, Niobe is here to save the day. She represents the NoW of work. Yes, I believe the NoW is dramatically different than most workplaces today, but excitement should overshadow fear. Organizations that empower and enable the NoW are ones where innovation and agility are rooted in the company DNA. Where technology and a multi-generational workforce seamlessly collaborate and where work and life become one again. It’s not some future state. Bartholomeus would be proud to know so many companies are living and thriving in the NoW today.

This is what the evolution looks like on one graphic.

evolution of work
So why NoW?  I believe there are three forces that have solidified the fundamental shifts in the workplace: the connected generation (not just millennials); technology; and a sharing economy.

If millennials will make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020, what about the Centennials (Gen Z) and the Gen Xers (like me) who want a workplace far closer to that of the millennials, as opposed to what most baby boomers are accustomed to? By 2020, we could be looking at over 70% of the workforce wanting an employee experience that models what the millennials have co-created this past decade. Furthermore, the balance of power has shifted because jobs in the digital economy currently favor the skills that young people naturally have. In an exponentially changing world, this is a monumental shift.

It may seem obvious, but technology is changing everything. You either work for a tech company, or you work in a sector, company or profession that will be innovated, disrupted or made redundant by technology – likely faster than most think. So whether it’s the adoption of tech in your operations, or your product or service being innovated, tech will influence your lives.

Finally, the sharing economy has created marketplaces we only dreamed of. Yes, Airbnb and Craigslist are amazing. Those are ways we share or redistribute products and services. What’s most fascinating to me though, is the sharing of skills and knowledge. From democratizing learning, and open-sourcing IP, to the rapidly growing gig/freelance economy, the sharing economy has disrupted the way we live and work at a pace and impact few could have predicted.

When you combine those ‘forces’ as I call them, then it’s hard to dispute that the NoW is here and every company, at some point soon, will have to ride the wave or risk losing and attracting top talent, in an increasingly competitive labor market.

In my next post, I’ll share the top 10 aspects of a NoW company and provide insights into the culture you need to build to remain competitive. Let me say that no matter how rad these are, it’s not about on-tap cold-brewed coffee, foosball tables or Waffle Wednesdays. But for one, it does include employee rewards and recognition.

On September 12-13, 2017,  I’ll be in New Orleans speaking and then leading a workshop at the annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference put on by Achievers. Employee rewards and recognition programs are imperative for the NoW and Achievers provides the technology and leadership that you should consider. Hope to see you there!

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About the Author

Rocky Ozaki

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




Common Traits of Top Talent

8 Habits of Highly Successful Employees

An employee’s success at a job can’t be predicted by his or her resume and experience. That piece of paper doesn’t tell you the full story. Sometimes, an individual’s soft skills or personal habits are a better indication of their aptitude and potential to succeed. If you can identify these common traits that successful employees share, you can find high-quality employees who will help your company thrive. Here are eight habits to be on the lookout for during your next round of hires.

  1. They are Respectful

Between co-workers, supervisors, customers and/or clients, there are many different personalities in a professional organization, so it’s unlikely that you will like everyone you encounter. Despite this, the most successful employees treat everyone with respect, regardless of personal feelings. They treat their peers and employees they manage with the same level of respect, which makes everyone feel valued and appreciated.

This mutual respect in the workplace creates a positive work environment. “When people work with one another with peace and harmony, they don’t have the time to focus on other shallow and petty ideas,” according to experts at Wisestep. “People will be more interested in finishing their assignments and boosting the levels of productivity at work.” Successful employees understand that respect is a two-way street. If they respect others, they will receive respect in return.

Question to ask: How did you handle a disagreement with another employee in the past?

  1. They Take Initiative

Individuals who truly make a difference on a team or in an organization are the ones that go above and beyond the call of duty. They don’t just do what’s asked of them, they look for opportunities to take the lead or solve problems. Managers love these types of employees because they can work independently and don’t need to be micromanaged.

Question to ask: What is one instance where you took initiative, either at work or at home? What did you do and why?

  1. They are Professional

Professionalism isn’t determined by an individual’s experience. Instead you see it in their intangible personality traits; the way employees carry themselves in the workplace.

Are they punctual or do they frequently show up late? Are they dressed appropriately and look put together or do they look like they just rolled out of bed? Do they take pride in their work and produce a product they’re proud of? Do they raise their hand and contribute insight during meetings or do they speak out of turn and interrupt other employees?

“Demonstrating professionalism is important at all levels in a company,” according to Kelsey Granowski, a Career Services Advisor from Rasmussen College. “Professionalism can benefit the company’s reputation, morale and success. It is not only the individuals in leadership roles that need to show professionalism.”

Question to ask: Give me an example of how you bring professionalism to your work.

  1. Successful Employees Are Selfless and Authentic

It’s easy for job candidates to “talk themselves up” in an interview, but can the candidate talk about their successes within teams or the greater organization? Of course, everybody wants to achieve some level of personal success, but successful employees know how to be selfless. They understand when to put the company first and why it’s important.

This is especially important for managers and executives  that will be representing your organization at client dinners, when networking, during sales calls and more. Making sure these types of employees can frame success within the greater organization is especially crucial as these interactions can inform how non-employees perceive your company.

“Authenticity is important for establishing reciprocal relationships with others in the executive arena. Long-term, rewarding professional partnerships don’t begin with a selfish attitude,” says Ted Rollins, global entrepreneur, Co-Chairman and Founding Principal of Valeo Groupe. When your employees show selflessness, they’re able to establish better relationships that ultimately improve your company and its reputation.

Question to ask: Share an example of when you were selfless at work. Why did you do that and why do you consider it selfless?

  1. They Have a Desire to Improve

Whether they’re managers, mid-level employees or entry-level workers, successful people constantly strive to improve. They’re not satisfied with the status quo and look for opportunities to get more from themselves and their team. These individuals appreciate constructive criticism and feedback because it gives them a chance to learn and improve.

If you can find employees with this desire and cultivate it within the workplace, you can be confident they will work hard to improve themselves and push the company forward.

Question to ask: Do you have any side projects or skills you’re trying to improve right now? If so, tell me about one of them.

  1. They Take Responsibility

Successful employees are honest and take responsibility for their actions. This means that if something goes wrong—they miss a deadline or produce subpar results—they own up to their mistakes rather than looking to blame others.

Suha Abughosh, a bank Regional Manager has another way of looking at this, suggesting that responsibility is the same as accountability: “For example, instead of following up with other teammates to ensure the project is completed timely, the unaccountable worker forgets about the project the minute it leaves her desk,” she says.

How do you pick this person out of the crowd? Abughosh explains, “If the project’s deadline is missed, she’ll be sure to let everyone know that she did her part.” Pinpointing this during hiring is critical to avoiding resentful feelings among co-workers later.

Question to ask: Tell me about a time when you messed something up, at work or home, and owned up to it.

  1. Successful Employees Stay Positive

Long hours, multiple projects and demanding deadlines can cause stress in an office. While it’s natural for workers to feel stressed, successful employees are able to stay positive.

“People who are negative bring down morale and demotivate,” writes Kevin Daum from Inc. “Employees create value when they help create a positive environment that others can’t wait to join.”

Question to ask: How do you stay positive when work or a project is stressful? What are your tactics?

  1. They Know When to Say No and Ask for Help

Successful people understand their limitations. While they’re eager to take on projects, challenge themselves and take initiative, they’re also realistic about what they can do. This means they’re not afraid to say “no” if they have too much on their plate, because they always want to do their best work.

Question to ask: Have you ever said no to a project because you had too much on your plate? Tell me about that experience.

When interviewing potential employees, try focusing on identifying employees that exhibit the traits and habits listed above.  Employees that exhibit some or all the qualities as described above are more likely to positively impact your company.

For more advice on how to effectively use your interview process to identify top performing employees, check out Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews.

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About the Author
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica 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 for more small business tips and ideas.




empower employees

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 3)

In fact, change can sometimes feel downright terrible. Even if change feels frustrating, scary, or pointless, transformation can often lead to growth and opportunity for any person willing to accept it. But why would someone buy in to corporate transition amidst the chaos that comes with it?

In the first two parts of this three-part series, I discussed how science shows that to successfully navigate change, employees need to stay engaged in the workplace. The employees that report staying engaged during corporate change not only feel more positively about the change, they are also more likely to keep their jobs, or even be promoted. I covered the research from my book The Successful Struggle that suggests that to stay engaged, you should connect with a purpose and with people.

In addition to the two listed above, there is a third thing you can connect with during corporate evolution that might be the most exciting of all: Power.

You might recall David, from the previous blog post referenced above. David lost his passion for his job when the nonprofit he was employed at started going in a different direction. During a conversation with David, he revealed to me that the changes at his workplace made him realize he missed his old job in the field, working one-on-one with clients.

Although his current position doesn’t require it, David found time in his schedule to enjoy some client interaction. After several weeks of seeing the impact he was having working face-to-face with his clients, David regained his love for his job. He went back to doing the things he originally enjoyed when he started working for the organization, discovering that helping people made him feel competent, useful, and successful again.

David’s story of rediscovery should come as little surprise. After all, change can be disempowering. Prior to any alterations of their role, employees tend to know how to get their jobs done effectively and expediently. They understand the goals they are expected to accomplish, and the measurements used to judge their success in meeting them. When faced with the prospect of a major change in their job function, employees might not have the same familiarity of what is expected of them. How can they be successful if they don’t even know how to be successful in this new environment? With all this confusion, it’s no surprise that certain employees might feel powerless. However, there is a way to regain power.

The belief that you are capable – that you have the power to impact the world around you – is called “self-efficacy.” Employees with higher levels of self-efficacy have been found to navigate change much more successfully than employees with high levels of self-doubt. That’s not surprising, self-efficacy leads to a feeling of personal power.

If corporate change has you feeling powerless, it’s critical to regain your self-efficacy and subsequently, your feelings of power. To reclaim your personal power again, try these two strategies:

  • Get a Hobby. Science shows that if your power feels minimized in one aspect of your life, such as work, you can flex your power in other environments, like your home or hobbies. The power boosts you get in those environments transfers over to your work environment. So pick up a new hobby or rediscover a long-lost one, and revel in your growing power.
  • Make a Contribution. Once you’ve built up power in an area outside of work, like the weekend softball league, it’s time to transfer it back to the office. Ask yourself “how can I contribute to the current situation? How can I get involved?” Research suggests that self-efficacy and power can end up working in a loop; if you have confidence in your ability to navigate change, then you’ll likely take on a more active role in the change itself. And taking on a more active role in the change will give you more power to influence the change as it is happening.

Change doesn’t have to be disempowering. In fact, feeling powerful during change is as effective as actually having power. It’s all about how you frame your mindset. Build up your self-efficacy and remember that you have the capability to steer corporate change in your favor. In that case, maybe change will do you good!

To learn more, start from the beginning and read the first part of this blog series: Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1).

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit.


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 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.


Perfecting work perks

Company Perks That Don’t Work — And How to Fix Them

Today’s CEOs, managers, and team leaders understand the importance of keeping employee morale high. The fact that you’re reading this on the Engage Blog — a thought leadership blog meant to define, inform, and help increase employee engagement — means you must have some inkling as to the positive impact engagement can have on an organization. Many organizations try to address employee engagement by providing extra incentives, or “perks.”

When it comes to providing company perks, global businesses like Google, Yahoo! and S.C. Johnson & Son set the gold standard. By providing everything from free on-site gyms to dry cleaning services, these multinational organizations have inspired managers all over the world to come up with their own ways to make their staff happier.

In their haste to keep up with the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins of the world, many employers mistakenly implement work perks that are incredibly generous on the surface, but don’t actually benefit their employees.

As well as costing the company money, these well-intentioned extras can have a negative impact on employee morale; in some cases, creating feelings of resentment among staff that perceive their employer’s choice of company perks as an indication that they are completely out of touch with the wants and needs of individual employees. In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee engagement.

With this in mind, let’s examine a handful of common workplace perks that don’t always hit the mark, as well as consider some ways to fix them and make your employees a little bit perkier.

  1. The Games Room

The idea:

You transform a room or a corner of your office into a veritable shrine to leisure and entertainment; swapping desks, spreadsheets and whiteboards for foosball tables, video games and miniature basketball hoops. It’s the perfect place for your staff to cut loose for a few minutes each day.

Why it doesn’t work:

After the initial excitement wears off, a great many games rooms end up either covered in a layer of dust or as a hangout for a very small number of employees that love the inherent interactivity of games. Other staff, such as those with young or boisterous children, might consider the games room an annoyance, and would rather spend their breaks someplace more conducive to conversation.fyou

Making it work:

There’s nothing wrong with establishing an area for staff to shoot some pool or play a little Xbox. There are a few questions to consider before doing so:

  1. Would a significant number of my team enjoy a games room?
  2. Would they have enough time to make use of it?
  3. Would it end up being dominated by certain staff?

If you’re confident that the room would still get plenty of use six to twelve months after being set up, then go nuts; your staff will get a buzz out of having so many fun things to do on their break. Just be sure to choose a location that isn’t so close to your work area that it will distract other staff members. Furthermore, opting for games that can be played in groups and enjoyed in shorter sessions can help foster teamwork without taking too much time out of the workday.

  1. Company Getaways

The idea:

You pay for the entire company or team to go away for a few days, hoping that unwinding in beautiful, inspiring surroundings will help your staff de-stress and get to know each other better. The plan is that they come back refreshed, closer than ever, and thinking their boss is the absolute greatest.

Why it doesn’t work:

There are myriad reasons why team getaways prove to be ineffective. The most common being that staff resent having to give up time they consider to be their own, even if the company is picking up the tab.

Company trips and team-building weekends tend to be dominated by the more outgoing members of your team, leaving the quieter members of your staff counting down the hours until they can go home.

For others, trips like these are a logistical nightmare. They’re forced to find someone to pet-sit or trust their partner is willing to take care of the kids alone. This is not only inconvenient, but it can negatively shape an employee’s perception of their company.

Making it work: 

Your staff wouldn’t all choose to take the exact same type of vacation, nor do they necessarily enjoy the same kind of activities. Instead of whisking your entire team away on a single trip, consider running a few destination events throughout the year that a) don’t require an overnight stay and b) cater to different tastes.

Choose activities that allow different personality types to shine. Mix up physical, mental, and creative tasks while experimenting with different group sizes to encourage the more introverted members of your team to participate.

Most importantly, don’t eat into your employee’s personal time to reward them—it’s not a reward if they’d rather not be there.

  1. Unlimited Time Off

The idea:

Your staff are free to take as many or as few days off as they like. The hope is employees will feel empowered by having some control of when and where they work. Unlimited PTO is also meant to foster a sense of mutual trust between employer and employee; employees are trusted not to abuse the system, and in return, they trust their employer more as they have a greater sense of work/life balance.

Why it doesn’t work:

Though allowing staff to make their own decisions about leave can make them feel incredibly empowered, there is evidence suggesting that some employees feel that there must be some kind of catch. They might also fear they’re being tricked out of time off that they are legally owed.

Another adverse effect is that employees might become overly anxious about the amount of leave they are taking, worrying that taking more days off than their peers will result in them being passed over for promotions. These staff members end up rarely taking days, often to the detriment of their health and performance at work, all to inform an external perception that may or may not exist.

Making it work:

Unlimited vacation time is a great way of showing your employees that you trust them. But it can also put a lot of undue pressure on them to self-regulate. To combat this, consider doing the following:

  1. Make time off mandatory. Let staff take as many additional days off as they need, but set a minimum number that they must use up before the end of the working year.
  2. Have a clearly defined UPTO policy in place. Set rules for taking time off, and make the procedure for requesting leave a part of your employee handbook. This might seem counterintuitive on the surface, but staff will take comfort from the fact that taking leave isn’t a free-for-all, and that their coworkers won’t suddenly hop on a plane to Italy, leaving them with extra work.
  1. Culture-Specific Perks

The idea:

In an attempt to get your team to socialize, you allow your staff to finish early on Fridays and head over to the local bar where their first drink is on you!

Why they don’t work:

The problem with perks is that unless they can be enjoyed by the entire team, some might not consider them to be perks. In fact, some people may even resent the implication that they should be grateful for something that they neither benefit nor derive any pleasure from.

Things like after-work drinking can be great fun, and many workplace friendships have been born over a cold beer. But they’re not fun for everyone. Due to any number of circumstances precluding them from taking part, staff could feel discriminated against if the company mandates participation.

Making them work:

Just like with the games rooms and company trips mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to please your entire team with a single reward.

Few employees will begrudge a new parent their extended leave or subsidized childcare, but when perks favor only particular individuals, it can create tension.

The simple solution is to ensure that you have enough unique perks to ensure your employees are rewarded in a way that personally resonates with them. You should also ensure that none of the perks you offer inadvertently isolate or exclude certain individuals.

Events such as after-work drinks should never be actively discouraged, but management should try and encourage rewards and events that benefit everyone.

  1. ‘Life-on-Site’ Perks

The idea:

You’ve gone full “Google,” providing employees everything from free meals to a mobile hair salon. With their annoying little chores taken care of, your staff are happier and more productive than ever before.

Why it doesn’t work:

You’d think that without having to worry about picking the kids up from daycare, making lunches in the morning, or running around the house to find a clean pair of pants, your team would be as happy as clams.

While true for some employees, others may interpret these perks as the company attempting to remove any need for employees to leave work.

Still have work to do, but need to get home to cook dinner? No problem; you can eat right here! Have laundry to do? Use our free laundromat! Now you have no excuse not to work!

Like unlimited leave, life-on-site perks like these can cause some staff to worry that by heading home to take care of their various chores instead of doing them at work, their boss or coworkers might not see them as team players.

How to make it work:

The key to successfully implementing perks of this kind is establishing reasonable limits as to the amount they are used. For example, if you have a laundromat, then issue staff with only enough tokens to make use of it when they need to, but aren’t forced to rely on it week in, week out. Similarly, if you’re providing staff with free meals, put barriers in place to stop people eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work every day of the week.

Finally, make it clear to your staff that these on-site facilities have been put in place to make their lives easier. They are not expected to make constant use of them or stay in the office any longer than necessary.

Perfecting Perks

It can be easy to misjudge how employees perceive workplace perks; when you’re trying to go the extra mile and do something nice for your team, you don’t expect them to resent you for it.

But choosing the right company perks for your business requires careful planning, and it’s important to consider any potential negatives, as well as the joy, your perks might bring.

Try to keep your own team’s wants and needs in mind when you’re looking for ways to reward them. That way, even if the perk you come up with isn’t the game changer you’d hoped for, your staff will still appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make their lives easier.

For more information regarding how to incentivize your employees, check out the blog post How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Phil Kendall
Philip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.




Recognition: The MVP of Employee Engagement

No longer a specialist relief pitcher called in to face a tough hitter, or a rarely used bench player padding stats in garbage time, employee recognition has become a widely recognized superstar when it comes to driving employee engagement. And with only 41% of employees recognized at their desired frequency, and 60% feeling their managers don’t recognize them in the moment, a huge opportunity exists for your business to leverage recognition to engage your employees.

While there are a variety of ways to help create an engaged workforce, many experts, including AON Hewitt and the Harvard Business Review, believe that recognition is the most important pillar of any employee engagement program. As Meghan M. Biro states in her new eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience, “Be it bonuses, awards, rewards, a virtual gold star, or a simple shout out on social media, fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results.”

With the shifting dynamics and demographics in the contemporary workplace (millennials now outnumber baby boomers and the economy is reaching “full employment”) there is a greater emphasis on the individual. Accordingly, employee recognition should follow suit and be relevant to the person receiving it.

Gone are the days of the monolithic approach to recognition, in which employees were only recognized once a year during a performance review, with little news of their accomplishments reaching the greater organization or even worse, once every five or ten years with a “Years of Service” award. Replacing this approach with one focused on recognizing and rewarding people frequently with meaning and specificity has become critical in creating a true culture of employee recognition. And it follows that the more frequent the recognition the higher the employee engagement.

The Impact of Recognition: Is It Real?

Recognition as a philosophy is one thing, but does it have quantifiable value when put into practice? Horizon Blue Shield Blue Cross of New Jersey thinks so. In 2013, they implemented their Step It Up employee recognition program (hosted on Achievers recognition and engagement platform) across their four business locations in the hopes of increasing employee engagement. By year’s end, 90% of employees had joined the platform, with executives leading the way by being amongst the most active users. All of this activity contributed to:

  • 6 percent increase in its overall engagement scores
  • 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition
  • 97 percent activation rate for its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program

The Step It Up program is still in frequent use today, with executives continuing to lead the recognition charge.

What You’ll Learn

Instituting a company-wide recognition program that encourages frequent peer-to-peer recognition regardless of title or department can be a game changer. In her new eBook, Meghan M. Biro provides the reasons why employee recognition is the most valuable tool for creating a culture of engagement and explains how tying recognition to core company values can ensure repetition through reinforcement – and have a positive impact on key business metrics including productivity, innovation, retention, and customer satisfaction.

If any of these business objectives mentioned are important to you, then it is time to consider implementing a strategic recognition program. But what should you look for when deciding on the best platform for it? To find out the answer to that question and more, download Meghan M. Biro’s latest eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author

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





Stay Connected During Change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 2)

Change is practically a given in today’s competitive work environment. But how is an individual employee supposed to thrive in an environment of constant uncertainty? To successfully navigate this near-constant change, research suggests that it’s critical to stay engaged.

In the first post of this 3-part series (click here if you missed it), I shared strategies from my book The Successful Struggle, that help you stay engaged and in tune with the purpose of corporate change.

In addition to connecting with the reasons behind the change, there are other things you can connect with that make corporate evolution easier to swallow. One of the most helpful? People. Connecting with colleagues helps us feel better emotionally when we’re facing change, and increases the likelihood that the outcome of the change will be successful.

In a study of employees in large-sized companies facing major changes, those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction after a change were also the most engaged employees. This makes sense on several levels. Actively engaged employees are more likely to be participating in the change or at minimum feel as if their voice is being heard. Engaged employees also reap the benefits of having relationships with colleagues they can lean on when transitioning becomes stressful or confusing.

In The Successful Struggle, I tell the story of David, whose role at work was changing because of a new strategic direction. David was off-balance because of the change, and worried he couldn’t deliver on his new goals. Because he didn’t want to be perceived as negative about the alteration to his role, he was reluctant to speak up in meetings. Withholding his thoughts in this setting became so innate to David that he pulled away from his colleagues during the work day, too.

David convinced himself that disconnecting from his colleagues was natural. He told himself that he was just putting his head down and focusing. It made sense to him that he would hunker down in his office, not emerging until he had a successful action plan completed. But pulling away from his colleagues was only making David more isolated. His ideas had been created in a vacuum, they lacked the fine-tuning they usually received when David shared his ideas with the group. As a result, David was not only miserable, but also less successful.

Employees who stay connected during change – to their peers, their managers, and even their personal social circle – navigate change in a much healthier way than those who pull away from others. Studies show that maintaining personal connections is a predictor of a well-handled change.

If you feel yourself pulling away from colleagues and friends during change, that’s a red flag. To connect with the people around you, try these three things:

  1. Speak Up – It can be intimidating to verbalize your concerns about change, because we’re often taught to wait and evaluate a situation before we speak. But if we don’t speak up and ask questions, we run the risk of not getting the information we need so that we CAN effectively evaluate a situation. What a Catch-22! But don’t let it silence you. Ask clarifying questions as needed, just try to do so in a constructive way. By asking questions with a positive slant, you are demonstrating that you are engaged as well as exhibiting a positive attitude about the change.
  2. Build a Work Support Network – If you’ve avoided having a work support network, change can be a great catalyst for creating one. Identify a mentor and at least one or two peers you can lean on for support. Be sure that your conversation topics don’t center on “venting,” which is an unhealthy dialogue style that keeps you feeling agitated and ignores problem-solving.
  3. Lean on Your Personal Support Network – You may not feel like talking about work problems outside of work. But having the support of your friends outside of work has been shown to be helpful. Even if you only spend a few minutes catching them up on the issue, you’ll feel like you have the moral support that will keep you going the rest of the work week; then you can lay those issues aside and go out and have a fun evening.

It’s natural to want to crawl into your cubicle and disconnect from the world when you’re facing the uncertainty of change, but you’ll be significantly more successful if you make it a priority to stay connected to your workplace and the people in it. When you stay engaged, ask questions, and lean on your support network, you’ll be surprised – and relieved! – to find how much easier it is to handle change.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my three-part series. And for those of you that need to catch up, you can find the first installment of my blog series here.

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit.


Creative ideas to draw in top talent

18 Ways: How to Find your Dream Candidate for 2017

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

You’re looking to expand your team. Congratulations on your company’s growth spurt! Now you want to find candidates that fit your company culture and bring the right expertise to the job. While you could just post to one of the huge job sites like Craigslist or Indeed, there are a number of other unique and creative ways to grab the attention of your future colleague, and here are a few…

Offer Rewards:  Offer a financial incentive to your current employees to assist with finding their new office buddy who will go the distance. Your staff know best what your company is all about and what success in the job entails. Set them on a mission to find the perfect candidate and reward them accordingly if they succeed.

Turn to your Network: Ask connections on your social networks to recommend people they think might be the right fit for your business. When candidates apply for the job you can see if you have any mutual connections and then reach out to those connections for “insider” information about the candidate.

Hangout: If you want to find the best talent in this hugely competitive market, go to where they are! Attend user’s groups, peruse online forums and read influential blogs; but don’t just lurk, comment and interact so they become familiar with you and your employer brand. Learn how to communicate authentically with the audience you are hoping to attract and you may be rewarded by finding a candidate you never even knew was in the market.

Niche Job Boards: Instead of putting your job listing into the mix of the huge job sites, you can target ideal candidates by using smaller, niche job boards that service specific business sectors  and categories such as creative, media, nonprofit, start up, technology, etc.

Go Local: There are local chapters of associations for every possible business field on the planet. By attending association meetings, you might find the right employee with just the right skill set for your company.

Hire Inside: Perhaps the candidate you are looking for already resides within your company. Keep an eye out for existing employees who are up for new challenges and encourage their growth and development by applying for a job outside their prescribed career path.

Heads up for the Boomerang: Don’t forget those great people you’ve previously worked with at different companies or those who worked at your current organization before and might be excited to come back. Either way, reaching out to former colleagues can be an invaluable enterprise when looking to fill a job opening. As an added bonus, you won’t have to time upfront getting to know them – your shared history makes it so you can get down to business.

Eyes Wide Open: Quite often the best candidates already have jobs, so be on the lookout for exceptional customer service and transferable skills, even from people in roles that don’t exactly match your current job opening. The right candidate rarely just falls from the sky, sometimes you have to headhunt and poach.

Cold Emailing: Emailing is still the most effective marketing tool out there. If you craft a personalized, specific email with engaging content for the potential candidate you will probably receive a thoughtful response. Recruiting emails often command more respect and consideration than other forms of less personal approaches.

Alumni trawling: Target the alumni networks of colleges and other learning institutions in line with your job requirement. At a minimum, you’ll know you’re getting a candidate with a strong educational background.

Paid Internships: What? Actually pay an intern? For a nominal fee you can put your intern through a rigorous program to gauge their skills and see if they are a fit for your organization. If they excel, hire them permanently.

Buddy system: What about hiring a trusted, personal friend? You’ll be spending loads of time together and you already have an established level of trust and rapport with each other. Win-win! Be careful though, as this strategy does come with some risks. Make sure your friend is a good fit for your company – and vice versa – or you could be risking more than just losing a new employee!

Virtual “Help Wanted” Sign: Have a permanent “we are looking to hire” button on your website so you can collect resumes from visitors. If individuals are being proactive by searching a company’s website, you’ve already found a candidate who is willing to do some research.

Tried and tested: You can always use a recruitment agency. They are financially motivated to find you the right candidate and they can save you from wading through thousands of resumes.

Fair Trade: While seemingly antiquated, a good old fashioned career fair could be where you meet the perfect candidate. If you prefer to not leave the comfort of your home or office, a virtual one works just as well.

Community Outreach: Approach a nonprofit organization for assistance with sourcing candidates. They are always looking to place their clients in opportunities where they can succeed, and they have usually done all of the necessary background checks for you.

Resume Redux: Keep the top candidates from the last time you hired on file. When a new job opening comes up – go through these files; perhaps you already have the candidate you are looking for right under your nose.

Use Facebook ads: Target your ideal candidate with a targeted ad. This can help separate the wheat from the chaff, and likely cut down candidates that express only a cursory interest.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” — Aristotle

Remember that wherever you choose to list your job opening, make sure you have crafted a clearly defined job description. You don’t want to receive a ton of applications from unsuitable candidates. When crafting your description you should illustrate to potential candidates the benefits of working for your company along with a clear description of the job expectations. Keep in mind that it’s crucial that your company culture is also attractive to the candidate. After all, these days companies are judged on more than just the financial compensation given.

Let your job listing speak to potential new hires as if they are a customer or prospect. Really sell them on the promise of your company and its unique mission and values. Go to company review sites to find out the perceived negatives of your particular industry and counteract that with a job offer that addresses job issues head on.

Individuals might look great on paper but can they actually do the job? Trust your instincts and don’t be scared to go after passive candidates (those who already have a job and might not be looking for a new one).

In the end, don’t settle, be patient. Hiring the wrong candidate can drastically affect your business and spark another prolonged hiring search.

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. Red Adair

About the Author

Randi ShermanRandi Sherman is a content writer providing all your literary needs and actionable insights to drive new business and improve your bottom line with The Social Calling.




5 Tips for Employees Who Are Relocating

Relocating for your career is the perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life, meet new people, and get to know yourself that much better as you step outside of your comfort zone. A new study shows nearly 85 percent of millennial workers surveyed said they are willing to move to a new city for a job. Despite all this, let’s admit it, moving is rarely enjoyable. However, the idea of a shiny new opportunity awaiting you in your new home should help alleviate some of the stress caused by moving. So ride that wave of positivity all the way to your new location and embrace the opportunities brought on by change. Here are five tips that will help your move be virtually seamless:

  1. The right “fit”
    Employee engagement at work is very much determined by the type of environment and the people that populate said environment, so making sure your personal values align with those of your future employer, in both a cultural and business context is essential. Even if you are being relocated within the same company, different offices almost always have different cultures, traditions and demographics, so maintaining flexibility and an open mind will serve you well during your transition. For those joining a new organization, before you sign the offer letter, make sure to confirm the opportunity is the right choice for you. Visiting your new office location at least once before you commit, reaching out to new coworkers via email or LinkedIn, or inquiring about the different types of culture-building activities offered to employees (or lack thereof) are just some examples of ways to vet a new opportunity. My fellow Achiever, Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, speaks about the power of Fit here: TEDxMileHigh –  Natalie BAumgartner – Fit
  1. Get Familiar
    According to the US Census Bureau, almost 61 percent of relocations in 2015 were to another state. But just because interstate relocation is common, doesn’t make it easy. Getting to know the lay of the land in a new city or state can seem overwhelming, but when you approach it with an open mind, unencumbered urban exploration can be exciting. Start by taking practice trips from your new home to your new office. With apps like Google Maps, Waze, or HopStop, it is easy to find your way, but the last thing you want is to be late on your first day, so identifying any potential delays is crucial. Time yourself during the appropriate hours to take away the commute anxiety in a big way. After that, finding your new coffee shop route (a must have!), the best Thai place for lunch, or a cool spot for after-work drinks with coworkers, will all fall into place.
  1. Reach out
    The six degrees of separation theory in which everyone is connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances has never seemed more true. Whether this new opportunity is your first job or you’re already well-along in your career, it’s a great idea to reach out to your current network and build a group of friends and colleagues to support your change. Utilize tools such as LinkedIn to connect with your future co-workers and get a sense of what they are. Alert your friends on Facebook as to your impending change and connect with old friends, and friends of friends, that live near your new home to ease the uncertainty of entering a new social scene. Finally, no matter how long it has been since you last connected, call or email old co-workers, family, or other people you may have crossed paths with before; as even the most distant contacts might enrich your experience in your new home. As long as it is done in a friendly and courteous matter, you have nothing to lose!
  1. Save more
    Accounting for an adjusted cost of living when moving often gets overlooked among the myriad of other activities needed to ensure a smooth relocation. But it’s vitally important to know that $20 doesn’t go as far in San Francisco as it might in San Antonio. First, make sure your salary is well over the cost of living with websites such as Numbeo or Living Wage Calculator. These sites can help you get a feel of how much you’ll be spending per month. Next, find out about relocation costs and if your employer is willing to cover any part of the expenses. A clearly outlined budget of specific moving action items will provide a baseline to your employer and make it easy for them to reimburse you. Make sure to double check your estimates by calling movers, looking at flight costs, and calculating the appropriate costs to move your pets. Keeping accurate records of moving costs will also streamline filing taxes at the end of the year. Lastly, you can never have enough savings for unplanned incidents and oversights. It would be wise to try and save the equivalent of 1 to 2 months of salary to cover the basics, just in case. You never know when your car will be towed while rushing to an appointment, or you get a leak in your brand new apartment! Eek!
  1. What you love
    Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” This tip is the most important by far! Whether you think of your career as a marker of personal success or not, if this change brings you one step closer to a community you identify with, better accessibility to an activity that you love or a lifestyle that makes you truly happy, then you are one step closer to success. Remember that everything takes time and if you’re attracted to the idea of this relocation and willing to make the change, you’ll gain more knowledge and insight as to what is important to you regardless of the anticipated outcome. By engaging in what you love, inside and outside of the workplace, you’ll attract like-minded people and future opportunities that will ensure seamless and positive transitions for years to come.

To learn more about how culture can be the right “fit” for you, download our white paper All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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About the Author

Phoebe LicataPhoebe Licata is an Employee Engagement Consultant by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!





4 Easy Tips to Instantly Engage your Employees

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement” refers to, “An employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organizational goals.” The more engaged employees you have, the more positive results you will see – from both a bottom line and a corporate culture standpoint. It’s as simple as that. But as Gallup recently reported, a mere 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work! And it’s not that much better here in the U.S., where only one in three employees are engaged at work.

Is employee engagement something your company struggles with? Start shifting the numbers in your favor with these four easy tips to instantly engage your employees:

Throw out the job description

We aren’t suggesting you should abandon your entire functional structure, but when thinking about roles, titles and capabilities it’s important to keep individual employees in mind. Management expert Glen Llopis encourages supervisors to build each job around the capabilities and interests of the person who currently holds that position. He points out that people stay more focused and perform much better when they enjoy the work they’re doing, and a good manager should be able to expand their leadership lens to consider an employee’s strengths when assigning any projects.

Praise co-workers

Managers aren’t the only ones who can commend a job well done. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition within the workplace can be invaluable in increasing employee engagement. A simple “great job” from a co-worker goes a long way in encouraging employees to embrace teamwork and celebrate accomplishments. When co-workers celebrate shared wins and encourage one another to succeed, they are motivated to perform at their best and gain a sense of camaraderie around achieving one common goal. Spreading praise throughout the office is contagious and serves the dual purpose of instantly engaging employees and building a supportive work culture around shared goals and values.

Make every employee an “insider”

If you trust your employees enough to tell them about your company’s challenges – as well as its victories – you’ll find that they place a high value on your honesty. When employees feel like they’ve been brought in on the real, inside story, they are better able to understand the reasoning behind their company’s policies and actions. As an additional benefit, greater transparency and democratization often lead to innovation, as employees feel inspired and empowered to offer creative solutions to shared problems, which they will likely want to implement themselves. This approach may require a shift in perspective, especially if your company is accustomed to placing multiple filters between the C-suite and line workers. But it’s been proven that in companies with a flat organizational structure transparency can have some very tangible positive results.

Give immediate rewards and recognition

“Congratulate” is one of the “10 C’s” of employee engagement listed by Ivey Business Journal, and there’s a good reason for this. Their research finds that most employees feel that they receive immediate feedback (otherwise known as criticism) when they do something wrong, but that recognition for their positive contributions is usually slow in coming. The most effective leaders make sure to deliver immediate recognition and tangible rewards for a job well done. Rewards and recognition are most impactful when given frequently and tied back to specific desired behaviors or actions, as opposed to generally positive feedback provided quarterly or even yearly.

Employee engagement is not something to take lightly. Industry research shows why employee engagement matters: Just a 1% increase in employee engagement leads directly to an additional .6% growth in sales (according to Aon Hewitt) and companies with highly engaged workplaces have been shown to outperform their peers by 147%. So don’t pass up these simple solutions to help address a complex issue.

Learn more about milestones along the route to employee engagement from our Getting to Greatness Infographic.

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High Performance Employer

Designing a High-Performance Work Environment

In our previous posts, we focused on Pivotal Habits (ones that prepare us to perform by making us healthy, happy and secure) and Work Habits (the ones that make up our jobs).

We discussed the critical role these habits play in creating superior performance for employees and competitive advantage for companies. We explored why habits are frequently missed by businesses as the fundamental driver of performance, and recognized that adopting new habits is in some sense hard for people to achieve, and challenging for employers to create.

In this final post, we will explore how employers can approach the design of their businesses to ensure high employee performance, while also making sure that employees are engaged in and loyal to the business.

Understanding the foundational role of habits, we can frame the employee performance challenge for employers as a design problem:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with you as an employer?

In solving this design challenge, the first thing to notice is that there are many things that make up the “workplace.”  It is the sum of all things that “surround” employees while they work, and these things are highly influential over how they think, feel and act. We can bucket all the things that make up the surrounding elements into four categories that we call Contexts, and they are vitally important to solving the design problem. Why is this?

A fish swimming in water (the Context for the fish’s life) is completely influenced by that water in everything that it does. So too are humans highly influenced by the Contexts of their life, and just like the fish we tend not to notice the influence of Contexts until they’re not there.

Perhaps this explains why most employers focus on employees when trying to solve productivity problems. We see the lack of performance and we typically associate the issue with the people.

We don’t notice, and therefore don’t act on, the surrounding Contexts that influence people in their daily work. In fact, the nature of Contexts (that they are unnoticed by most people, yet highly influential over our actions) is precisely what makes them so important to business designers.

The Contexts for workplace design

There are four Contexts we need to understand:

Physical Spaces: The physical environment in which employees conduct their work, which increasingly includes the home office as well as the more traditional office and factory floor environments. Designing high-performance spaces is more than just ensuring employees have the tools to do their jobs and requires us to understand the ways that physical design choices affect us psychologically.

Workplace Systems: The policies, procedures, business processes or, more simply, the rules (written and unwritten) that employees are expected to follow make up this context. Some of these rules leak into the workplace (like the laws of the land or the fact that we drive on the right side of the road) and can influence how we behave as well. So, it’s important to not only design our own rules but to understand how they will interact with rules that exist in the wider world.

Social Influence: The people that we work with every day. The day-to-day interactions with work colleagues and customers via live conversations, emails, shared experiences, and at events all strongly influence how we work, and what we achieve. We like to think we make all our own decisions, but at least 60% of the actions we take are highly or completely influenced by the people around us.

Individual Self: Our individual experiences, opinions, beliefs, knowledge and other filters through which we interpret the world. The stories we tell ourselves about the experiences we’ve had in the past hold the power to influence us in the present, which is why storytelling is such an effective influence method for employers. It can help employees to rewrite their personal stories in a way that helps to align their actions with the vision and mission of the business.

Each of these Contexts can be designed by an employer seeking to influence the experience employees have while at work. These experiences in turn affect the actions we take, the habits we form, and the way we feel about where we work.

Creating new habits by design

Understanding that designing Contexts is the most effective approach to establishing new habits still does not explain HOW to proceed.

To guide our thinking, we need to ask: What does it take to create a new habit? Or rather, is there a formula for creating new habits?

It turns out there is. Contexts influence us by creating forces that nudge us towards or away from certain actions. Just like the Contexts, there are four forces that influence habit creation.

Two forces that help us adopt a new habit are Compulsion and Capability. Compulsion is the urge to do something and it is a stronger feeling that mere motivation. For example, simply being motivated, or desiring something (like losing weight) never gets the job done. It’s the actions we take that make the difference, therefore we need to be compelled into action.

However, without the Confidence that we can succeed, we’re unlikely to take the first step and without Competence (knowledge and skills) we’re likely to fail even if we are confident. Competence and Confidence together make up Capability and, combined with Compulsion, help us to take new actions and adopt new habits.

Of course, life gets in the way sometimes. We run out of time, we get distracted, or we are derailed by last minute requests or family emergencies. These life events represent the two forces acting against us, either as static impediments to change (Barriers) or as active antagonists that draw us away from the actions to which we’re committed (Temptation).

The formula for new habit creation

The formula for creating habits says that if we’re Compelled and Competent enough to overcome Barriers and to resist Temptation, we’ll take new actions. If the forces stay in our favor over time, those actions will turn into habits. Thus, our habit change formula can be written as:

If (Compulsion + Capability) > (Barriers + Temptation) over time, new habits emerge.

The catch is that the formula needs to be true in ALL FOUR Contexts at the same time, and this explains why creating new habits can be such hard work.

We can use a series of Influence Methods, which are the many and varied ways in which an employer can ensure that the habit creation formula holds true, when designing all four Contexts. Applying these Influence Methods is the art and science of designing workplace Contexts and, when focused on the right habits, the well-spring of higher performance.

Achieving sustainable competitive advantage

In our Behavior Research Lab, BRATLAB, we’ve researched, discovered and applied over 80 distinct Influence Methods that not only support employees in practicing new habits of performance, but do so in a way that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support provided by their company and highly engaged with their work and their employer.

Going to work on employee habits is a strategy that will remain hidden from competitors, but one that is massively powerful in producing results.

Employers that wish not only to future-proof their businesses, but to create a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage, must learn the value of designing Contexts, and the many ways in which the array of Influence Methods can be integrated into those Contexts to ensure that employees perform at their best, and love working where they do.

This is how, at Habits at Work, we’re reinventing the world of work so employees thrive and companies flourish.

Professional speaker and founder of Habits at Work and BRATLAB, Andrew Sykes will talk about How to become a High-Performance Employer.

During Andrew’s webinar he will:

  • Explore why employee habits are the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage and why they’re often overlooked by leaders and managers.
  • Share research from the Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB) on which habits really matter, and how to design a business that makes it easy and natural for employees to sustain high performance over time.
  • Tell stories about the work of Habits at Work helping employers from a variety of industries to put their money where their mouth is when they say “People are our most important asset.”The stories of challenge and failure serve as cautionary tales of what not to do. The stories of success provide guidance on why design thinking is the key to future-proofing your business from competition and the pathway to becoming a high-performance employer.

Andrew’s webinar represents a brief summary of his upcoming book: Habits at Work: How to Create a High-Performance Employer, due for publication Fall 2017.

The webinar will cover a lot of ground in a fast-paced, lively and entertaining 1-hour session. Prepare to learn a lot, leave with food for thought and a new view on the future of the world of work.



About Andrew Sykes
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew at or read more online at or





Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

In today’s competitive market for talent, office culture is everything. With employees spending most of their time (some upwards of 50 hours a week) in the office, it’s should come as no surprise that HR leaders consider developing and nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement to be their number one challenge.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve company culture. Initiatives that promote health, work-life balance, kindness and gratitude already exist and can go a long way in bolstering a positive office culture while also increasing engagement.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few initiatives to consider:

Employee Health

Companies have been holding organization-wide health challenges and the like for some time now, but the kinds of health initiatives employees desire are different than they once were, where end results were all that was emphasized. People don’t want to step on a giant scale and see how much weight they lost (or didn’t lose!). Instead, they want measurable processes that lead to overall well-being; to track progress with technology, get stronger, healthier, and feel great. With that in mind, here are a few modern health initiatives to try:

Supply organic lunches: According to a 3-month Communispace study. millennials care deeply about what they eat: “More than a quarter say organic, natural and non-toxic products are part of maintaining their health and may see them as alternatives to traditional medicine, signaling an opportunity for brands well beyond the traditional health care sectors,” If your organization can’t pay for lunch every day, choose a couple days to provide an organic lunch for employees or consider partnering with a catering company or bringing in a chef.

Strength challenge: You are probably familiar with popular health hashtags such as: #Healthyisthenewskinny and #progressnotperfection. With the idea of encouraging progress towards health goals in mind, why not hold a fitness challenge and then give employees a period of time to prepare for a re-test, challenging them to improve their performance and beat their old numbers. The friendly competition will encourage camaraderie and morale among employees while emphasizing greater personal health through competition.

Sleep goals: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the more sleep an employee gets, the less likely they are to call in sick: “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night,”

With fitness trackers and other wearables, people can now track how long and how well they’re sleeping every night. Set a sleep goal for employees and have them track their sleep over a period of time to earn rewards like gift cards, merchandise or PTO. Employees will feel better and they’ll love telling people they have “sleep goals” for work.

A Kindness Initiative

We could all benefit from more kindness in the world these days; not only at work but throughout our daily lives. In a recent poll, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. One way to bring more kindness, respect, and empathy into the workplace is with a kindness initiative.

It should include the following components:

Create a set of kindness “pillars” that everyone follows. Examples include: When giving constructive criticism or performance feedback, always give “compliment sandwiches” (compliment, criticism, compliment), assign work based on people’s strengths to set everyone up for success, exhibit small acts of kindness like holding the door open for coworkers, etc.

Institute regular recognition of employees. For this to stick, it has to work top down. Managers and team leaders can plan a monthly meeting where one or a group of employee(s) is called out for their excellent work. To ensure a tangible element for this type of recognition, employers can also create a wall of fame to post photos of these high performing employees. For larger organizations, an employee recognition platform is a great way to create and embed a culture of recognition.

Encourage employees to “give props” to their peers. If you use a tool like Slack to communicate within your office, this is easy to facilitate. Set up a channel where employees can recognize one another with a timely “thanks” or “nice job” regarding recent business successes. Using Slack, colleagues can not only tag the recipient of the “props”, but the entire channel, so everyone sees what that person did. Some recognition software providers, like Achievers, even allow the integration of popular tools like Slack within their recognition platform to further encourage “recognition in the flow of work”.

Employees will love getting the extra recognition, and more kindness may help reduce drama and sticky office politics.

A Volunteer Initiative

Giving back is not only good for the soul of your organization, it’s also good for attracting and retaining millennials: But sadly, only 57 percent of millennials believe that business leaders are committed to improving society. A volunteer initiative is relatively easy to set up and gives you a chance to boost your employer brand while also increasing loyalty and engagement among millennials.

Here are a few suggestions for setting up a volunteer initiative:

  • Hold a bi-annual volunteer event, where employees volunteer their time rather than go into the office for the day. Don’t do it on a Saturday—not only will you likely cripple turnout, but employees will likely not appreciate having an initiative such as this scheduled during their free time.
  • Reward employees who volunteer on their own time with “free” half-days.
  • Give every employee one workday a year, month or quarter to take part in a volunteer activity of their choosing.

In addition to the inherent value of the good deed itself, participating employees will feel good about themselves and gain more respect for your business, making volunteer initiatives especially valuable.

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

In the aforementioned Communispace study, 49 percent of millennials reported work-life balance as an important part of their health and wellness, followed by relationships with friends and family (47 percent). Employees of all generations care greatly about achieving a proper Work/Life balance, making it an important part of any culture campaign.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help employees foster desired work-life balance:

  • Half-day Fridays: Offer this once a month, or during a specific quarter. Many companies do this in the summer, when people tend to go on more weekend escapes.
  • Flexible work hours: Instead of limiting office attendance to the standard 9-to-5, allow employees to work when and how they can personally be most productive, whether that means coming in and leaving early, or working through the night. As long as they are performing up to expectations and making themselves available for meetings and other requests from colleagues, allow them the flexibility to manage their own schedules.
  • Work from home: If possible, allow employees to occasionally work from home, be it once a week or month.
  • Unlimited time off: This is something many startups and even larger companies are starting to offer. Employees can take as much, or as little time off as their job permits, without worrying about PTO caps or tracking their remaining vacation days. Fostering trust among your employees does wonders for engagement and it also benefits employers as it has been suggested that employees may actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO.

A Shadow Initiative

This initiative allows employees to shadow their peers for a period of time. Business departments often get siloed and have little understanding as to what each other is doing. Shadow initiatives give everyone a chance to understand the roles of their collegues and see how their two positions can work together to achieve even better results.

To keep it organized, allow one department to shadow each month. For example, in March, members of the marketing team will shadow whomever they want. Set your time period (4 hours, an afternoon), and ask each shadow pairing to come up with one way they can work together in the next month.

Employees will love spending time doing something new and the business will flourish as connections are made that take projects and ideas to the next level.

To learn more, download the white paper All For One and One For All: Uniting a Global Workforce With Company Culture.

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About the Author
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.


Reasons to welcome the millennial influence

The Demands of Millennials Make Our Workplaces Better

For all the complaining about Millennials and their approach to the modern workplace, they are actually responsible for much of the change happening in the modern workforce. Their entry into the workforce, was accompanied by a slew of stereotypes, followed recently by a round of myth-busting, with statistics and all, aimed at debunking those stereotypes. As an “ancient Millennial” myself (a term I borrow from journalist Jessica Grose), I can attest that at least some of the stereotypes come from kernels of truth, but like most stereotypes , they must be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, many of the changes Millennials bring to the workplace are actually good for everyone. Change is always hard, so it’s natural to initially oppose or question the forces of change. However, most of the changes that Millennials have brought about have actually made for a better workplace.

The influence of the Millennial generation is not to be underestimated, if for no other reason than its size. According to a recent report from SHRM, (“Millennials: Misunderstood in the workplace?”) as  Baby Boomers exit the workforce, an even greater number of Millennials will continue to enter the workforce to take their place. In fact, it is estimated that Millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than  half of the workforce by 2020. And, according to Pew, they already make up the largest overall share of workforce, having surpassed Gen X’ers in 2015. With those facts established, here are four reasons to welcome the Millennial influence:

Generalization #1: They need constant feedback: Millennials grew up in a feedback culture. Some say that Millennials are obsessed with getting positive feedback (you’ve likely heard of the “trophy generation”, but put simply, it is the belief that we are doing our youth a disservice by lauding them for mere participation rather than awarding success.). But even if that’s true, it likely contributed to an encouraging new trend – the phasing out of annual performance reviews. An annual performance review simply doesn’t tell us enough in today’s fast-paced business culture. If HR hears a complaint about an employee but their 8-month old performance review shows high marks, that documentation does little to advise any action. In 2017, we will likely see employers implement more regular feedback conversations along with frequent “pulse” surveys to help identify and address employee concerns in a more timely, actionable fashion.

When employers engage employees in regular, smaller-scale conversations, both management and employees are better equipped to deal with issues as they come up. This in turn helps employees to feel more engaged because they know their suggestions and concerns are being listened to. Furthermore, by combining these mini performance management conversations with real-time feedback tools for employees, management can help facilitate a culture of transparency in which both positive and negative business outcomes can be celebrated or addressed openly.

Generalization #2: They demand more work life balance: One of my favorite Millennial trends is that men are beginning to demand more time with their families. They ask for paternity leave more than their fathers did, for example. And because married Millennials overwhelmingly co-lead a dual-income household, they can’t buy into the 80-hour work week like their fathers did before them. As a recent article in The New York Times put it: “Millennial men—ages 18 to early 30s—have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet… workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

Likewise, a Department of Labor report also highlighted the growing importance of paternity leave as men consider whether to accept a job, noting: “Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.”

Millennials came of age watching their parents work long hours and aren’t convinced it translates to a happier existence, or even a fatter nest-egg for themselves. With this in mind, employers would be wise to encourage work-life balance in the name of productivity and worker satisfaction. Even the U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics agrees that hours with your butt in a seat does not equate to more productivity, “Only if we increase our efficiency—by producing more goods and services without increasing the number of hours we work—can we be sure to increase our standard of living.”

Generalization #3: They need hand-holding. It’s true that most managers don’t have time for hand-holding. However, research published in the Journal of Workplace Learning shows that companies who have a “culture of learning” rely not just on managers to disseminate information. Not only does their training help them perform their job functions better, but employees who are able to embrace learning and growth opportunities also feel more valued and engaged, doubling the value for the company. Learning can happen anytime, often facilitated by a co-worker (“Contextual factors influencing the facilitation of others’ learning through everyday work experiences” by Andrea D. Ellinger Maria Cseh), so managers don’t have to feel the exclusive burden of teaching their staff everything.

Generalization #4: They feel entitled to career advancement: Climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t as important to Millennials as it was to their parents (see Generalization #2: they value more work-life balance.) When they see their managers put in long hours at the cost of their personal lives, it doesn’t look appealing. In addition, Millennials learned the difference between “management” and “leadership” before they even entered the workforce, and the 80 hour week management job that only serves to maintain the status quo is not their idea of having an impact. Millennials might feel entitled to advancement in a different sense. They want to keep learning and keep contributing. If other generations in the workplace adopted this sense of motivation, you might not see a scramble to fill the senior manager job, but you’d have leaders everywhere.

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About the Author
Anna PetersAnna Peters is Content Manager for College Recruiter. She manages all content, supervises a team of content writers and is part of College Recruiter’s senior management team. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.