Archive for the "Employee Retention" Category

How Recognition Makes WorkHuman

by Lynette Silva

Coffe mug with foam in shape of a smileRecognize This! – We all have the ability to create more human workplaces for ourselves and those around us, simply by saying thank you.

Recently we released our WorkHuman Research Institute Spring 2016 report, The ROI of Recognition in building a More Human Workplace,” assessing the attitudes and expectations of those fully employed from their workplaces today. (Be sure to tune in Thursday, April 14, for Derek Irvine’s discussion with Sharlyn Lauby of the findings of the report. You can register for the webinar here.)

The report is quite detailed, offering “a blueprint for what practices will drive employee behavior, attitudes, and business results. Specifically, [how] employee recognition is a foundational element of building a human workplace.” To me, the greatest value in the report is in the questions it answers, which I’ve highlighted here.

Why is recognition such a foundational element for building a human workplace?

A human workplace is one that fosters a culture of recognition and appreciation while empowering individuals, strengthening relationships, and providing a clear purpose aligned with achievable goals. Social recognition is vital for many reasons, especially for:

  1. What it communicates – Recognition lets people know, “You are noticed. You and your work have value and meaning.” The research reveals the WorkHuman connection – when employees believe organization leaders care about creating a more human workplace:
    • 90% say work they do has meaning and purpose
    • 78% feel like opinions, voice and ideas matter to leaders
  2. How it helps build relationships – The act of appreciating others naturally connects people more closely, at work and at home. In the survey, 70% of employees say recognition makes them feel emotionally connected to peers while another 70% say recognition makes them happier at home. Timeliness of the recognition matters, though. When recognized in the last month, 86% of employees say they trust one another, another 86% say they trust the boss, and 82% say they trust senior leaders. Again, the WorkHuman connection is clear – when employees believe their leaders care about creating a more human workplace:
    • 93% feel they fit in and belong in the organization
    • 91% say they are motivated to work hard for my organization and colleagues
  3. How it boosts performance and productivity – Knowing our work is valued and appreciated by others naturally makes us want to contribute more. 79% of employees say recognition makes them work harder, and 78% say recognition makes them more productive. Interestingly, recognition also helps employees feel better equipped to handle the constant change common in today’s workplaces, which is often a detriment to productivity. When recognized in the last month, 69% of employees say they are excited or confident about change, vs. 41% saying the same who had never been recognized. What’s the WorkHuman connection? When employees believe their leaders care about creating a more human workplace, 90% say they are able to find a solution to any challenge.

Perception is reality. How our employees perceive their own recognition and their leaders’ commitment to human workplaces dramatically impacts the bottom line.

How do I join the WorkHuman movement?

The best place to engage with others who care deeply about creating more human workplaces for all employees is the WorkHuman conference, May 9-11, in Orlando, FL. There’s still time to register. Use code WH16RT300 to get the blog reader discount.

And a final bonus question – do you work in a human workplace today, and if not, what would need to change?

 

Do You Miss Us Yet?

by Derek Irvine

Boomerang returning to handRecognize This!—Alumni employees are increasingly appearing in candidate pools.  Reminding them of the recognition they received for their contributions to meaningful work is powerful to recruit them back into the fold.

Former employees (often called “boomerangs,” but I prefer “alumni”) are joining the applicant pool to return to their prior companies at higher and higher rates.   who left in good standing are already familiar with the organization’s culture, processes, and employees, making their onboarding and achievement of productivity faster. The recent Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and WorkplaceTrends.com surveyed more than 1,800 HR professionals, people managers and employees’ opinions on rehiring former employees.  In her blog post earlier this week, China Gorman highlighted the findings (quoted below):

  • Organizations and workers alike are coming around on rehiring former employees.
  • Boomerangs are creating increased – and unexpected – competition for job seekers as the hiring market continues to improve.
  • Familiarity, easier training, and knowledge of the former employer are benefits for boomerangs and organizations – yet some concerns still linger.
  • HR says it has a strategy for maintaining relationships with former employees, but workers and managers disagree.

The findings acknowledged the importance of alumni and desirability for alumni.  Gorman quoted Joyce Maroney, Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, driving the fourth bullet home:

“With this boomerang trend on the rise, it’s more important than ever for organizations to create a culture that engages employees – even long after they’ve gone – and organizations should consider how the boomerang employee factor should affect their off-boarding and alumni communications strategies for top performers.”

The survey, however, revealed conflicting findings between HR and alumni perception of the existence of relationship maintenance strategies.  HR said they used several channels to attract alumni, including email newsletters (45%), recruiters (30%), and alumni groups such as Facebook and LinkedIn (27%). Meanwhile, 67% of alumni, however did not think employers had strategies to maintain a relationship, and 80% of alumni said their former employers did not have strategies that encouraged them to return.

But what do you say when reaching out to alumni employees you want to attract back to the fold?  Remind them they left a culture not just a company.  If you’ve had a strong social recognition platform in place, you could easily pull some examples of appreciation they received while at your organization. Simply reminding them how they were appreciated and recognized for making specific impacts can be a powerful way to re-recruit your Alumni.  Show you had a positive history and relationship and you want to recognize their contributions again.

Are you seeing some of your former top performers in your candidate pool?  How are you leveraging social recognition to attract even more?

Leaving Behind, Moving On

by Lynette Silva

Fish Jumping into larger bowlRecognize This! – Too many good employees leave out of boredom. Identifying areas of interest for new career paths can keep top employees engaged and on board.

Last night marked the start of a new era in late night television in the US with Steven Colbert’s debut as the host of “Late Show” on CBS, long the home of David Letterman. But this wasn’t just the start of a new host on a late night show. This was also the laying to rest of Steven Colbert’s fake persona of nine years, the “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” that Steven Colbert (the real person and comedian) created and who helmed the nine-year run of the “Steven Colbert Show” on Comedy Central. Colbert left behind a tremendous body of work in order to move on in his career.

If we use Colbert’s career trajectory as an object lesson, last night was certainly momentous. Think about it. He spent nearly a decade creating a beloved character, watched by millions. He had a very successful career, was quite popular, and likely still had many fruitful years ahead of him as his blowhard alter-ego. Yet he was growing bored. In interviews, he has said he wanted to be able to interview interesting people in his own voice. To do so, he had to leave behind years of work and step out into the unknown to prove himself once again. But the risk was worth it for the excitement of something new.

I wonder how often that same feeling is true for our employees and fellow colleagues at work. I know in my own career history, I’d love my work until I became bored. Then I’d be onto the next company, looking for the next challenge. I’m pleased to say I’ve more than doubled my prior tenure record in my time with Globoforce. And that’s because of the opportunities I’ve been given to grow, stretch and, yes, even fully reinvent myself here.

When we think about how we retain employees, often top of the list is being sure we’re creating “career development paths” for employees. But how often are those paths real or in alignment with the true desires and wishes of the employee? How do we help those we manage find a future path that both invigorates and inspires them personally while also furthering the success goals of the organization?

One of the easiest yet most profound ways to do so is through social recognition that encourages peers as well as managers to recognize and appreciate those who have helped them on their own projects or goals. When people are both encouraged to help others across traditional silos of teams, divisions and geographies – and then recognized and rewarded for doing so –leaders can begin to capture very interesting data on where their team members may be choosing to give discretionary effort to help others outside their usual roles. This information can be very useful in career pathing discussions to help people identify those areas they seem to enjoy and help them pursue those interests without having to leave your organization to move on in their careers.

How do you gather information on employee interests for career planning discussions? Do your managers have information easily to hand to fuel these important conversations?

IBM Smarter Workforce Institute: Achieve the Power of Thanks through Multiple Recognition Channels

By Derek Irvine

Separate arrows merging into oneRecognize This! – We all know the power of social recognition to engage and retain employees, but when employees have multiple channels to share recognition, the benefits grow exponentially.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute (SWI) recently released a report showing the importance of using multiple channels for recognition. The report is based on a survey of 19,000 workers from over 26 countries and shows the Power of Thanks. The more communication channels we use to recognize workers, the better we can reach and thank employees. This thanks leads to higher engagement and retention.

Key findings of the report include (quoting):

  • Employees who receive recognition are more likely to be engaged at work. The engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher (76%) than the engagement level of those who do not (28%).
  • Workers who receive recognition are less likely to quit. Without recognition, about half (51 percent) of surveyed employees say they intend to leave, with recognition just one quarter (25 percent) say they intend to leave their organizations.
  • Employees whose organizations use multiple communication channels for recognition are more likely to feel appreciated and show a higher level of employee engagement. The more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement level.
  • The findings imply that technologies such as social and mobile could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition as they offer interactive, frequent and immediate communication via multiple channels.

Why Multiple Channels? More Timely Recognition!

Written and face-to-face recognition were historically the primary methods to thank workers. These channels are not enough to reach employees in today’s global, virtual and mobile workplace. Use of technologies like mobile recognition, online recognition platforms, peer-to-peer recognition videos are critical to keeping high employee engagement levels.

Timely recognition is essential for recognition effectiveness. Mobile apps and other technologies make this far more feasible more than having to wait to get into the office and submit paperwork or logging in through a computer. With a smartphone, recognition can happen anytime, anywhere. This is especially true for overcoming geographic boundaries. IBM SWI points out:

“It has been shown that recognition is more meaningful when it is delivered in a timelier and more frequent manner. By removing the restriction of geographic location and timing, the use of a variety of technology-enabled communication channels can have a positive impact on employees, driven by the fast and frequent delivery of recognition.”

Email Alone Is Not the Answer

Though we know speed and timeliness of recognition matters, email unfortunately continues to dominate (at 58%) as the most common form of technology used for recognition. But email is highly flawed when used as the sole means of “technology-based recognition.”

It does not share the accomplishment of the employee with peers or provide a way to easily track and report on recognition activity in any kind of deep or meaningful way. Truly effective methods are driven by social recognition, involving work communities, online platforms, and mobile apps that share recognized accomplishments with colleagues and work friends to enable a flurry of congratulations on a job well done.

Increase Engagement and Retention

Recognition is a direct, key driver of employee engagement. IBM SWI’s research showed employees who receive recognition are 48% more engaged than those who do not. IBM SWI showed that the more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement.

IBM SWI_Multi-Channel Recognition

Social recognition is key not only to employee engagement, but also to retention. Retention is in the top three challenges facing human resources today. When looking at the link between recognition and retention, 51% of workers who did not receive recognition intended to quit versus only 25% of those who received recognition.

The Time to Evolve Recognition Is Now

If we’re looking to retain, engage, and get the most out of our talent, we have to evolve our recognition strategies to communicate in a manner that is relevant to today’s workplace. IBM SWI concludes their research with this recommendation:

“Based on findings in this study, organizations should consider taking full advantage of varied communication channels in their recognition programs. In particular, social, mobile, and other technologies could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition messages as they enable multiple channels and offer opportunities for interactive, frequent, and immediate communication. If done right, employee recognition programs can unleash the full power of thanks.”

I couldn’t agree more. What recognition channels are you using to recognize your workers? Are you using enough channels? Are you using the right channels?

 

Bersin Says “Thanks” Critical for Employee Engagement

by Derek Irvine

Thank you speech bubblesRecognize This! — There are many drivers of employee engagement, but feedback, recognition and “thanks” lead the charge.

In my last two posts on Compensation Cafe, I shared important research from IBM Smarter Workforce (more on that later this week) and from Bersin by Deloitte. Both are important, detailed pieces of research and so I will be calling more attention to them here.

First up, Josh Bersin authored the research piece “Becoming irresistible: A new model for employee engagement,” which appeared in Issue 16 of the Deloitte Review. This is the new model based on deep research and analysis of organizations across industries:

DR16_irresistibleorganization

In Becoming Irresistible, Bersin says about recognition:

“A second key engagement driver is the need for continuous and ongoing recognition. As soft as it seems, saying “thank you” is an extraordinary tool to building an engaged team. We studied this topic and found that “high-recognition companies” have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.36 These companies build a culture of recognition through social reward systems (tools that give people points or kudos to reward to others), weekly or monthly thank-you activities, and a general culture of appreciating everyone from top to bottom. The key to success here is to create a social environment where recognition can flow from peer to peer, freeing managers from being the judge and jury of employee recognition.”

Then Bersin expanded on the ideas presented in Becoming Irresistible in a very detailed article in Forbes“Employee Feedback Is the Killer App: A New Market Emerges.” Here he says:

If feedback is the killer app, then ‘thanks’ is the gorilla in the market. When you unleash the ability for people to easily say ‘thanks’ to their peers (and give them points or other rewards), an enormous new network of information often starts to flow. Leaders can suddenly see important people who they may never have noticed, and the culture of helping others can start to grow and improve.

“Our research also found that saying ‘thank you’ is an important part of building strong employee engagement. Many companies tell me that these tools unleash enormous amounts of positive energy and can help people understand even better who and why certain behaviors and people are valued highly.”

I believe this to be a dichotomy of management and a true blind spot — those things we consider easy or obvious, we tend to ignore or subsume. Yet simply saying “thank you” is one of the most powerful means we have to communicate to someone, “I see you. I see the work you do. What you contribute has great value, meaning and purpose, and you do it well.” Truly, there is nothing “simple” in that kind of statement. It is at the heart of what good managers do. Or, to once again quote Bersin from Becoming Irresistible:

It is important for companies to remember that management’s job is not to manage work but rather to develop, coach, and help people.”

And isn’t that the heart of what it means to WorkHuman, too?

What’s the “killer app” in your management toolkit?

WorkHuman Wednesday: Rethink Internal Company Networking to Make Friends and Propel your Career

by Traci Pesch

coworkers on a coffee breakRecognize This! – Rubbing elbows with management at company outings might not get you as far as making friends with your coworkers.

Summer is the season for company outings. A company-wide trip to the amusement park or a community service event. These outings are meant to create bonds with colleagues who usually don’t have the time or opportunity to meet or socialize. There are some who view these outings as an opportunity to let loose and have a day of fun. There are also those who view these outings as the chance to connect with management for career gain. I’m not against making friends with management—though I think managers should be accessible enough in the workplace that a party isn’t the only chance to spot one. I just believe one chance meeting is not the most likely way to propel your career. What if you could use these parties as both a chance to make friends and forward your career?

Whether you’re being strategic about making connections at these company outings or not, be sure to mix business with pleasure. Make friends. The vast majority (89%) of US employees said work relationships mattered to their quality of life, according to the Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey. Make genuine friendships with all kinds of coworkers. After company social events, bring your coworker friendships back to your work and your workplace.

If you want to gain the attention of management, that ephemeral once-a-year meet and greet has a low chance of making an impression. Being a consistent fixture in successful projects? That’s how you get noticed.

Strengthening and reaffirming those relationships with peers/colleagues at work just makes sense. If you’re friends with coworkers across the organizations, then you talk to and know a lot about those around you. These many different kinds of friends want to work with you on projects; or share ideas, perspectives, and expertise. You should share your ideas, as well. This isn’t a one-way street. You actually net better results and higher productivity when you’re a team player.

Look for ways to work across departments and familiarize yourself with new concepts. As you consistently show up in collaborative teams producing innovative, successful projects, you will really gain the eye of management. You will also have made strides for your own department’s goals and projects by thinking outside the box. Your department’s projects will be enriched by collaborations that involve this cross-pollination of ideas and expertise.

On another note, you will have also gained more friends. Part of how we WorkHuman is having friends at work. Friends who look out for your best interests (as you look out for them) speed you up. And, you can have more fun, too.

You can still get noticed if you’re in a team. Even if you don’t head the group, you can spearhead the project and be a catalyst as a team player. As Mark Sanborn says, “You don’t need a title to be a leader.”

Internal strategic networkers are essential because they value the humanity in their coworkers, are team players, and further employee engagement. Companies are better for them. If management is also being strategic, they will notice and reward collaborative employees.

How much do you know about those across your office? How much are you helping them? Are you having fun with your coworkers? Does your company’s management recognize the value of friendships at work? Who’s your best friend at work?

We Really Aren’t Working as Hard as We Say We Are

by Lynette Silva

Burning the midnight oilRecognize This! – A good sign of a misguided approach to measuring value at work is when we game the major mechanism of measuring that value.

We have a problem at work. We seem to have jumped ahead to robot era, forgetting that we’re really humans. Humans with volatile emotions, a need to sleep, competitive and compassionate natures, complex lives. We are messy. And we simply don’t know how to deal with that mess well.

Case in point – Yes, we work too many hours, but we also exaggerate the number of hours we work. This article highlights recent research showing “31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women [at a high-powered consulting firm] managed to moderate their work schedule while still looking like they were cranking out 80 or 90 hours a week.”

So, what’s the big deal? We care more about butts-in-seats face time (or the appearance of it) than we do about actual productivity. In her excellent book Overwhelmed, Brigid Schulte pointed to research showing that, in terms of work actually produced, French workers (who work 35 hour weeks) are more productive than US workers. We’re demanding overwork from ourselves and others for little to no benefit.

And this in endemic in certain industries, especially for summer interns. It’s a sign of a broad system failure when it’s major business news when a major financial services organization tells interns to “only” work 17 hours a day and not sleep in the office.

That’s why the WorkHuman 2015 conference rang so true for me. I read too much every day from sources across industries about how we are, in fact, working quite inhumanely. Preparing for a panel discussion I had the deep honor and privilege to lead, I learned even more about just how deeply we’ve dug this pit of false productivity. (Check out the links at the bottom of this post for reviews of the panelists’ books.)

Tim Leberecht, one of those panelists and author of The Business Romantic, shared his insights on why WorkHuman matters in a blog post here. To summarize the key points (but really, read the full post):

  • Work-life integration: catering to the body and soul
  • Purpose: inspired by something greater than yourself
  • Workplace experience: designing for mystery, delight, and play
  • Happiness is overrated
  • The ROI of meaning? Meaning!
  • HR and marketing can be the great humanizers

Where do you see the most inhumanity at work? How would you infuse more humanity into your own workplace?

WorkHuman Panelist Book Reviews

 

Trends in Employee Recognition: Culture-Oriented/Results-Driven

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! — Results-driven recognition programs that focus on deeply embedding recognition into the company culture have the greatest impact on employee engagement, motivation, satisfaction and retention.

WorldatWork released their latest“Trends in Employee Recognition” report this week. I shared key trends and insights on the report on Compensation Cafe today (click over for more).

To summarize, top trends highlighted are:

1) Prevalence of recognition programs in organizations continues to grow with emphasis on those that drive results. While length of service continues to be the most prevalent of program types, those that have real results-driven impact continue to grow in popularity, especially programs celebrating above-and-beyond performance, motivating specific behaviors, and encouraging peer recognition.

2) Top goals for recognition continue to align with types of programs offered. Motivating high performance, reinforcing desired behaviors, and creating  positive work environments through a culture of recognition continue to top the goals list for recognition programs.

3) Results-driven programs gain in importance in organizations overall, with an emphasis on increasing employee engagement, motivation, satisfaction and retention.

4) Creating at true culture of recognition and appreciation is a driving factor for increases in employee engagement and motivation.

“Through further analysis it was found that organizations with a strategic and/or embedded culture of recognition indicate that their employees have higher engagement, motivation and satisfaction. Additionally, organizations leveraging result-driven recognition programs, in particular, may be experiencing greater overall success.”

As I said in Compensation Cafe, Good planning matters. Employee recognition is not a nice-to-have soft-skill. When done strategically to reinforce desired behaviors and drive organizational strategic objectives, recognition can have a significant impact on the factors most closely related to increased employee performance, productivity and customer service. That requires detailed planning up front and continual evaluation as organizational needs change for two critical factors: (1) your primary goals and ambitions for the program and (2) the metrics you will use to measure success against those factors.

What trends for recognition are you seeing in your organization?

Our “Stickiness” Problem: Retention, Opportunities or Feedback?

by Derek Irvine

Overcoming sharing of feedbackRecognize This! – Employees need more opportunities, more regular conversations on performance, and more frequent recognition to overcome retention challenges.

“People just don’t stick around like they used to.”

How often have you heard that phrase in terms of employee retention goals, usually coupled with statements about “there’s just no loyalty anymore.”

History shows that’s just not true. For the last 25 years, tenure has been consistently low across nearly all age ranges. And the youngest generation in the workplace tends to stay the shortest amount of time (which is not surprising considering where they are in their careers).

Chart showing average tenures over time

More recent data published in the Wall Street Journal shows average tenure across occupations doesn’t even reach 5 years.

Chart from WSJ showing less than 5 year retention average

This article focused on big data analysis for retention, looking at many different predictors to determine who might live so you can intervene. But, as the article points out, “The big challenge for employers is what, exactly, to do with the information.”

My suggestion is the rather obvious: Get out ahead of the situation whenever possible. John Hollon pointed out in TLNT that too many companies are “stuck in recession mode” and are not investing in current employees as they should – either with opportunities for internal growth or ongoing feedback.

3 Key Steps to Address our “Stickiness” Problem

Addressing the “retention challenge” requires an attack on three fronts:

  1. Create Opportunities – Employees of all ages and career stages are looking for opportunities to increase their own knowledge and grow their careers. They will either do that in your organization or elsewhere. Sometimes we make it easier for employees to look for growth opportunities elsewhere. We need to refocus our efforts (and often our budgets) on learning, development and career advancement for our current employees.
  2. Talk to the Them More! – People need ongoing constructive conversations with their leaders, mentors and managers throughout the year (and I’d argue throughout the week). Too often, we allow the structured performance review process to dictate when we hold these conversations. Frequent and timely feedback, both positive and constructive, helps employees stay on track and stay personally invested in short- and long-term outcomes.
  3. Recognize them before the traditional 5 year anniversary marker – In traditional years of service anniversary programs, why do we typically recognize people at 5, 10, 15, etc., years? Because that’s when the US and Canadian tax laws offered tax-free award options. Tax law is a terrible reason to follow a specific approach. The Wall Street Journal graphic above is the perfect illustration as to why – you won’t capture the vast majority of your employees if you wait that long. Celebrating anniversary milestone achievements is important, but it should start much sooner and occur in conjunction in ongoing peer-to-peer and manager-based recognition of desired behaviors and values.

How does your organization address retention, feedback and recognition needs? What do you seek yourself?

Lessons from “Best Companies to Work For”

by Derek Irvine

WorkHuman 2015Recognize This! – Great companies are great only because of the people in them.

Yesterday on Compensation Café, I shared three commonalities experienced by companies that appear on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list:

  1. Better stock performance
  2. Higher retention of top employees
  3. Increased employee energy and engagement

Read the full post “3 Reasons Why You Should Treat Employees Better” for more on each of these, but really – isn’t it obvious? People who are recognized and appreciated for their contributions in line with needs of the company, the customer and their colleagues know their efforts matters. When we know what we do matters, we’re more willing to engage more deeply in it and expend more energy to accomplish it, thereby driving greater company success and confidence in the stock market.

That’s why I’m excited by Globoforce’s designation, once again, as one of the best workplaces in Ireland by The Great Place To Work® Institute. This year, we are number 2 in the medium workplace category, up from number 3 in 2014, and in addition to our designation as a top workplace in Europe and in the US.

Making these lists is not what matters, though. The underlying effort and desire to create positive workplace cultures built on the Power of Thanks – that’s what matters. And it matters because of the impact it has on the people. Great workplaces built on positivity, appreciation and thanks fuel the human need to both give and take recognition in validation of our efforts. And when the people in our workplaces are happier, so our customers. When the customers are happier, so are our investors. But it starts, always, with the people and how we WorkHuman together.

What makes your workplace special?