Archive for the "Global Recognition" Category

Gartner Reveals 7 Best Practices for Employee Social Recognition

by Derek Irvine

Making connections matterRecognize This! – At the heart of any success social recognition program are the relationships built through appreciation of others.

Gartner just issued their second social recognition report for 2015: “Use Seven Best Practices to Plan Your Recognition and Rewards Project.” Researched and written by Chris Pang and Yvette Cameron, the report builds on their earlier June report giving a technology overview of employee recognition and rewards software.

Together, these reports provide tremendous value and insight into why and how to select, implement and get the most out of employee social recognition programs. In addition to the seven best practices (summarized below), the report also calls attention to three key challenges and corresponding recommendations.

For example, one such challenge and recommendation deals with a hesitancy to offer all methods of reaching colleagues through recognition out of a concern for user facility or compliance with options including video recognition and mobile notifications. In reality, people of all generations, backgrounds and cultures will have varying degrees of comfort with advanced options depending on their own experiences with similar systems in other programs. Offering all options gives those who enjoy advanced techniques all the benefits while still allowing those who prefer simpler forms a strong and positive experience, too.

That’s a clear message throughout the report – the importance of putting the employee first. Throughout all seven best practices, the user expectation and experience is front and center. This doesn’t mean just how users interact with the system but, more importantly, how they interact with each other through the enabling technologies and systems. Because that’s the point of implementing social recognition – to facilitate and strengthen relationships between and among employees. It’s deep, collaborative relationships that are the hallmark of what makes us human; and it’s relationships that make us want to give that discretionary effort to help our colleagues, our customers, and our companies succeed.

What are the seven best practices?

  1. Align Your Recognition Technology Strategy With Relevant Workforce Demographics
  2. Be Clear About Your Requirements Before Crafting an RFP
  3. Ensure Support for the Many Facets of User Experience to Drive Utilization and Engagement
  4. Take a Pragmatic Approach to the Integration Strategy and Architecture
  5. Look Beyond Utilization-Based Reporting and Analytics to Workforce Insights and Business Impact
  6. Plan to Sustain Program Participation by Enlisting Marketing Support
  7. Build Agility Into Your Recognition Strategy to Adapt as Your Business Changes

Read the full report for details on each. And be sure to read to the end for the detailed case study of how a global high-tech organization incorporated these seven best practices to great effect.

How did you prepare your organization for social recognition? Who is at the center of your program? How do you facilitate the user experience to foster deeper relationships?

It Just Shouldn’t Be This Difficult! – Eliminating Barriers to Recognition

by Brenda Pohlman

Broken wall with "Thank You!"Recognize This! — Sharing appreciation and gratitude for others should be simple to encourage frequent, timely praise and recognition.

When was the last time you used a fax machine? I recently had the pleasure (ahem) of being re-acquainted with this office equipment fixture of old while trying to execute a recognition moment of sorts. I wanted to do a nice thing for a co-worker on behalf of our team. It was intended as a small gesture – nothing elaborate, nothing designed to convey serious feedback or emotion, just a simple acknowledgement. It should’ve been soooo easy.

We were attending our annual company holiday celebration with our guests, and my colleague, who was bringing her husband (known to most of us as ‘Mr. Wonderful’ by the way), planned to stay the evening at the hotel party venue as a little overnight getaway. It would be a well-deserved break in the midst of a very busy time at work as well as personal circumstances our teammate had faced this Fall. We decided to surprise the two of them with a basket of treats delivered to their room as a show of support. But it proved to be much easier in thought than execution.

I coordinated the details with the hotel, credit card at the ready to pay over the phone. The hotel wouldn’t take it. Payment authorization was required in advance, involving a cumbersome form filled out and returned to them immediately….via fax. I protested, “But it’s just cookies and brownies. I’ll be there in a few hours and can show my credit card in person. I’m connected to the company that’s hosting its big party there tonight.” Nope. No form means no cookie delivery.

Our receptionist looked up our fax number so the hotel could send the form (who has such things memorized anymore and why was email not an option)?. I eventually received it after three trips across the office to check. Hours passed as I went from meeting to meeting, and eventually I got a call from the hotel looking for my completed form and reminding me “no form, no cookie delivery.” I scrambled as the old familiar fax machine challenges came back to me. Dial 9 first or not? Document face up or face down? And alas, an error message. In my head I heard, “No form, no cookies.” Aaargh! A colleague came by, saw me struggling, and asked what I was doing after some teasing about the passé nature of the experience. I blurted out, “I’m just trying to do something nice for someone! It shouldn’t be this hard!”

Eliminate Barriers to Recognition

We encounter companies all the time who have inadvertently constructed barriers to recognition – things that make recognition more difficult than it needs to be, steps and rules that make well-intentioned employees feel hassled by the experience of simply trying to do something meaningful for a co-worker. These barriers rarely serve any legitimate business purpose at all. They’re hold-outs from old school recognition programs that don’t align with the goals and ambitions of today’s initiatives and modern programs. In my ‘nice gesture gone bad’ example here, all the jumping through hoops was supposed to be for my own protection, as the hotel put it.

Things That Make Recognition Harder Than It Should Be:

  • Cumbersome nomination processes, where employees are required to complete lengthy forms to recommend a colleague for recognition (Formal recognition should take as little as 60 seconds).
  • Slow selection or approval processes. We’ve seen systems where committees of HR and business leaders meet quarterly to choose winners for $100 awards! (48-hour award approvals at most – by one or two managers -is ideal).
  • Eligibility rules that prohibit employees from recognizing others directly themselves, forcing them to ask a manager to place a nomination on their behalf instead (Peer-to-peer nomination eligibility is the #1 most powerful way to breakdown barriers to recognition).
  • Recognition systems that aren’t accessible to offline populations or are entirely manual (Mobile apps and computer kiosks are the best hassle-free work-arounds for offline employees).
  • Partial eligibility where some locations or business units are eligible to participate in the recognition program and some are not. These rules can leave employees guessing or force them to investigate a co-worker’s eligibility status (Company-wide participation in a centralized program conveys a simple and inclusive message about recognition).
  • A lack of structure. In the absence of guidelines and tools, many employees will simply do nothing (Elimination of bureaucracy is good, but recognition is not likely to be prevalent in your environment without some rules and systems).

These barriers can be the root cause of a recognition program manager’s worst nightmare – the employee who is inspired to recognize a colleague, makes a decision to take action, seeks out the system or process to do so, and then gives up when faced with daunting administrative red tape. Recognition must be fluid and easy. Otherwise, it can feel inauthentic and meaningless at best, or nonexistent at worst.

As we come into a new year, make a commitment to create an easier, more natural recognition experience at your organization. Find ways to overcome those obstacles that leave your would-be recognizers feeling frustrated and uninspired. In other words, let those barriers go the way of the fax machine.

Start by choosing one recognition barrier to eliminate. Which would you eliminate first?




What Do Employees Want Most? Appreciation and Good Relationships at Work

"thank you" translated into multiple languagesRecognize This! – Research from the Boston Consulting Group and The Network show employees around the world most need to know their work is valued and appreciated.

“They are different in [insert country other than your own.] They want different things than we do.”

How true do you believe that statement to be? Do you wonder if anyone’s recently tried to quantify those perceived differences or, better yet, find the commonalities?

This Fall, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network did just that in their “Decoding Global Talent” report, which aggregated 200,000 survey responses on global mobility and employment preferences from employees in 189 countries. The survey primarily looked at what would make employees willing to work abroad, regardless of home country. But one particular finding struck me as most enlightening – regardless of desire to relocate, all respondents “are putting more emphasis on intrinsic rewards and less on compensation.”

Chart from BCG reportThis chart (Exhibit 8) from the report shows the most important job elements to survey respondents, with appreciation for work and relationships with others leading the list.

It’s no surprise “appreciation for your work” leads the list. We need to know our work matters. One survey respondent, a logistics supervisor in Morocco, put it best: “What you do is what you are and what you are is what you do. You must be appreciated.”

We invest so much of ourselves in our work. We need to know that others notice and appreciate our efforts. It’s more powerful validation than a paycheque alone, and a basic human need.

Good relationships with those with whom we spend the majority of our time is no less a need. That’s why it’s also not a surprise that good relationships with colleagues and supervisors also top the list. Indeed, the top two key findings of our most recent Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker report found that (1) peer relationships are critical to the modern work experience because of amount of time we invest at work, and (2) having friends at increases commitment to the company.

The global study from BCG pointed to an additional finding on relationships at work I found fascinating. Level in the organizations determines, in part, the types of relationships I value most. That’s why peer recognition and appreciation programs are vital to employee happiness and engagement at work.

“Workers lower down on the hierarchy assign more importance to their relationships with colleagues than to their relationships with superiors—exactly the opposite of higher-level managers.”

And finally, the importance of these factors to recruiting and retaining employees cannot be underestimated. The BCG report summarizes this way:

“Even as employers have begun to modify the branding they use to recruit workers—correctly anticipating the shift to a postcrisis world in which money isn’t everything—companies have not really done much to push their reward systems toward new and compelling “total offers” that include many of the attributes relating to culture, relationships, and appreciation that employees covet these days. Instead, company rewards are still largely built around compensation, and the culture inside many companies remains hierarchical, with complex guidelines, limited flexibility, and highly political agendas. It’s the rare employer that has found a way to institutionalize appreciation—the attribute that workers, especially younger workers of Generation Y, now seem to crave…

“But there need to be other kinds of expertise, too. In particular, HR needs to find ways to get more involved in shaping corporate culture, in encouraging meaningful relationships between and among bosses and workers, and in ensuring that appreciation for a job well done gets the company-wide attention it deserves. Otherwise, the most talented employees will leave and companies will face a strategic disadvantage.”

There no more effective, efficient way to shape culture, encourage meaningful relationships, or ensure appreciation for a job well done than a social recognition program that encourages all employees to frequently, sincerely and specifically recognize and praise their colleagues for good work in line with company core values. This is what is proven to build cultures of recognition quickly across global organizations, big and small.

What is your most important job element?

The Secret to Effective Global Employee Recognition

by Andrea Gappmayer

Image of people working togetherRecognize This! – There is no secret “list” for how all employees in all cultures in all countries and organizations around the world like to be recognized.

I’m excited to join the Recognize This! blog. My plan in the coming months is to let you in on all the secrets, like: Do people in Japan believe in recognition? What motivates employees in India? How do people like to be recognized in Norway? At Globoforce we hear questions like these all the time. Customers and prospects want us to have the “List.” The list that describes how employees in every country like to be recognized, motivated, and engaged.

So you ready for the secret? We don’t have that “list.” In fact, nobody has that “list,” because that “list” doesn’t exist. Anyone who tells you they’ve got recognition and engagement in other cultures compiled into a neat little “list” isn’t being entirely truthful. What they’ve got is a list of clichéd stereotypes. How gauche. How anachronistic.

I had the opportunity to attend the “Engage the World” summit (provided by the UK Engage for Success organization) in London recently and the overall message regarding cultural recognition and engagement? Be open-minded, listen, learn, and never, ever impose your ideas and ways of doing things onto a different culture.

Oh, and by the way? Don’t get too comfortable with that culture you just figured out, because it’s going to change. Cultures constantly evolve.

The next time you want to know how employees like to be recognized in China, don’t try to find the list. Start by asking questions and learning. Learn about the culture of China for starters. Then try to understand the culture within a particular organization that is rooted inside China. Then study the culture of the department, within the particular organization that is rooted inside China. And finally, get to know the culture of the individual from the department within the particular organization that is rooted inside China.

And then you’ll know unequivocally, without a doubt, how one person likes to be recognized in China. Now do you understand why there is no “list”? There is however, much to be learned from a deeper cultural appreciation and understanding. This is always the first step in building a strong, positive, appreciative company culture, and Globoforce has done some great work in this area. See these posts for more:

It’s all about making the effort to better understand all of the unique cultures within your organization. Breaking down the barriers takes time, an open-mind, and a desire among all cultures involved to achieve something amazing together.

How do you like to be recognized? What engages you?

Stop Working So Hard at Change Management and Change Your Company Culture for the Better

Number 3 representing 3 critical elementsRecognize This! – Creating the culture your organization needs to succeed in good times and bad is, perhaps, simpler than you imagine.

This excellent article in Strategy + Business explains why complex “culture change” initiatives often fail to achieve the desired objective. More importantly, the article authors (Jon Katzenbach, Rutger von Post, and James Thomas) share the three specific elements – the “critical few” in their terms – that do lead to effective, lasting culture change in the shortest amount of time.

  1. Critical Behaviors – “Those ways of doing things in your current operations that can easily spread from one employee to another; they have the potential to generate a real business impact, particularly when they become habitual and widespread. Moreover, you would recognize them right away if respected leaders at various levels throughout the organization started putting them into practice.”
  2. Existing Cultural Traits – “Three or four emotional elements of the current culture that are distinctively clear, wisely profound, emotionally powerful, and widely recognized; these traits together are a manifestation of the organization’s collective sense of identity. They play a prominent role in supporting the most important behaviors.”
  3. Critical Informal Leaders – “Those few authentic individuals who motivate others by what they do and how they do it. They are recognized by their colleagues as credible, trustworthy, and effective—and they know how to influence behavior.”

Let’s look at these through the lens of social recognition, which is designed to identify your critical behaviors and traits, then encourage all employees to notice others demonstrating these behaviors/traits and recognize them very specifically for doing so. Yes, your critical informal leaders are crucial to getting the momentum going, but making it easy for anyone and everyone to share positive praise quickly turns nearly all employees into leaders of your culture.

The S+B article recommends:

“Take stock of the positive aspects of your current culture and consider which elements could be harnessed to drive the behaviors you seek most. At the same time, ask yourself:

  • How visible would these behaviors be if a senior executive or an authentic informal leader started exhibiting them? (Would others throughout the organization see and recognize the change?)
  • Will these behaviors be contagious enough to be spread through social networks and peer relationships? (Will key people begin to envy and emulate them?)
  • What potential do the behaviors have to create real, measurable business impact? (Can you find ways to measure and track the impact early on?)”

I would add:  How do you make these behaviors more visible, more contagious and more measurable? Social recognition achieves all three – behaviors become more visible when everyone is empowered to notice them in the work of others; recognition itself makes them more contagious because people enjoy praising others as much as receiving the praise themselves; and built-in measurement systems concisely report out where and how those recognized behaviors are having a real impact on business needs.

How do I know this is true? Aside from many clients I’ve had the pleasure see realize these goals, we have at Globoforce, too. I’m thrilled and very proud to share with you that Globoforce has once again been named a Great Place to Work in Ireland, ranking number 3 in the medium-sized workplace category. I know our own investment in our culture of recognition is a primary contributor to our continued success.

What are your critical behaviors and cultural traits in your organization? Are they visible to all employees? Do they drive what you want them to drive?

Compensation Cafe: It’s Weather, Not Climate

Recognize This! – Know your goals for recognition versus incentives: broad impact on all over the long term, or short-term impact on fewer.

Are you as tired of this endless winter as my New England-based team is? Check out my most recent post on Compensation Cafe my reaction to news stories pointing out: “It’s weather, not climate.” What’s the difference? Weather is immediate. It’s what’s happening outside your window right now. Climate is long-term trends. It’s what’s happening across the globe. Sure, the Northeast U.S. is suffering through one of the coldest, snowiest winters in years, but the overall climate trend is for on average warmer temperatures year-round. And while New England might be suffering in the cold now, Europe suffered through a terrible, hot summer last year.

Why am I discussing weather and climate in a compensation-focused blog? Because the difference between weather and climate reminded me of the difference between incentives and employee recognition. Incentives are immediate and focused on short-term goals and fast results. Strategic recognition programs are focused on the long-term business goals and reinforcing the underlying behaviors necessary to achieve those strategic objectives and goals.

Read the entire post for the rest of the story.

Compensation Cafe: 3 Lessons for Truly Global Employee Recognition

Recognize This! – Simply exporting a domestically designed program to global locations will create unintended consequences through poor program design and implementation.

Globalization of any domestic-designed program can have unintended consequences from the mild to the downright terrifying. That’s why careful consideration of local expectations and implementation must be considered in any employee compensation or benefits program, and especially in an employee recognition program designed to unite all employees into a culture of appreciation and positivity (and not further distance them by creating an in equitable structure).

I dove into this much more deeply in my post on Compensation Cafe: “3 Lessons for Truly Global Employee Recognition & Rewards Programs.” Click through for more on these lessons:

  1. Recognition and rewards are not compensation.
  2. Equitable awards do not equal currency conversion.
  3. Standard of living is relative.

(Also not to be missed is the comment added to the post by Jim Brennan on employees turning murderous – literally – due to a poorly implemented life insurance program.)

Compensation Cafe: Why Recognition Matters – Communicating the Value of Work

Recognize This! – Your direct appreciation of another’s contributions or successes matters far more than you may think.

Check out my most recent post on Compensation Cafe in which I share a brief case study of Frank McKenna, Vice Chairman of TD Bank. His approach to personal recognition that transcends hierarchical lines is an excellent, instructive look at why (and how) recognition is a critical component of communicating to employees “meaningful work.”

Read the post here.

Top 10 Favorite Posts on Recognition & Appreciation for 2013

Recognize This! – At the end of each year, I like to reflect on my favorite posts. This year, however, I wanted to share your favorite posts for the year.

5 Most Read 2013 Recognize This! Posts

  1. How to Use Words of Appreciation & Recognition More Effectively This post was inspired by the US national spelling bee and potential new rules requiring contestants to know the definition of the words. I explained why this change makes sense to me because knowing more words and how to use them correctly benefits the learner with expanded knowledge as well as those who may read or hear the learner use those words appropriately because much more information can be conveyed clearly and accurately. The same is true with appreciation. The value of recognition goes so much further than knowing the words “thank you.”
  2. Company Culture: What It Is, When It Should Change, and How to Change It In this post from early 2013, I examined why the culture of the organization we work within plays a profound role in how we experience work itself as well as the attitude we bring home with us from work. I looked at the definition of culture, when culture should change, and steps to change a culture when needed.
  3. Barclay’s CEO on Company Values – Live Them or Leave Barclay’s CEO Antony Jenkins took a powerful, fearless stance to lead culture change in his organization based on the company core values “Live and work by our values, or leave.” This statement from the CEO is all well and good, but how do you make those values stick? I dug deeply into this in this post.
  4. Culture Drives Employee Engagement, Not the Other Way Around This post looked at Deloitte’s Core Beliefs and Culture survey. The importance of company culture and it’s foundation – the core values and beliefs – are indisputably important to employees and their ability to engage in the organization and their work. Yet executives are still missing the mark on several points – executives ranked tangible elements (financial performance, compensation) as more important to employee engagement, where employees valued intangible elements (communications, leadership access) more.
  5. How to Achieve Success: Rewire Your Brain for Positivity & Happiness This terrific Ted Talk from Shawn Achor is well worth another watch. He explains how we can train our brains for positivity, not negativity. And when we do, our brains function 30% more effectively, changing the formula for success.

3 Favorite 2013 Compensation Café Posts

I also blog regularly on Compensation Café. My personal favorite posts for 2013 were these.

  1. Are Your Employees Volunteers or Robots? Employees are human and not machines. We get paid to do a job. We volunteer to do it exceptionally well. Read this post for more on why appropriate and fair compensation is critical to establishing a contract with employees. But if you want to establish a relationship, then you need to invest beyond contractual elements of pay.
  2. What the Oreo Cookie Teaches Us about Global Employee Recognition Why should HR and recognition pros seek to understand the local wants and needs of their globally distributed employees? In this post, I shared an example of the Oreo cookie and how it nearly failed in the Chinese market until Oreo producers Mondelez International changed the cookie formulation to change the shape, sweetness and filling flavor (green tea is most popular in China) to align with local tastes. Now, Oreo sales in China account for nearly half of all global sales of the iconic cookie.
  3. When You Can’t Differentiate Based on Compensation, What Do You Do to Stand Out? Merit increases and compensation packages are no longer enough of a draw to lure top talent away from competitors or to keep your top talent from jumping ship. Companies must differentiate on something more. Your culture – how your employees experience the work environment every day – is your most powerful differentiator in today’s market.

2 Favorite 2013 Globoforce Blog Posts

I would be remiss if I didn’t also share my two favorite posts from Darcy Jacobsen on the Globoforce Blog.

  1. 101 Effective Words to Use in Recognition Darcy explained the simple, but tremendous power of words in the right combination. She shared a list of some powerful words that have been proven to have positive, lasting impact when used for recognition, praise and appreciation.
  2. How Written Words Drive Behavior On a similar vein, this post dives into how written words make us think and change our behavior. As Darcy says, “Face-to-face interaction is good for communication. But if you want to really use positive feedback to encourage reflection and drive meaningful behavior, consider also writing that feedback down in words. It will make them matter all that much more.”



Top 5 Ways to Say Thanks

Recognize This! – There are countless ways to express appreciation, but keep these top ways in mind.

I’m in a mood to share top ways to say thanks. While the below are written with the workplace in mind, all can (and should) be applied in our personal lives as well. The power of thanks goes deep, at work and at home.

  1. Actually say it! – You’d be surprised (or perhaps not) how many people just never say the words. They may think to themselves, “Joe did a terrific job in the meeting today. I should tell him that” but then never get around to it. Taking the time to meaningfully, personally express your appreciation powerfully communicates not just appreciation, but value and worth to others.
  2. Beyond the thanks – Sometimes, people don’t express their gratitude because they limit “thanks” to those who they feel have personally helped or benefited them. Remember, true appreciation looks to recognize those who also demonstrate desired behaviors and contribute to the success of the company, the client, the team, or other colleagues. There are countless opportunities to appreciate others, if we look for them.
  3. In a team meeting, publicly – Make recognition a standing agenda item at every meeting. Recognize a successful initiative of the entire team or an individual who went above and beyond. (Just make sure the individual enjoys public appreciation.)
  4. In person, privately – For those that don’t enjoy the spotlight, knowing their work is noticed and appreciated is still critical to engagement and happiness at work. Stop by their workstation or invite them into your office and spend a moment telling them how much they and their efforts are valued.
  5. More than a gesture – Add memorable value to your recognition efforts by giving employees awards they can redeem for the reward of their choice. They will long associate their reward with the value you see in what they do every day.

BONUS: Top 5 Ways to Make “Thanks” More Effective

  1. Make It Timely Don’t wait for the annual bonus or “employee appreciation day.” If someone deserves recognition, give it to them in the moment or soon after! This ensures the recipient knows what they did that was deserving of recognition and is now encouraged to do the same again and again.
  2. Make It Personal – Broad recognition announcements can serve to demotivate in that people don’t feel their personal efforts or contributions were acknowledged. Get to know your team members and colleagues. Learn how they like to be recognized and follow suit.
  3. Make It Specific – Similarly, generic recognition messages (“Thanks, great job!”) have little impact. Far more impactful are messages that call out what the person did and why it mattered. Share how their efforts helped you, the team, the client or the company achieve greater success.
  4. Make It Meaningful In addition to personal and specific messages, give the gift of ongoing memories through a substantive reward, too.
  5. Make It Frequent – There should be no limit on the amount of recognition given. Do you see excellent behaviors, results or progress made? Recognize the contributors – every time!

What are other important ways to say “thanks?” What’s your favorite way?