Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Why We Must Bring More Romance to Work

by Lynette Silva

Book Cover ImageRecognize This! – Romance at work is about focusing not on the end goal, but the experience in getting there (and the people we get there with).

Today, I’m continuing my series of book reviews in preparation for the WorkHuman panel with the authors on “Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.” (Be sure to register and use blog code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount.)

It is possible to be both a romantic and a solid businessperson. In his book The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself, Tim Leberecht writes about business romance, but not the kind you might expect.

In my review of his book, I’d like to start at the end – the Acknowledgements. I admit to rarely reading book acknowledgements – at least before I started working at Globoforce. Now, I love them. They tend to serve as a perfect mirror of what “good recognition” looks like. Tim’s acknowledgements, however, gave me one of the greatest insights in his entire book:

“So here are my closing credits, the moment I’ve been waiting for. As I was writing them, it occurred to me that it might serve us well – as workers, consumers, and citizens – to begin each project, each tenure, each life endeavor with a draft of acknowledgements, pondering the question ‘Whom, in the end, would you like to thank and why?’ rather than ‘What would you like to have accomplished?’ This will hone our humility, our ability to estimate our own position in the world more realistically.”

This resonated so strongly with me because, in the end, we’ve accomplished very little alone. There’s always someone (or many someones) who helped us along the way, lending help, wisdom, heavy lifting or even just a heartfelt cheer. And that’s the first element of adding some romance to a more WorkHuman workplace – always be thinking first about the people around you.

Why does finding ways to be more romantic in our attitudes toward work matter? Because in many ways, we’re moving away from the consideration of what it means to be human in many aspects of our lives. Tim points out: “What was once the heart and soul of our education [liberal arts core curriculum], the foundation of our most basic notions regarding our humanity, has now become a field of study pursued only by dreamers and rebels.”

Because a workplace is nothing more or less than a group of humans collaborating together towards an end goal, we must put humanity back at the center of our work. Doing so is the essence of romance – seeking not the end, but the experience getting there. The people we get to share experiences with along the way, they help to define the meaning we find in our work and ultimately our lives. Tim uses a phrase I love – “modest moments of intimacy” – or creating ways for people to feel close and connected. What does this mean at work? In Tim’s words, “A good work experience is less about bland company values and manifestos and more about small moments of intimacy, humor, and pleasure.”

And this doesn’t have to be hard. We certainly can’t change other people, but we can change ourselves. So keep in mind the power and impact giving has on you. Referencing research, Tim says, “We constantly underestimate the importance of small moments of attachment… Those who engaged in casual social interactions reported overall more positive emotions.” That’s partly why Tim also encourages: “Force people to look up and interact. Bring departments together for no other reason than to discover each other.”

We find recognition to be a powerful way to do this, by making everyone responsible for looking up from their work to notice the good work and contributions of others, then recognize them for it. Tim references the research of Adam Grant (also a WorkHuman speaker) and his book Give and Take: “Companies should have a strong interest in fostering giving behavior as it enhances key aspects of their performance, including effective collaboration, innovation, service excellence, and quality assurance.”

How do we most typically measure employees today? Through the performance review, which is another reason giving everyone responsibility for recognition of the good work of others is important. Tim illustrates:

“We all wear masks at the workplace, too. We perform by completing tasks and accomplishing goals set mostly by others. But we also enact our own narrative by choreographing our interactions and playing different social roles. These types of performance have become ever more essential to our ‘performance review.’ The knowledge economy has automated many of our quantifiable, concrete tasks and left us with only the fuzzy space or subjective tasks: shaping perceptions; building and cultivating relationships; managing our reputation; curating and sharing tacit knowledge; earning respect, popularity, authority, and influence… If one were to grossly exaggerate, one could say we are no longer what we make or do – we are who others think we are.”

That certainly gave me pause to consider what others think I am. Am I bringing humanity to work? Are you?

Earlier posts in this series:

5 Reasons Surprise Matters (and how to embrace it)

Trends in Work Environments: Finding the Balance to WorkHuman

by Traci Pesch

Balanced rocksRecognize This! –Benefits for some can be perceived as detractors by others. Finding the balance to serve all is key.

As part of my work, I get involved with many different customers across a wide variety of industries, located around the world. When I step back from a particular customer’s situation and look across the spectrum of customers and how they think about the work environment and how people work best together, patters emerge.

1) Physical Space – There’s definitely a difference in how “cool, trendy” companies treat physical office space vs more traditional organization. However, across the board, I’m seeing a lot of detailed attention being paid to how employees get work done within a physical space. Open offices are the trendy approach, but even in these spaces, I see many little tweaks and configurations to give a semblance of “personal space” and even privacy. So, who benefits from an open office structure? Company leaders claim the primary benefit is in increased collaboration, innovation, productivity, etc., but research is showing the opposite. Too much noise and distraction in open offices can actually lower productivity depending on the collaboration scenario. But for some teams and work structures, the ability to easily and quickly collaborate with colleagues is a distinct benefit.

Find the Balance – Structure work environments that give employees ample opportunity to spontaneously collaborate as well as work heads-down in a physical space ideal for concentration. This requires acknowledging different people and teams work best differently and allowing for space ideal for everyone.

2) Perks – Free food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and nap rooms. On-site dry cleaning, laundry services and car washes. On-site doctors and dentists. These and many more perks are truly a benefit for employees. But everyone also knows companies often offer these services as a way to eliminate these distractions so employees can work longer and more intense hours. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it all lies in how these benefits are perceived by both the employer and the employee. If there is a dentist on-site, will I be frowned upon for leaving work early to go a dental appointment with a doctor I prefer?

Find the Balance – Invest in perks that ease tiresome burdens for employees and allow them to focus on what matters most to them, but be sure employees are fully comfortable with the option to take advantage of the available perks or not.

3) Recognition – In my nearly 15 years in the industry, I’m seeing a much more rapid adoption of employee social recognition as a driving factor of both individual fulfillment and team and organization success. But as more and more people gain a deeper understanding of the Power of Thanks, I’m also seeing less and less valuable, meaningful and personal recognition experiences. It’s easy to jump on a “Hey, thanks!” bandwagon, but much more important to put the extra effort into crafting a true culture of recognition in which deep, detailed appreciation between peers and leaders alike. (There’s an art and science to this discussed in much greater detail in the book linked above.)

Find the Balance – Recognition, when given specifically and personally, strikes a deep chord and feeds an important human need. Yet how individuals give, receive and process recognition is very different. Be sure to think about the person receiving recognition as much as the person giving it.

The common theme here? Everyone is different. Humans are complex beings. Understanding how we can best work together is an equally complex, but deeply important undertaking. That’s why I’m looking forward to WorkHuman 2015 (June 8-10 in Orlando). I’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways in which we need to think better, harder and deeper about how we WorkHuman together. I hope you’ll join me there. (Register here and enter code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount).

What do you find to be the most important aspects of a human work environment?

5 Reasons Surprise Matters (and how to embrace it)

by Lynette Silva

Cover of Book "Surprise"Recognize This! – Surprises happens. Our connections with others help us better enjoy the good surprises and weather the bad ones.

I love my job. I know I’m lucky I get to say that. Why do I love my job? Lots of reasons, but at the top of the list is the people I get to work with every day – both my colleagues at Globoforce and the customers who enrich every project I’m involved in. It’s those intimate connections with people and what we learn, do and achieve together that make work fun.

That’s why I’m excited about the upcoming WorkHuman conference. (June 8-10, in Orlando, FL. Register here and use code DIBLOG100for a $100 discount.) The entire event is all about how we can all love our work when we learn to appreciate and respect each other in positive ways to build deeper and stronger connections. I’m honored to lead one of the panel discussions: “Unexpected Innovations: Changing How We Think about a Human Workplace.” The panel will showcase four of the speakers/authors, giving us a chance to unpack in more detail their thoughts around important concepts in a WorkHuman workplace – Surprise/Happiness; Romance/Meaning; Play/Productivity; and Failure/Risk-Taking. (Check out more information on many of these sessions in this post: 8 Upcoming Talks You’d Be Crazy to Miss. Seriously.)

As I prepare for the session, I’m absorbing their books. There is so much wisdom and insight I’d like to share with you. So for the next four weeks, I’ll be sharing a book review from each author. First up, Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected by Tania Luna and Leann Renninger, PhD. I greatly enjoyed this book and took away many personal life learnings.

1) Embracing Surprise Is Important – Surprise is, in a way, all about giving up control. About allowing yourself to be in a place where you can be surprised and to experience wonder. Our world today is nothing but surprise – constant change and the surprise it brings us. That’s why learning how to use surprise to our advantage is so powerful.

“It’s training in the skills that separate people and organizations that thrive in this new world from the ones that can’t stomach the volatility… They are the skills that turn our work and our lives into meaningful adventures.”

2) Surprise Requires Connection — Surprise must be a shared experience. When surprising things happen to us, we naturally want to share with others, building deeper connections.

“Keeping an emotionally and cognitively intense experience to ourselves isn’t just difficult; it can lead to physical illness.”

3) Trust, Stability and Vulnerability Are Critical for Embracing Surprise – Recognition and appreciation play a key role in building trust, which is necessary for us to give up control and accept the unpredictable. Stable connections in the workplace keep us focused on what matters most. Vulnerability does not mean weakness, but openness.

  • “Trust is a psychological safety net that allows us to let go.”
  • “Setting stable ground builds resilience and makes even the worst surprises bearable. Social support is particularly effective at creating stability… Stable and supportive people can also help us gain clarity and just plain remind us that we matter.”
  • “We cannot connect unless we leave ourselves open to the unpredictable delights and disappointments, joys and sorrows of relationships.”

4) Adapting to and Using Surprise to Our Advantage Requires Improvisation – People most adept with surprise “accept that surprises will happen without trying to avoid or predict them.” Improvisation is a terrific way to build this skill because it requires two things in particular – focusing on others and staying in the moment.

“Improv performers agreed that the most important rule in improv is listening to your scene partners rather than thinking about yourself… The same advice applies offstage. In times of uncertainty, turning our attention to others allows us to move more swiftly and make better choices. It also allows us to help others look good, which builds trust and community… The most exciting performers trust that they’ll find themselves someplace better than they imagined, which is precisely how they get there. To improvise, we have to stay with the moment we’re in instead of chasing a moment we want.”

5) Practicing Gratitude Gives Us More Reasons to Be Grateful – I suggest taking the advice in the book one step further. Yes, reflect every day on what you’re grateful for. But then make the extra effort to express your gratitude through recognition by telling the target of your gratitude why and how they’ve given you a reason to be grateful.

“One of the best predictors of life satisfaction is how much gratitude we feel on a regular basis. More gratitude = more joy…. When we get what we expect (even if it’s wonderful), we feel nothing. No surprise = no gratitude. Actively practicing gratitude is the only way to flip on the switch voluntarily instead of sitting around and waiting for gratitude-inspiring surprises to happen.”

Stay tuned next week for wisdom from Tim Lebrecht and his book, The Business Romantic.

How do you handle surprise? Is it something you seek out or try to avoid?

You Asked: Answering Your Questions about The Power of Thanks (Part 2)

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Social recognition is a very powerful means of creating and managing culture, when structured in a considered, thoughtful way.

Continuing on my last post, below are the remaining questions asked in our recent webinar about our new book, The Power of Thanks. (Download a recording of the webinar.)

Q10: How should companies balance positive recognition with encouraging people to offer candid criticism, as well? In other words, is there a risk that focusing on encouraging positive recognition risks silencing negative feedback?

There is a far greater risk to negative feedback outweighing positive. Both are important, but one thing to be sure to avoid is the “feedback sandwich,” which is just confusing to all. Check out these posts on research showing it takes 5 positive comments to outweigh one negative for feedback recipients and Gallup research showing employees whose managers acknowledge their strengths are far more engaged than those whose managers focus on their weaknesses.

Q11: I am in management in a department that has just completed a hostile takeover of another department. There is a great deal of mistrust and dysfunction. How can we turn this around without undermining the needed authority we have to maintain?

While departmental, many of the principles for any kind of merging of cultures likely applies. I recommend the information in this post: “The Power of Thanks during M&A – 5 Steps to Merge Company Cultures.”

Q12: I give recognition frequently, but I do not receive it (personally) because upper management doesn’t believe in it. I purchase recognition items out of my own money, but just can’t seem to get buy-in from the top.

A strong business case for recognition that appeals to what upper management cares about most would likely be a strong approach. I refer you specifically to chapter 8 in The Power of Thanks, “Driving ROI and Business Results.” Working with customers to create solid business cases is also a service my team offers. Reach out through the email link above if we can help further.

Q13: In today’s environment, we are getting very impersonal and managers miss the little things that count when it comes to employee recognition. Agreed?

Agreed. It’s the many little things that make us a success. Even the very best managers can’t be expected to see all the good occurring around them every day, especially in today’s distributed workforces. That’s why peer recognition is vitally important to empower everyone to “catch someone doing something good. This post has more detail: Open the Floodgates of Recognition.

Q14: Is it effective to do a “recognition” program within a smaller group–if you can’t impact the entire company? And can you give more examples of the best ways to do that?

It can be effective to structure a program in a smaller group, but the same principles of best practice program design apply. No matter the size of the group, follow the blueprint for recognition success outlined in chapter 7 of The Power of Thanks, “Building a Social Recognition Framework.” Doing so will not only ensure success of the program within your smaller group, but also prove the value of your efforts to the company as a whole (hopefully enabling you to expand the positivity to the entire organization).

Q15: Is there a blueprint/best way to measure employee engagement? Cultural health?

That’s a question the various employee engagement survey providers would want to weigh in on, I’m sure. My advice would be to be sure any survey you conduct, you’re prepared to take action on feedback received in a very timely fashion. Otherwise people think their time spent offering their opinions is wasted. For measuring culture health, there’s no better way than staying on top of the factors you’ve determined to be the markers of your culture – your core values (in most cases). Chapter 9 in The Power of Thanks, “How Social Recognition Impacts HR” addresses this topic in much greater detail, delving into the power of big data and people analytics.

Q16: Is there a value to doing a recognition program that simply acknowledges and gives thanks without actual awards?

“Thanks Only” recognition programs have a couple of challenges, first of which is no calibration of recognition to level of effort, contribution, result achieved. Someone who led a cross-departmental team on a project with company-wide, lasting impact should be recognized at a higher level than someone who contributed as part of team to achieving a short-term goal. Without that calibration and differentiation, recognition becomes devalued very quickly. Also, research shows employees themselves find ethanks to not be memorable or have a lasting impact.

Q17: Do you have any research on gamification tools and their impact on social collaboration and recognition. Any success stories or key things to look for in gamification software?

Gamification is a tricky issue. In a true incentives or contest scenario, then gamification techniques make good sense. But in true recognition, you want to be sure all praise and appreciation activity is organic. You don’t want people to game recognition in terms of wanting to be a “top recognizer” on a leaderboard, as that only encourages people to recognize others for the wrong reasons. Again, my colleague, Darcy, has done a terrific job of explaining this in more depth in this post: “5 Myths about Gamification Everyone Should Know.”

Q18: What would be the difference between current social recognition actions and actions like “employee of the month”?

Employee of the Month programs, as traditionally implemented, are often seen as “Teacher’s Pet” programs (John is always the winner as he’s the boss’s favorite) or “Who’s Turn Is It This Month?” (rotating the award through the team, regardless of how deserved the acknowledgement is). There is way to salvage these programs through social recognition practices, which I’ve discussed in this post: “Is Your Employee of the Month Program Recognizing the Right People?”

Clearly, we enjoy addressing your questions here on Recognize This! Feel free to reach out through the email link above any time or in comments on any post. I often address those questions in posts directly.

What are your biggest questions or concerns around social recognition?

You Asked: Answering Your Questions about The Power of Thanks (Part 1)

by Derek Irvine

Cover of Power of Thanks BookRecognize This! – Social recognition is a very powerful means of creating and managing culture, when structured in a considered, thoughtful way.

Last week, Eric Mosley and I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar about our new book, The Power of Thanks. (Download a recording of the webinar.) The webinar, led by Laurie Ruettimann, was a very enjoyable experience with terrific questions from attendees. As is always the case, we ran out of time before we were able to address all of the questions. I’ll do my best to answer them here, often pointing to prior blog posts on similar topics. Due to the number of questions, I’ll be breaking this into two posts, with the second to appear on Monday.

Q1: A company maintains its most valued assets not by compensation, but by appreciation?

There’s no question that fair compensation matters. Employees need to satisfy their base requirements for safety, security, food, etc. But once those needs are met, additional compensation doesn’t necessarily lead to the higher orders of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. Maintaining your most valued assets requires an appropriate blend of both compensation and recognition. Read more on the topic on Compensation Café: “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is More Fluid than You Think.”

Q2: Are there specific rules for employee appreciation?

There are. First and foremost, recognition should be specific. A casual, “thanks for all you do” is often received as insincere and ultimately meaningless. (Recipients of such a comment often think, “Do you even know what I do?”) This is easily resolved by taking a few minutes to add a couple more well thought-out sentences around how the person’s contributions helped you. To summarize the rules for effective recognition: Timely, Personal, Specific, Meaningful and Frequent. This post highlights each of these elements in more detail: “Top 5 Ways to Say Thanks.”

(This question is similar to another one asked: “I have found that giving thanks *is* very powerful, but it can come across as insincere sometimes — even if it isn’t. How can leaders keep the thanks ‘real?’” The answer above applies here, too.)

Q3: Can you give a concrete examples of a good example of a best practice social recognition?

At it’s heart, social recognition requires the involvement of the broad community – both passively and actively. Passive involvement means sharing recognition given and moments of goodwill so others can pile on with their own messages of congratulations (think newsfeed similar to Facebook but secure within your company and organized to show you the people you know best in addition to regular communications on goodwill given). Active involvement means opening the opportunity to give personal, meaningful recognition to everyone. Peer-to-peer recognition is as important as manager-to-employee. Often the people we work with every day see and understand the value of our contributions better than those who may manage us from a distance. Frequent recognition is also an important component as anytime a person demonstrates a desired behavior, he or she should be recognized for doing so. As to what constitutes a good message of appreciation, I’ll defer to this post: “5 Must-Haves for a Meaningful Message of Appreciation.”

Q4: Eric is talking about “blanketing your company in positivity and good will.” Can he provide more specifics?

This topic is largely all about not limiting the opportunity to share positivity in a formal way to any particular group. Too often, we say managers are responsible for this, but really all employees hold responsibility for creating and sustain a culture of recognition built on daily moments of positivity and goodwill. These two posts offer additional color: “Creating a Contagion of Positivity in the Workplace” and “The Power of Positivity at Work.”

Q5: Do you ever notice a lack of appreciation or an expectation from employees with rewards like service rewards? How do you address these situations or revamp the program to make it eagerly anticipated?

Ah, long service or years of service awards. As traditionally implemented, these types of awards add little value as they tend to be an exclusive experience between the manager and employee (at best). However, when you make the anniversary award achievement an inclusive experience, inviting stories and sharing from the recipient’s friends and colleagues, the anniversary becomes a true celebration of that person’s entire history with your organization, acknowledging all of their contributions and achievements over time. What’s that experience like? Read this story from a member of my team: “How to Avoid the Seven-Year Itch.”

Q6: For the 14% of employees who don’t like public recognition, what’s the best way to recognize them without causing a negative/embarrassing experience for that resource?

Acknowledging people’s personal preferences for recognition is a form of recognition itself. Private recognition should certainly occur one-on-one between the giver and receiver in a detailed way. However, I caution to not take this too far. For example, if John (who prefers private recognition) was a contributor to a major team project and success, you wouldn’t specifically mention all the other team members by name and exclude John’s name. For more, this is one of my favorite posts on recognition gone wrong: “How Not to Recognize * Mortification ≠ Motivation.”

Q7: Have you seen start-up companies embrace this type of value/recognition system and processes vs. just large companies? Can you share start-up examples who have built this into their DNA from the beginning and how their leadership has seen the value here?

I’m not sure I can share a better example than Globoforce itself! Our Globostars recognition program has been part of our culture since the beginning. Recognition is very much in our DNA and blanket Globoforce with positivity every day. It’s also a significant contributor to our achievement of becoming a “Best Places to Work” in Ireland, Europe and the U.S. This post shares a detailed interview with Eric about how we’ve built our culture, values and recognition experience: “Spreading Positivity at Work – The Globoforce Story.”

Q8: Do you think the combination of technology and pace of the work world we live in are responsible for why we need to be reminded of how to be human?

I do think that’s a large part of it. I also think we’re all focused on achieving immediate needed goals. Sometimes we need to be reminded to pick our heads up out of our daily work and notice the great efforts of those around us. That’s an essential element of “being human,” whether we’re at work, at the grocery store, or chatting with our neighbors. More on how we “Work Human” is very much a part of our upcoming conference (learn more and register at I hope you can join us. (Use registration code DIBLOG100for a special blog discount of $100).

Q9: How does this style of recognition apply to more communal (non-individualist) cultures, where open recognition might be seen as embarrassing? I would assume there are similar mechanisms to recognize teams and team efforts, and not just individuals?

Recognition – and the need to be noticed and appreciated – is a universal human need, regardless of culture. That said, there are nuances. My colleague, Darcy Jacobsen, wrote several posts on this topic that dive more deeply than I can here. I recommend in particular: “Recognizing across Cultural Borders,” “Is Your Culture Holistic, Monochronic or Collectivist?” and “Recognizing across Cultures: China.”

Stay tuned for the next post for the answers to the remainder of questions from the webinar.

Compensation Cafe: An Argument for Unfair Pay

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! — The combination of pay and recognition drives the greatest reward for employees – of all abilities and levels.

Is unfair pay a good approach to workplace transformation? Laszlo Bock, legendary SVP of people operations at Google, advocates for it as part of his “10 things to transform your team and your workplace,” which was my topic of discussion earlier this week on Compensation Cafe.

Of course, this is a title created to draw attention, and Mr. Bock’s point is more along the lines of rewarding the 10% of the people on the team who do 90% of the work. On Compensation Cafe, I also draw attention to another tip that takes first place on Mr. Bock’s list – “Give your work meaning.” I think that’s a much better message and draw for 100% of your employees. As I comment in the post:

“Help people draw this connection. When people demonstrate desired behaviors in line with core values or strategic objectives, recognize them for it. Make this recognition quite explicit to help them connect the dots and see the deeper meaning. Better yet, offer differentiated recognition awards calibrated to various factors such as level of effort, contribution, and result achieved. This enables you to involve more people (hopefully, the vast majority of employees) in recognition activities while also ensuring those who go above-and-beyond are recognized as doing so.”

As usual on Compensation Cafe, my fellow bloggers and the broader Cafe community weighed in with additional wisdom and insight in the comments. I encourage you to click over for the full post and the comment, both.

The Power of Thanks Is in Us All, if We’re Willing to Share It

by Lynette Silva

Post-it Note reading "Express Your Gratitude"Recognize This! – Simply expressing appreciation and gratitude to others can change perspectives for the better.

I benefit from my job in the same ways most people do. I earn a paycheck that pays for a roof over my head and food in my belly. But because my company is focused on creating cultures of recognition and appreciation through the Power of Thanks, I also benefit from both being encouraged to share my gratitude for my peers and their work in a direct and meaningful way as well as receiving similar recognition myself.

And then there’s a third benefit of the work I get to do. Call it a side-effect, if you will. I’ve noticed that being immersed in a culture of recognition has turned me into a far more appreciative person in all aspects of my life, at work and at home. It’s impossible to train yourself to pick up your head out of your own little world to notice the efforts and contributions of others at work and then not do the same at home, too. Often, without realizing it, I’m far more complimentary of the people I interact with as I go about life – grocery store cashiers and personal friends, gas station attendants and family members – who they are doesn’t matter so much as the humanity they represent. We are all built needing to hear praise and appreciation from others. I’m just glad I’ve learned skills to do that better.

But let me be clear. Really valuable recognition (from the perspective of the recipient) isn’t a casually tossed off, “Hey, thanks! You do great work. I appreciate it.” No, really valuable recognition takes into account what you know about the other person, their circumstances and the unique value or difference they bring to the scenario.

I’ve started to keep my eyes peeled for when I see this kind of recognition occur. One new outlet I particularly like that highlights these kinds of stories is the Huffington Post Gratitude page. Filled with stories from around the world and various scenarios, it’s impossible to leave this page not feeling uplifted about our capacity to lift each other up through gratitude, appreciation and thanks.

One such story recently appeared, sharing the appreciation of a flight passenger to her pilots. The text of her message is below:

Dear pilots of the plane taking me home,

In light of the very recent tragedy in the French Alps and the loss of those poor 150 people, I feel the need to reach out to you and extend a compassionate hand. At the end of the day, we are all humans just trying to live this rollercoaster of a life we have been handed. I understand an event so horrific as this one affects those with your responsibility more than others, and maybe sometimes a kind word, random but heartfelt, can make a difference. I’m hoping to create a ripple effect and spread some compassion and understanding.

Thank you for taking me home. Thank you for doing so safely. Thank you for allowing me to live the life I do in Spain and split my time with my family in England too. You make the excitement I feel now to see my family possible. I hope you get to see your families soon. I’ve had a wonderful flight and hope you have too.

You’re making a massive difference and you’re the reason I can smile tonight.

Take care and spread love. Kindest regards, Bethanie.

“We are all humans just trying to live this rollercoaster of a life we have been handed.” So true, but I do believe we can smooth out that wild ride when we put a little effort into noticing and valuing the people around us. It’s that human connection that matters most, facilitated through the simple act of saying “thanks.”

What’s a powerful message of gratitude or thanks you’ve heard recently?

Compensation Cafe: A Paycheck Is Not Recognition for a Job Well Done

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Psychologically healthy employees require appropriate compensation and praise for their efforts. Are the two in balance in your organization?

At a recent meeting discussing what contributions qualified as eligible for recognition, a meeting participant piped up, “Well, our hourly employees already get overtime pay for going above and beyond, so recognizing them would be like double-dipping.”

No. It doesn’t matter if you’re exempt or non-exempt. If you demonstrate desired behaviors in a commendable way, you should be recognized for it. It’s the classic discussion of the difference between compensation and recognition, which was the top of my most recent post on Compensation Cafe.

Check out the post for more on the topic, including a graphic illustrating the relationship between raises and recognition in terms of the amount invested vs the length of impact, Freakonomics research shared by Ben Eubanks, and even findings from the American Psychological Association.

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?

3 Benefits of CEO Video Messages for Social Recognition Programs

by Traci Pesch

Setting Up a CEO Video ShootRecognize This! – Video messages powerfully communicate passion along with important messages, especially when delivered by top executives.

One of the best parts of my job is the creative work I get to do with our customers around change management, communications and training. As I’m sure you can imagine, that encompasses a fairly expansive suite of potential materials and mechanisms to get out the message about the Power of Thanks to transform an organization.

But if I had to pick a favorite means of communication to develop with a customer, it would be the CEO video, for three key reasons:

1. People pay more attention. I know when I get an email from Eric Mosley, our CEO, I open it immediately and read it carefully. That’s even more true for video messages because I know the time investment to create them. If Eric is taking the time to record a video message instead of dashing off a quicker form of communication, then that tells me it’s a message I’d better pay particularly close attention to.

2. Expectations are more clear. The best CEO video messages do not beat around the bush on what behavior changes or actions the CEO expects from those viewing the video. When launching a new approach to social recognition and creating a culture of appreciation, that message is often about the CEO expecting all employees to notice and formally recognize the great work of those around them.

3. Video illuminates the humanity of recognition. One of the greatest benefits of a well-designed social recognition program is in the fostering of deeper interpersonal interactions between employees, even if they are located across the globe from the each other. Executive videos, by their very nature, show the humanity of the CEO In a new way. This article on expresses the point well:

“Using video as a means to communicate CEO messaging helps employees to see the leader’s passion and enthusiasm. Establishing this personal connection—even distantly through video—increases confidence, trust and loyalty.”

The Ragan article goes on to offer several how-to tips for getting top-notch footage of your CEO to drive home the messages you want to resonate most with your employees, so it’s well worth the read.

Does your organization use CEO videos to communicate? What are the key messages you’d want your CEO to deliver?