Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Compensation Cafe: 2 Things to Get the Most Out of Employee Recognition Programs

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Measurable, peer-to-peer recognition set apart average employee recognition efforts from Best-in-Class programs. Results are obvious to the bottom line.

Check out my post today on Compensation Cafe for a deeper dive into a September 2014 report from Aberdeen, “Next-Level Employee Recognition.”

The report highlights two key features of best-in-class employee recognition programs. Recognizing and appreciating employees for efforts, behaviors and results in line with what matters most to your organization is guaranteed to get positive results. But getting the most out of employee recognition programs requires empowering all employees to fully participate in recognition and giving managers actionable oversight of recognition itself through metrics and dashboards.

Here’s a graphic from the report as a teaser:

Graphic showing bottom-line impact of peer recognition programs

Click over for the full story.

Finding Your Hidden Influencers Is Easier Than You Think

by Lynette Silva

Web of people, with one prominentRecognize This! – Hidden influencers are the people that keep your organization running smoothly. Tapping into their strengths can deliver great benefits. Your social recognition program can find them.

What do I do? I don’t help companies implement employee recognition programs. I partner with company leaders to help them create or strengthen a culture of recognition and appreciation across the entire organization. Anyone who has undertaken culture change can attest that is a heavy burden. And it can’t be done by a project team alone.

You need on-the-ground influencers. You need local people who work in the cubicles, on the shop floor, and on the front lines. Without them, change initiatives fail.

Earlier this year, McKinsey published an article on “Tapping the Power of Your Hidden Influencers.” I highly recommend a full read of the article as it summarizes quite well the fundamental challenge of most change efforts – they are led by the wrong people.

Yes, you need executives visibly taking ownership of any change, explaining why the new approach is important to them and to the company. But then you need people at every level of the organization also communicating a very personal message of why it should matter to you. McKinsey explains who these people are:

“Informal influencers exist in every organization, across industries, cultures, and geographies. They are, simply put, people other employees look to for input, advice, or ideas about what’s really happening in a company. They therefore have an outsized influence on what employees believe about the future, as well as on morale, how hard people work, and their willingness to support—or resist—change.”

But how do you find these influencers? McKinsey points out that influencer patterns rarely follow the org chart, company leaders are terrible at identifying the true influencers, and very few influencers are senior leaders. In that reality, McKinsey recommends “snowball sampling” to find the influencers. This is done through short, anonymous surveys asking, “Who do you go to for information at work?” Or “Whose advice do you trust and respect?” Then you compile the answers and see whose names rise to the top most often. Those are your hidden influencers.

When working with customers on changing company culture through powerful, positive recognition and appreciation, we, too, look for these hidden influencers. We typically refer to them as recognition ambassadors. Identifying them can be done in similar ways. Very early in our relationship with new customers, we’ll often conduct a brief recognition survey to assess current attitudes and levels. (This helps establish desired metrics of success as the program evolves). We also include these hidden influencer questions to help find ambassadors.

These people play a very important role. They aren’t helping to just launch a new employee recognition program. They’re instrumental in creating culture change through frequent, timely and specific appreciation of colleagues’ successes and contributions. That’s no small feat. How do you equip them for success?

  • Make the role special – Invite ambassadors to participate, explain why they’ve been chosen for the role, and set expectations for what they can do and how they will contribute.
  • Invite their input – Ambassadors are trusted by their colleagues for a reason. They demonstrate good judgment and a clear understanding of the real working environment. Those are exactly the traits you need as you’re making key decisions about your new social recognition initiative. Involve your ambassadors in as much decision-making as possible.
  • Treat them as leaders – You’d never launch a new strategic initiative and not keep the executive team informed of progress. Ambassadors must be treated the same way. They are now personally invested and deserve the same level of information and reports. (And then they can help carry forward that message, too.)

We’ve consistently seen the use of ambassadors drive much more rapid program adoption and thereby achievement of desired strategic program goals.

Done well, your recognition program can become your snowball sampling mechanism for future change efforts. We recommend structuring your program so that every recognition moment reinforces something important to the success of your organization –often one of your core values or strategic objectives. If you’ve done that, you can quickly see which employees are more regularly recognized for specific values or objectives. Let’s say one of your objectives is improved safety and “safety” is one of the reasons for recognition in your system. If you’re planning a particular campaign around safety, you can see who has been more regularly recognized for demonstrating key safety behaviors. These are your people that “get it.” They are your safety influencers. They should be your safety ambassadors.

Who are the hidden influencers in your organization? How do you find them? How do you tap into their influence today?

Work Friendships Increase Job Satisfaction and Productivity

by Derek Irvine

friends at work make a differenceRecognize This! – Great benefit can be gained simply by encouraging employees to deepen relationships with each other through appreciation, gratitude and story sharing.

Following on my post yesterday about global employee research from the Boston Consulting Group showing that “appreciation for my work” is the most important job aspect for employees, I wanted to share the findings of our 2014 UK and Ireland Workforce Mood Tracker survey (released today). Findings are consistent with what we see in the US, with employees highly valuing relationships at work but feeling unsupported by the organization in building those relationships more deeply.

As I comment in the news release, this year’s survey shows that organizations would benefit greatly from celebrating their employees’ dedication to the company, as well as the strong bonds people form while at work. While many may claim that they do not have friends at work, perhaps if they were given the opportunity to see the impact they have made on their colleagues, their opinion would differ.

Work Relationships Are Critical to Quality of Work and Life, Desire to Stay

  • 83 percent of UK and Irish employees believe their work relationships are important to their quality of life, yet almost half (45 percent) have no colleagues they consider to be real friends
  • 33 percent of survey respondents do not think their company culture allows them to easily build lasting relationships with co-workers, despite 43 percent of them spending between 31 and 50 hours per week with colleagues.
  • 24 percent of those with friends at work say they intend to stay with their current company for as long as possible, compared with just 16 percent of those without friends at work.

Improving Service Anniversaries a Good Way to Increase Impact of Friendships at Work

  • 65 percent of UK and Irish employees say they would feel good if their colleagues acknowledged their first year anniversary at their company
  • 17 percent say shared memories and kind words from co-workers would be the most meaningful way to celebrate their one-year milestone.
  • While 67 percent would like the opportunity to congratulate or share stories and memories on their colleagues’ anniversaries, 62 percent of organizations have no program in place to acknowledge such events.

Social recognition key to increasing employee productivity

  • 86 percent said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized and appreciated
  • While 61 percent feel they are appreciated, 43 percent are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive.

Adding a social element to recognition encourages interaction and friendships amongst colleagues. It deepens friendships, bonds people together, and provides the foundations for building trust and stronger relationships. The end result is increased engagement and a stronger company culture.

How deep are your relationships at work? Does your company culture support the formation good, positive relationships? How do these relationships affect your attitude toward your work, your colleagues and your company?

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?

Give a Bonus of Heartfelt Appreciation This Year

by Lynette Silva

Thank You in woodcutRecognize This! – Even after a difficult year, giving employees the appreciation and recognition they deserve is an important bonus.

Last Summer I followed the Market Basket grocery store saga religiously. I was captivated by the story of non-unionized employees willing to risk their livelihood to keep their CEO. (Here are summary posts about the walkout and the outcome.)

After a six week employee walkout and customer boycott, it’s fairly safe assumption the company took a pretty big financial hit. Employees were rightly concerned that years-long traditions around holiday bonuses might not materialize. Then news broke this week that all associates would indeed receive their deserved bonuses. Local paper The Lowell Sun reported:

“In another sign of a return to normalcy at Market Basket, the company paid out bonuses to employees this week that match or exceed what the chain has awarded in past years. The Christmas and customer-service bonus checks are the first to be handed out since Arthur T. Demoulas returned to running the company in late August.

“‘If we do a good job on our customers and they reward us by shopping with us, we share in the benefit we receive,’ said Dave McLean, Market Basket’s assistant director of operations.

That’s a pretty significant layout, but the commitment to the employee first is the real message that rings through this story.

The Boston CBS news station shared a personal perspective from one employee, Jen Gelvez, who works in the Reading, MA, store office. Ms. Gelvez’s perspective is a brilliant summary of the two elements we must always remember when bonuses are given.

The money matters…

“‘I wasn’t too sure with what was going on in the summer, with the company going into debt,’ Gelvez explains. ‘I didn’t expect [a Christmas bonus] at all. I was just thankful to have a job.’

“But for the divorced mother of two girls, that bonus is Christmas. So when her store manager showed up Tuesday morning bearing bonus checks from Mr. Demoulas, Gelvez almost couldn’t believe it. “To actually receive a Christmas bonus this year was amazing,” she said.

This is always something to keep in mind with a bonus plan. People come to expect them over time. It’s becomes tradition and money that people count on as planned income. It’s great Market Basket was able to continue the tradition this year, but even more so for the sake of the tradition itself.

…but heartfelt appreciation matters more.

“‘Mr. Demoulas writes a beautiful letter every year that each employee gets,’ Gelvez said. ‘I almost cried when I read it this year.’

“Part of that letter reads: ‘The only way our company is able to provide these most-deserved bonus checks is because you, your fellow associates, and our customers had the courage to preserve and protect the culture of this company.’

“Gelvez tears up when she thinks about how lucky she is to work at Market Basket. For her boss, she says only: ‘I just want to thank him. For everything that he did. That’s all.’”

That’s the real message of the bonus. “We couldn’t have done it or continue to do it without you.” That’s what employees most need to know and want to hear – my work matters to the company’s success, to my colleagues, and to my boss.

That’s the real “bonus.”

What kind of special recognition does your company offer at the holidays?

Surprise Someone with Gratitude This Holiday Season

by Traci Pesch

Ward Quote: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.Recognize This! – Expressing gratitude and appreciation for others is a powerful way to show how much we care.

You’re running late to work. Maybe you’re going a tad bit too fast. You look up and…oh, no…you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

What goes through your mind at this moment? Does your stomach jump into your throat? Do you think, “Not now. I don’t have the time! I’m already late.” Or perhaps, “Not this time of year. The budget’s already tight for Christmas presents. I can’t pay a speeding ticket, too!”

I imagine that was the experience for many of the people in this video – an effort by local police to brighten the holidays for motorists in Lowell, MI.

Officer Scot VanSokema pulled over motorists for minor traffic violations that might not have warranted a traffic stop. He engaged them in conversation, casually asking top gifts on their Christmas lists. Then colleagues listening in from a nearby store quickly raced to buy the items and bring them to the motorists.

A dark, worrisome moment, quickly turned into a positive, happy interaction – actions such as this are particularly important at this time of year which, for many, can be quite stressful.

The same is true at work. Think about the boss calling an employee into the office, “John, can you spare a quick minute? I have something to discuss with you privately.” Even in the best of relationships, there’s likely some measure of trepidation with a request like that. Perhaps John is thinking, “I wonder if I didn’t do a thorough enough job on that last project.” Or “No, I don’t have a quick minute. I’m slammed over here! How can you not see how busy I am?”

What a great opportunity for the boss to share a deeply personal and sincere message of appreciation and praise. Think how John might feel if he hears from the boss, “John, I wanted to take a moment to pause in our hectic schedules and tell you how much I appreciate your dedication and commitment to excellence in everything you do. I know how busy you are. I see the hours you’re working and the quality deliverables you’re turning in. I very much appreciate your work and generally positive attitude. What can I do to help?”

Did you watch the video through to the very end? The last screen shows this message:

“While we don’t encourage minor traffic violations, it’s important for police departments to take the time to show their citizens just how much they care.”

That’s valuable advice for all of us – just twist it slightly to: “It’s important for leaders to take the time to show their employees how much they care.” Actually, that’s too limiting. We can all make the day brighter for others. So perhaps a good reminder for us all is:

“It’s important for everyone to take the time to show their colleagues how much they care.”

What have you done to show your colleagues you care? What’s something special someone has done for you?

Compensation Cafe: Promotions, Bonuses, Raises, Recognition – When They Work (and When They Don’t)

Recognize This! - You can’t give all employees promotions, bonuses, Compensation Cafe logoor raises. They become an expectation and it’s a very poor use of budget. Social recognition, however, can be applied to all.

My post this week on Compensation Cafe was triggered by it being “the season of giving.” Many companies distribute annual bonuses around the holidays, leading me to ponder the best time and use for bonuses as well as the other major reward methods of promotions, raises and, of course, recognition.

Read the full post for more on each of these, including the day-to-day impact on the recipients. Then come back here and tell me which of the four mean the most to you in the short and long term.

How to Succeed in the Human Economy

by Lynette Silva

Help someone out - show your humanityRecognize This! – Our work is no longer about what we do or what we make, it’s about who we serve and how we behave.

This week was a week of meetings. Usually that’s a groan-inducing phrase for many employees across the world, but these meetings were with the strategy and consulting team. That means we dealt with the “big picture,” diving into good, meaty discussions that often verge into the philosophical as well as the practical. I enjoy them immensely, primarily because of the people in the meeting. These are the colleagues I have the opportunity to work with most closely day-in and day-out, and that is a rare privilege.

During one of our more philosophical moments, Derek Irvine (our chief blogger here on Recognize This! as well as the head of our strategy and consulting group) began to discuss what truly sets us apart. It’s not just what we offer to the market (social recognition solutions) or the way in which we deliver it (world-leading SaaS technology). No, it’s far more than that. It’s the people across Globoforce who engage deeply with our customer partners, often to the extent our customers refer to our relationship as “family.”

Derek went further to describe this as the human factor. That’s what we bring most – our humanity, our fundamental understanding of the needs of employees as not just workers, but also as friends and colleagues, and as people with rich lives outside the workplace. This brought to mind an article by Dov Seidman I read recently in Harvard Business Review.

“Over the course of the 20th century, the mature economies of the world evolved from being industrial economies to knowledge economies. Now we are at another watershed moment, transitioning to human economies—and the shift has profound implications for management.

“What do I mean by the human economy? Economies get labeled according to the work people predominately do in them. The industrial economy replaced the agrarian economy when people left farms for factories; then the knowledge economy pulled them from factories to office buildings. When that happened, the way workers added value changed, too. Instead of leveraging their brawn, companies capitalized on their brains. No longer hired hands, they were hired heads.

“In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytic skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that can’t be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words. The ability to leverage these strengths will be the source of one organization’s superiority over another.”

I believe this to be true. We’re already seeing the human economy at work all around us. So the question becomes, how do I encourage “humanity” among all employees? How do I reinforce these now-primary desired behaviors for humanity? What attributes do I look for in others to contribute well in this new economy?

This is where the fundamentals of humanity come into play:

We owe it to each other – we owe it to ourselves – to truly acknowledge the people around us. In the end, it’s the way we will now measure success.

What other attributes of humanity do you see at play at work or elsewhere around you?

Platinum Rule of Recognition: It’s Not about You – It’s About Them

by Derek Irvine

Image of blue goldfish swimming opposite of school of gold goldfishRecognize This! – A key aspect of effective employee recognition is providing appreciation in the way most meaningful to the recipient.

The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – is a good philosophical approach to life. But it doesn’t fully apply to employee recognition.

Too often, when we think about appreciating and recognizing others for contributions, work well done, or results, we think about how we would want to be recognized. But that ignores the needs and desires of the person we are trying to honor. And isn’t that really the point of recognition? To make the recipient feel valued, noticed and appreciated, and not to toot our own horn?

That’s why I like the idea of the “platinum rule.” Sharon Sloane, CEO of Will Interactive, recently discussed the platinum rule in terms of her leadership style. In this Corner Office interview, she said:

“It means, do unto others as they would have you do unto them. It recognizes that not everybody is motivated by the same thing. You can’t necessarily fulfill everyone’s wishes, but it’s crucial to understand what makes them tick.”

If you enjoy being publicly praised and acknowledged, don’t foist that preference on someone who hates the spotlight but would enjoy being praised in a private meeting with you. If you personally believe, “Getting paid is recognition enough,” realize that many people are motivated by understanding the impact and role of their work within a bigger picture. Frequent, timely recognition outside of a paycheck accomplishes this goal more readily.

Paul White, co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work, points to some of these differences:

“What we have found is that people differ in how they want to be shown appreciation and encouragement. Verbal compliments are meaningful to some. To others, words are cheap and spending time with them is important. Helping employees dig out when they are behind on a project, or handing out restaurant gift cards or sports tickets after a particularly tough week, can be effective ways to convey support.

“For older workers, a handwritten personal note is often seen as very meaningful. But for millennial males, receiving something handwritten offers little added value. The key for them is the speed in which the feedback is given, preferably within 24 hours, as opposed to a few days.”

Paying attention to generational differences in recognition preferences can also pay dividends to your organization. Fast Company reported:

Research by Deloitte is projecting that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. They are supportive of—and engaged with—companies that care about more than a high-profit margin. Leaders are noticing the change. According to Deloitte, 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement as urgent or important.”

Recognition is the most powerful lever for increasing employee engagement and creating a positivity dominated workplace culture that employees don’t want to leave. Committing to recognizing others the way they want to be recognized is a critical step in that process.

How do you prefer to be recognized? How might that differ from your peers or members of your team?

Don’t Forget This Important Utensil at Thanksgiving

by Lynette Silva

Dinner place setting with penRecognize This! – Writing down what we are most grateful for can increase our feeling of gratitude and appreciation.

Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday! It’s a day all about food, family and gratitude. There’s no commercialization of the holiday, the weather generally cooperates for a nice day (though not this year in New England), and all that good food tends to put people in a good mood, too.

But the thing I, well, appreciate about Thanksgiving most is the sharing of gratitude. We make it a point to say what we’re grateful for during or meal. The discussion can be far ranging as everyone gets an equal say, even the 5-year-old twin cousins. Some of what we’re grateful for are material things, but mostly we all express our gratitude for each other or others in our life who had a significant impact in the last year. Often, the sad is wrapped up with the joyous, but we are all lifted up by the sharing of gratitude.

I will admit to needing to jot down my “gratitude markers” as I wait my turn to share. Things shared by others often remind me of more things I’m grateful for myself, and so my list grows. I’ve taken to writing my thoughts down on the paper tablecloth next to my plate. That’s why a pen has become my most important Thanksgiving utensil.

I thought I was innovative (or at least remarkably efficient) until I saw this very recommendation in Huffington Post. In fact, my writing down my thoughts serves not just as a jog to my memory, but a way to increase my feeling gratitude overall. From the article:

“Just this small stunt — the physical action of jotting down a couple of things you’re happy to have in your life — has been shown to reinforce happy thoughts. Our brains have a tendency to focus on the negative, so this action helps to stop our thoughts from going down a dark path and bring them back on a happy trail.”

Writing down our gratitude for and about others helps us as much as it helps them. Take a minute today to express your gratitude for those you work with every day. Then, this Thanksgiving, do the same for your family and friends.

This Thanksgiving, I’m particularly grateful for having my mother with us, for good health among those I love after a difficult medical year, and for the joy of family and friends.

What’s on your gratitude list?