Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

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?

Lessons from “Best Companies to Work For”

by Derek Irvine

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes your workplace special?

Employee Appreciation Day Is EVERY Day

by Derek Irvine

Cheering groupRecognize This! – Appreciation is due every day, to everyone.

Today is officially “Employee Appreciation Day” – a day that frustrates me somewhat. The intent of the day is good and valid – remind managers to recognize and appreciate those on their teams. And yet, it more often highlights the sad fact that all too often recognition and appreciation is reserved for a special “day” or event.

This might not be “Employee Appreciation Day” in your organization. It’s more likely it’s the annual bonus event. When such events are structured, it gives managers an excuse to hold off on recognition until the prescribed date. Worse yet, such an approach reinforces the false notion that it is the responsibility of the manager alone to express appreciation and give praise.

Every employee in your organization owns the culture of the company. How they choose to behave and interact with each other and with customers every day dictates the culture and the daily employee experience. You have a choice if that is a passive culture or an intentional one directed towards proactive, positive praise from all employees to all employees. What’s a better approach? Consider this advice from Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley, shared in Inc. magazine:

“Companies should look at Employee Appreciation Day like it’s Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s or Father’s Day. The sentiments we share and the way we make others feel on those days is how we should act every day. In the same way, Employee Appreciation Day is a reminder of how companies should treat their employees all year long. The energy and happier-than-usual mood that bringing in breakfast or hosting an awards ceremony creates in an office will certainly be palpable, yet this can be done throughout the year. If Employee Appreciation Day is the only day companies recognize or appreciate their employees’ achievements, then they’re missing a big opportunity to engage and keep them happy.”

Think what kind of impact you might have if you were to gather your team together (or just chat with those in your local workgroup) and say, “Today is Employee Appreciation Day. Because I want to commit to you to do a better job of noticing and appreciating in a timely way the great work you do throughout the year, I’m not going to appreciate you today in a casual, ‘Hey, thanks!’ kind of way. Instead, I’m going to commit to telling you specifically, frequently and sincerely how you and your efforts, ideas and contributions have helped, inspired or excited me.”

That’s an entirely different scenario. Take today as an opportunity to change your habits around recognition going forward for years to come.

Who can you appreciate more sincerely, more specifically, more authentically?


What Will Be Your Legacy in Your Organization?

by Lynette Silva

Define your legacyRecognize This! – Our legacy is in our own hands.

Someday, you will leave your current organization. You may retire. You may move. You may choose to continue your career elsewhere. Regardless of the reason you leave, your time in your current organization will be remembered by others. How will they remember you?

Personally, I would hope I would be remembered as a helpful and appreciative colleague. But I’m not sure I could point to something in particular that would be a lasting legacy.

When it comes to recognition, however, creating a culture of appreciation and praise through the Power of Thanks is very compelling legacy. A client who recently joined the Globoforce family told us:

“Our senior executives believe their investment in this program will be part of their legacy they leave with the company.”

Of course, with their span of control, senior executives have the ability to dramatically impact the course of the company, the culture, and the everyday employee experience. But that doesn’t let the rest of us “in the trenches” employees off the hook. How we choose to interact with each other every day is our own personal legacy, too. Consider the legacy you might be leaving in these situations:

  1. Everyone is slammed with projects. Nobody really has a free moment, but then an emergency project comes in for a colleague. She now needs help or she will miss a very tight deadline. Do you volunteer to pitch in though you really can’t spare the time, or do you claim your own work as more important?
  2. The team has just survived a tough internal meeting. Everyone is feeling a bit beaten down, but work still needs to be done. Do you join in the negative chatter after the meeting or do you try to rally the group to move forward in a positive way?
  3. Appreciation for others is not really part of your team culture today. Do you continue in the vein it’s always been or do you proactively make the change to be more appreciative of others yourself?

My point? Your legacy is in your hands. Look at the legacy created by this high school principal (email subscribers, click through for the video).

Sure, this principal is “just doing his job.” But he never forgets the humanity of his students. He sees them as the important, complex people they are beyond “students to educate.” And that’s a powerful legacy for all of us in our workplaces – always looking first to the human need.

What is your legacy?

How Do We “Work Human?” Join Me in June to Find Out

by Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – How and why we work matters as much as what we do.

WorkHuman 2015 image“So, what do you do?” That might be the most commonly asked question in social situations. The answer to that can be fairly straightforward – “I’m a consultant.” “I’m a doctor.” Far more interesting however, is the real answer to the question. Instead of the above “I’m a doctor,” perhaps, “I help give sick kids a future” would be a more accurate and engaging answer. For myself, instead of “I’m a consultant” I could more accurately answer, “I help make recognition and appreciation become the norm in how people interact.”

What’s the main difference in the second set of answers? They get at the “why” more than the “what.” And it’s the “why” that drives us as humans. We need more. We need a sense of purpose in our work. Many are now referring to this as the human economy – the latest evolution from agrarian, to industrial to knowledge, and now human.

To take full advantage of the human economy, we must rethink our patterns, habits and behaviors that drive how we’ve typically done our jobs. We must learn to work human.

Where might we learn such skills? I am pleased and honored to introduce to you WorkHuman 2015, a new global conference offered by Globoforce to unlock the future of the Human Workkplace. Join me as I emcee the event on June 8-10, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort.

I am looking forward to learning from our featured speakers:

  • Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post
  • Adam Grant, Wharton School professor of psychology and best-selling author of Give and Take
  • Shawn Achor, former Harvard professor of positive psychology and best-selling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage
  • Eric Mosley, CEO and co-founder of Globoforce and best-selling author of The Power of Thanks and The Crowdsourced Performance Review.
  • More keynote speakers will be announced in coming weeks

For more information or to register, simply visit and enter code DIBLOG100 for a special blog discount of $100.

I look forward to seeing you in June!


Compensation Cafe: Influencer Networks

by Derek Irvine

compensation_cafeRecognize This! — The most powerful agents for change in your organization are your hidden influencers.

How do you drive change most effectively through an organization? It’s not with top-down mandates. Far greater change success is achieved by turning the key influencers in your organization into your change agents. Every company has these internal influencer networks, but few use them to fullest advantage.

In positive initiatives like social recognition, these internal networks are critical to rapid program adoption and achievement of culture change goals.

Click over to my post on Compensation Cafe to read more about these powerful networks, including how to find them, prepare them, and use them to best advantage to achieve the change you need. For example:

  1. Identify – Who are your influencers? It may seem daunting to identify them, but many can be discovered just by keeping your eyes open. Who’s the “Office Mom?” In the cafeteria or breakroom, who always seems to be center of the lunch crowd? Who’s the person with a reputation for spreading gossip far and wide?
  2. Involve – If you want your influencers to proudly carry the message you want, you must give them ownership over that message. That means involving them in the decision-making around the messages to communicate, including when and how.
  3. Unleash – When it’s time to introduce change, turn your influencers lose. Let them carry much of the message for you. Trust them with the change.

Who are the influencers in your organization? How are they used today?

“Good Job” – 2 Most Harmful Words in the English Language?

by Brenda Pohlman

Recognize This! – Consider carefully the words we use to recognize others and whether go-to phrases like ”good job” have a place in our recognition vocabulary.

Poster Advert for Whiplash MovieIf you were among the millions of movie fans around the world who tuned in to the Oscars yesterday, you may know that the title of this post refers to a line from one of the films nominated for Best Picture. Whiplash involves a relentlessly cruel bandleader who takes extreme measures to encourage (or crush perhaps – it was hard to tell – therein lies the brilliance of the film) the hopes of a young student musician aspiring to become one of the jazz greats. The movie poses lots of questions about how far people will go to achieve their dreams, and the motivations of others who support those dreams.

In one of his misguided motivational attempts the bandleader declares to the student, “The two most harmful words in the English language are ‘good job.’” I envisioned talent management professionals in cinemas the world over gasping in reaction to the blasphemy. The leader’s point is that these words imply “good enough,” and only thwart any extra dedication to doing what it takes to achieve a goal. In other words, if talented people are told “good job,” they are likely to settle and miss an opportunity to become truly great at something. Conversely, the words “not good enough” are more effective in encouraging them to work harder, practice more, do better. The leader claimed that if history’s jazz legends had frequently heard “good job” versus “not good enough,” they likely wouldn’t have become legends at all.

Hmm. After the shock in hearing the line, which goes against the very premise of the work I do everyday, I considered the idea. There may be validity in it, but I suspect it’s only in rare situations involving exceptionally driven and exceptionally talented people in certain highly competitive pursuits – musical phenoms, world-class athletes, scientific masterminds, and the like. With uniquely specialized talent, where a high-achieving individual has the potential to become truly the best in their field, perhaps it could be detrimental to recognize using words that might lessen one’s expectations of themselves.

For the rest of us, however, “good job” works wonders.

The real power of workplace recognition is not in motivating the most elite levels of talent in the organization. It’s in mobilizing the mass majority – recognizing the vast middle tier that helps move the organization forward everyday. While recognition for a job well done may be demotivating to a rare few of the most talented among us, it’s exactly the thing that pushes the rest of us forward.

This line did leave me wondering, though, about the words we use to recognize others. Despite being a fixture in our lexicon, “good job” alone hardly qualifies as bona fide recognition. So, while not the most harmful two words in the English language, maybe in the most literal and generic sense “good job” isn’t really quite good enough at all.

Recognition should be impactful and memorable and leave the recipient with a positive connection between the words spoken or written and their own actions. Overused and vague phrases alone like “good job” or “thanks for everything” or “congrats on your success” with no substance don’t quite fit the bill. Here are five tips, which apply for both verbal and written recognition, that take the experience beyond shallow platitudes to meaningful, effective recognition moments:

  1. In order to reinforce the action that you’re acknowledging, ensure recognition is timely by acknowledging the contribution soon after it’s made.
  2. More than just a couple of words are required to show appreciation effectively. Be specific – go into some detail about how your colleague’s contribution made a difference.
  3. Make recognition feel sincere by using the words “thank you” (maybe the two most beneficial words in the English language!).
  4. Describe the personal characteristics that made this person’s action or achievement special.
  5. The words you use, and anything that accompanies those words in the form of an award, should be aligned with the level of result achieved by the person you’re recognizing.

Check out this 2014 Globoforce blog post on 101 Effective Recognition Words for more tips on conveying recognition in impactful ways.

What are your favorite words, phrases or tips you use to effectively recognize others? (Or perhaps our star-struck readers might prefer to weigh in on a more classically Oscar-oriented topic….who won Best Dressed?)

Feedback Is Critical (but Don’t Say Anything Negative)

by Lynette Silva

Unbalanced beamRecognize This! – Positive feedback has more power than negative criticism for boosting performance.

In an article sure to inspire a good bit of negative “kids today!” comments, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article on a “kinder, softer” approach to performance management and the performance review process. Here’s an excerpt:

“‘Accentuate the positive’ has become a new mantra at workplaces like VMware Inc., Wayfair Inc., and the Boston Consulting Group Inc., where bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation…

“Now, managers [at BCG] are expected to extol staffers’ strengths during reviews and check-ins, explaining how the person can use his or her talents to tackle aspects of the job that come less naturally. Bosses are advised to mention no more than one or two areas that require development, [BCG Partner Michelle] Russell adds.”

Does that mean we ignore constructive criticism, or – dare I say – negative feedback, when needed? Of course not. Here’s the opinion of three people (an academic, an employee, and an executive), also from the WSJ article:

“Still, companies that ramp up the positivity need to make sure they’re not totally bypassing the evaluation of employees, [Sheila Heen, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and co-author of Thanks for the Feedback] says…

“Caitlin Marcoux, a senior associate at [PricewaterhouseCoopers], says she still gets told when she messed up. But she appreciates the extra dose of appreciation, which she says has helped to build her confidence. Without it, “I’ll be a harsher critic on myself,” she says….

“Yahoo’s [Chairman, Maynard] Webb cautions that overly positive managers run the risk of ignoring problems festering in their workplace, making for a crisis down the line. Overall, though, the evolution isn’t a bad thing—people perform better when they’re encouraged and inspired, he says.”

The real message in this is all about finding the right balance. When discussing performance improvement needs, it seems most logical to focus on those areas needing improvement – your weaknesses. Yet studies show people are far more effective and productive at work when they focus on work that plays to their strengths and not expending too much effort on improving their weaknesses. This doesn’t mean we ignore performance challenges. It does mean we stop trying to fit round pegs into square holes.

If a member of your team is better at writing exciting materials, and less proficient at creating presentations, it makes good sense to funnel more writing projects to him and finding someone else who has PowerPoint running in their blood to create presentations. Penelope Trunk shares a great example of a member of her team who did this quite successfully by outsourcing what she least liked to do to others who are better at it.

And just because I can’t help throwing out research, don’t forget the findings that it takes five positive comments to balance one negative in our psyches. If you want employees to be able to correct one area, be sure to praise them for five areas they do well.

Remember, too, the worst thing you can do is ignore someone. Employees would rather you focused on their weaknesses than ignored them altogether. We all need feedback. We all deserve to know how we’re doing.

How are you typically evaluated – on your strengths or on your areas needing improvement? How do you typically evaluate others? Which approach do you believe to be more effective?