Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Observations from a SHRM First-Timer

Chariots of Fire Movie ImageRecognize This! – The sign of an engaged professional is continuing to experience and learn from “firsts.”

Life is full of firsts. First steps, first words, first love, first job and so on. Good stuff.

I happen to be having a few firsts of my own recently. As someone who’s been working in the HR space for nearly 20 years, I finally attended the SHRM Annual Conference for the first time a few weeks ago. Loads of HR professionals make the yearly trek, about 15,000 or so in fact, and it’s something I recommend we all do at least once in our career. I came away with a number of observations, most content-related, gleaned from the many educational and networking opportunities to be had. But it was the event’s nuances that really made the experience for me.

HR is so global! Duh. I’m reminded in my everyday work with clients about the global-ness of business today. What hadn’t been so obvious to me before the SHRM experience was how global HR has become as a professional community. I chatted with HR leaders from Singapore, South Africa, Mexico, Dubai, the UK, India, and China and was genuinely surprised to be encountering people from places so far afield of Orlando, but even more surprised at the commonalities in those conversations. I’m not sure this would’ve been the case a few short years ago.

Speaking of community, that was another observation – examples of ‘community’ abounded. In a macro sense, we represented one professional community. In a micro sense, much of the learning and sharing focused on creating a sense of community within our own individual workplaces – communities of connected, engaged and productive employees. And then there were the ribbons. Lots of conference passes were adorned with colorful ribbons that identified the attendee as part of a subset: First Time Attendee, Global Attendee, SPHR, etc. I spotted one attendee who must’ve had 15 different ribbons dangling from his pass. In this way, attendees were declaring their membership in a particular kind of HR community.

People are energized about HR. I’ll admit, this has not always been my observation. I’ve known a lot of professionals who stumbled into HR, or were dragged, rather, kicking and screaming. Plus, let’s face it, HR is hard! How refreshing to find such an eager, positive, and forward-thinking audience at SHRM. This was clearly a conference full of people passionate about making a difference for their employees and organizations.

These themes all came together in a wonderful moment during the end-of-conference prize giveaway. There was a huge crowd assembled and you could feel the excitement peak just before the $5,000 grand prize was announced. The emcee reminded everyone that you must be present to win. The winner’s name was called. Nothing. It was repeated. Nothing. The ‘must be present’ reminder was stated once again. Nothing. Another try, this time with the threat of a new name being drawn. Suddenly there was commotion further down the exhibit hall. The winner had been found! But had the emcee heard? Would they wait? The winner was literally running down the aisle. The sea of conference go-ers parted. We all instinctively broke into raucous applause, “Go, go, go, you won, you won, run, run!” He made it to the stage in time to claim his prize. In retelling the story back at the office one of my colleagues said, “Wow, like Chariots of Fire.” Exactly like Chariots of Fire.

It was a wildly energized, community-oriented moment – all my favorite aspects of the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference rolled into one! In the coming months, I look forward to sharing with you my observations of the power of thanks through social recognition to create and sustain communities in our workplaces. And more importantly, what we can learn about working better together simply by paying attention to what others are doing and appreciating their efforts.

Oh yeah, and as far as other recent firsts for me, I’m pleased to say this is my very first blog post.

What’s a recent professional “first” for you? Or what’s your most memorable professional “first?”

Compensation Cafe: 2 Research Reports on Proper Bonus Allocation & Use

Compensatino Cafe contributor buttonRecognize This! – When and how to use bonus budget effectively can often be better determined through frequent, timely recognition and less reliance on bonus overall.

In my last two posts on Compensation Cafe, I shared two pieces of research – one from academia, one from the workplace.

First, in “Want More Innovation? Offer Lower-Value Rewards,” I relayed academic research conducted to see if offering employees more high value rewards for innovation would generate a better innovation pipeline than offering low value awards. Findings showed giving large rewards exclusively works against a company’s intended goal, actually delivering the opposite of the desired results.

As I pointed out in the post, this is where calibration of reward value plays an important part. If the goal is encourage a culture of innovation, then several award levels that recognize contributions to idea generation, execution and ultimate result are more appropriate. Rewards (and amount of reward) depend as much on level of effort, impact and result as on contribution of ideas. This kind of structure not only encourages innovation idea generation, but also willing hands to bring the ideas to fruition and all that process entails.

Then, in “The State of Bonus Programs: Increasing on All Fronts to Find, Keep and Encourage Talent,” I shared research from WorldatWork on bonus programs from the perspective of compensation professionals in the workplace. Findings show an increase in all forms of bonus programs tracked (referral, sign-on, spot, and retention), reflecting the turnaround in the economy, the re-invigoration of the war for talent and the attempts to find other ways to recognize excellence beyond diminishing merit increase budgets. Indeed, spot-bonuses receive the most budget of all programs with, per the report, “While only approximately one-third budget for sign-on and retention bonuses, 41% budget for referral bonuses and 53% budget for spot bonuses.”

Click through the above links for the full posts, then come back here and tell me: which type of research do you value more? Academic or workplace? Why?

What’s the Value of Measuring Employee Satisfaction?

image of people celebrating in a shower of confettiRecognize This! – There is value in employee satisfaction surveys, when conducted and analyzed properly.

In various blog posts over the years (see here, here, and here), I’ve explained the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. It could be easy to view some those posts as a “knock” on employee satisfaction. But when viewed through the proper lens (and not using satisfaction interchangeably with engagement), measuring and surveying on employee satisfaction can also be a useful tool.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on one such valuable survey on employee satisfaction as conducted by the Conference Board. As the WSJ explains:

“The survey, which the Conference Board has conducted every year since 1987, bears some resemblance to the ‘employee engagement’ surveys that companies and polling firms engage in regularly these days. The Board distinguishes its target by saying that satisfaction is focused instead on more measurable components such as pay and benefits and ‘does not explore the full range of emotional and behavioral ways employees interact with their workplaces.’”

That’s a good distinction between satisfaction and engagement, which also weighs how well employees understand what is needed from them to achieve strategic goals and their willingness to give discretionary effort to achieve it. Satisfaction measures none of this, reporting instead on just that – employee satisfaction.

On the Conference Board’s blog, Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research for the Conference Board, shared a summary of key findings from the full report, including this chart:

Adjusted Correlation of Determination (R²) In Predicting Job Satisfaction, By Explanatory Variable Bar chart showing factors important to job satisfaction Source: The Conference Board

Be sure to read this chart in terms of its title. It’s saying that for the majority of employees, growth potential, communication channels, interest in work, and recognition are the most important factors in determining their satisfaction with their jobs.

Contrast the chart above with this one, which shows nearly an inverse relationship in how satisfied people are with these individual factors that predict job satisfaction itself.

Post-recession satisfaction with specific job components 

Bar chart showing how satisfied employees are with the various factors of job satisfaction

Source: The Conference Board

Whereas employees clearly say recognition is a top 5 factor for job satisfaction, it’s also a bottom 5 factor for how well companies are, in fact, recognizing employees. That’s likely why Dr. Levanon offers as one of the key findings of the report:

“Employers would be wise to concentrate on those components considered highly important with low current levels of satisfaction. These include growth potential, communication channels, recognition, performance review, and wages.”

This isn’t all that dissimilar to the identified key drivers of employee engagement, either. Recognition is by far the number one driver of employee engagement, with career path, communication (which leads to trust) and fair pay commonly reported additional factors.

How satisfied are you with these job factors in your own workplace? How satisfied are you overall?

Sticks & Stones… * Why the Emotional Intent of Your Words Matter

Word cloud of words associated with positive thinkingRecognize This! – We have the power to make our work (and home) environments more positive, simply through the words we choose to use more often.

All over the news today is Facebook’s stealthy psychological experiment on users. If you’ve missed the news, here’s the quick summary. Researchers from Facebook, Cornell University and the University of California “altered” the algorithm that determines what is seen in the News Feed. This change went into effect for nearly 700,000 users, divided into two groups. One group saw posts with words more commonly associated with positive emotions (“love, nice, sweet”) while the other group saw posts with more negative words (“hurt, ugly, nasty”).

Setting aside the moral question of submitting people to a psychological test they’re unaware of, the results are quite interesting. Published in a scientific journal, the results reported on the reality of “emotional contagion” in which your own mood is affected by those with whom you are associated (spend more time with “happy” people and you are likely to be more happy yourself, for example). As discussed in this article:

“Researchers have found that emotions can be contagious during face-to-face interactions, when a friend’s laugh or smile might lift your spirits. But what happens online? Facebook was trying to figure that out. It turns out that, yes, the Internet is just like real life in this way. People who were shown fewer positive words on Facebook tended to turn around and write posts of their own that contained fewer positive words (and more negative words). And people who were shown fewer negative words tended, in turn, to write posts with fewer negative words and more positive words.”

Now think about what that means in your own life – at work and at home. What type of words – positive or negative – do you tend to hear more often? Words of praise or words of denigration? What type of words do you tend to use yourself?

Specifically in the workplace, I’ve heard numerous managers over the years comment: “I think criticism helps people learn more quickly. They need to know where they stand and where they can improve.” Criticism where needed is important, but weighting your words has deep value.

With this research in mind, we need to reconsider the impact in the workplace:

  1. What kind of culture and workplace environment are you trying to create (in your team or across your company)? If you want a positive, empowering culture in which others look for ways to support each other in achieving success, then the words that typically flow through the workplace matter.
  2. Are you providing a means for positivity to dominate your workplace? Changing bad habits or creating new good habits needs support. Social recognition, which encourages everyone to notice and appreciate the exceptional work of those around them (including the behaviors in line with their company’s core values), naturally facilitates a positivity-dominated workplace in which messages of appreciation and praise flow easily between people, across team and over regions/geographies.
  3. What do you tolerate from yourself and your own team members? This week, intentionally pay special attention to your words (verbal and written). Are you more positive or negative in what you say? Pay attention, too, to the body language of those around you. How do you see them reacting to positivity vs. negativity? If, for example, in a meeting setting, how do they contribute to meeting based on the type of words commonly used?

Keep in mind this research:

“The factor that made the greatest difference between the most successful and least successful teams was the ratio of positive comments to negative ones. Top-performing teams gave each other more than five positive comments for every criticism, while the lowest-performing teams gave each other three negative comments for every positive one.”

What’s your own personal ratio of positive to negative comments? What’s your direct superior’s ratio? How does that affect you?


Crowdsourcing How to Re-Engage Fatigued Employees

origami birdsRecognize This! – Kind commenters shared additional wisdom on how to re-engage fatigued employees.

Last week, I shared here on Recognize This! a summary of my SHRM 2014 annual conference presentationHow to Transform Employee Fatigue into Employee Engagement – and also shared it on my LinkedIn profile blog. That posting received several comments, which I appreciate greatly. A few of these comments in particular raised additional points that add tremendous value to my original post.

Defining and Communicating the “WHY”

To engage more fully, employees need to know the deeper meaning and value of the work they do every day. Mike Denison | FIC | Executive Coach made this additional point:

“Companies and managers could do a lot worse than making sure THE WHY of the organisation is fully understood. Many employees don’t have anything to feel part of, they come to work to live outside of work. Engaged employees come to work because they have a sense of purpose that in line with the purpose and meaning of the organisation. Try megaphoning and articulating THE WHY of the organsation more and see what happens. Oh, by the way, the WHY is never money / profit / shareholder value, those are results and outcomes, the WHY is a feeling of the value you bring to society and a sense of direction and purpose.”

Eric Branham added on to Mr. Denison’s comment:

“I agree with Mr. Denison. Many companies’ ‘core values’ read more like your list of impacted results above. For many employees the inspiration will come not from being told how they impact the bottom line, but whether or not they feel that their own work is contributing to something positive for the community at large. So, just how big is the picture you are presenting, and how do your core values align with it?”

Making Performance Reviews Relevant

Mr. Branham went on to say:

“In addition, I would suggest that performance reviews should be adjusted to include some input from direct reports. Giving the supervised some level of input on the performance of the supervisor would help in a number of ways, not the least of which is that crucial factor in any business: ownership. Many employees become dissatisfied as a result of feeling that they have no avenue for changing the situation positively. Opening up some portion of the review process to direct reports would help to create a leadership structure that is open, communicative, and RESPONSIVE to team members at every level.”

While a social recognition program isn’t the place to capture negative or constructive feedback, a well-designed, strategic program will encourage recognition from anyone to anyone, which includes recognition from employees to superiors. This gives an additional avenue for upward recognition is happening, for what reasons and if not, why not.

Andries Fourie also commented:

“To me, this is why a meaningful career development discussion is such a powerful tool for a manager/leader. If we can assist an employee to: 1) Set great goals for personal and work growth, 2) Get rid of beliefs, rules and values that are holding him/her back, 3) Find what he/she is passionate about, to find his/her purpose 4) Understand the importance of his/her role in the team’s overall performance and how the above will affect that, then we will have engaged employees.”

The Over-worked Employee

I’ll admit, my SHRM presentation started out with 10 types of fatigued employees, which I had to reduce to 5 for time constraints. Bob Korzeniowski, MBA, CPA, PMP calls to mind one of those types:

“Your article misses this: The over-worked employee. You know, the one who works a lot of overtime and does this for long stretches of time. They need time off to rest and recharge, so give them more vacation time.”

Overworked employees might be the most difficult to diagnose for intervention. Keep in mind the truism, “If you want something to get done, give it to a busy person.” Yet, these people are among the most important to keep an eye on because they are clearly valuable to the organization. Recognizing their efforts and engaging in detailed performance conversations are quite critical to their success.

The Last Word

I’ll give the last word to Erick Hjortsvang, who puts it so eloquently:

“Give recognition. Provide the tools to succeed. Understand that advice is not a resource. Ask the employees what they would want and, if not counter to the company or goals, then they might be reengaged.”

What about you? What kind of fatigued employees do you see in your organization? What additional advise or insight would you offer?

5 Types of Fatigued Employees & How to Help them Re-Engage

Recognize This! – Energy ebbs and flows over time, but we can help employees re-engage when we identify and address key areas of fatigue.

I had the opportunity to present at SHRM in Orlando this week. I was gratified to have a full session at the 7:00 am early-bird spot on Tuesday. I think the title of my session – How to Transform Employee Fatigue into Employee Engagement – may have resonated with SHRM attendees.

As I was able to discuss later at SHRM with John Hollon, editor of TLNT, employee recognition data has become a powerful tool to better understand our employees’ state of mind and ways in which we can influence them more effectively. For those unable to attend, I’d like to share the main points of my presentation in which I discussed the five primary types of “fatigued” employees. I shared a good many statistics, too, primarily from our Workforce Mood Tracker and SHRM/Globoforce surveys. (Full survey reports are available here.)

1) The Uninspired Employee

Symptoms: doesn’t see meaning in their job (or how they fit into the mission of company).  They often lack motivation and drive.

To fully engage, day after day, employees need inspiration. We all need a sense of greater purpose and meaning for what we do beyond the day-to-day tasks. When we recognize others for how they’ve contributed to the bigger picture, we help our colleagues gain that needed deeper meaning. And when we do so in the context of the core values of the organization, we help all employees understand more deeply the company conviction to do business right – achieve needed results, yes, but only when we can do so without violating our core values.

Indeed, 72% of companies (with recognition tied to core values) said employees felt fairly rewarded for performance. And values-based recognition has a profound impact and many factors that drive bottom-line value:

Why values-based recognition matters - bar chart

2) The “Checked Out” Employee

Symptoms: can’t wait to run out the door when 5pm hits or is going through the motions, content to “rack up” years of service without any meaningful motivation

81% of companies celebrate milestone anniversary awards in some sort of Years of Service or Long Service program. And yet, only 15% of employees in these programs say receiving such an award helped them be more engaged. Indeed, 51% say a service award changed nothing.

Why is this? 73% of employees say recognition is far more meaningful when it includes feedback from others – peers and colleagues – as well as their managers. That’s why a much more modern approach to service anniversaries intentionally involves others in the celebration moment.

51% of employees feel nothing from service awards

Image Credit: USA Today

3) The Negative Employee

Symptoms: can be a real “Debbie Downer” and bring down the happiness levels of those around them if their influence is allowed to grow and spread.

The impact of happiness on numerous factors – employee engagement and satisfaction at work as well as physical health, family and others – is well documented. Being recognized at work for demonstrating core values (as discussed in the first example above) is a key contributor to perceptions of personal happiness – at work and at home.

How recognition increases happiness

4) The Fortune Teller Employee

Symptoms – Dreads performance reviews due to poor structure and lack of peer input. He knows the drill and what’s going to happen (the same as last year).

Employees (51%) and managers (45%) alike see the traditional performance review as a failed mechanism, giving an inaccurate appraisal of employee performance. 61% of respondents to a survey said performance reviews rarely or never lead to improved performance.

So what works better? We don’t need to throw out the traditional process entirely, but rather supplement it with the Crowdsourced Performance Review. How does that work in practice? A client of ours in the high-technology industry tells us:

“We actually see recognition as a living, breathing, performance journal, and it’s given us insights into what team members are doing and what they’re not doing…And what’s been really great is the ability that we’ve had to integrate the recognition data into our performance appraisals and into our performance management.”

5) The Under-Appreciated Team

Symptoms – Knows the only recognition they might receive will be at the annual awards event, so why work hard the other 11 months of year when their efforts won’t be remembered?

While 78% of employees say they’d work harder if their efforts were recognized, only 15% of employees have been recognized in the past month. Saying “thank you” in a very specific and, critically, timely way is easy to do and delivers tremendous results – results many organizations are missing out on. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), for example, found:

“Appreciation is one of the most effective motivators in building long-term employee engagement, and at the end of the day, saying ‘Thank you’ is just part of showing you care.”

And for IHG the bottom-line impact is undeniable

  • The difference in operating profit between hotels with highly engaged staff and those without can be as high as 7%
  • 5 percentage point rise in engagement = 70 cents of increased revenue per available room per night
  • This means a 200-bed hotel could make more than $50,000 in additional revenue a year by improving staff engagement.


The Power of Thanks

So what were the take-away lessons for each of these employee types? Social recognition can:

  1. Help an organization recognize and reinforce core values.
  2. Reinvigorate years of service programs.
  3. Reshape behaviors, how what’s desired, and elevate collective happiness.
  4. Reinvent the performance review.
  5. Build a culture of trust and positivity.

What type of employees do you see in your organization? How are you helping them overcome their fatigue and re-engage?

Giving the Gift of Feedback

Employees sharing feedbackRecognize This! – Balancing positive and constructive feedback opens the recipient to hearing and responding to both well.

Last year, Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley launched his book Crowdsourced Performance Review. The primary thrust of the book is the annual performance review is broken, but it does serve a valuable purpose. The opportunity lies in fixing the broken elements, which are largely centered around feedback coming from one person given on a very infrequent basis. The fix is adding informal frequent, timely, detailed positive recognition feedback from peers, colleagues and managers – “the crowd” – to the formal, annual performance appraisal process.

Because of this approach, I’m often asked, “So, do you collect constructive feedback as part of the employee recognition program, too?”

The answer is “no” because the point of social recognition is creating a positivity dominated workplace, which becomes much more difficult when the recognition experience becomes clouded with negative feedback, too.

However, that doesn’t mean negative or constructive feedback isn’t critical to employee performance, productivity and success. But giving constructive feedback isn’t particularly helpful if the employee receiving the feedback isn’t processing the feedback for various reasons. Check out this Wall Street Journal article on why feedback is often ignored and how to help recipients accept the feedback better. As the article points out:

“Many employees don’t get much practice fielding negative feedback, managers say. It is out of vogue, for one thing: Some 94% of human-resources managers favor positive feedback, saying it has a bigger impact on employees’ performance than criticism, according to a 2013 survey of 803 employers by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce. Performance reviews are infrequent, with 77% of employers conducting them only once a year.”

Don’t forget the research showing it takes five positive messages of recognition and reinforcement to mentally balance one piece of constructive feedback. And that’s why creating habit of feedback is critical. The WSJ article also pointed out:

“Employees tend to become less defensive if they receive frequent feedback, says Catalina Andrade, training and benefits manager at Tris3ct, a Chicago marketing agency. Tris3ct trains managers to give frequent, direct feedback and to show empathy while doing so.”

The fact of the matter remains, when we know our work has value and the good we do is also noticed and appreciated, then it’s easier to hear the course corrections we all need to stay on track.

Does your organization offer a balance of positive and constructive feedback? What’s the most useful feedback you’ve received?


Spreading Positivity at Work – the Globoforce Story

Recognize This! – A company with a culture built on positivity, goodwill and appreciation is uniquely able to help others foster and manage similarly based cultures.

I am proud to be a part of the Globoforce team for many reasons – the clients I have the honor to consult with, the people I have the privilege to work with every day, and the culture we have built together over the years. That culture is the most powerful motivating force for all of us to help other companies achieve a similar culture of recognition and appreciation as they come to understand the true power of “thanks.”

Of course, our powerful culture is led from the top by our CEO, Eric Mosley, who was featured in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, a major newspaper near our US headquarters outside of Boston, Mass. In Sunday’s article, Eric commented:

“Companies are realizing the more they can foster a positive environment, the more they will build morale, build energy levels in the employee base, and engage employees, and therefore perform better as companies…

“We’re delighted to be in the ‘Thank You’ business. We sell positivity. It’s really a fantastic experience to come to work every day and help companies spread goodwill. We’re in a great position because the whole world’s waking up to the fact that people respond better to positive reinforcement. The more that happens, the more our business will flourish and the happier the world’s workforces will be.”

The full article is worth a read for more on our own culture of positivity at Globoforce and our goals to continue to help organizations around the world create positivity dominated workplaces, too.

How would you describe your organization culture? How do you help create that culture every day?

(Image Credit: Paul Connors, Telegram & Gazette)

Bringing Joy to the Job – Overcoming Routine with Recognition

the word joy in several languagesRecognize This! – All jobs have their (important) routines. Appreciating those who do the job well can make the mundane meaningful again.

How much of your job has become routine? You know the value of doing it, but it’s almost fallen into habit. But you can’t stop doing it either; it’s part of your job.

If this routine element of your job cannot eliminated or revised for legitimate reasons, what could shake up that routine? What could help reinvigorate you in the process?

Why am I asking all of these questions? For a fun Friday post, let me share with you this video from the New York City subway system (email subscribers, click through):



What’s going on here? As I learned from the Now I Know blog, the zebra boards have been in place for over a century. Their purpose is to help conductors properly align the train so when the doors on all cars are opened, the passengers can step safely onto the platform. The conductors know they are properly aligned when they are positioned directly across from the zebra board.

But why do the conductors have to point at the board? After a subway accident caused by an inattentive conductor that resulted in dozens of injuries and five deaths, the process was established. From the blog:

“The MTA [New York Metro Transit Authority] says that the rule came into force in September of 1996 and has its origins in Japanese subway safety history — Japan’s operators have to point at a number of things to demonstrate and ensure that they’re paying attention. The MTA adopted the rule to ensure the same result. A failure to acknowledge the zebra sign is a failure to pay attention, and that’s really dangerous if you’re driving a train.”

So while pointing at the board – “at every single subway stop” – may have become routine for the conductors, it is still a vital and important step for the safety of all train passengers. The “point” is worthwhile, important, and… routine.

But the simple act of a few people holding up fun signs (and creating a video now viewed by millions) shows the conductors their work is noticed and they are appreciated for keeping passengers safe. Notice the reactions of the conductors – on every face a smile, a laugh.

Where can you inject a little fun into your daily routines? Perhaps more importantly, how can you express your appreciation to others to elevate their routines and bring a little more joy to their jobs?

More Money, Perks or Purpose? Which Engages Better?

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! – What does work to help employees engage deeply? All of these, and more, in combination.

My post this week on Compensation Cafe delved into the research showing more money, more perks and more purpose do not engage, motivate or sustain employees – when used individually that is. In combination, however, these are powerful levers to communicate to employees the value they and their contributions bring to the organization, how they contribute to achieving “the big picture,” and how the company continues to invest in them and their development.

Read the full post for more on each of these levers, driving to the conclusion:

An effective way of blending these approaches – and meeting the needs of employees as defined by Gallup – is social recognition. Communicate to employees what is expected of them by praising them (publicly as often as possible) when they deliver those expectations. Employees know their managers have their backs when very specific recognition is given in a timely way. Data from social recognition can be easily analyzed and graphically presented in real time to ensure the right people are in the right jobs based on the wisdom of the crowd as well as manager feedback. This allows for fast adjustment and the ability to move people into roles that play to their strengths.