Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

The Connecting Power of Gratitude

by Lynette Silva

Post-it note reading "express your gratitude"Recognize This! – We have the power to increase our own feelings of gratitude and happiness.

It’s the US season of Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday of the year. Give me an excuse to eat too much and then nap in the afternoon, and I’m on board! I kid. I love Thanksgiving because the point of the day is to reflect on all that you are grateful for and, if possible, express that gratitude to others.

Sure, it feels good to reflect in this way, and a good deal of research shows how gratitude gives far more than it gets.

See this study referenced in the University of California, Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center:

A team at the University of Southern California has shed light on the neural nuts and bolts of gratitude in a new study, offering insights into the complexity of this social emotion and how it relates to other cognitive processes…

The researchers found that grateful brains showed enhanced activity in two primary regions: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These areas have been previously associated with emotional processing, interpersonal bonding and rewarding social interactions, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others…

In other words, gratitude isn’t merely about reward—and doesn’t just show up in the brain’s reward center. It involves morality, connecting with others, and taking their perspective.

Gratitude is a connecting emotion, a bridge between us and others that helps us understand and bond with others more deeply. Perhaps more importantly, gratitude makes us want to connect with others in a more genuine and giving way. Embracing gratitude opens us to up to a much greater, richer world of experiences with others. And that itself is indeed something to be grateful for.

And this is just one study along these lines. Darcy Jacobsen shared 10 recent gratitude studies earlier this week. These two are my favorites:

  • A 2015 study published in the International Business Research journal showed that collective gratitude is important for organizations. Among other things, said researchers, gratitude can reduce turnover intention, foster employees’ organizational commitment, lead to positive organizational outcomes, and help in “eliminating the toxic workplace emotions, attitudes and negative emotions such as envy, anger and greed in today’s highly competitive work environment.”
  • A 2014 study of Chinese workers found that gratitude has a positive impact on trust between managers and their direct reports. Gratitude, said researchers, positively influenced the relationship between subordinates’ sense of being trusted, their performance, and their satisfaction.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Studies are all well and good, but how can we incorporate gratitude more directly into our lives? It starts with making a daily practice of it. Even pausing for a moment before going to sleep each night to think of one thing you are grateful for helps increase your own experience of gratitude.

Happiness and positivity expert Shawn Achor cites expressing gratitude daily by deliberately writing or saying thank you to express appreciation for what you have as a primary means of increasing personal well-being. (Join us at WorkHuman 2016 to hear more from Shawn directly as well other acclaimed management authors and speakers.)

This year, use Thanksgiving as a way to kick off a new resolution – each day think of three things you are grateful for and express your appreciation and gratitude to others.

What are you grateful for?

Gartner Reveals 7 Best Practices for Employee Social Recognition

by Derek Irvine

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

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

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

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

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

What are the seven best practices?

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

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

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

Compensation Cafe: Top 5 Reasons for Bad Days at Work

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Bad days at work are inevitable, but can be reduced and impact lessened through support, recognition and positivity.

In my Compensation Cafe post earlier this week, I shared the results of a global employee survey conducted by Woohoo, Inc., on bad days a work – what causes them, who experiences them more, what can be done about it and why we should care.

Here are the top answers in response to the question, “The last time you had a bad day at work, which factors in the workplace made it bad?”

  1. A lack of help and support from my boss (40%)
  2. Negative coworkers (39%)
  3. Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do (37%)
  4. Uncertainty about the workplace’s vision and strategy (37%)
  5. Busyness / high work load (36%)

I’m not surprised by any of these statements, and we can’t ignore the impact of these sentiments. As I say in my post on Compensation Cafe:

“The ROI factor involved in reducing the number of “bad days” experienced by employees is not insignificant. Simply by helping employees balance their workload and recognizing them when their efforts contribute to achieving the company strategy and vision, bosses convey their support and help employees see the positive and important impact they have on organization success. Better yet, enable all employees to recognize and appreciate those they see doing great work. The act of recognition has as much positive impact on the giver as on the receiver and is a tremendous influence to overcome persistent negativity.”

I encourage you to read my full summary post as well as the full survey results from Woohoo.

More Human Workplaces Can Get 70%+ Engagement Levels

by Derek Irvine

Expressive facesRecognize This! – The best competitive advantage available to all organizations lies in building a powerful, positive, WorkHuman culture.

I hosted a webinar with Newsweaver (internal communications experts and software) recently. My topic was how social recognition can contribute to driving a company culture and creating better employee communications. Net of it: how, by making a workplace more human, companies can win, big!

It’s a topic I’ll be returning to a lot as I truly believe the next (still available) dimension of competitive advantage for corporations is to bolster their culture by helping their employees feel more human, be more their full selves while at work. We’ve moved into a new period at work, one we like to call “the human decade”, where it’s no longer enough to just focus on our hands (our skills), nor minds (our knowledge), but we must think much more holistically – it’s time for the heart to become center stage too in HR strategy as it controls both how we feel emotionally about the work we do, and, the place that we do that work. HR strategies that only look to examine the logical, mind focused aspects of employee strategies are missing a vital component of the reality of work psychology. We can’t, don’t and shouldn’t have to check part of our real human selves at the door when we enter work!

So what are some of the items I spoke about as having been proven (through much new comprehensive and compelling research) to successfully boost the “good heart” feelings employees can have at work?

  1. Boost the meaning and purpose of work
  2. Give employees a way to tell & share the stories of their successes
  3. Mark important personal work events in a truly inspiring way
  4. Reimagine performance reviews by involving our community of colleagues
  5. Create a more human focused workplace, encourage great work friendships

Social recognition (saying “Thanks” while mobilizing your community of co-workers) can contribute positively and indeed significantly to each of these human levers. In fact, so much so, that research I shared from IBM Smarter Workforce, SHRM & Globoforce often results in employees having engagement levels at 70%+.

Now that’s truly remarkable!

What could your company achieve if you had engagement among 70% of your employees?   Would that be a competitive advantage your CEO would care about?

Oracle Employees Say Recognition from Peers Most Powerful Means for Employee Engagement

by Derek Irvine

Say ThanksRecognize This! – Employees are telling us what would engage them more in their work. We simply need to listen.

Want to know how to engage employees? Perhaps the best (and obvious) answer is to ask the employees. Oracle did just that. Results of their survey were recently published in Personnel Today. Here are the key excerpts.

Who has greater influence on employee engagement:

  • 42% say peers
  • 21% say line managers
  • 7% say unit managers
  • 3% say HR

What would most drive employee engagement:

  • 53% say recognition for their achievements
  • 35% say greater understanding about their contribution to the company

Peers impact the engagement of others far more than even their own managers can. And knowing “what I do is noticed and matters to others” encourages me to increase productivity and serve customers better.

The good news is a strategically designed social recognition program accomplishes all of these goals. Peers are encouraged to notice and appreciate the great work of their colleagues, giving managers and HR many more “eyes” to catch someone doing something good and praise them for it. Recognition is designed to be detailed and specific, conveying to the recipient how he or she demonstrated a core value or desired behavior and how that effort hlped the giver, the company, or the customer.

Loïc Le Guisquet, president for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific regions, concurs:

“Employees feel engaged by their peers and HR can help encourage this by providing access to sharing and collaboration platforms and social tools. But employee expectations are also changing fast, particularly those of millennials.

“They want recognition and feedback and they want it consistently. HR can deliver this through technologies that provide managers with a more up-to-the minute view of their employees, which in turn encourages a more personalised, rewarding dynamic between them.”

The most effective way HR can support employee engagement is by helping employees recognize and appreciate each other’s efforts. Why would we hesitate in facilitating that kind of desirable behavior? Indeed, in her Data Point Tuesday post today, China Gorman pointed to a report from Interact Authentically that ended with this comment:

“We cannot forget our most basic core goal in business: to create connections and relationships. Today’s frontier is not the technology required to run a global company – it is applying technology while bringing along the nurturing, engaging aspect of human communication.”

What’s holding your organization back from facilitating easy yet meaningful recognition and appreciation, thereby building relationships and human connections in your workplace?

Compensation Cafe: What Irrational Humans Get Right

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! — By giving away to others, we reap far more for ourselves.

Did you know humans are irrational? Shocking, I know. (Seriously, a book I enjoy is Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.)

I mention this today to point you to my post on Compensation Cafe where I unpack a powerful statement made by Harvard Business school professor Francesca Gino in a recent Harvard Business Review article. She references research that shows employees are happier and more productive when they “share their bonuses with coworkers and charities.”

I’m happier with the bonus I deserve for my hard work when I’m also empowered to share it colleagues and those in greater need than I. Truly powerful and profound, reinforcing (as I point out in the Cafe post):

  1. We succeed through the efforts, help and support of others.
  2. There’s always someone else in more need than we are.

If our own employees are telling us, “It makes me happier when I can share the economic benefits of the power of thanks with others,” why do we put barriers in their path to doing so? Perhaps we would be far better served to repurpose a portion of our bonus budgets for peer-to-peer recognition with economic value. Indeed, the results in terms of increased employee engagement, satisfaction, performance and productivity enjoyed by companies who do precisely this makes for a strong business case.

Check out the full Compensation Cafe post for more.

Market Basket One Year Later * Relationships Win

by Lynette Silva

Market Basket logo imageRecognize This! – It’s the relationships employees form with each other across silos of rank and role that determine the success of an organization.

Last summer I chronicled the story of the Market Basket revolt (here, here, and here). To summarize, two cousins (both named Arthur, just to keep things interesting) owned the company. Arthur S. DeMoulas (ASD) had 51% ownership and ran the board. Arthur T. DeMoulas (ATD) had 49% and the heart of employees. When ATD was pushed out of the organization, employees staged walk-outs, stopped product delivery to stores, and encouraged customers to shop elsewhere. In short, they fought for the leader they believed in.

But here’s the kicker. These were non-union employees. Was it all altruistic? Maybe not. ATD continually pushed for low prices for customers and high pay for employees. ASD was perceived to push for more money to shareholders, with the downstream effect of necessarily changing that business model. Many point out employees were fighting not just for ATD but also for the exceptional pay and benefits they enjoyed as retail employees.

Ultimately, ATD won, taking on exceptional debt (which had not been done before) to buy out his cousin and assume sole ownership.

So, a year later, where do we stand? Per The Boston Globe:

“Its prices remain lower than its competition, according to independent studies (though they have grown year-over-year, according to another study), and the company has put hundreds of millions of dollars into retirement accounts and bonus checks since last year. What’s more, David McLean, Market Basket’s director of operations, said Market Basket is ahead of schedule on paying back the debt.”

How did they do it? Yes, they opened new stores, generating new business. But the real story of how they recovered from a multi-month system-wide near shutdown really centers on one factor, the same factor that led the shutdown in the first place – the employees. Again, according to the Globe:

“Market Basket has always been run efficiently. A long history of promoting from within and developing employee loyalty has helped it keep low management overhead, with most senior employees having begun their careers as bag boys and sticking with the company for decades…

“While Arthur S. may have had reason for his grocery beef, he did not have the support of Market Basket’s constituents. Arthur T. had long emphasized a focus on employees. ‘Without them this place goes down the tubes quicker than you can say hi-ho,’ he told the company’s board in 2009 while defending a bonus plan.”

The “employees first” model has proved, time and again, to be the primary factor for company success. It’s relatively simple. Happy, engaged employees are more focused on creating happy, engaged customers, who in turn drive the value shareholders are seeking. But we must first invest in our employees.

We must foster those deep and abiding relationships among employees at every level that encourages people to band together for the good of each other, the customer and company. It’s those relationships that sustain in difficult times and give us reason to celebrate in good times. The basis of any good relationship is simply noticing the other person, seeing what they do, acknowledging them for their efforts, and praising their good work. It’s about caring about others enough to lift ourselves out of our own work and business to recognize those that help us succeed.

If there was a leadership upheaval in your organization, to whom would your employees rally? Who could inspire Market Basket-level devotion and support? How did they build those relationships?

Do You Miss Us Yet?

by Derek Irvine

Boomerang returning to handRecognize This!—Alumni employees are increasingly appearing in candidate pools.  Reminding them of the recognition they received for their contributions to meaningful work is powerful to recruit them back into the fold.

Former employees (often called “boomerangs,” but I prefer “alumni”) are joining the applicant pool to return to their prior companies at higher and higher rates.   who left in good standing are already familiar with the organization’s culture, processes, and employees, making their onboarding and achievement of productivity faster. The recent Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and surveyed more than 1,800 HR professionals, people managers and employees’ opinions on rehiring former employees.  In her blog post earlier this week, China Gorman highlighted the findings (quoted below):

  • Organizations and workers alike are coming around on rehiring former employees.
  • Boomerangs are creating increased – and unexpected – competition for job seekers as the hiring market continues to improve.
  • Familiarity, easier training, and knowledge of the former employer are benefits for boomerangs and organizations – yet some concerns still linger.
  • HR says it has a strategy for maintaining relationships with former employees, but workers and managers disagree.

The findings acknowledged the importance of alumni and desirability for alumni.  Gorman quoted Joyce Maroney, Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, driving the fourth bullet home:

“With this boomerang trend on the rise, it’s more important than ever for organizations to create a culture that engages employees – even long after they’ve gone – and organizations should consider how the boomerang employee factor should affect their off-boarding and alumni communications strategies for top performers.”

The survey, however, revealed conflicting findings between HR and alumni perception of the existence of relationship maintenance strategies.  HR said they used several channels to attract alumni, including email newsletters (45%), recruiters (30%), and alumni groups such as Facebook and LinkedIn (27%). Meanwhile, 67% of alumni, however did not think employers had strategies to maintain a relationship, and 80% of alumni said their former employers did not have strategies that encouraged them to return.

But what do you say when reaching out to alumni employees you want to attract back to the fold?  Remind them they left a culture not just a company.  If you’ve had a strong social recognition platform in place, you could easily pull some examples of appreciation they received while at your organization. Simply reminding them how they were appreciated and recognized for making specific impacts can be a powerful way to re-recruit your Alumni.  Show you had a positive history and relationship and you want to recognize their contributions again.

Are you seeing some of your former top performers in your candidate pool?  How are you leveraging social recognition to attract even more?

Leaving Behind, Moving On

by Lynette Silva

Fish Jumping into larger bowlRecognize This! – Too many good employees leave out of boredom. Identifying areas of interest for new career paths can keep top employees engaged and on board.

Last night marked the start of a new era in late night television in the US with Steven Colbert’s debut as the host of “Late Show” on CBS, long the home of David Letterman. But this wasn’t just the start of a new host on a late night show. This was also the laying to rest of Steven Colbert’s fake persona of nine years, the “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” that Steven Colbert (the real person and comedian) created and who helmed the nine-year run of the “Steven Colbert Show” on Comedy Central. Colbert left behind a tremendous body of work in order to move on in his career.

If we use Colbert’s career trajectory as an object lesson, last night was certainly momentous. Think about it. He spent nearly a decade creating a beloved character, watched by millions. He had a very successful career, was quite popular, and likely still had many fruitful years ahead of him as his blowhard alter-ego. Yet he was growing bored. In interviews, he has said he wanted to be able to interview interesting people in his own voice. To do so, he had to leave behind years of work and step out into the unknown to prove himself once again. But the risk was worth it for the excitement of something new.

I wonder how often that same feeling is true for our employees and fellow colleagues at work. I know in my own career history, I’d love my work until I became bored. Then I’d be onto the next company, looking for the next challenge. I’m pleased to say I’ve more than doubled my prior tenure record in my time with Globoforce. And that’s because of the opportunities I’ve been given to grow, stretch and, yes, even fully reinvent myself here.

When we think about how we retain employees, often top of the list is being sure we’re creating “career development paths” for employees. But how often are those paths real or in alignment with the true desires and wishes of the employee? How do we help those we manage find a future path that both invigorates and inspires them personally while also furthering the success goals of the organization?

One of the easiest yet most profound ways to do so is through social recognition that encourages peers as well as managers to recognize and appreciate those who have helped them on their own projects or goals. When people are both encouraged to help others across traditional silos of teams, divisions and geographies – and then recognized and rewarded for doing so –leaders can begin to capture very interesting data on where their team members may be choosing to give discretionary effort to help others outside their usual roles. This information can be very useful in career pathing discussions to help people identify those areas they seem to enjoy and help them pursue those interests without having to leave your organization to move on in their careers.

How do you gather information on employee interests for career planning discussions? Do your managers have information easily to hand to fuel these important conversations?

IBM Smarter Workforce Institute: Achieve the Power of Thanks through Multiple Recognition Channels

By Derek Irvine

Separate arrows merging into oneRecognize This! – We all know the power of social recognition to engage and retain employees, but when employees have multiple channels to share recognition, the benefits grow exponentially.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute (SWI) recently released a report showing the importance of using multiple channels for recognition. The report is based on a survey of 19,000 workers from over 26 countries and shows the Power of Thanks. The more communication channels we use to recognize workers, the better we can reach and thank employees. This thanks leads to higher engagement and retention.

Key findings of the report include (quoting):

  • Employees who receive recognition are more likely to be engaged at work. The engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher (76%) than the engagement level of those who do not (28%).
  • Workers who receive recognition are less likely to quit. Without recognition, about half (51 percent) of surveyed employees say they intend to leave, with recognition just one quarter (25 percent) say they intend to leave their organizations.
  • Employees whose organizations use multiple communication channels for recognition are more likely to feel appreciated and show a higher level of employee engagement. The more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement level.
  • The findings imply that technologies such as social and mobile could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition as they offer interactive, frequent and immediate communication via multiple channels.

Why Multiple Channels? More Timely Recognition!

Written and face-to-face recognition were historically the primary methods to thank workers. These channels are not enough to reach employees in today’s global, virtual and mobile workplace. Use of technologies like mobile recognition, online recognition platforms, peer-to-peer recognition videos are critical to keeping high employee engagement levels.

Timely recognition is essential for recognition effectiveness. Mobile apps and other technologies make this far more feasible more than having to wait to get into the office and submit paperwork or logging in through a computer. With a smartphone, recognition can happen anytime, anywhere. This is especially true for overcoming geographic boundaries. IBM SWI points out:

“It has been shown that recognition is more meaningful when it is delivered in a timelier and more frequent manner. By removing the restriction of geographic location and timing, the use of a variety of technology-enabled communication channels can have a positive impact on employees, driven by the fast and frequent delivery of recognition.”

Email Alone Is Not the Answer

Though we know speed and timeliness of recognition matters, email unfortunately continues to dominate (at 58%) as the most common form of technology used for recognition. But email is highly flawed when used as the sole means of “technology-based recognition.”

It does not share the accomplishment of the employee with peers or provide a way to easily track and report on recognition activity in any kind of deep or meaningful way. Truly effective methods are driven by social recognition, involving work communities, online platforms, and mobile apps that share recognized accomplishments with colleagues and work friends to enable a flurry of congratulations on a job well done.

Increase Engagement and Retention

Recognition is a direct, key driver of employee engagement. IBM SWI’s research showed employees who receive recognition are 48% more engaged than those who do not. IBM SWI showed that the more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement.

IBM SWI_Multi-Channel Recognition

Social recognition is key not only to employee engagement, but also to retention. Retention is in the top three challenges facing human resources today. When looking at the link between recognition and retention, 51% of workers who did not receive recognition intended to quit versus only 25% of those who received recognition.

The Time to Evolve Recognition Is Now

If we’re looking to retain, engage, and get the most out of our talent, we have to evolve our recognition strategies to communicate in a manner that is relevant to today’s workplace. IBM SWI concludes their research with this recommendation:

“Based on findings in this study, organizations should consider taking full advantage of varied communication channels in their recognition programs. In particular, social, mobile, and other technologies could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition messages as they enable multiple channels and offer opportunities for interactive, frequent, and immediate communication. If done right, employee recognition programs can unleash the full power of thanks.”

I couldn’t agree more. What recognition channels are you using to recognize your workers? Are you using enough channels? Are you using the right channels?