Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

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?


Bersin Says “Thanks” Critical for Employee Engagement

by Derek Irvine

Thank you speech bubblesRecognize This! — There are many drivers of employee engagement, but feedback, recognition and “thanks” lead the charge.

In my last two posts on Compensation Cafe, I shared important research from IBM Smarter Workforce (more on that later this week) and from Bersin by Deloitte. Both are important, detailed pieces of research and so I will be calling more attention to them here.

First up, Josh Bersin authored the research piece “Becoming irresistible: A new model for employee engagement,” which appeared in Issue 16 of the Deloitte Review. This is the new model based on deep research and analysis of organizations across industries:


In Becoming Irresistible, Bersin says about recognition:

“A second key engagement driver is the need for continuous and ongoing recognition. As soft as it seems, saying “thank you” is an extraordinary tool to building an engaged team. We studied this topic and found that “high-recognition companies” have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.36 These companies build a culture of recognition through social reward systems (tools that give people points or kudos to reward to others), weekly or monthly thank-you activities, and a general culture of appreciating everyone from top to bottom. The key to success here is to create a social environment where recognition can flow from peer to peer, freeing managers from being the judge and jury of employee recognition.”

Then Bersin expanded on the ideas presented in Becoming Irresistible in a very detailed article in Forbes“Employee Feedback Is the Killer App: A New Market Emerges.” Here he says:

If feedback is the killer app, then ‘thanks’ is the gorilla in the market. When you unleash the ability for people to easily say ‘thanks’ to their peers (and give them points or other rewards), an enormous new network of information often starts to flow. Leaders can suddenly see important people who they may never have noticed, and the culture of helping others can start to grow and improve.

“Our research also found that saying ‘thank you’ is an important part of building strong employee engagement. Many companies tell me that these tools unleash enormous amounts of positive energy and can help people understand even better who and why certain behaviors and people are valued highly.”

I believe this to be a dichotomy of management and a true blind spot — those things we consider easy or obvious, we tend to ignore or subsume. Yet simply saying “thank you” is one of the most powerful means we have to communicate to someone, “I see you. I see the work you do. What you contribute has great value, meaning and purpose, and you do it well.” Truly, there is nothing “simple” in that kind of statement. It is at the heart of what good managers do. Or, to once again quote Bersin from Becoming Irresistible:

It is important for companies to remember that management’s job is not to manage work but rather to develop, coach, and help people.”

And isn’t that the heart of what it means to WorkHuman, too?

What’s the “killer app” in your management toolkit?

Can You Confidently Answer the 4 Basic Performance Management Questions?

by Derek Irvine

4 Question Marks and ConversationsRecognize This! — Wanting to know we’re doing the right things at work is at the heart of performance management – and that’s a good thing.

With the recent news around Accenture and GE replacing their traditional performance review process with more frequent, timely feedback from multiple sources, it seemed Kismet when Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, had his article “Creating an Effective Peer Review System” appear in Harvard Business Review this week.

Eric shares key elements to create, maintain and support a successful real-time peer review program. Click through for the full article for details on each of the below, including examples from top companies who have applied these lessons. (Quoting below):

  • Reflect on core values. Ensure that the metrics on which people are recognized are aligned with your company’s mission.
  • Embrace new technology. Pick a program that is intuitive, easy to use, fun, interactive, engaging, and fully mobile.
  • Explain and celebrate the launch. Position the program as a change designed to help recognize and celebrate employees, and not a new way to monitor or judge them.
  • Get everyone on board. Managers and leaders need to be early adopters.
  • Encourage frequent, timely recognition. Sooner is better when it comes to promoting desired behavior.
  • Empower managers to track results. Give managers access to detailed, real-time, easily actionable reports on recognition activity, correlated to key business goals.

Performance management is necessary, and even desirable. We all want to know:

  1. Am I doing the right things?
  2. Are my contributions helpful to others?
  3. Should I be focusing elsewhere?
  4. Am I adding value?

Helping employees answer those questions is the essence of performance management. Better yet is how GE frames the discussion in terms of coaching. Per this summary of GE’s new approach:

“There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The [performance development] app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.”

That’s the power of positive reinforcement through coaching people towards more of what you want to see again and away from detractors.

Are you confident in your own answers to the 4 basic performance management questions above?

A Master Class in Recognition Messages from The Daily Show

by Lynette Silva

Daily Show with Jon StewartRecognize This! – Great messages of recognition require details about the meaningful and long-lasting impact the recipient has had on the giver.

Though I usually catch it in replays, The Daily Show is one of my favorite TV shows. I appreciate how it consistently captures the news of the moment, often tackling very uncomfortable subjects with humor, shining a spotlight into sometimes dark and ugly areas that we should be examining more closely.

But this blog isn’t about me extolling the virtues of my favorite shows (and aren’t you lucky our editor wouldn’t let me get away with that anyway). This blog is about sharing best practices, guidance and principles for thoughtful, meaningful and impactful social recognition. And that’s where Stephen Colbert’s send off for Jon Stewart on last night’s Daily Show episode comes in.

Watch the clip below (and apologies for the ad), then my thoughts after the jump. (Email readers, click through for the video.)

The Daily Show Daily Show Full Episodes, More Daily Show Videos, Comedy Central Full Episodes

Why do I call this a master class in recognition messages? Because Stephen hits all the essential elements of a truly impactful, meaningful and memorable message of appreciation:

  • What Jon did – his actions and behaviors – that are deserving of appreciation
  • The long-lasting impact those efforts had on others
  • Lots of specific details to remind Jon of the moments that mattered most

Stephen’s message, in part, was:

“You said to me and to many other people here years ago never to thank you because we owe you nothing. This is one of the few times that I’ve known you to be dead wrong. We owe you because we learned from you. We learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You are infuriatingly good at your job, OK?”

One other aspect to note in the video – the virtuous circle of appreciation started by Jon saying “thank you” to all his collaborators over the years, prompting Stephen’s message of returned appreciation, followed by a huge pile-on of hugs and thanks. That’s the nature of well expressed, well intentioned recognition. It continues to feed on itself, spreading ever outward and engulfing others in the experience of gratitude and praise.

What’s one of the best messages of appreciation you’ve received?

2 Critical Budget Considerations for Employee Social Recognition Programs

By Derek Irvine

Stadium lit up at nightRecognize This! – Budgets must be appropriately established to reach all employees in a differentiated and calibrated way.

“How should I structure an employee recognition program that will have the kind of impact I’m seeking?”

That has to be one of the most common questions I hear when discussing strategy for a social recognition approach that drives desired culture, engagement, productivity and performance. There are several critical factors for success, which we discuss in depth in Chapter 7 of The Power of Thanks. But two foundational aspects deal with how to invest appropriately in recognition and how to use that investment wisely.

1) Set an Appropriate Budget

Approaching recognition as a strategic initiative that drives core organizational goals requires an investment in your efforts. Think of it this way. An inadequate budget for recognition is like trying to illuminate a stadium with a 30 watt light bulb. Sure you can light up a small area well, but the impact of your efforts won’t be felt very widely or deeply. Appropriately funding recognition is like flipping the master switch to light up the entire arena brighter than a noon-day sun. With the right budget, you can touch every employee, in every corner of your organization with the power of appreciation and praise.

So, what is the right level of budget? WorldatWork’s semi-regular Trends in Employee Recognition reports tell us the average continues to be about 2% of payroll. For many organizations, that figure is quite daunting, but consider it can include bonuses, incentives and more that we wouldn’t strictly include in a true social recognition program budget. Instead, think along the lines of what we discuss in The Power of Thanks: “The average… yearly total award spending of about $250 per employee.” That level of budget investment allows for the free-flow of recognition, reinforcing your core values and strategic objectives in the daily work of every employee.

2) Use Your Budget Wisely with Calibrated Awards

Once you’ve established an appropriate budget, using it wisely lets you get the most return on your recognition investment. Key to this approach is offering multiple differentiated award levels, calibrated to level of effort, contribution, time invested and result achieved. Offering calibrated awards ensures people are recognized and rewarded appropriate to their contribution, avoiding the “equal = fair” trap.

Think about the recent news surrounding Gravity Payments, the company that chose to cut CEO salary to pay all employees a minimum of $70,000 annual salary. When first announced, this story garnered much praise. But now, the story isn’t quite so positive. One employee has left because, as a high-performer he felt slighted that those who do not exceed expectations regularly receive the same remuneration as he does.

Differentiation matters. If you step up to lead a major project that ultimately saves the company significant costs, but are recognized with the same level of award as a person who contributed as part of team to a minor project with less long-lasting impact, you will likely feel slighted and overlooked.

Significantly, differentiated awards also let you recognize far more people throughout the year with lower value awards, spreading your budget more broadly and effectively across the vast majority of employees. Superstars still likely receive more of the higher value awards, while your “Mighty Middle” are also recognized for their contributions that make it possible for the stars to shine.

Is your recognition program appropriately funded? Is the budget available used as wisely as possible to touch the most employees with the power of thanks?