Archive for the "Social Recognition" Category

Compensation Cafe: 3 Reasons to Empower All Employees to Give Discretionary Rewards

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! — Empowering all employees to recognize others also empowers all employees to live your culture every day and appreciate others for doing the same.

Yesterday in Compensation Cafe, I riffed on a post published last week by Compensation Cafe Editor Ann Bares. In her post, “Discretion and Disempowerment,” Ann highlighted challenges of leaving discretionary rewards to the discretion of managers alone. As I point out in the post, these boil down to:

  1. The length of time between action deserving of recognition and reward and the actual receipt of that reward (because such programs most often take the form of annual bonuses).
  2. The memory of a single person (the manager) over time to appropriately reward someone.
  3. The unintended reinforcement of the manager and his or her concerns as the primary focus of employees.

I went on to give three solutions to these problems – all possible by empowering all employees with the ability to recognize and reward others. To summarize:

How does empowering all employees impact the challenges referenced by Ann and enumerated above?

  1. In-the-moment recognition reinforces much more strongly the actions, behaviors and results you need to see to achieve success metrics.
  2. Even the best manager cannot see everything good happening every day or remember all those instances of excellence over many months. That’s why empowering all employees to recognize and reward each other is so powerful.
  3. When all employees are empowered to recognize each other for certain actions, behaviors and results in line with core values and key objectives, then the priorities of the organization become first and foremost.

Click over to the full post for more detail on each, and tell me who you think should “own” discretionary recognition and rewards.

Why Employees Must Be Both Aligned and Engaged

by Derek Irvine

Image of people passing baton in relayRecognize This! – A disconnect between alignment with strategic goals and engagement can lead to many negative consequences for performance and productivity.

I appreciate a good analogy, especially when it comes to terms that can be defined in multiple ways. Employee engagement and alignment are a good example. Here’s a brilliant analogy from a local business journal:

“Employee engagement is essential to an organization’s success, and alignment is arguably even more important. As an example, consider a 400-meter relay race. The winning team carries the baton past the finish line first. The direction of the finish line represents alignment between employees and the organization’s vision and goals. The speed of each runner is akin to engagement. To win, every runner in the team must run fast (i.e. be engaged with the organization) but also run in the direction of the next runner or the finish line (i.e. be aligned).”

This is quite illustrative of how the power of thanks aligns employees with what we need them to do again and again (through frequent, timely recognition of precisely those actions and behaviors) and to engage them in the greater goal (when that recognition helps them link daily behaviors to the big picture).

Think of the alternatives:

1) Highly engaged, but unaligned employees

Attributes: They work hard and are excited to contribute to success, but are spending their time on all the wrong things. These employees often appear as high-potentials who struggle to get clarity on priorities.

Risks: They can burn out very quickly because they don’t see their efforts having a significant or valuable impact on greater goals. Because they can’t get the clarity or direction they need, they feel like they’re spinning their wheels.

What to Do: Management needs to step up to provide prioritization of projects to keep to turn these high-potentials into high-performers. Social recognition tied to your company’s core values and strategic objectives is also very effective as an ongoing reinforcing tool to help these employees realize how their efforts contribute to achieving the bigger priorities.

2) Highly aligned, but disengaged employees

Attributes: They know what they should be doing, they simply choose not to. In best case scenarios, they understand and agree with priorities strategic initiatives, they just don’t know how their work contributes to it. In worst case scenarios, they are actively working against your organization with subtle forms of project sabotage such as delaying project deliverables or hording knowledge.

Risks: They have an abundance of stored up potential, but seemingly no effective outlet for it.

What to Do: For worst case scenario employees, there can be coaching and performance improvement plan type activities to eliminate their negative behaviors. But if those mitigating steps don’t work, then the difficult step of termination may need to be taken. The good news is these types of employees are few and far-between. For the majority of employees in this category, helping them see how valuable they and their efforts are to the team can often do wonders to restore engagement. Again, social recognition from peers and leaders alike, works well to communicate this message of personal value and important contributions.

Think about yourself or your team members? Which category do you find yourself or those around you – highly engaged/unaligned; highly aligned/disengaged; highly aligned/highly engaged?

Creating a Culture of Recognition Requires Viral Communications

by Lynette Silva

Members of the Tonight Show cast dumping ice water on their heads

Tonight Show Ice Bucket Challenge

Recognize This! – If you want to create a culture of recognition in your organization, then you must engage, energize and excite all employees around the power of thanks.

Have you done the ice-bucket challenge? For readers outside the U.S., the ice bucket challenge is a pretty cool effort to raise awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) that went viral after Boston College student Pete Frates (who has ALS), challenged his friends to either dump a bucket of ice water on their heads or donate to ALS research. Per Wikipedia, the rules are that within 24 hours of being challenged, you must video record yourself announcing your acceptance of the challenge, then dumping a bucket of ice water over your head. You can then challenge three others to take the challenge.

How does this benefit ALS? If you don’t accept the challenge, you must donate to ALS research. The good news is many are doing both – to the tune of $31.5 million since July 29 when the challenge went viral. (That’s compared to $1.9 million collected in the same time period last year.)

Now, a confession. Outside of LinkedIn and Twitter (which I use for work, follow me at @lynettepsilva), I’m not really a social media user. I’m pretty sure I have a Facebook account, but I haven’t been on it in years (and not really on it before then). I don’t SnapChat, Instagram, or YouTube (except for remembering Robin Williams by watching many of my favorite routines). For the ice bucket challenge, a video of yourself is required, which you then share through social media (hence, how it became viral).

It’s easy to reach people on social media, but what about the people like me? Sure, I know all about it from news reports, but without the news coverage, would I have been compelled to participate in my own little (non-viral video) way?

Making Recognition Go Viral

Clearly, I’m enamored of the ice bucket challenge, but what does this have to do with employee recognition? Part of my role as a recognition strategist and consultant is working with companies to ensure rapid adoption of new social recognition programs, helping to create lasting cultures of appreciation. Achieving that goal requires detailed and very comprehensive change management, communications and training strategies targeting all employees.

We work very hard with our clients to ensure all employee populations are included in communications about the coming social recognition program – not just the ones it’s easy to reach, but everyone. That includes offline employees, working on a manufacturing line or out in the field all day, every day. They often don’t have access to company email and rarely (if ever) visit the company intranet. Field employees don’t even have the benefit of a poster in a breakroom. But just because it’s not as easy to reach them doesn’t mean they are less important contributors to the company’s success and its desired culture.

The morale of my story is simply this – if you want to create a culture of recognition in your organization (and that’s the definition of making your recognition program go viral), then you must engage, energize and excite all employees around the power of thanks. Inherent in social recognition are enabling systems such as newsfeeds, digests and a fully integrated native Mobile App, but you can’t wait until a new program is launched to begin the excitement. We’re always happy to chat with you further about the various ways to do this.

Is recognition and appreciation viral in your organization? How did it become so? What excites you about recognizing others or being recognized?

Compensation Cafe: Metrics that Matter

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! – “What gets measured gets managed” is true, but determining the correct metrics is the real trick.

We all know metrics matter. The real question is which metrics.

That’s the theme of my latest post on Compensation Cafe, in which I explore the metrics that matter from three points of view – the HR practitioner, the HR industry leader, and the CEO.

The theme emerging from all three is not surprising. As I say in the post:

Whether on an individual, departmental or organizational level, metrics that matter are those that illuminate company success. The challenge lies in clearly defining what the business success metrics are, then translating them into departmental, team and individual goals. The even greater challenge is ensuring every person then understands how he or she contributes to those goals in their daily work. The fastest path to success is constant feedback. Praise when you’re on track and provide course correction when needed.”

Read the full post and tell me, what metrics matter the most to you?

Who’s Responsible for Employee Engagement?

by Traci Pesch

Picture of hands joined in a circleRecognize This! – Engagement doesn’t belong to a department, role or function. It’s the equal responsibility of all of us.

I’ve been with Globoforce well over a decade now. In that time, I’ve seen first-hand the transition from “employee satisfaction” to “employee engagement.” In early days, we would often need to define employee engagement and explain the value of increasing engagement (and thereby employee personal investment in contributing to company success).

Nowadays, “employee engagement” seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues, which is good in most ways. However, I also see a lot of blame-shifting going on, too. Any parents of multiple children reading this blog will understand. My two kids have chores and responsibilities around the house, yet the refrain “My sister was supposed to do it” is an all-too-common excuse for why something didn’t get done.

The same can be true with employee engagement. From the employee perspective it’s often, “My boss doesn’t give me engaging work.” Or from the manager perspective, “HR doesn’t give me the tools I need to increase my own engagement or that of my team.” HR isn’t innocent of the blame-shift, either: “Employees need to find their own internal motivation for true engagement.”

So whose responsibility is it? All of ours! We all have responsibility for our own engagement and those around us. During the last several years, the UK has done remarkable work on employee engagement through its “Engage for Success” initiative. Recently, Nita Clarke, director of the UK’s Involvement and Participation Association (and co-author of the original “Engage for Success” report presented to the UK government), had this to say on employee engagement responsibility:

“I don’t think engagement belongs to HR,” Clarke recently said at an event for the London HR Connection, which was held at London School of Economics. “I think HR and Comms are very helpful in raising this stuff — there’s lots of different bits of evidence — but at the end of the day there is an element of common sense about this which is people who are fulfilled at work perform better and there comes a point that you just have to accept that there is a reality here.”

Employee engagement needs to happen at the manager to employee level, and it needs to take the form of simple, common-sense activities that can help employees feel more valued. It can cross many departments, functions and even business applications. Clarke notes that having greater focus on employees with the right leadership behaviors, and coaching and training and developing people to adopt the behaviors and carry forward the mantra, is the most effective method for encouraging employee engagement.

There is a good bit of wisdom packaged up in this statement. To summarize:

  1. Engagement is all about helping employees feel valued for the work they do.
  2. Engagement is not a department or title or role, it’s a responsibility of every employee.
  3. Engaging each other and ourselves revolves around helping each other behave in ways that make us all more successful, valued and engaged.

So how do we do that? When I’m trying to help my children engage more in getting their chores done, I’ve found recognition and praise for a job well done (individually or, better yet, together) to be particularly effective. While employees certainly are not children, we all appreciate a little appreciation and praise when we do something well or collaboratively. That’s what makes social recognition such a powerful contributor to employee engagement (and, according to several studies, it’s the top contributor to increased engagement). Simple, heartfelt, specific and timely expressions of praise, appreciation and congratulations from those we work with every day – that’s a powerful means to engagement we are all responsible for.

Are you engaged at work? What helps you engage? How do you help others engage, too?

2 Tips to Understand Powerful Company Cultures

by Derek Irvine

Chalkboard with core values Recognize This! – Culture is the culmination of how employees behave every day and the environment those behaviors create.

Company culture is important. I think we can all agree on that. But what is culture? And who determines it? I’d argue it isn’t what management or the executive suite suggest it is. No, company culture is what employees experience and feel every day.

In that spirit, today I point you to China Gorman’s Data Point Tuesday blog post “It’s All about Trust: Honesty and Transparency.” As CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, China knows of what she speaks. A shown by the decades of research conducted by the institute, “trust” is one of the critical and primary factors for building the “high-quality relationships” upon which a Great Place to Work is built.

In the post, China shares survey results that, in my reading, point to two important lessons in understanding company culture:

1) How employees define culture is the basis for understanding how to build a desired culture.

“Most survey takers described ‘company culture’ as a value, belief, or habit of employees that worked at an organization, or the overall feeling of the environment at that company.”

This reinforces my position that the core values (or guiding principles) of your organization are the foundational building blocks of your culture. They are the outward expression in daily behaviors of the cultural “feel” of your company. That’s why it’s critical all employees know how to demonstrate those values in their work (and not just recite them or read them off a mouse pad).

Because it encourages all employees to notice and appreciate colleagues who live these values, social recognition is the most powerful means to reinforce the core values in the daily work. It also serves as an effective, informal training mechanism for others to read or view the detailed messages of recognition about specific values so they, too, can behave in similar ways.

2) The type of culture employees choose to work within is more telling than obvious assumptions of what make good culture drivers.

“So while ‘casual/relaxed’ and ‘fun’ ranked over honesty as the most common definition of an ideal company culture, the fact that ‘honesty and transparency’ are the bigger influencers on whether a prospective candidate actually applies at a company highlights what we’ve known about company cultures all along – that trust and values matter most.”

Sure, foosball tables and free lunches are always appreciated, but they aren’t what retain employees in a strong culture over time. Honesty and transparency about your company’s objectives and, critically, how you achieve them, is a far stronger recruiting and retention tool.

In this case, social recognition is an often under-utilized recruiting tool and opportunity to proclaim your culture of appreciation based on your core values. Symantec provides an excellent example of this in this video on their Careers page.

How would your employees define the culture in your organization? How do you?

3 Tips for Effective Safety Recognition Programs

Road sign reading "safety first"by Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – Many safety incentives programs simply encourage under-reporting. Truly strategic safety recognition programs make safe behaviors and results the core to success.

I’m passionate about social recognition, especially recognition that drives strategic organization goals and core values. But I’m particularly passionate about safety recognition programs. And that’s because so many safety recognition programs are implemented in an entirely inappropriate and even harmful way, actually creating a more unsafe environment.

The classic example of this is the “X Days Since Last Safety Incident” program. Usually, employees are rewarded if they achieve a certain number of safe days. All this does, however, is encourage people to sweep safety concerns or incidents under the rug. “If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen.” And so unsafe conditions, behaviors or practices continue unabated.

In the US, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is cracking down on these programs. As reported here, an OSHA survey found “wholesale underreporting” of injuries due, in part, to employees feeling pressured to not report incidents. The article goes on to say:

“In 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that found that 22 percent of manufacturers had rate-based safety incentive programs. The GAO concluded that these programs can be problematic, especially at workplaces where a strong safety culture is lacking. Also that year, OSHA issued a memo that took aim at incentive programs that could skew injury data. The memo reminded employers that they cannot discriminate against an employee for exercising the right to report an injury. (OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) also discourages these types of programs.)”

OSHA may move to force companies to end safety and incentive recognition programs that encourage under-reporting such as the “X days since last safety incident” type of program. Indeed, I consulted with an organization in the energy industry that had exactly this feedback from OSHA on their safety program. That company came to us to ask what to do instead.

In line with OSHA recommendations to use recognition to promote worker participation in safety activities, our safety recognition program recommendations include:

  1. Defining core safety values and associated behaviors that clearly outline what you expect from employees. Such values should reflect your desire for employees to proactively report potentially hazardous or unsafe conditions or behaviors.
  2. Encourage all employees to recognize each other for living these safety values. This has a two-fold benefit: (1) You have more “eyes” noticing good safety practices and (2) You’re making all employees responsible for creating a positive, safe workplace and work culture.
  3. Lead by example. Particularly with safety recognition programs, make recognizing safe behaviors a part of management KPIs or similar.

How does this align with OSHA’s guidance for legal safety incentive and recognition programs? The article reference above suggested legal programs should (quoting):

  • Encourage desired behaviors;
  • Create incentives to work in a safe manner;
  • Develop leaders who will be good safety role models, especially for younger workers;
  • Lead to employee empowerment and improved safety and health; and
  • Ensure that workers at all levels are eligible for an incentive.

Is safety a core value or business objective in your workplace? How do you encourage safe behaviors and create a safe workplace for your employees?


We Need Praise, Not Games

Picture of mousetrap gameby Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Positive comments from multiple sources are key to developing a culture in which all feedback is welcome, but don’t poison employee recognition with gamification.

Gamification is the latest hot buzzword, especially in the employee recognition world. But gamification (really, pointsification – read this post for an in-depth discussion on the difference) as traditionally implemented can be quite detrimental to the goals social recognition. Leaderboards and badges are particularly dangerous in employee recognition – a topic I explored in more depth in the article “Not a Good Mix,” from Premium Incentive Products magazine.

As I comment in the article, “This can poison a recognition program since it introduces an artificial element into something that needs to be organic and inspired. This skews the recognition data as well, as employees are being rewarded for behaviors other than just great work performance.” Click over for more, including employee attitudes towards gamification in these programs.

Also, check out my post yesterday on Compensation Cafe: Balancing Positive & Negative for Greater Return. In it, I share research as discussed by best-selling author Ken Blanchard on the importance of balancing positive and negative feedback so that both are heard in the spirit intended. And that balance is, in fact, 5 positive comments to 1 negative comment. That’s right, for us to be able to process constructive criticism in the way it’s intended, we need to know our overall contributions and efforts are valued and appreciated. And that must be given in a disproportionate way. Click over for the full story.

How does your organization provide positive and negative feedback to employees? What ratio do you think you achieve? How do you encourage positivity and recognition?

Know the Players for Successful Change Management

by Derek Irvine

Chalkboard Plan A/Plan BRecognize This! – Change is always occurring, and there are always early adopters and laggards. Identifying them is the difference between success and failure for your change initiative.

Change. It’s inevitable. Chances are you’re in the middle of a change initiative of some kind in your organization at this very moment. What’s your attitude towards change? Excitement? Concern? Avoidance? Trepidation? All of those are valuable and I can guarantee all are felt to one degree or another by every person in your organization.

But change is necessary. We cannot always remain as we are and continue to grow, develop and mature. So how do we address and, in some cases, overcome these legitimate emotions around change?

Strategy& associates offer an insightful approach in a recent Strategy + Business article:

“Skilled change managers, conscious of organizational change management best practices, always make the most of their company’s existing culture. Instead of trying to change the culture itself, they draw emotional energy from it. They tap into the way people already think, behave, work, and feel to provide a boost to the change initiative. To use this emotional energy, leaders must look for the elements of the culture that are aligned to the change, bring them to the foreground, and attract the attention of the people who will be affected by the change.”

Using the emotional energy of your people to direct the change – genius! This is an excellent suggestion to redirect existing energy and channel it into the path needed for change. But there’s a catch – how do you know “the way people already think, behave, work and feel?” How do you identify “the elements of the culture that are aligned to change?”

I suggest the best way to uncover this information is through tapping into the frequent positivity moments flowing across your organization. Structuring a social recognition program so that anyone can recognize anyone else for demonstrating the structural elements of your company culture (your core values) gives you the opportunity to build a deep database of not only how people behave and work, but also how others think and feel about those behaviors, actions and results.

Structured in the right way, the data from such recognition activity quickly reveals quite interesting patterns of those who consistently rise to the top in several ways. You can see trends in who contributes more outside of their team as compared to those who contribute most within the team, or those who are consistently recognized more for certain core values than others. With this information, and much more, at your fingertips, you can quickly find pockets where the desired change is already occurring or where your champions of the needed change are already carrying your message forward.

Data on your culture in action – that’s the real power of your social recognition program. And the propulsion behind a change initiative.

What kinds of change initiatives have you seen in your career? Which were successful? Which were not? What was different for those that achieved success?


Executives are People Too

image of desk with thank you note

Image credit: Glamour

by Brenda Pohlman

Recognize This! – When creating a culture of recognition, all employees must be active participants.

In partnering with new customers, our early conversations often evolve from focusing on recognition strategy and philosophy in support of the customer’s business goals to discussions about granular elements of recognition design like eligibility – deciding who will be eligible to participate in the new recognition program. Inevitably, the client raises the question of whether executives should be eligible as recognition recipients. And it’s often not positioned as a question at all, but rather a firm stance, “Of course, everyone will be eligible except our executive team.” Sometimes that edict cuts pretty deeply into the org chart – “no recognition for anyone who’s a Director or above.” Ouch.

This position is natural. After all, aren’t our executives motivated by different factors and already getting so much out of their work experience? They don’t need to be recognized to feel engaged and appreciated for their work. Appreciation of company leaders is demonstrated by Wall Street in the form of higher share prices. Surely, receiving praise and feedback from colleagues, bosses and direct reports can’t mean much in comparison.

But here’s the thing: executives are people too.

Case in point. I recently read an article in Glamour magazine (online article behind a paywall) about chic office spaces. (Cut me some slack, I was on the treadmill at the gym where I can hardly breathe, never mind take in serious business content!) The writer interviewed Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president at Estée Lauder, who operates out of a large and lovely workspace in NYC. Hudis talked about the personal objects she surrounds herself with – a wedding photo and pictures of the kids. But she also keeps a handwritten note on her desk from boss Leonard Lauder congratulating her on the successful launch of a new fragrance. She was quoted as saying about these things, “They inspire me!”

Here is a well-compensated senior executive of a high profile global company who works in a place filled with style and sophistication, yet when thinking about the elements of that environment that inspire her, she describes a recognition moment!

Apart from the meaningful emotional impact it can have on them, there are practical reasons for involving your executives as receivers in your recognition activities. Assuming that you consider your recognition practices to be so much more than mere practices – that they are part of your culture – then by definition your executives must be full-fledged participants. Culture doesn’t happen independently of your leaders. It’s their behavior and priorities that become the most obvious demonstrations of your culture to the rest of the workforce. If you want recognition to be part of who you are as an organization, then execs have to lead the charge.

And there’s no better way to encourage them to lead the charge than through their own direct participation. For anyone, your leaders included, to champion your recognition efforts in an authentic way, they must experience the power of recognition firsthand. Nothing inspires others to show a little appreciation than to have moments of feeling appreciated themselves.

If recognition makes a difference to a senior exec at Estée Lauder, imagine what a little recognition could do for your leadership team.

Are your executives recognized today at your company? Why or why not?