Archive for the "Strategic Recognition & Company Values" Category

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?

Why “Quick to Criticize, Long to Praise” Fails

by Derek Irvine

Boss yelling at employeeRecognize This! – Constructive criticism and praise for work well done should both be given quickly, specifically and compassionately.

Seth Godin is one of my favorite “short form” bloggers. Generally, his posts offer pithy insight and advice in short, easily digested posts. Here’s a nugget from a recent such post:

“The best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback. The opposite is not true. We rarely change short-term behavior with long-term feedback… If you want to reward (or punish) short-term behavior, don’t do it down the road.”

Let’s look at two common scenarios and how this can play out.

Scenario 1: You watch a member of your team deliver a report presentation and notice an excessive amount of stumbling to deliver the main point or inability to handle ad-hoc questions well.

Do you wait until the annual performance to give the employee some valuable feedback and constructive criticism, or do you share the feedback one-on-one that same week?

Scenario 2: You watch a member of your team deliver a to-the-point, exciting report presentation that helped the team arrive at an immediate decision and advance the project more quickly than expected.

Do you wait until the annual performance to praise the employee for a job well done, or do you formally recognize their contribution immediately to reinforce work well done?

Objectively, we all know the latter option in both scenarios is ideal. But I think we can all agree the most common approach is to offer criticism immediately but offer praise very belated, if at all.

And yet, multiple research studies and employee surveys tell us praise, given soon after the event being recognized, is a far stronger method for reinforcing desired behaviors than criticism. Sure, constructive criticism is sometimes needed. But why do we manage to deliver that in a timely way, but fail to recognize and praise excellence similarly? It’s certainly not because we enjoy the difficult conversations more.

I think it’s because we’ve been trained to rely on the annual performance review as a crutch. We know time is scheduled to deliver the positive feedback and so we wait. That, and we think ignoring the positive will have no deleterious effect on the project, team or business, whereas if we were to ignore negative behavior, we could be endangering success.

This assumption is indisputably incorrect. Indeed, when we recognize positive, desired behaviors, we quickly communicate what we want to see again and again. That is a positivity cycle that ensures you continue to see those desired behaviors in the short and long-term.

Think back over your own career. How were you given feedback? How do you give feedback yourself? Are you quick to criticize, but long to praise?


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?

If You Hire for Core Values, You Could be Missing Out

by Derek Irvine

Globoforce Values: Imagination, Determination, Innovation, RespectRecognize This! – Hiring for core values only gets you good people. You can make them great by reinforcing those values in the work they do every day.

This won’t be surprising to regular readers of this blog, but I am a firm believer in the importance of hiring people who personally reflect your organization’s core values. Why? Because it makes it that much easier to embed your values into the way they work every day. Of course, I’m not unique in my thinking. I’m sure many of you agree with the approach.

Here’s two examples of CEOs who also hire to a set of values (though in very different ways). And yet, both also miss out on a final step that could help them realize far more benefit from these hiring efforts.

First, Rene Lecerte, CEO of, shared in an Inc. magazine article:

“In our neighborhood [Silicon Valley], we need to compete for talent with Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and dozens of other fast-growth companies with deep pockets. It’s the world’s most competitive market to hire top talent in. I won’t and can’t compete on budget.

“I compete on values…

“Every person who comes into the office is first greeted by our company values. The sign is big and bold. I love our product and service and have learned that I must invest heavily on developing an innovative and collaborative team in order to build an award-winning, successful service. This starts by hiring the type of person we strive to be as a company: humble, fun, authentic, passionate, and dedicated. We look for those who live these values every day and won’t hire them unless they do.”

That’s on-point. Mr. Lecerte goes on to say how he’s deliberately created a collaborative work environment and efforts to inspire passion. But something’s missing.

Next up, Logan LaHive, chief executive of Belly, a customer rewards company,New York Times “Corner Office” column.

“To be honest, I can’t stand walking into a company that has seven values on the wall that no one actually cares about or can remember. I’ve tried to actively avoid documenting or stating what we had to be and just tried to ensure that we maintain our authenticity.

“We do have employee guidelines that put we put on the wall and they would have to be highly censored to be made public. We use the same curse word in the middle of each of these sentences, but they’re about things like believing in yourself, working hard, working outside of your habits, educating yourself, trusting your gut and not forgetting to laugh. There’s some level of shock with it and it’s certainly been off-putting to a number of people that have come into the office and people who were applying for jobs.

“But we use these ‘who we are’ statements to filter out people who won’t fit. It really acts more as a tracker beam for the people who are going to be kind of core to who we are. We’re looking for people who take the work very seriously but not necessarily themselves. And we don’t do it just to be controversial. It’s just about who we are, and that either resonates with you or it doesn’t. I always like to say that in everything we do, I’d prefer us to be loved or hated. Apathy is the slow death of every company.”

I would argue Mr. LaHive is practicing a bit of semantics twisting. His “who we are statements” sound a lot like core values to me. And, like at, they are prominently displayed on the wall and a primary filter during the hiring process. Something is missing here, too.

Bring the Core Values Out of the Hiring Process and into the Daily Work

Have you spotted it? As much time, effort and commitment as these leaders invest in hiring the right people according to their core values (or “who we are” statements, or guiding principles – all are the same idea under different names), there doesn’t seem to be a process for daily, individual, personal reinforcement of these values once the employees are in the door.

I may be a very “authentic” person, but how that authenticity is displayed in interactions with colleagues vs. customers vs. friends can be different. If I were an employee of, think how much more benefit could be realized from the core values if I were told, “Derek, thank you for your work as part of the Project X team. You really demonstrated our value of ‘authenticity’ by both giving real, critical feedback that helped improve our product as well as how you onboarded feedback for your area of responsibility and made the project even more successful.”

Now that’s taking your core values to an entirely different level – deep embedding in the daily work of every employee.

What do you hire for in your organization? How do you ensure those elements are reinforced once the onboarding process is complete?


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?


I Trust You

by Andrea Gappmayer

Trust sketchRecognize This! – Sharing the workload is a sign of trust and a powerful form of recognition.

Sometimes the best recognition isn’t “thank you,” but “I trust you.” Are you the person on your team who “hoards” work? You don’t delegate or ask for help because you want to make sure the job is done exactly how you want it done. No one is capable of doing the job but you, right? Or maybe you’re afraid that one of your co-workers is capable of doing the job and might actually do it better than you…?

Here’s an idea: quit being a control freak and glory hog! Let your co-workers help. Believe it or not, they’ll be happy to help and honored that you asked. When you ask for help, you’re saying, “I trust you”—and what better way to show respect and recognition than that? Your co-workers will appreciate it. Your organization will benefit from it.

Be honest: right now you have a team full of…you. When you share the work and opportunities, before long, you’ll have a team full of experts, thought-leaders, and confident contributors.

Give up one opportunity today to a colleague. Ask a co-worker who has time if she can help you out for just a little while. She’ll realize that you trust her and her abilities enough to help you. That is the kind of recognition and respect that create a strong team and an unstoppable organization.

Who do you trust? Who trusts you?

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep in mind this research:

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

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


Crowdsourcing How to Re-Engage Fatigued Employees

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

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

Defining and Communicating the “WHY”

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

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

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

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

Making Performance Reviews Relevant

Mr. Branham went on to say:

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

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

Andries Fourie also commented:

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

The Over-worked Employee

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

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

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

The Last Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) The Uninspired Employee

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

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

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

Why values-based recognition matters - bar chart

2) The “Checked Out” Employee

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

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

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

51% of employees feel nothing from service awards

Image Credit: USA Today

3) The Negative Employee

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

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

How recognition increases happiness

4) The Fortune Teller Employee

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

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

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

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

5) The Under-Appreciated Team

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

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

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

And for IHG the bottom-line impact is undeniable

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


The Power of Thanks

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

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

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