Recognize This: “Well-being is the next employee engagement.”
Five years ago when Eric Mosley, my CEO, and I began talking about employee engagement as a critical outcome of employee recognition and an even more critical component of company success, we had to spend a good deal of time explaining the concept as the majority of HR pros and influencers had never heard of it.
Now we’re seeing a new trend on the horizon, one not yet receiving much air time or understanding – employee well-being.
I don’t mean “wellness.” Well-being is a much broader term, defined by Gallup as: “all the things that are important to how we think about and experience our lives.” Gallup continues:
“Our teams were able to establish the relationship between wellbeing and everything from healthcare costs to productivity levels. It’s now possible to show how an employee with higher wellbeing costs less to insure, boosts performance, and creates engagement.”
“So what most influences employee engagement? … The degree to which employers actively invest in meeting the multidimensional needs of their employees.
“The second core need all of us share is to feel emotionally secure — meaning valued, recognized, and appreciated. Less than 40 percent of employees worldwide feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Only one out of ten employees feel they’re treated as vital corporate assets. …The vast majority of employers fail to recognize a simple and immutable truth: how people feel at any given moment profoundly influences how they perform.”
That’s certainly true for me. When I feel valued – when I believe my contributions are helpful to my team members, my customers, my company – I perform at my peak. I’m running on a pure sense of that what I do really matters within the big picture.
Is the same true for you? Would you say your manager is interested in your well-being? When you do feel like “you’re a vital corporate asset,” does your performance improve?
Hosted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI), Mary Ann Masarech, head of BlessingWhite’s Employee Engagement practice, will be discussing with me surprising findings of this recent report I highlighted in an earlier blog post.
We’ll share with you the post-recession factors impacting employee engagement and how focused initiatives, such as strategic recognition, can impact the organization at different levels to build a comprehensive employee engagement initiative.
Join us for this free, one-hour webinar, as we:
• Define engagement in a way that is actionable.
• Assess current engagement levels by seniority, generations and industry.
• Evaluate the role that leaders play in driving engagement.
• Develop solutions to leverage your leaders and yourself.
• Outline the key drivers of individual employee engagement.
• Understand the implications of engagement for your organization and how to best create an environment in which employees want to engage.
What else would be useful for you to know out of this webinar?
Recognize This: If people aren’t appreciating each other, your employee recognition program is a failure.
1) A visitor’s reaction to the general atmosphere upon crossing the threshold is, “I’m glad I don’t work here.”
2) A consultant is the first person to make a 28-year employee feel like his thoughts and opinions are valuable and listened to.
3) Employees aren’t participating in the program, no matter how good you think your recognition and rewards program is.
In the post, I dive more deeply into the drivers behind these signs of program failure and what you – at any level in the organization – can do about it.
I also mention our own survey results, announced today:
“The first semi-annual report for the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker shows recognition ambivalence among today’s employees in the United States. While 68 percent of those surveyed feel appreciated at their jobs, an alarming 41 percent of workers are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing good work. Indicative of both the infrequency and non-personal nature of many of today’s employee recognition programs, 43 percent of U.S. workers had not been recognized in the past three months. More importantly, a startling 55 percent felt they were not rewarded according to job performance, indicating a critical disconnect between recognition and performance.”
These results parallel findings from a SmartBrief on Workforce poll earlier this month in which only 15% agreed their incentive program is effective.
Click over to Compensation Café and let me know — What signs of a recognition program in trouble have you seen? What are your recommendations to fix such a program?
Recognize This: Your best people are planning on leaving as soon as they can. What are you going to do about it now?
“Our most recent data clearly show that employee distraction, demoralization and disengagement are at an all-time high. In fact, the statistics for high performers — the best and brightest talent — are equally alarming, with nearly a third planning to leave their current jobs within the next 12 months.”
Think about your staff for the moment. Categorize them in your mind so you’re considering your truly top performers. One-third are leaving in the next year. Try to imagine how the work will get done as well without 1/3 of your top performers. How’s that picture look?
Why You Should Care
CEB continues: “It will be extremely difficult to expand revenue and productivity with a workforce that is unfocused and under-performing, or if turnover becomes a concern.”
Your best performers are often your leaders in the office as well – good attitudes, a willingness to coach others. Lose those people and the ones remaining will certainly lose focus. But even before that step, Those who are just thinking of leaving are already distracted from their work with those thoughts and plans. Can you afford that?
What You Can Do about It
The CEB suggests: “Recognize and reward employee contributions: Differentiating among employees is surprisingly hard for managers but organizations must arm them with the tools and guidance to ensure that their employees feel valued for their individual achievements.”
What are you doing right now to keep you best employees? What’s your company/manager/leadership doing to keep you?
Recognize This: The good times are over for companies that took advantage of the recession on the backs of their employees.
Did you (or your company) resort to any measure necessary to survive the recession – layoffs, salary cuts or freezes, etc? Or, if your honest with yourself, did you use the recession as an excuse to perhaps trim a bit more than necessary, knowing the remaining employees would take on the additional work, for no additional pay because of their fear of losing their job, too?
If you (or your company) fall in the latter category, the day of reckoning has arrived. As reported in TLNT:
“For employers that have used the economic downturn and the scarcity of jobs to justify squeezing every drop of productivity out of workers at the expense of the employees’ mental and physical well being, this turnaround sounds a death knell, not for the companies necessarily but rather for the way they have been treating their staff.
“The end is near for those practices as well as for the peace of mind that staff will remain loyal and in place. In fact, for employers who took this tactic, voluntary turnover is almost certain to rise dramatically as their employees learn there are new outlets for their efforts and talents. In addition, these employers likely will have a more challenging time making new hires as word of their actions gets around and impacts their reputations.”
In the age of Glassdoor and the like, you can’t afford for a miserly, whip-cracking, threatening reputation to get out. Sure it may have served you well in the short-term, but payback is coming.
Good employees always know what they’re worth. And I don’t mean just monetarily. They know they are worthy of respect, fair play, recognition and rewards for their efforts, and a work environment that encourages employee engagement.
What kind of culture have you been working in the last couple of years? Intimidation and fear or respectful and engaging? If the former, what are your career plans in the next 12 months?
Recognize This: Don’t legislate recognition too much. Leave plenty of room for employees to express their true thoughts and emotions.
The power of recognition lies in letting employees voice their true thoughts and feelings of appreciation to their peers and colleagues. To get the most out of your strategic recognition program, give employees guidelines, but let them tell their own story of appreciation.
1) Always include the company value demonstrated or strategic objective contributed to in the recognition message. This brings the values and objectives to life in the daily behaviors and efforts of employees.
2) Write a detailed message of appreciation expressing precisely how the person being recognized contributed and why that contribution was important within the bigger picture. This helps employees understand that their daily work has greater meaning and purpose beyond the day-to-day.
That’s it. Step back and get out of the way. Of course, we have our five tenets that underpin the success of a strategic recognition program, but as far as the daily sharing of appreciation, it’s as simple as the above.
End your week on a positive note. Share your appreciation with a colleague today.
Recognize This: If you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.
Last holiday season, Steve Boese related a sweet story on traditional family recipes in his HR Technology Blog.
In the post, Steve tells of his mother and her special stuffing that was venerated throughout the family.
“But no one knows how, exactly, to duplicate Mom’s stuffing. She never shared the recipe, never revealed her secrets. She, I suppose, was successful in keeping ‘Joan’s Stuffing’ as a legendary fixture in the family history. We will never have it again, because no one really knows precisely how to mix, measure, prepare, and serve the dish the way she did for all those years.
“What she did not fully understand, even if she had carefully recorded the recipe, and made sure that the next generation could precisely and honorably replicate the dish, it still would always be her dish. The stuffing, the pie, the potatoes – whatever, they are just food. The legacy of Mom and Grandma isn’t about food, it’s about how they took care of you, and your brothers and sisters, and everyone else that they touched. What makes me sad it that I don’t think we let the Moms and Grandmas know this often enough, and they feel by clinging to their secret recipes we won’t be able to forget them.”
The same is true in the workplace. When we withhold knowledge, often in an effort to protect ourselves and our “place” in the team, we also make ourselves irreplaceable. And as a boss of mine once told me, “If we can’t replace you, we can’t promote you.”
Steve’s second point is just as powerful. We don’t tell the people important to us – at home and at work – just how much they are appreciated and valued. Perhaps if we did, it’d be easier to “share the secret sauce.”
Recognize This: If you want your employees to care about your strategic objectives and work to achieve them every day, you better make it clear what those objectives are in their daily work.
How about some frightening statistics to shake up the middle of your week? (Quoting from Fake Work research as cited in TLNT):
• 87% of employees are not satisfied with the results of their work at the end of most weeks
• 73% of workers say their organizations’ strategies and goals are not translated into specific work tasks they can execute.
• 70% of workers do not know what to do to support their organizations’ strategies and goals.
• 81% of workers do not feel a strong level of commitment to their organizations’ strategies.
Let’s boil that down. People don’t know what you want them to do, don’t know how to do it anyway, don’t particularly care, but at least they’re somewhat dissatisfied for it at the end of the week.
Spouting strategies does little to align employees with your goals. It’s not that employees don’t want to help the company achieve its strategic objectives. It’s that they don’t know how. That’s where strategic recognition comes in as a very powerful tool for communicating both what the company needs down and how each employee contributes to that. When you thank an employee – specifically and with details – for achieving an objective (including a description of the work and the objective) it becomes clear to the employee how they are helping.
Do you know your company’s strategic objectives? Do you know how you contribute to achieving them in your daily work? Do you care?
Recognize This: How you praise is as important as when.
I follow a lot of blogs in the HR and leadership space, as I’m sure you do, too. One I recently started enjoying is Respectful Workplace. A post at the end of last year has resonated so strongly with me, I must share it with you. In “The Power of Recognition,” Erica Pinsky wrote:
“Rather it is the daily practice of recognition – the thank you’s , great job, we couldn’t have gotten here without your input, you are a valued member of this team – that inspire many of us to want to continue making an effort. Let’s face it, whatever our job, task or profession, we want to know that what we are doing matters. We all want to know that others appreciate the effort we make. And unless someone is doing that on a regular basis, chances are we won’t feel valued or appreciated, which often translates to a lack of motivation and the inevitable drop in productivity.”
Erica’s covered all the basics here – frequency, sincerity, timeliness – and the strong link between recognition, performance and productivity.
Wally Bock, author of the excellent Three Star Leadership blog, made a similar case, but also highlighting what should not be praised:
“I do not praise thee for capacity. You do not merit praise for being smart or talented or any other gift you have received without merit or effort on your part.”
That may seem counter-intuitive, but your smarts, talents and other gifts are what you brought to the table in the first place. It’s how you choose to use those talents that merits praise and appreciation.
What do you think? Did Erica and Wally get it right? Is there anything else that should not be praised that many assume should?