Posts Tagged "recognition’

Secrets to the Holiday Gift Every Employee Wants

by Lynette Silva

Give the gift of thanksRecognize This! – The best gift anyone can give or receive is the gift of thanks.

What’s the most fraught HR decision/situation this time of year? Easy answer – the office holiday party. Setting aside some of the more drama-filled scenes and stories (though I enjoyed Tim Sackett’s holiday party rules), the holiday party is a good way to celebrate a year’s worth of hard work and success as well as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with colleagues.

If the holiday party is the most fraught situation, what’s the second most? I submit, it’s the holiday gift, end-of-year bonus, etc. Why would a gift or a bonus (arguably, both desired by the recipient) be such a challenge? The top reason is because it’s annual. When recognition and rewards are held in reserve, expectations and anticipation often grow exponentially (and out of whack with realities of the business). That’s why frequent and timely recognition throughout the year is a top driver of more human workplaces.

A recent blog post by Ben Eubanks highlights three factors of social recognition that have the most impact on creating a more positive employee experience:

  1. Aligned with Desired Behaviors – How do you need people to behave, every day, in every role? The answer is likely codified in your core values, but do your employees even know what your core values are? (This recent survey says nearly half of employees don’t.) Make it easy for anyone in your organization to recognize and appreciate colleagues for living those values in their daily work. That makes your core values come alive – in people’s hearts as well as their heads.
  1. Differentiated based on Contribution — What did the person do that’s deserving of recognition? Leading a significant project that potentially saves the company millions certainly deserves far more than a pat on the back and casual, “Thanks for all you do.” Instead structure multiple award levels differentiated based on level of effort, contribution, time invested and result achieved.
  1. Appropriate to the Person – Never forget the incredible variability of us humans. What’s personal and meaningful to you (a donation to your favorite charity, perhaps) could be very different than what’s personal and meaningful to me (a runaway escape weekend). Avoid the nightmare of the unwanted (or worse, insulting) gift. True stories include the giving of a steakhouse gift card to a vegan and tickets to the latest hot theater production to a single mom who couldn’t get childcare for the night of the show. Instead, make it fun and easy for the recipients to choose their own meaningful rewards.

Finally, this holiday season, the greatest gift anyone can give or receive is the gift of thanks. Because to say “thank you” means “I see you. I notice you. You are valuable. You matter.”

Who will you give the gift of thanks to this year?

3 Ways to Make Work More Human

by Lynette Silva

WorkHuman NYC CommunityRecognize This! – Regardless of industry or company size, all employees need authenticity, mindfulness and recognition.

Why do we WorkHuman? Simple – how else could we possibly work? We are human, after all. And yet, our workplaces or work experiences often aren’t structured to honor, support or encourage the very humanity we bring to the office.

During the last two weeks, I’ve had the honor and privilege of hosting several WorkHuman Regional Forums across the United States (check out workhuman.com for additional locations and dates throughout the year). The conversation and collaborative learning in these sessions has been enlightening in many ways.

Three recurring themes I’ve seen throughout the conversations in the three local WorkHuman communities to date are:

  1. Authenticity and vulnerability – As Amy Cuddy says, when we are comfortable being our true, authentic selves, we can also be more open and vulnerable with those around us. When we feel safe enough to be authentic, we can bring our whole human selves to work.
  2. Mindfulness and time to pause – Our days are often hectic, dashing between meetings, projects, and priorities. We need time to pause, reflect and process on what was just discussed, accomplished or requested. Building time into the day for short 5-minute reflection and mindful meditation breaks increases focus and productivity. One way to start is simply ending meetings 10 minutes early.
  3. Recognizing the whole human—There is much to celebrate in the people around us. Yet the focus of celebrations is often on the projects or outcomes, and not the humans that delivered the results. Recognizing the people behind the results is critical, as is celebrating the uniqueness each of us brings that creates a far more cohesive and successful whole.

How do we make work more human?

Answering that question is the responsibility of all of us – of any human who has worked, will work, or works today. We owe it to our fellow humans to contribute to a work environment that not only “pays the bills” but also brings us into closer community with others, fulfills our need for greater meaning and purpose from our contributions, and increases our sense of gratitude and appreciation.

How can you join the WorkHuman conversation?

  • Online at WorkHumanCommunity.com.
  • At an upcoming Regional Forum event (August 9 in San Francisco with more cities being added this Fall) – Information and registration available at WorkHuman.com.
  • At the main event in Phoenix, Arizona, May 30-June 1, 2017. (see WorkHuman.com for details)

How does your organization WorkHuman today? What are your priorities for making your workplace more human?

3 Ideas for More Generosity at Work

By Derek Irvine

puzzle-1019881_960_720Recognize This! – A culture of generosity is one aspect of a more human workplace that is a natural fit, but also needs to be curated.

There are many different ways that organizations can become more human, evidenced by the sheer diversity of ideas across our WorkHuman speakers and thinkers, as well as our own research. One idea seems to sit at the core of several of these approaches: a culture of generosity.

What does generosity mean in the context of work? According to recent behavioral economics research, it is part of a set of prosocial behaviors that emphasize interactions rooted in inclusion, cooperation, trust and fairness. Rather than zero-sum interactions defined by self-interest (based in traditional economic models), generosity contributes to more positive outcomes for all parties. It is a collective tide that can raise all boats.

The challenge for many businesses is ensuring that innate motivations towards generosity are not crowded out by organizational design and process, and instead, a culture of generosity is reinforced through positive practices and norms.

Extending the research findings from the article mentioned above, there are three factors that are important in reinforcing a culture of generosity:

1. Recognition rather than incentives.

Incentives, the article cautions, “may cause people to think in terms of cost-benefit calculations, rather than acting on goodwill.” Recognition on the other hand occurs after the fact and as an exciting surprise to the recipient. These dynamics encourage the repetition of positive behaviors across the organization, avoiding the unintended consequences that often accompany the criteria associated with incentives and punishments.

2. Promotion of inclusion and connection.

Leaders also need to guard against situations that “might undermine morality by encouraging a sense of distance and anonymity.” Alongside recognition, a culture of generosity begins with a shared feeling of inclusion, from all colleagues having the ability to recognize the contributions of others, making personal connections in pursuit of shared values and goals. Patterns of self-interest are much less likely when these personal connections are continually reinforced.

3. Establishment of positive social norms.

Moving towards a culture of generosity means that “when the right norms are in place… behavior is less impacted by incentives and more part of a person’s everyday habits.” It all comes back to the human-focused culture in which recognition and appreciation occurs. Based on the research, the key features of that culture are trust and fairness, as well as a feeling that the organization cares about the whole employee.

When these three factors are brought together into a cohesive and holistic design within the organization, the benefits of a culture of generosity become clear. Employees are able to reach higher levels through greater cooperation and recognition of one another, and ultimately achieve greater performance together.

What are some ways a culture of generosity could help your own company?

5 Research-backed Ways Recognition Leads to Meaningfulness

By Derek Irvine

Path up mountainRecognize This! – Companies can create cultures that encourage meaningfulness through the impact that social recognition can have.

One of the more powerful ways to make the workplace more human is through establishing meaning and purpose. For many HR and business leaders, that task can seem abstract and challenging to achieve. On one hand, we all know meaningfulness when we see (or experience) it, but scaling meaningfulness across an entire organization is another thing entirely.

A good place to start, however, is with an understanding of what makes work experiences meaningful, and alternatively, what factors can easily sap meaning away. Research just published in MIT’s Sloan Management Review addresses precisely these questions, to help organizations better understand the dynamics of meaningfulness in the office.

Reading through the findings, many of the qualities that define meaningful work speak directly to the impact that social recognition can have in creating a positive culture focused on scaling meaningfulness more broadly.

Below is a brief summary of the 5 qualities that define meaningfulness, alongside how recognition can amplify those qualities across employees and the organization as a whole:

1. Meaning occurs when work impacts others more than just the individual worker. Recognition is the opportunity to see how your work has positively contributed to others in the organization, as well as to express your gratitude to colleagues where their work has impacted you.

2. Meaning is frequently associated with rich experiences of achievement and perseverance, not merely happiness or euphoria. Individuals can be recognized for the hard work and effort put into overcoming challenges or dealing with complex problems, as well as the results that stem from that work.

3. Meaning occurs through discrete, memorable moments rather than in a more sustained manner. Recognition that is timely, frequent, and specific can be directly tied to these types of moments, reinforcing their memorability and impact.

4. Meaning requires a level of thoughtful retrospection, when connections can be drawn between completed work and its wider value. Recognition provides a moment of pause for giving and receiving alike, to step out of the stream of everyday work and call attention to the positive impact that work has accomplished.

5. Meaning touches upon a person’s whole self, both within and outside of their professional identities. Central to the WorkHuman movement, recognition signals an appreciation of each and every employee’s full set of strengths as humans, connecting work and personal lives.

As the research suggests, meaningfulness at work is about the larger culture and environment that supports these qualities and empowers employees to find meaning for themselves. A social recognition solution is an incredibly powerful tool in helping to build that culture and ultimately, make work more human.

How have you found meaning in your own work?

Recognition, from Culture to Practice!

By Traci Pesch

Photographic light spiralRecognize This! – A sustainable culture of recognition starts with “why” to inform positive spirals between culture and practices.

Why does employee recognition matter? What elements make social recognition a success? How do we even define “success?” What types of significant results are achievable through social recognition?

These are a few of the most common questions I hear about social recognition. Beyond the obvious, “Yes, it’s important to say ‘thank you’ – to notice, acknowledge, and appreciate the efforts of those around you,” social recognition does have significant impact on how our people experience work. (So why not make it a more WorkHuman environment?)

So, why is recognition important?  More importantly why is creating a culture or recognition vs just implementing another program so important?  A culture of recognition contributes to success by creating a positive spiral effective, encouraging greater alignment with core values, and reinforcing key behaviors that drive businesses forward.

In turn, connections between employees are strengthened, leading to greater engagement and satisfaction, as well as improved trust and collaboration.  Employees who are recognized for their contributions are more likely to bring their whole self to work, resulting in a range of outcomes and results.  Essentially, recognition done right, drives top priorities and business results.

Illustration of culture spiral text

We’ve thought about this a lot. It’s our passion. We’ve been refining this with our customers for years, codified in our book The Power of Thanks.

Recognition BlueprintThis blueprint for social recognition success involves the elements illustrated here, starting with securing executive sponsorship and defining your goals and metrics for success, then continuing though creation of a strong program designed to reach all employees for that engaging recognition experience, and then offering a great choice of rewards in order to ensure every recognition moment has the longest emotional tail possible.

These are the elements from which our best practices and benchmarks are derived.  These best practices and this approach, is proven with large, global companies across many verticals.

With these elements in mind, have a look at your employee recognition program and the current state against each key element of success.  Our vision for all of our clients is to truly build a culture of recognition and appreciation that lives, grows and is sustainable.  As a matter of fact, this year we’re celebrating 10 years of partnership with several clients, who transformed their thinking from “let’s have a recognition program” to “let’s build a sustainable culture of appreciation and recognition and have quantifiable results to back up the WHY.”

What are some of your company’s ambitions for establishing a culture of recognition?

Top 3 Drivers of Employee Satisfaction (and Salary Isn’t One of Them)

by Traci Pesch

Rabbit on a benchRecognize This! – Company culture, career opportunities and trust in senior leaders drive employee satisfaction far more than salary.

Have you ever gone down rabbit holes on the web, where you start reading one article, then click an embedded link that seems intriguing, and then do it again in the next article? The next thing you realize, three hours have passed, you missed a phone call with a colleague, and worst, you missed your regular infusion of Diet Coke (okay, maybe that last part is just me).

I have Glassdoor to thank for my latest trip down the rabbit hole through the innocent entry point of their list of the 25 highest paying companies in America. Unsurprisingly, all 25 spots are held by consulting and high-tech firms. Far more interesting to me was this paragraph at the end of the article:

“While the companies on this list pay handsomely and a Glassdoor survey shows salary and compensation are among peoples’ top considerations before accepting a job, Glassdoor research also shows that salary is not among the leading factors tied to long-term employee satisfaction. In contrast, culture and values, career opportunities, and trust in senior leadership are the biggest drivers of long-term employee satisfaction.”

It’s that second link that proved my undoing. As a passionate believer in the importance of core-values-driven cultures, especially those reinforced through recognition, I had to click. It took me to this report from June 2015, which included several thought provoking statements: (largely quoting below, emphasis mine):

“A 10% increase in employee pay is associated with a 1 point increase in overall company satisfaction on a 0-100 scale, controlling for all other factors. In other words, if an employee making $40,000 per year were given a raise to $44,000 per year, his or her overall employee satisfaction would increase from 77 percent to 78 percent. And it’s important to note that there is a diminishing return to happiness for every extra $1,000 in earnings.”

Glassdoor then dug further into the findings to find out, if money isn’t the main driver of employee satisfaction, then what is? They went back to their employer review survey (another link!) to add controls for employee ratings on business outlook, career opportunities, culture and values, compensation and benefits, senior leadership and work-life balance. The results:

“In this regression, all of these control variables were statistically significant predictors of workplace satisfaction. And the model predicts overall satisfaction pretty well, explaining about 76% of variation in employee satisfaction. From this model, we find an employee’s culture and values rating for the company has the biggest impact on job satisfaction. And not surprising given the findings above, we find an employee’s compensation and benefits rating has the second smallest effect on overall satisfaction, ahead of business outlook rating.”

[Tweet “Employee perception of company culture and core values has highest impact on #EmployeeEngagement” @WorkHuman]

Company Culture ImportanceWondering why the culture and values rating is so influential, Glassdoor determined, “An employee’s culture and values rating probably represents a combination of factors that contribute to overall well-being such as company morale, employee recognition, and transparency within the organization.”

Why did this fascinate me so greatly? Culture matters. And every employee in your organization owns, influences and benefits from the culture – whether it’s the culture you want or the one allowed to “just happen.” And let’s not ignore the statement in the original quotation above about the importance of trust in senior leaders. Don’t forget the findings from the latest WorkHuman Research Institute employee survey showing the dramatic impact of recognition on trust for leaders.

Recognition Impact on Trust

What most drives your satisfaction and engagement in your work?

Putting Recognition Out to Pasture?

By Derek Irvine

CowsRecognize This! – Research often helps to expand our understanding of interactions at work and the impact on productivity, even if it does come from dairy farms.

First, for all of the skeptics: this is not an April Fool’s Day post. You’ll understand the reason for that disclaimer in a moment, but I thought today would be a good opportunity to look at the lighter side of recognition.

Sometimes in the hunt for research, you come across a study that is too good to skip, regardless of how tangential the headline is to what you are actually looking for. The study in question from a few years back: “Happy cows produce more milk.

What does that have to do with recognition and improving the work experience?

As it turns out, researchers with Newcastle University decided to investigate the relationship between dairy farmers and their herds, particularly in terms of how different “best practices” or behaviors would relate to milk yield. Of all those practices, farmers who “call their cows by name” and treat them as individuals experienced statistically significant gains in milk production of 3.5% compared to farmers that do not.

According to the researchers, “cows like being treated nicely by humans”, which reduces fear/stress and the resulting biological impacts that has on productivity and interactions with the farmer. Happiness with how the cows are treated is related to productivity. The parallels to human work experiences aren’t exactly one-to-one, but they aren’t all that far off either. Check out the video below that discusses some of these parallels in more detail (email subscribers may need to click through):

Recognition and improvements in individual treatment are part of this larger fabric of interactions at work, apparently whether they take place in a pasture or an office.

I don’t think we’ll see much uptake in social recognition among farm animals (for one, the research on peer-to-peer relationships among cows is lacking, but at least researchers will soon be looking more closely into “assessing an animal’s state of mind”); nevertheless, it’s an entertaining thought for first Friday in April.

What lessons on recognition have you come across in unusual places?

If you want to learn more about improving productivity in your own organization by becoming more human and treating others well: use code WH16RT300 to register for WorkHuman and receive a $300 discount.

Compensation Cafe: Employee Engagement and Incentives Compensation

by Derek Irvine

Compensation CafeRecognize This! – Employees choose to give more and behave in desired ways based on the environment they are being asked to engage in.

Employee Engagement Is Dead! Long Live Employee Engagement!

What sounds like a non-sequitur may not be. Last week on Compensation Cafe I blogged: “Is Employee Engagement Moot in Today’s High Stress Work Environments?” in which I reflected on the seeming stagnation of employee engagement stats in the research across many organizations. I argue:

No, the error lies in how we are pursuing employee engagement. Yes, employee engagement is a two-way street. Employees must themselves choose to engage in the work, but employers must also offer conditions in which employees would want to engage. That’s where we’ve fallen down.

What must change? It’s time to go back to basics. Why should employees choose to engage in the organization’s greater mission, purpose, and goals and give additional discretionary effort to achieve them if (1) compensation is not equal to market rates or is insufficient to cover basic living needs, (2) the work environment is itself unsupportive or downright abusive, and (3) essential human needs of rest, restoration and the ability to meet the needs of the whole person are ignored.

Read the post for more on the backing research and how to change those three factors to improve employee engagement.

Then today, I blogged “The Tricky Business of Incentive Compensation,” examining research on when and how incentives can motivate, given the typically low performance of such schemes. As I unpack in the post:

What they found was that incentives largely worked… but only for certain people and in certain circumstances… If companies are primarily concerned with behavior that aligns to performance, shifting focus away from pre-designated incentives structures towards “surprise” programs that can recognize and otherwise reinforce those behaviors may be a valuable path forward. For example, if managers are recognized and publicly celebrated for a willingness to take risks like those mentioned above, the signal may be that much stronger for others to overcome that initial sense of inertia.

Again, click over for the full post.

Mapping Out Employee Accountability

by Derek Irvine

Map in handRecognize This! — Accountability requires a clear mental map for achieving results. Recognition enables everyone to share that same map.

“How do I get my people to be more accountable for results?” is the essential question from a recent post over at Harvard Business Review. It’s the kind of question that usually follows some type of failure at work. Someone misses a project deadline or comes in over budget. Forecasted performance goals go unmet.

A single failure can be frustrating enough; resolving more systemic issues of accountability across a team or organization can be daunting for managers and executives.

I suspect systemic accountability problems actually have to do with a lack of clarity and coherence. The former almost certainly drives the latter. In the absence of clarity, everyone can work from their own sets of rules about what outcomes are expected and how those commitments are followed through. No one shares the same mental map of the workplace and the way priorities and tasks are achieved.

Clarity even precedes the usual accountability suspects that leaders may point to: employee competence and motivation. Without shared ideas of appropriate outcomes and success metrics, these attributes just aren’t going to be much of a factor. If no one is using the same map, it will nearly be impossible to differentiate who is making progress in the desired direction, let alone what is driving that progress.

Developing a Shared Map of Accountability

The critical task facing leadership is to create and foster this shared map, either as a standalone culture of accountability or by weaving accountability throughout the organization’s core values. The map must clarify the following:

  • Destination: what outcomes are sought and how you know when you are there
  • Trip Planning: what resources are required and what happens if outcomes are not achieved
  • Route Updates: continuous feedback along the way to monitor progress, as well as keep teams and organizations aligned

There are several possible ways to achieve this depending on the specifics of your own organization and its culture, but one potential universal approach is through a culture of recognition. Here’s why.

A Recognition-driven Map

Recognition goes a long way in helping to develop a shared Destination. Leaders can recognize behaviors that drive results and demonstrate accountability. These behaviors provide an organization with vivid and specific examples of what success looks like and how to get there. They are powerful examples that all employees can share and learn from, developing their own repertoires of similar results-focused behaviors.

Recognition can also be used to highlight examples of Trip Planning. Examples include employees that go above and beyond in securing resources to meet important deadlines, or take initiative to deliver on commitments in the face of unanticipated obstacles. Again, recognition of these behaviors provides a shared repertoire of behaviors that align everyone behind accountability.

Finally, providing Route Updates, recognition is immediate and frequent. It allows leaders to monitor progress as well as quickly adapt to changes, particularly where peer-to-peer recognition is leveraged. This benefit limits the potential for derailing surprises and allows everyone to behave more proactively. Leaders can also gain insight into patterns of accountability across people, departments, and divisions, rewarding or intervening as necessary.

Altogether, recognition helps to create the shared maps that drive accountability, and as result, business performance. When everyone is aligned behind a common idea of what is expected and how success is measured, as well as creative responses to unforeseen challenges, accountability can become a competitive advantage.

What is your organization’s accountability map? How widely is it shared and recognized?

The Connecting Power of Gratitude

by Lynette Silva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to Practice Gratitude

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

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

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

What are you grateful for?