Posts Tagged "recognition’

3 Principles to Help Everyone Give Their Best

by Lynette Silva

Casual gathering of business colleaguesRecognize This! – We all have a responsibility to pay attention, encourage and support our colleagues as we become excellent together.

Above and beyond – that’s a common theme for what types of employee contributions should be recognized. And it’s a good theme. This is so important to some of our clients that they’ve even branded their recognition programs “Above and Beyond.”

But what about “completely different?” Or “entirely outside of the job description?” Sometimes we recognize and reward these individuals, but all too often we punish them instead, forcing them back into the box and encouraging them to “just get the job done.”

And then there are people like Charles Clark, custodian at Trinity High School in Euless, TX. Featured in a recent CBS Sunday Morning story, Mr. Clark does his defined “job” very well. He is committed to providing a clean and comfortable environment for the students and faculty. But it’s his “extra” work that perhaps has the most lasting and profound impact.

Here’s the story (email subscribers, click through for the video):

Mr. Clark pays attention and watches out for the students that might need a little extra encouragement and guidance to stay on the right path. He serves as a counselor of sorts, one who the professional counselor on staff acknowledges is better than the pros at working with some of the students. And his results are outstanding. The students Mr. Clark targets for special attention tend to go on to graduate college.

The principles he applies to students work just as well with our colleagues. When applied thoughtfully, these principles can have profound impact on others.

  1. Pay attention – Mr. Clark gets his job done, but he also pays attention to those around him. He is intentional in looking for those who need bit more support. Then he actually gives it.
  2. Offer words of encouragement and support – Many of us know others who need additional support, but not all of us are willing to give up our own time to spend a few minutes to offer the recognition and help they may need. Often, kind words of praise and appreciation are all that’s needed.
  3. Seek out the good in others – Mr. Clark tends to reach out to the students who might be on the brink of “trouble” or seeking the wrong path, but he looks beyond that. He sees their potential and the good they have to offer. Think for a moment about your colleagues. Who are the most difficult to work with? Do you tend to avoid them because of their reputation? Now pause and rethink, what does that person do particularly well? How can you seek out ways to engage with them to benefit from their strengths? Praising others for their strengths is a powerful way to help them refocus on what matters most.

How can you be more intentional in noticing your colleagues and their efforts? How have words of encouragement from others helped you?

 

It Just Shouldn’t Be This Difficult! – Eliminating Barriers to Recognition

by Brenda Pohlman

Broken wall with "Thank You!"Recognize This! — Sharing appreciation and gratitude for others should be simple to encourage frequent, timely praise and recognition.

When was the last time you used a fax machine? I recently had the pleasure (ahem) of being re-acquainted with this office equipment fixture of old while trying to execute a recognition moment of sorts. I wanted to do a nice thing for a co-worker on behalf of our team. It was intended as a small gesture – nothing elaborate, nothing designed to convey serious feedback or emotion, just a simple acknowledgement. It should’ve been soooo easy.

We were attending our annual company holiday celebration with our guests, and my colleague, who was bringing her husband (known to most of us as ‘Mr. Wonderful’ by the way), planned to stay the evening at the hotel party venue as a little overnight getaway. It would be a well-deserved break in the midst of a very busy time at work as well as personal circumstances our teammate had faced this Fall. We decided to surprise the two of them with a basket of treats delivered to their room as a show of support. But it proved to be much easier in thought than execution.

I coordinated the details with the hotel, credit card at the ready to pay over the phone. The hotel wouldn’t take it. Payment authorization was required in advance, involving a cumbersome form filled out and returned to them immediately….via fax. I protested, “But it’s just cookies and brownies. I’ll be there in a few hours and can show my credit card in person. I’m connected to the company that’s hosting its big party there tonight.” Nope. No form means no cookie delivery.

Our receptionist looked up our fax number so the hotel could send the form (who has such things memorized anymore and why was email not an option)?. I eventually received it after three trips across the office to check. Hours passed as I went from meeting to meeting, and eventually I got a call from the hotel looking for my completed form and reminding me “no form, no cookie delivery.” I scrambled as the old familiar fax machine challenges came back to me. Dial 9 first or not? Document face up or face down? And alas, an error message. In my head I heard, “No form, no cookies.” Aaargh! A colleague came by, saw me struggling, and asked what I was doing after some teasing about the passé nature of the experience. I blurted out, “I’m just trying to do something nice for someone! It shouldn’t be this hard!”

Eliminate Barriers to Recognition

We encounter companies all the time who have inadvertently constructed barriers to recognition – things that make recognition more difficult than it needs to be, steps and rules that make well-intentioned employees feel hassled by the experience of simply trying to do something meaningful for a co-worker. These barriers rarely serve any legitimate business purpose at all. They’re hold-outs from old school recognition programs that don’t align with the goals and ambitions of today’s initiatives and modern programs. In my ‘nice gesture gone bad’ example here, all the jumping through hoops was supposed to be for my own protection, as the hotel put it.

Things That Make Recognition Harder Than It Should Be:

  • Cumbersome nomination processes, where employees are required to complete lengthy forms to recommend a colleague for recognition (Formal recognition should take as little as 60 seconds).
  • Slow selection or approval processes. We’ve seen systems where committees of HR and business leaders meet quarterly to choose winners for $100 awards! (48-hour award approvals at most – by one or two managers -is ideal).
  • Eligibility rules that prohibit employees from recognizing others directly themselves, forcing them to ask a manager to place a nomination on their behalf instead (Peer-to-peer nomination eligibility is the #1 most powerful way to breakdown barriers to recognition).
  • Recognition systems that aren’t accessible to offline populations or are entirely manual (Mobile apps and computer kiosks are the best hassle-free work-arounds for offline employees).
  • Partial eligibility where some locations or business units are eligible to participate in the recognition program and some are not. These rules can leave employees guessing or force them to investigate a co-worker’s eligibility status (Company-wide participation in a centralized program conveys a simple and inclusive message about recognition).
  • A lack of structure. In the absence of guidelines and tools, many employees will simply do nothing (Elimination of bureaucracy is good, but recognition is not likely to be prevalent in your environment without some rules and systems).

These barriers can be the root cause of a recognition program manager’s worst nightmare – the employee who is inspired to recognize a colleague, makes a decision to take action, seeks out the system or process to do so, and then gives up when faced with daunting administrative red tape. Recognition must be fluid and easy. Otherwise, it can feel inauthentic and meaningless at best, or nonexistent at worst.

As we come into a new year, make a commitment to create an easier, more natural recognition experience at your organization. Find ways to overcome those obstacles that leave your would-be recognizers feeling frustrated and uninspired. In other words, let those barriers go the way of the fax machine.

Start by choosing one recognition barrier to eliminate. Which would you eliminate first?

 

 

 

What Do Employees Want Most? Appreciation and Good Relationships at Work

"thank you" translated into multiple languagesRecognize This! – Research from the Boston Consulting Group and The Network show employees around the world most need to know their work is valued and appreciated.

“They are different in [insert country other than your own.] They want different things than we do.”

How true do you believe that statement to be? Do you wonder if anyone’s recently tried to quantify those perceived differences or, better yet, find the commonalities?

This Fall, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network did just that in their “Decoding Global Talent” report, which aggregated 200,000 survey responses on global mobility and employment preferences from employees in 189 countries. The survey primarily looked at what would make employees willing to work abroad, regardless of home country. But one particular finding struck me as most enlightening – regardless of desire to relocate, all respondents “are putting more emphasis on intrinsic rewards and less on compensation.”

Chart from BCG reportThis chart (Exhibit 8) from the report shows the most important job elements to survey respondents, with appreciation for work and relationships with others leading the list.

It’s no surprise “appreciation for your work” leads the list. We need to know our work matters. One survey respondent, a logistics supervisor in Morocco, put it best: “What you do is what you are and what you are is what you do. You must be appreciated.”

We invest so much of ourselves in our work. We need to know that others notice and appreciate our efforts. It’s more powerful validation than a paycheque alone, and a basic human need.

Good relationships with those with whom we spend the majority of our time is no less a need. That’s why it’s also not a surprise that good relationships with colleagues and supervisors also top the list. Indeed, the top two key findings of our most recent Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker report found that (1) peer relationships are critical to the modern work experience because of amount of time we invest at work, and (2) having friends at increases commitment to the company.

The global study from BCG pointed to an additional finding on relationships at work I found fascinating. Level in the organizations determines, in part, the types of relationships I value most. That’s why peer recognition and appreciation programs are vital to employee happiness and engagement at work.

“Workers lower down on the hierarchy assign more importance to their relationships with colleagues than to their relationships with superiors—exactly the opposite of higher-level managers.”

And finally, the importance of these factors to recruiting and retaining employees cannot be underestimated. The BCG report summarizes this way:

“Even as employers have begun to modify the branding they use to recruit workers—correctly anticipating the shift to a postcrisis world in which money isn’t everything—companies have not really done much to push their reward systems toward new and compelling “total offers” that include many of the attributes relating to culture, relationships, and appreciation that employees covet these days. Instead, company rewards are still largely built around compensation, and the culture inside many companies remains hierarchical, with complex guidelines, limited flexibility, and highly political agendas. It’s the rare employer that has found a way to institutionalize appreciation—the attribute that workers, especially younger workers of Generation Y, now seem to crave…

“But there need to be other kinds of expertise, too. In particular, HR needs to find ways to get more involved in shaping corporate culture, in encouraging meaningful relationships between and among bosses and workers, and in ensuring that appreciation for a job well done gets the company-wide attention it deserves. Otherwise, the most talented employees will leave and companies will face a strategic disadvantage.”

There no more effective, efficient way to shape culture, encourage meaningful relationships, or ensure appreciation for a job well done than a social recognition program that encourages all employees to frequently, sincerely and specifically recognize and praise their colleagues for good work in line with company core values. This is what is proven to build cultures of recognition quickly across global organizations, big and small.

What is your most important job element?

Surprise Someone with Gratitude This Holiday Season

by Traci Pesch

Ward Quote: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.Recognize This! – Expressing gratitude and appreciation for others is a powerful way to show how much we care.

You’re running late to work. Maybe you’re going a tad bit too fast. You look up and…oh, no…you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

What goes through your mind at this moment? Does your stomach jump into your throat? Do you think, “Not now. I don’t have the time! I’m already late.” Or perhaps, “Not this time of year. The budget’s already tight for Christmas presents. I can’t pay a speeding ticket, too!”

I imagine that was the experience for many of the people in this video – an effort by local police to brighten the holidays for motorists in Lowell, MI.

Officer Scot VanSokema pulled over motorists for minor traffic violations that might not have warranted a traffic stop. He engaged them in conversation, casually asking top gifts on their Christmas lists. Then colleagues listening in from a nearby store quickly raced to buy the items and bring them to the motorists.

A dark, worrisome moment, quickly turned into a positive, happy interaction – actions such as this are particularly important at this time of year which, for many, can be quite stressful.

The same is true at work. Think about the boss calling an employee into the office, “John, can you spare a quick minute? I have something to discuss with you privately.” Even in the best of relationships, there’s likely some measure of trepidation with a request like that. Perhaps John is thinking, “I wonder if I didn’t do a thorough enough job on that last project.” Or “No, I don’t have a quick minute. I’m slammed over here! How can you not see how busy I am?”

What a great opportunity for the boss to share a deeply personal and sincere message of appreciation and praise. Think how John might feel if he hears from the boss, “John, I wanted to take a moment to pause in our hectic schedules and tell you how much I appreciate your dedication and commitment to excellence in everything you do. I know how busy you are. I see the hours you’re working and the quality deliverables you’re turning in. I very much appreciate your work and generally positive attitude. What can I do to help?”

Did you watch the video through to the very end? The last screen shows this message:

“While we don’t encourage minor traffic violations, it’s important for police departments to take the time to show their citizens just how much they care.”

That’s valuable advice for all of us – just twist it slightly to: “It’s important for leaders to take the time to show their employees how much they care.” Actually, that’s too limiting. We can all make the day brighter for others. So perhaps a good reminder for us all is:

“It’s important for everyone to take the time to show their colleagues how much they care.”

What have you done to show your colleagues you care? What’s something special someone has done for you?

How to Succeed in the Human Economy

by Lynette Silva

Help someone out - show your humanityRecognize This! – Our work is no longer about what we do or what we make, it’s about who we serve and how we behave.

This week was a week of meetings. Usually that’s a groan-inducing phrase for many employees across the world, but these meetings were with the strategy and consulting team. That means we dealt with the “big picture,” diving into good, meaty discussions that often verge into the philosophical as well as the practical. I enjoy them immensely, primarily because of the people in the meeting. These are the colleagues I have the opportunity to work with most closely day-in and day-out, and that is a rare privilege.

During one of our more philosophical moments, Derek Irvine (our chief blogger here on Recognize This! as well as the head of our strategy and consulting group) began to discuss what truly sets us apart. It’s not just what we offer to the market (social recognition solutions) or the way in which we deliver it (world-leading SaaS technology). No, it’s far more than that. It’s the people across Globoforce who engage deeply with our customer partners, often to the extent our customers refer to our relationship as “family.”

Derek went further to describe this as the human factor. That’s what we bring most – our humanity, our fundamental understanding of the needs of employees as not just workers, but also as friends and colleagues, and as people with rich lives outside the workplace. This brought to mind an article by Dov Seidman I read recently in Harvard Business Review.

“Over the course of the 20th century, the mature economies of the world evolved from being industrial economies to knowledge economies. Now we are at another watershed moment, transitioning to human economies—and the shift has profound implications for management.

“What do I mean by the human economy? Economies get labeled according to the work people predominately do in them. The industrial economy replaced the agrarian economy when people left farms for factories; then the knowledge economy pulled them from factories to office buildings. When that happened, the way workers added value changed, too. Instead of leveraging their brawn, companies capitalized on their brains. No longer hired hands, they were hired heads.

“In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytic skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that can’t be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words. The ability to leverage these strengths will be the source of one organization’s superiority over another.”

I believe this to be true. We’re already seeing the human economy at work all around us. So the question becomes, how do I encourage “humanity” among all employees? How do I reinforce these now-primary desired behaviors for humanity? What attributes do I look for in others to contribute well in this new economy?

This is where the fundamentals of humanity come into play:

We owe it to each other – we owe it to ourselves – to truly acknowledge the people around us. In the end, it’s the way we will now measure success.

What other attributes of humanity do you see at play at work or elsewhere around you?

Thank You for Your Service – A Lesson in the Power of Thanks From Our Military Service Members

by Brenda Pohlman

Poster showing all branches of military with "Honor Courage Loyalty" BannerRecognize This! – When recognition and appreciation fully permeate your culture, astounding things can be accomplished, often in the worst of situations.

If you ever doubted the power of recognition, consider the military. I’d venture to say that perhaps no institution on the planet is better at recognition than our armed forces.

Today is Veterans Day in the U.S. (and Remembrance Day in many other countries). It’s a holiday near and dear to my heart. Three of my family members are veterans, two of whom are in their 20th year of active duty. Military service is, as they say, a family affair. I’m not a military spouse or parent mind you, just a sister and daughter, but even in my periphery role I’ve had the chance to be involved. I’m enormously proud of my family’s service to our country and am grateful for the countless opportunities I’ve been given to glimpse a peek into the military lives of my loved ones.

But it wasn’t until I worked in the recognition business that the theme of these experiences became so darn obvious to me. It’s all recognition! As a civilian observer (and recognition strategist) I can clearly see that it is utterly embedded into every corner of military culture. Each of the numerous ceremonies and celebrations I’ve attended throughout the years have been oriented around a recognition moment of some kind – situations focused on acknowledging an individual or team for their commitment and good work…and family was invited to be part of it. Imagine that.

Even the most casual interactions with service members are so often laden with recognition. The simple act of being introduced by my family members to their coworkers includes the inevitable sharing of “why this person is great” stories on both sides. It’s as if there’s a genuine eagerness to publicly and sincerely praise colleagues in front of their loved ones.

The evidence of recognition is everywhere, even at home. My brother’s house, for example, is chock full of representations of career recognition moments – framed handwritten notes of thanks and congratulations, photos signed by legions of teammates, official commemorations of important milestones. The décor is what a designer might describe as “Navy chic,” akin to other trendy decorating styles only with way more recognition on display!

Clearly, this is all by design. The military is simply leveraging the power of thanks to motivate and engage its employees. And it’s doing so in a big, bold, social, emotionally impactful way.

If recognition, praise and appreciation is embraced by the military to inspire people to do amazing things with enormous risk and often immeasurable personal sacrifice, imagine what it can do for your workforce.

On this Veterans Day, take a lesson from our men and women in uniform and thank a coworker. Then pay it back by thanking a veteran too.

Who will you thank today?

Compensation Cafe: What’s Your “Waffle House Index” for Employee Engagement?

by Derek Irvine

Waffle House restaurant open at nightRecognize This! — There are many organic measures of employee engagement, if we care to notice them.

Yesterday on Compensation Cafe I shared a case study of the “Waffle House Index” – an informal method of measuring the level of destruction from a weather event (tornado, blizzard, flood, etc.) based on the how functional local Waffle House restaurants after the disaster.

I think we have many such informal measurement tools we use in our own organizations – especially to gauge employee engagement and willingness to go the extra mile. Click over to the Compensation Cafe post for the full details of the Waffle House Index and three examples of such informal indices. My post got a little too long, so below I’m sharing a few diagnostic questions for each of the three indices discussed in Compensation Cafe.

1) Relationships between employees

Ask yourself: Do our employees seem to actually enjoy each others’ companies? Are people sitting together to share lunch or go for a walk on break? Do people reach out to others when they may be experiencing personal highs (the birth of a baby, a birthday) or lows (death of a loved one or other major life change)?

2) Informal gratitude, appreciation and other expressions of recognition

Ask yourself: How does positivity flow through our organization? Is recognition seen as purely a purview of managers or does everyone feel responsible for appreciating the efforts of others? What do we see being recognized by others? Are these the behaviors, actions or results that we want to see reinforced?

3) Voluntarily engagement in outside-of-work activities

 Ask yourself: How popular (really) is our annual BBQ picnic? Do employees come out of sense of obligation or because they really want to? What other “fun” or outside-of-work activities are our employees choosing to do with each other?

Read the full post at Compensation Cafe, then let me know: What alternative metrics do you see in your organization? Are they telling you a good story, or are they indicating an area of concern?

Trick or Treat! Your Work Superpower

by Lynette Silva

GloboGirlRecognize This! – We all have superpowers, if we choose to use them.

Trick or treat! Who’s ready for Halloween? Is your workplace one that encourages costumes? Yesterday, Globoforce hosted a party for the kids of our employees. As someone who tends to receive very few trick-or-treaters at my home, I loved seeing all the cute costumes and meeting the families of my colleagues. Today, however, is all about the adults. We are having a costume contest this afternoon and, yes, I am participating.

My costume, you ask? I am GloboGirl – fighting the injustice of ingratitude everywhere! I’ve always wanted to be a superhero and now’s my chance (cape, mask and all). Superheroes have fascinated me since I was child, especially these aspects:

  • Alter Ego – The mild mannered “Clark Kent” to “Superman.” To hide themselves in plain sight, superheroes adopt a personality diametrically opposed to their super selves. Yet, somehow, the alter ego still reflects the essence of the superhero inside. Clark Kent is a journalist in search of the truth.
  • Super Power – Some superheroes have their powers bestowed upon them in otherworldly fashion (Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman). Others create their own (Batman, Ironman). But all hone and develop those powers or abilities for the betterment of their communities.

Here’s my Halloween “treat” for you. We all have alter egos and superpowers. We all sometimes hide our best selves for various reasons. We all have talents or skills we can bring forward. The “trick” is in wanting to let our super-selves and our super powers shine.

Today, I’m bringing out GloboGirl. But in reality, I always have the ability to fight ingratitude by simply noticing others around me and pausing to sincerely appreciate them and their efforts. It sounds simple (and it is), but the impact is quite powerful. We all have the power to change someone’s perspective, to make their day brighter, to help others feel a greater sense of value and contribution.

The injustice of ingratitude is real. We “trick” our employees all too often by not giving them valuable, timely, authentic feedback and appreciation. Instead, we need to “treat” them with the gift of gratitude. We all need to treat each other with appreciation and recognition.

What’s your superpower at work?

3 Lessons from the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces

by Derek Irvine

Statment about ease of losing trustRecognize This! – Gratitude matters. No matter who good we are, there’s always room for growth and improvement.

Tomorrow, the Great Place to Work® Institute will release the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces 2014 (you can see the list of companies here, starting 23 October). China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work, offered insight into trends seen in these best multinational workplaces in her weekly blog post. I’m calling out three of those trends, quoting China and offering a few insights on each trend myself.

1) Great Workplaces Are Getting Better

“The positive trend that I’m speaking, to be exact, is that levels of trust, camaraderie and pride are rising at the best workplaces – essentially, the world’s best workplaces are getting better. In recent years we’ve seen “the best” companies get better in the majority of the ~50 countries where we measure workplaces using our Trust Index© employee survey. Additionally, we have seen increasing trust at the companies that make up Great Place to Work®’s annual World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list.”

In my consulting engagements, I speak often about the importance of creating or strengthening a culture of appreciation and recognition. When I work with “top” companies, leaders will often ask, “We already have a strong workplace culture. What’s the benefit to us of focusing on this?”

Simply put, you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward. In today’s business world, you never stay in the same place for long. As this study points out, the strong are getting stronger. If you are strong today and are not focused on continuing to build your strengths, you may see your strength slipping away. If you don’t have a good, positive, healthy, appreciative culture today (or even a middling one), you will only continue to lose ground to the “bests.”

2) Increasing “Trust” Increases Business Results

“Our research highlights seven reasons why trust is rising in great workplaces: awareness, evidence, Generation Y, employee gratitude, wellbeing, momentum, and transparency. Globally, company leaders have been demonstrating an increased awareness towards the importance of a high-trust workplace culture. Furthermore, we’re seeing increasingly more evidence published that great workplaces lead to better business results. For example, publicly traded companies on the U.S. Best Companies to Work For list have nearly doubled the performance of the stock market overall from 1997 to 2013 and a paper published earlier this year by the European Corporate Governance Institute which studied data from 14 countries, concluded that higher levels of employee satisfaction (reflected by earning a spot on a best workplaces list generated by Great Place to Work®) corresponded to stock market outperformance in countries with high levels of labor market flexibility, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Out of the six “dimensions” the Great Place to Work model uses, China chose to spend a large amount of her post focused on the impact of one of those dimensions in particular – “Trust.” It’s trust in our leaders, in our colleagues, in the value of our daily work that engages us at work. And, as China points out, the impact of that trust on business results in undeniable – globally. This is, again, a virtuous circle. The more trust we have, the more we give, the more successful the company is, so the more we trust.

3) Employee Gratitude Is Vital to Increasing Trust

“Employee gratitude also plays a big role in high-trust cultures. Best workplace environments reflect employee gratitude and reciprocation and aren’t solely about what management is doing for employees. This is especially true during trying times for companies. When one company’s culture may take a turn for the worse during economic hardships, organizations that take care of their employees amid such a time can create higher levels of trust.”

China also points to employee gratitude as one of main contributors to increasing trust. We express gratitude to our employees in any number of ways, the most obvious being through ongoing, timely, and meaningful recognition and praise. I like the phrase “employee gratitude” for the duality it implies – both the gratitude received by an employee as well as the gratitude expressed to others by an employee. It’s the back and forth between employees at all levels (and not restricted to manager-to-employee only) that creates a broad and deep sense of trust between everyone.

What do you see as the biggest drivers of your organization’s success? How would you describe your culture today?

What’s the Value of Measuring Employee Satisfaction?

image of people celebrating in a shower of confettiRecognize This! – There is value in employee satisfaction surveys, when conducted and analyzed properly.

In various blog posts over the years (see here, here, and here), I’ve explained the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. It could be easy to view some those posts as a “knock” on employee satisfaction. But when viewed through the proper lens (and not using satisfaction interchangeably with engagement), measuring and surveying on employee satisfaction can also be a useful tool.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on one such valuable survey on employee satisfaction as conducted by the Conference Board. As the WSJ explains:

“The survey, which the Conference Board has conducted every year since 1987, bears some resemblance to the ‘employee engagement’ surveys that companies and polling firms engage in regularly these days. The Board distinguishes its target by saying that satisfaction is focused instead on more measurable components such as pay and benefits and ‘does not explore the full range of emotional and behavioral ways employees interact with their workplaces.’”

That’s a good distinction between satisfaction and engagement, which also weighs how well employees understand what is needed from them to achieve strategic goals and their willingness to give discretionary effort to achieve it. Satisfaction measures none of this, reporting instead on just that – employee satisfaction.

On the Conference Board’s blog, Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research for the Conference Board, shared a summary of key findings from the full report, including this chart:

Adjusted Correlation of Determination (R²) In Predicting Job Satisfaction, By Explanatory Variable Bar chart showing factors important to job satisfaction Source: The Conference Board

Be sure to read this chart in terms of its title. It’s saying that for the majority of employees, growth potential, communication channels, interest in work, and recognition are the most important factors in determining their satisfaction with their jobs.

Contrast the chart above with this one, which shows nearly an inverse relationship in how satisfied people are with these individual factors that predict job satisfaction itself.

Post-recession satisfaction with specific job components 

Bar chart showing how satisfied employees are with the various factors of job satisfaction

Source: The Conference Board

Whereas employees clearly say recognition is a top 5 factor for job satisfaction, it’s also a bottom 5 factor for how well companies are, in fact, recognizing employees. That’s likely why Dr. Levanon offers as one of the key findings of the report:

“Employers would be wise to concentrate on those components considered highly important with low current levels of satisfaction. These include growth potential, communication channels, recognition, performance review, and wages.”

This isn’t all that dissimilar to the identified key drivers of employee engagement, either. Recognition is by far the number one driver of employee engagement, with career path, communication (which leads to trust) and fair pay commonly reported additional factors.

How satisfied are you with these job factors in your own workplace? How satisfied are you overall?

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