Archive for the "Years of Service Celebration" Category

This Is How to Get Business Returns from Service Anniversaries

By Brenda Pohlman

Man climbing up stepsRecognize This! — Does your service anniversary program suffer from low expectations? Set loftier goals as the first step in adopting a modern approach that delivers results.

Service anniversary recognition doesn’t typically make the news. So the recent story involving an absentee employee in Spain who was exposed by a long service award got my attention. As reported by El Mundo, the employee had been absent from his municipal job for six years while still on the payroll. He’d only been caught when his 20-year service anniversary came up and his manager attempted to deliver his long service award. As a proponent of service anniversary recognition, I’ve never touted this sort of discovery as one of its merits!

The topic of anniversary program benefits is a curious one. For years it was widely assumed there weren’t many, frankly. While we can’t expect them to carry the full load of our organization’s recognition needs, we should expect today’s programs to deliver results – because with a more modern approach they can. The days of these programs languishing as historical “must haves” while delivering no tangible return are over.

If you’re one of those who’s scratching your head wondering about the value of your own anniversary program you’re not alone. Last year’s SHRM / Globoforce Employee Recognition Report found that only 22% of the HR leaders surveyed describe their anniversary programs as excellent. Almost a third rated their program as fair or even poor. HR’s underwhelming assessment of its own initiatives might stem from this historic lack of ambition. According to the same survey, the primary reason most employers offer anniversary programs is to show appreciation to employees, which is certainly straightforward but perhaps not ambitious enough. Less frequently cited as program goals were increasing levels of employee happiness, emotional commitment and engagement. And surprisingly, the most naturally aligned ambition, retention improvement, is among the least anticipated benefits, with only 45% saying that better retention is an expected outcome of their anniversary program.

Much of the HR community has succumbed to decades of low expectations with these initiatives, and research shows that the results achieved reflect the low bar that’s been set. When we asked employees directly about these same topics in a survey the year prior, the majority reported an underwhelming experience with their company’s anniversary program. Employees’ expectations for a rewarding and meaningful experience have outpaced HR’s expectations for business impact, resulting in a situation where we’ve left a ton of opportunity on the table. The good news is we can catch up.

Consider what you’re offering today and focus on improvements in these areas:

  • Reward choice
  • Consistency
  • Coworker involvement
  • Emotional impact and personal feel

A word of caution about letting the pendulum swing too far in the other direction. No matter how well your program ticks the boxes above, it will be most effective as a component of a comprehensive, global recognition strategy. As the service anniversary experience evolves to deliver more than it used to, it can’t substitute for a corporate-wide commitment to day-to-day social recognition linked to your business strategy.

While improvements in retention and engagement seem mundane compared to the outcome of the recent news-making service award, there’s proof positive that this is exactly what we should expect. Think big about what can be achieved with a modern approach to service anniversary recognition and watch it deliver.

More Human Workplaces Can Get 70%+ Engagement Levels

by Derek Irvine

Expressive facesRecognize This! – The best competitive advantage available to all organizations lies in building a powerful, positive, WorkHuman culture.

I hosted a webinar with Newsweaver (internal communications experts and software) recently. My topic was how social recognition can contribute to driving a company culture and creating better employee communications. Net of it: how, by making a workplace more human, companies can win, big!

It’s a topic I’ll be returning to a lot as I truly believe the next (still available) dimension of competitive advantage for corporations is to bolster their culture by helping their employees feel more human, be more their full selves while at work. We’ve moved into a new period at work, one we like to call “the human decade”, where it’s no longer enough to just focus on our hands (our skills), nor minds (our knowledge), but we must think much more holistically – it’s time for the heart to become center stage too in HR strategy as it controls both how we feel emotionally about the work we do, and, the place that we do that work. HR strategies that only look to examine the logical, mind focused aspects of employee strategies are missing a vital component of the reality of work psychology. We can’t, don’t and shouldn’t have to check part of our real human selves at the door when we enter work!

So what are some of the items I spoke about as having been proven (through much new comprehensive and compelling research) to successfully boost the “good heart” feelings employees can have at work?

  1. Boost the meaning and purpose of work
  2. Give employees a way to tell & share the stories of their successes
  3. Mark important personal work events in a truly inspiring way
  4. Reimagine performance reviews by involving our community of colleagues
  5. Create a more human focused workplace, encourage great work friendships

Social recognition (saying “Thanks” while mobilizing your community of co-workers) can contribute positively and indeed significantly to each of these human levers. In fact, so much so, that research I shared from IBM Smarter Workforce, SHRM & Globoforce often results in employees having engagement levels at 70%+.

Now that’s truly remarkable!

What could your company achieve if you had engagement among 70% of your employees?   Would that be a competitive advantage your CEO would care about?

5 Human Truths in the Modern Workplace and How to Address Them

by Derek Irvine

3903889peoplecreatetheheartofthehouseRecognize This! – We are all human. Our workplaces, relationships and interactions need to reflect our humanity to help us all deliver more productively and achieve success together.

I had the pleasure and honor of speaking again this year at SHRM’s 2015 annual conference. My topic – “The Power of Thanks: Bringing Workplace Gratitude to the Next Level” – involved a wide range through the history of humans at work, most of which was hard labor. For the majority of our history at work, we’ve mostly relied on our muscle for hard, physical labor. Only in the last few decades did we begin to rely heavily on our minds as well as the focus at work shifted to the knowledge worker. Now, we are finally moving into a whole body experience at work, involving our hearts, too. I asked the SHRM audience and I’ll ask you, “Can you  ‘heart’ (holding my hands like in the picture) your company?” Most at SHRM could not. And those that can have a significant competitive advantage.

Now, it’s all about the “H” in HR – our humanity. That’s why I call this the “human decade.” And, to that end, why my SHRM talk focused on how the power of thanks, combined with technology, advances human truths. Indeed, there are 5 human truths at work.

Human Truth #1 – We seek meaning, purpose and basic needs.

Looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, compensation only satisfies the most basic of needs. In the average company today, the way people are compensated has very little to do with great performance. The good news is you don’t have to spend more money to get great performance; you just have to redirect some of what you’re currently spending. The social technology revolution – and it’s a genuine revolution – is empowering HR and executives to create and maintain a unique culture.

The revolution, which means a turning around of the status quo – means that humans are no longer going to change to fit business requirements, but instead business is going to prosper by more carefully harnessing human nature. The top two-thirds of Maslow’s Hierarchy are needs that can only be met by authentic human interaction – shared values, shared esteem, recognition and appreciation.

One of the most powerful methods of conveying meaning and purpose is through recognition and appreciation. And yet, a recent Harvard Business Review report showed recognition is the number one issue preventing effective leadership. That’s the power of social recognition to reinforce your company values, broadcast your culture, empower and strengthen relationships, and energize and inspire all employees.

Human Truth #2 – We enjoy telling and hearing our success stories.

Our brains are wired for stories. We remember stories far better than we remember facts and stats. Effective storytelling at work relies on being real, being positive, celebrating each other, and showing growth. Clear, descriptive, detailed messages of appreciation that tell the story of how others contributed, helped and achieved success build deeper relationships and heighten our sense of meaning and purpose.

Human Truth #3 – We want to be inspired at our service anniversaries.

Nearly every company offers some form of acknowledgment of major milestone service anniversaries for employees. Yet 31% rate their years of service programs as fair or poor (according to the recently released 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey). Too many think of these programs as merely “thank you for not quitting programs.” And that’s largely because the most critical element of a celebration such as this missing. That element is the people. Ideally, milestone anniversary celebrations should highlight previous recognition moments and mobilize one’s community of colleagues to celebrate.

Human Truth #4 – We crave a more complete view of our performance.

“I can’t wait until my performance review with my manager,” said no one, ever. Search twitter for “Performance Review” and you’ll get comments like “Feeling completely dejected and destroyed after the performance review I received from the central office. #killmeknow” and “’Errors and Lies’ is trending on Twitter right now which is pretty much what my last job performance review was.”

Performance reviews as traditionally applied fail for several reasons – they are awkward, infrequent, and rely on a single point of failure. “Innovations” in this area in the last decade have largely taken the same process and applied new technology, computerizing and exhaustive form. Crowdsourcing performance through peer recognition gives another level of insight for managers for a far more meaningful, helpful and real appraisal process.

Human Truth #5 – Everyone seeks a more human workplace.  

A fundamental aspect of being a human being is the need for companionship, friendship, relationships – connections with others. For the longest time, we ignored this truth in the workplace, to our detriment.

Our Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker revealed several expectations and needs from employees regarding the nature of relationships at work. 89% of workers say relationships matter to the quality of life. And those with more friends at work are also more likely to love and have pride in their companies, are 2 times more likely to trust leadership, are more engaged, and far less likely to jump ship.

Applying the 5 Human Truths in Your Workplace

So, what can you do to make your workplaces more human? First and foremost, always remember that the opposite of saying “thanks” is to make no acknowledgment of others at all. With that in mind, you can:

  1. Notice and appreciate the great work happening around you every day
  2. Lead by example
  3. Be the catalyst for change at your organization
  4. Be the steward for a more human workplace

You don’t need to be in a position of formal leadership to create a more human workplace. You can begin in your cube, on your manufacturing line, in your vehicle – wherever you work, you can be more human towards others.

Let’s Work Human together.

What aspects of inhumanity or humanity do you see in your workplace?


How to Avoid the Seven-Year Itch

by Lynette Silva

Graphic treatment of I am grateful statementRecognize This! – Service anniversaries are so much more than a certificate, crystal or pin. They are the sum of the relationships and experiences of those years.

Today is my seven year anniversary with Globoforce. My husband is stunned. My prior record for tenure in my career is half that. But I love what I do, who I do it for, and – most importantly – who I get to do it with. It’s those close, personal, deep relationships with the people of Globoforce that have made the last 7 years seem like 7 weeks, and leave me hoping for decades more.

It’s relationships like this:

“WOW!!! and a whole lot more represents the type of work you do every day and the type of person you are! I can’t believe it’s been seven years. I’m so delighted to be on the Globoforce journey with you. You help everyone around you do their best work! From our early days when you were in Marketing and me in Client Services – we clicked right away and became each others’ cheerleaders and champions. The first opportunity I had to work with you was when I was out in San Francisco at a client for two weeks. I relied heavily on you to review the final business case, gather research and stats, and overall, consult with me to ensure we won this key client’s business. And we DID!!! From there, we worked on numerous other projects until the day when we were able to snag you over to the Strategy & Consulting team. And you thrive in your role every day! From the start, you dove in and led some of our largest change management efforts at prestigious clients. You listen well, understand client’s ambition, goals, shape their thinking aligned with strategic recognition, define their strategy and build the change management, communications and training materials to support a very successful launch and on-going sustainable program & culture. And that’s not all – you share with us all of your talents – and champion other critical areas for the team! You’re very instrumental in being a partner for our customers, both internally and externally.  Thank you so much for all you do…”

That’s an excerpt from the full message I received from my boss. My poor husband. He read that, too… and compared it to his own experience of walking into his office and seeing a service award certificate tossed haphazardly on his workstation. No mention of his anniversary from his boss at all. After 30 years.

And relationships like these:

Screenshot of stories shared by colleagues

Those are messages from my friends and colleagues. They added personal stories of our escapades over the years. Here’s one from my friend Anne Marie. She highlights perfectly just how important the relationships are. Yes, it’s also the work we do together; but we’re able to do it so much more effectively when we know and trust each other at a deeper level.

“Lynette! 7 Years! You old timer…takes one to know one and I am so thrilled to celebrate this milestone with you… From the early days, when we would spend hours mapping out webinars and proofing content together (you’ll never look at the word “that” without thinking of me again I’m sure) to our walks through the woods, you’ve been a great friend, mentor and colleague. We have so many great memories together-dinners together, dog sitting, laughing at my crazy kid stories and crying together while living life, I’m grateful for our years of friendship. I know Globoforce is lucky to have you as an employee, but we are all even luckier to call you a friend! Congrats on this huge milestone my friend. Here’s to many more together!”

I admit it. I cried.

And I certainly won’t be selling a crystal service award I don’t want any more like this guy. This is what I’ll be doing with my service award.

Ad for Newport, RI, 2015 Jazz Festival

That’s my 11th wedding anniversary and my (I’m not telling) birthday. All courtesy of my friends at Globoforce – because what we do together is why I achieve this anniversary and this experience.

What’s your most memorable service anniversary experience?

Work Friendships Increase Job Satisfaction and Productivity

by Derek Irvine

friends at work make a differenceRecognize This! – Great benefit can be gained simply by encouraging employees to deepen relationships with each other through appreciation, gratitude and story sharing.

Following on my post yesterday about global employee research from the Boston Consulting Group showing that “appreciation for my work” is the most important job aspect for employees, I wanted to share the findings of our 2014 UK and Ireland Workforce Mood Tracker survey (released today). Findings are consistent with what we see in the US, with employees highly valuing relationships at work but feeling unsupported by the organization in building those relationships more deeply.

As I comment in the news release, this year’s survey shows that organizations would benefit greatly from celebrating their employees’ dedication to the company, as well as the strong bonds people form while at work. While many may claim that they do not have friends at work, perhaps if they were given the opportunity to see the impact they have made on their colleagues, their opinion would differ.

Work Relationships Are Critical to Quality of Work and Life, Desire to Stay

  • 83 percent of UK and Irish employees believe their work relationships are important to their quality of life, yet almost half (45 percent) have no colleagues they consider to be real friends
  • 33 percent of survey respondents do not think their company culture allows them to easily build lasting relationships with co-workers, despite 43 percent of them spending between 31 and 50 hours per week with colleagues.
  • 24 percent of those with friends at work say they intend to stay with their current company for as long as possible, compared with just 16 percent of those without friends at work.

Improving Service Anniversaries a Good Way to Increase Impact of Friendships at Work

  • 65 percent of UK and Irish employees say they would feel good if their colleagues acknowledged their first year anniversary at their company
  • 17 percent say shared memories and kind words from co-workers would be the most meaningful way to celebrate their one-year milestone.
  • While 67 percent would like the opportunity to congratulate or share stories and memories on their colleagues’ anniversaries, 62 percent of organizations have no program in place to acknowledge such events.

Social recognition key to increasing employee productivity

  • 86 percent said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized and appreciated
  • While 61 percent feel they are appreciated, 43 percent are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive.

Adding a social element to recognition encourages interaction and friendships amongst colleagues. It deepens friendships, bonds people together, and provides the foundations for building trust and stronger relationships. The end result is increased engagement and a stronger company culture.

How deep are your relationships at work? Does your company culture support the formation good, positive relationships? How do these relationships affect your attitude toward your work, your colleagues and your company?

Lapel Pins in an Age of “What’s a Lapel?”

by Andrea Gappmayer

Picture of lapel pin on a brown suitRecognize This! – When thinking of employee rewards, at the forefront of your mind should be “What is rewarding to the employee?,” not “What have we always done?”

I had coffee with a group of friends last Sunday morning. One friend is a 25-year-old who works at one of the well-known Silicon Valley high tech companies.

We were all talking about our lives—kids, jobs, dogs—and I brought up the fact that I had been in Las Vegas recently for business. I told them that a colleague and I had been there working with a company on their Service Awards program. Prior to our meeting, we walked through the facility asking workers how they felt about the company’s service anniversary awards program and what rewards they had received recently.

We approached the gentleman who had valeted our car. He told us that he is 22. I asked him how long he had been working at the company. Almost a year. I asked him what he would be receiving for his one-year anniversary. He said, “I don’t know. Do they give us something?” I told him, “Yes. They’ll give you a lapel pin.” To which he replied, “What’s a lapel pin?”

Everyone at the table laughed. Then our 25-year-old, Silicon Valley friend said, “What’s a lapel?” Fair question for a young, high-tech nerd who wears flip-flops to work.

When it comes to service awards, you might want to start thinking more strategically. Think hard about your employee population. Who are they? What motivates them? Is your service awards program encouraging them to stick around? It might just be time to revisit your Service Awards program. Here’s your first step.

What would be a meaningful service anniversary experience for you?

Service Awards or Service Ignored?

by Andrea Gappmayer

Woman extending hand while drinking coffeeRecognize This! – Your years of service anniversary approach sends a very loud message to employees. Is it the one you want them to hear?

Many years ago, I was a radio disc jockey. One of those years, I was actually voted “Best DJ in Utah” by readers of one of the local papers. I was flattered, thrilled, and excited!

I walked into work that day and my cubicle was decorated with balloons and streamers. All of my colleagues had signed a card congratulating me, and during lunch my boss gathered everyone around, talked about the amazing work I was doing and presented me with my “Best DJ in Utah” plaque. Everyone cheered and I floated on a cloud all day. I was truly adding value and making a difference at the company!

If only it had happened that way. The truth?

The morning that I read the newspaper and saw my award, I was flattered, thrilled, and excited! I walked into work and people said “good morning” and walked by me as usual. My desk was cluttered with mail and CDs, as usual. My boss had locked himself in his office, because he didn’t want to be interrupted, as usual.   During lunch when he emerged from his office, I asked him if he had seen the paper about my award. He said, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.” I asked about my plaque—does the station have it? Does he have it? “No, if you want it, you have to go pick it up at the newspaper office.”

I was deflated. No one cared. This was a big accomplishment for me, and no one even acknowledged it. Maybe I didn’t make a difference or add value, after all.

Is this what service anniversaries are like at your company? How do you celebrate employees after one year, three years, or five years? What message is your service awards program sending to your employees? Could it actually doing more harm than good? Think about it. Because whatever that message is, they are hearing it loud and clear.

School Pictures, Traditional Years of Service and Other Anachronisms

by Traci Pesch

Child's awkward school photo

Not my son, but a good example of his attitude.

Recognize This! – Celebrations should do what they promise and involve everyone with a story to share to “celebrate” the person being honored.

Last week was the first school picture day for my five-year-old son. Let’s just say he didn’t love the fancy shirt I picked out for him to wear to school that day. It was a battle getting him dressed that day, and I’m not entirely confident he didn’t just strip the shirt off the minute he was out of my sight.

The whole experience seems a bit anachronistic to me in today’s age of the Smartphone camera, selfies, and constant posting of kid pics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Annual school photos have been a gold mine for decades, though. Photographers have a captive audience, and it’s a requirement if you want your child to be included in the yearbook (and yes, we have them for elementary school). I think they know they’re an anachronism, though. They’ve tried to spruce up their offering by giving you a choice of six different backgrounds, photoshopping of blemishes, and imprinting your name and grade on the front. (And I will admit that is a vast improvement over the innovation of my school days – the layered “memory” shot.)

But really, if that’s all you’ve got after 80 years, perhaps you should admit defeat to the new era.

The same is true for the employee anniversary experience. The years of service celebration has been locked into a pattern of certificates given by the manager (and perhaps a lapel pin) on the “nickel” years – 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. Do you know why most companies wait until year 5 to first recognize an anniversary? Because, in the US and Canada, companies get a tax break if you meet a series of convoluted rules, but only for the “nickel” anniversaries. But average tenure is three years. So in most traditional programs, we’re missing the opportunity to honor a significant contingent of our workforce.

Kick the anachronism to the curb. Let’s move into the new era. Can you imagine a birthday party with just you and the birthday boy or girl? Of course not! So why is the anniversary celebration usually just the manager and the recipient? Involve the recipient’s entire work circle! Let his or her colleagues reminisce and share stories of past experiences and successes. Broaden the experience. Bring it into this era.

What might that look like? I had the opportunity to contribute to just such an experience for my friend, Niamh. She’s been with Globoforce 15 years, 13 of which I’ve had the privilege of sharing with her. Watch the video below to see how we celebrated Niamh. (You’ll see me talking about wool suits in Arizona. What a fun memory to share!)

Think about your best friend at work. What stories would you want to share to celebrate them on their next anniversary?

A Toast to You at HR Tech

by Derek Irvine

Invitation to HR Tech booth, 2014Recognize This! – Our friends at work are important to our engagement. Find out how to celebrate them better at booth #2134.

Technology in the Human Capital Management space is continuing to explode (just look at this HCM tech trends list from Bersin by Deloitte). There’s no better place to explore the options than at HR Tech (October 7-10, in Las Vegas).

We, too, are showcasing our latest innovation at HR Tech – a complete reinvention of the celebration of employee anniversaries with our Service Timelines product. If our relationships at work are one of the key reasons we stay and succeed, then why do we limit the years of service celebration to a one-on-one experience between the manager and the employee? It should be a time of celebration, story-sharing and memory-making for everyone.

Come visit us at booth #2134 to see what I mean.

You can also toast the colleagues you appreciate with a glass of champagne or a mimosa, then snap a keepsake photo in our photo booth, too.

Join the celebration. Leave with inspiration. We’re looking forward to seeking you there.

Are you going to HR Tech? What are you most hoping to learn from the show?

Tell Me a Story! – A Better Way to Celebrate Employee Anniversaries

by Derek Irvine

Image of people at a partyRecognize This! – Friends at work are critical to personal and professional success.

Do you have friends at work? What about a best friend? Do you think this is too “soft” a question to be asking about the workplace environment?

Having friends at work matters – for many reasons:

  1. It increases employee engagement. Gallup asks just 12 questions to gauge employee engagement and one is “I have a best friend at work.”
  2. It creates emotional ties to the workplace. Think about friends of yours who have left your workplace (or perhaps yourself). A common refrain often heard from those leaving is “I will miss the people here the most.”
  3. It increases productivity and performance. It’s just common sense that we will work harder for and better with those we consider friends. Think how many times you’ve said to someone you like and trust at work, “Would you do me a favor?” Would you ask the same of those you don’t consider friends?

Having friends at work is important. But we don’t leverage them well. Think of your current Long Service or Years of Service anniversary program. Who participates? If you’re like 90% of companies, it’s a limited exchange with the direct manager giving a certificate and perhaps a reward packet to the employee – sometimes even with a letter address to “Dear Valued Colleague.”

If our friendships at work are so important, why aren’t we directly and proactively including friends in the celebration of major work anniversaries? After all, who knows the stories about your successes and contributions better than those you work with every day.

Our Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker Report examined what it means to connect with friends at work, how recognition makes us feel, and how companies can build on those feelings to grow effective commitment and loyalty. The results might change how you think about work friendships, culture and years of service anniversaries. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the results in this infographic:

Infographic of results from Fall 2014 survey

How do you celebrate service anniversaries in your workplace?