ideas for employee appreciation week

Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Promoting a consistent culture of recognition is an essential component to employee engagement, but who says you can’t step up your appreciation game every once in a while? A good celebration tends to incite a positive atmosphere that is almost tangible to the touch – and the positivity is infectious. People’s smiles get a little bigger, the laughs a little louder and the residual feel-good attitude can be felt for days after. What’s not to love about that?

In the world of employee recognition, Employee Appreciation Day is the be-all and end-all of celebrations. In fact, some people (ourselves included) take it so seriously that we celebrate it for a whole week! If you’re keen on the idea of doing something extra special for your people to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or week), we’ve got some fantastic suggestions for you:

Fun and Games

My local gym (actually, it’s more like an adult playground) has a great little message on a wall that reads, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  There are numerous gratifying aspects of working, from building your career to meeting some amazing people, but I am a firm believer that everyone has an inner child who is just waiting to be let out to play. Here are some ways to indulge the inner child in all of your employees:

  1. Craft Room
    Fill a room with different art supplies and encourage your team to let their imaginations run free. If you have especially artistic employees, ask if they would like to share their skills through an art class.
  1. Games Room
    Puzzles, board games, cards – there are an infinite number of games out there. Games have come back in a big way in 2017, and they are the perfect way to facilitate some team bonding and to let off some steam in the process.
  1. Jumbo Games
    If you want to go big on the game front, rent a bigger game, like a ping pong or foosball table, for your employees to enjoy during the week.
  1. Trivia
    Have a condensed jeopardy type competition at lunch or put out random trivia questions throughout the day. To spice things up, add prizes.
  1. Throw Back Thursday: baby photo edition
    This one requires some prep, but is well worth the effort. Ask your team to bring in their baby photos in the days leading up to EAD/EAW, then compile the photos on a poster board and let the guessing begin. For added difficultly, sprinkle in some celebrity baby photos.
  1. Photo Booth
    Rent a photo booth (or get a Polaroid camera) for the office so your team can document the employee appreciation moments and get some new pictures to put up at their desks – or to share on social media. This has the added benefit of showing the outside world (think perspective employees) how cool and fun your workplace is.
  1. Comedy
    I have yet to meet someone who is not a fan of a good laugh. Reach out to a local comedy group and get someone in to get the chuckles going in the office. Who knows, maybe you even have a few comedians on your own employee roster.
  1. Scavenger Hunt
    There are SO many options with how to approach this. From items in the office to incorporating the surrounding neighborhood or having an ‘employee scavenger hunt’ (e.g. find someone who has completed a triathlon), there is huge potential to be creative here. Scavenger hunts are also a great way to promote inter-departmental collaboration and bonding.

Snacks and Treats

Snacks are fantastic, and I do not think it would be untrue to say that free snacks are an almost guaranteed slam dunk. Ever pay attention to what happens when the après meeting ‘leftover sandwiches are in the kitchen’ email goes out?  Mass kitchen migration.

  1. Hire a food truck to park outside the office (on the company’s dime) for lunch
    Food trucks are all the rage these days. They offer new twists on old classics, have unique menus and can provide more good fodder for social media posts.
  1. Ice Cream Sundae Bar
    Delicious ice cream. Creative toppings. Need I say more?
  1. Smoothie Bar
    Same idea as the Sundae Bar, but a healthier option (and could be more appropriate if you’ve been making wellness a priority at your company this year)
  1. Team Picnic
    The outdoors and food are two pretty awesome things, so when you pair them together it’s a pretty excellent outcome. Have a nice patio? Get your team outside and into the fresh air for a bit.
    **This is more applicable for those working in warm environments. If you’re located in an area where average temperatures in March are below zero this could be perceived as a perverse form of punishment.
  1. Top Chef Competition
    I would be willing to bet that every office has a few aspiring chefs in their midst. Put out feelers in the time leading up to your Employee Appreciation celebrations and see if anyone wants to put their culinary prowess on display for an entertaining, and tasty, competition.

Personal Development

  1. Ted Talks
    Screen Ted Talks throughout the celebrations – bonus points for committing to the ‘theatre vibe’ with comfy seats and treats (popcorn machine anyone?). You can put out feelers leading up to the event and ask people to submit topics or speakers of interest.
  1. Leader Q&A
    Transparency is king. It provides people with a sense of inclusion and breaks down some of the typical hierarchical barriers. Create a comfortable environment where Leaders answer employee’s questions and hear their ideas. It’s a good idea to include a moderator and a question submission box, in case employees wish to ask sensitive questions anonymously.
  1. Celebrate Personal Accomplishments
    People in your organization are capable of, and may have already done, amazing things. Take some time to celebrate your team member’s accomplishments outside of work – this is also a great way to get to know them as individuals, beyond the office.

These are just some ideas to get the ball rolling, the key to a successful Employee Appreciation Celebration is incorporating aspects that matter to your employees.

Start celebrating Employee Appreciation Week by giving thanks and appreciating your employees today. Recognize their great work with a personalized recognition card. Get started here. 

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Top employee desires

What Rewards Do Employees Want Most?

The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted in recent years, especially in tech-related fields. As a human resources professional or manager, you’re probably all-too familiar with the job-hopping ways of highly skilled employees who feel they can pick and choose the job they want. And that’s reflected in the fact that more than half of all business owners feel that competition for talent is stronger than it’s ever been. But there are a number of ways to attract and keep top talent, and to keep them happy and engaged while they’re with you. Offering an employee recognition and rewards program has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain highly skilled workers and to build your company’s financial strength at the same time. Here’s a look at why a rewards and recognition system is important, and how to choose the kinds of rewards that your workers really want.

Employee happiness is essential

Even if your business is centered on sophisticated equipment or software, human beings are still the essential engine that makes everything run – and a sense of emotional well-being is the primary fuel that keeps those human beings working at their peak performance level. Research shows that workers who are recognized and rewarded for their efforts feel happier in general, have better relationships with co-workers and are more open to constructive feedback. Financially, you’ll see measurable returns as well: According to an Aberdeen Group study, companies with some type of formal employee engagement program see a 25-percent increase in year-over-year revenue, along with nearly triple the sales team success. And the difference in annual customer service cost was equally eye-popping: companies with formal methods for employee appreciation saw a 12.7-percent savings in customer service expenditures, whereas companies that don’t have any employee recognition system in place spent 1.2 percent more for their customer service.

Why employee incentives have become more important

It’s always been true that recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions results in better performance and less employee churn, but now that millennials are flooding the workplace thee levers have become more important than ever. Younger workers are often the ones with the most desirable skill-set, but in return for their services they expect employers to be appreciative of their efforts. Investopedia lays out the basic facts for managers: One-third of every U.S. worker belongs to this generation, along with half of all new immigrants who come here. The article goes on to advise, “This drastic shift in the workforce requires companies to change how they manage and reward talent. The policies and incentives that worked for past generations are no longer effective, and companies that fail to adapt may find themselves facing a shortage of talented and motivated workers.”

What kind of rewards should you offer?

Once you’ve made the decision to establish a formal system for recognizing and rewarding your workers, the next step is to figure out what kind of rewards will most effectively motivate and delight your employees. Here’s a quick review of the benefits and perks that are recommended by employee recognition best practices:

Social recognition

Especially for the growing population of millennial employees, a social recognition platform should be your first focus. This popular type of HR technology is perfectly suited for workers who have come of age in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. They’re accustomed to immediate feedback, “likes,” status updates and more, and if they’re praised, they want to be able to share the event with friends. You’ll build loyalty among this group of workers with shareable social acknowledgements because these rewards are magnified when posted on personal and professional networks.

Career coaching and professional development

Your employees work for many reasons besides merely earning a paycheck, and the best way to nurture their non-monetary motivations is to offer them a chance to advance in their careers. By providing the opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new challenges, you are fueling each worker’s passion for their job and helping them feel more engaged in your organization’s overall business success.

Additional flexibility

Everyone who works for you is also balancing a wide array of outside commitments and obligations. A study of employee wants found that 35 percent of workers say they would benefit from more flexible work schedules, and 46 percent say that having more control over their time is one of the most important factors when they’re looking for a new job. Rewarding your top performers with greater control over when and where they work is a cost-effective method of increasing employee happiness and building loyalty.

Gift cards and trendy items

Although pay and compensation must be competitive in order to ensure a sense of well-being among your workforce, employees today often expect more than just their baseline pay to feel truly appreciated. That’s why being able to offer a wide array of rewards in the form of gift cards, travel and leisure, and other hot items like tablet computers or VR goggles is complimentary to any fully-fledged social recognition program. The unique benefit of offering gift cards and a full selection of items from a catalog is that each employee can choose his or her own uniquely meaningful reward, and which will make them feel more satisfied than if they just received an insignia coffee mug, plaque, or some standardized gift that you purchased for them.

Your company’s financial strength depends on making sure that your employees stay engaged. Understanding some basics in human motivation can help you to be creative in finding ways to recognize your workers. New developments in HR tech also offer holistic systems for boosting worker happiness, increasing engagement and improving overall performance.

We all want to make our employees happy, so why not start by giving them what they want: an unbeatable rewards and recognition program in place. Learn how to kick off the right rewards and recognition program for your business by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Recognition.

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Employee Engagement in HR Tech

3 Employee Engagement and Recognition Predictions for 2017

By: Jessica Barrett Halcom

Many of the emerging HR trends for 2017 are being driven by the millennial generation. Now representing the largest portion of the workforce, millennials value different things when it comes to their careers. What they want and what they look for — things like being recognized and making an immediate impact — have created a strong demand for employee engagement and recognition platforms that many leading companies are now adopting.

Employee recognition software linked to a corporation’s values can help incentivize employees while aligning performance with personal goals and values.  With the right recognition software in place, employees are able to gain a clear and immediate picture of their short-term achievements, how they compare to their team members, and how they’re measuring up to personal goals and company goals. They also get valuable feedback and recognition for a job well done.

The millennial generation looks for things other than a steady paycheck and the stability of working for one employer for the next twenty years. In fact, the majority of them will consider moving jobs if it means advancement and learning something new. HR departments need to continue seeking new ways to hang on to their top talent through something more substantive than free lunches and napping pods.

This is why in 2017, more companies will be focusing on employee engagement and the employee experience as part of their retention strategy. We can also expect more companies to adopt employee engagement software. Here are our top three predictions for 2017:

1. More Work-Life Blending

The modern workforce is willing to work hard, but they want to maintain flexibility and balance with regards to their personal lives. Today’s employees are comfortable checking their smartphones on personal time to respond to work emails and doing a little work on their laptop after having dinner with friends or family, as long as it means that, in return, they can skip the grueling commute and work from home once a week, or leave early to catch their daughter’s 3 p.m. soccer game.

Collaboration tools let employees check in with their boss, team, or a company meeting, without physically having to show up, and without losing any of the momentum on a project or missing important deadlines.

2. Recognition Will Continue to Increase in Value

The average time an American employee spends with any one company now is less than five years. This is a far cry from the days of gold watches and lunch with the CEO thanking you for your many years of service. Employees are more interested in social recognition, because feeling valued is a critical component to the work environment they want to be a part of. They want to feel like the work they do matters, that it’s noticed, that it made a difference.

Receiving recognition, encouragement and appreciation is inspiring and motivates employees to continue doing great work. Employee engagement strategies help leaders and peers to publicly recognize a job well done and fosters a culture of celebration.

3. Flashy Benefits Won’t Compete

People are starting to value experience over money, which is why they want to work in a culture of growth and learning and have opportunities to do something they can be proud of. Employee engagement software helps employees know exactly what kind of impact they’re having on the business in real time.

Culture has become one of the most important things a company can focus on, and providing employees with autonomy, flexibility, and the chance to make an impact, are the new differentiators for attracting talent. Benefits packages are still important, but in 2017, they will become secondary to positive employee culture. Companies that have ditched the traditional, annual review and moved to a model of continuous feedback and a strong culture of recognition are far more attractive to today’s employee than those offering a catered snack bar and quarterly ping pong tournaments.

* * *

In 2017, you can expect to see more companies adding employee engagement software to their HR platforms, doing away with the traditional annual review process in favor of continuous feedback, furthering the work-life blend, and placing a strong focus on the employee experience, aligned with a purposeful mission and meaningful goals.

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About Jessica Barrett Halcom
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in employee engagement, learning management system and performance management software. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

By: Jessica Thiefels
Small Business Freelancer, Content Marketing and Strategy Consultant

In today’s competitive market for talent, office culture is everything. With employees spending most of their time (some upwards of 50 hours a week) in the office, it’s should come as no surprise that HR leaders consider developing and nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement to be their number one challenge.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve company culture. Initiatives that promote health, work-life balance, kindness and gratitude already exist and can go a long way in bolstering a positive office culture while also increasing engagement.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few initiatives to consider:

Employee Health

Companies have been holding organization-wide health challenges and the like for some time now, but the kinds of health initiatives employees desire are different than they once were, where end results were all that was emphasized. People don’t want to step on a giant scale and see how much weight they lost (or didn’t lose!). Instead, they want measurable processes that lead to overall well-being; to track progress with technology, get stronger, healthier, and feel great. With that in mind, here are a few modern health initiatives to try:

Supply organic lunches: According to a 3-month Communispace study. millennials care deeply about what they eat: “More than a quarter say organic, natural and non-toxic products are part of maintaining their health and may see them as alternatives to traditional medicine, signaling an opportunity for brands well beyond the traditional health care sectors,” If your organization can’t pay for lunch every day, choose a couple days to provide an organic lunch for employees or consider partnering with a catering company or bringing in a chef.

Strength challenge: You are probably familiar with popular health hashtags such as: #Healthyisthenewskinny and #progressnotperfection. With the idea of encouraging progress towards health goals in mind, why not hold a fitness challenge and then give employees a period of time to prepare for a re-test, challenging them to improve their performance and beat their old numbers. The friendly competition will encourage camaraderie and morale among employees while emphasizing greater personal health through competition.

Sleep goals: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the more sleep an employee gets, the less likely they are to call in sick: “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night,”

With fitness trackers and other wearables, people can now track how long and how well they’re sleeping every night. Set a sleep goal for employees and have them track their sleep over a period of time to earn rewards like gift cards, merchandise or PTO. Employees will feel better and they’ll love telling people they have “sleep goals” for work.

A Kindness Initiative

We could all benefit from more kindness in the world these days; not only at work but throughout our daily lives. In a recent poll, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. One way to bring more kindness, respect, and empathy into the workplace is with a kindness initiative.

It should include the following components:

Create a set of kindness “pillars” that everyone follows. Examples include: When giving constructive criticism or performance feedback, always give “compliment sandwiches” (compliment, criticism, compliment), assign work based on people’s strengths to set everyone up for success, exhibit small acts of kindness like holding the door open for coworkers, etc.

Institute regular recognition of employees. For this to stick, it has to work top down. Managers and team leaders can plan a monthly meeting where one or a group of employee(s) is called out for their excellent work. To ensure a tangible element for this type of recognition, employers can also create a wall of fame to post photos of these high performing employees. For larger organizations, an employee recognition platform is a great way to create and embed a culture of recognition.

Encourage employees to “give props” to their peers. If you use a tool like Slack to communicate within your office, this is easy to facilitate. Set up a channel where employees can recognize one another with a timely “thanks” or “nice job” regarding recent business successes. Using Slack, colleagues can not only tag the recipient of the “props”, but the entire channel, so everyone sees what that person did. Some recognition software providers, like Achievers, even allow the integration of popular tools like Slack within their recognition platform to further encourage “recognition in the flow of work”.

Employees will love getting the extra recognition, and more kindness may help reduce drama and sticky office politics.

A Volunteer Initiative

Giving back is not only good for the soul of your organization, it’s also good for attracting and retaining millennials: But sadly, only 57 percent of millennials believe that business leaders are committed to improving society. A volunteer initiative is relatively easy to set up and gives you a chance to boost your employer brand while also increasing loyalty and engagement among millennials.

Here are a few suggestions for setting up a volunteer initiative:

  • Hold a bi-annual volunteer event, where employees volunteer their time rather than go into the office for the day. Don’t do it on a Saturday—not only will you likely cripple turnout, but employees will likely not appreciate having an initiative such as this scheduled during their free time.
  • Reward employees who volunteer on their own time with “free” half-days.
  • Give every employee one workday a year, month or quarter to take part in a volunteer activity of their choosing.

In addition to the inherent value of the good deed itself, participating employees will feel good about themselves and gain more respect for your business, making volunteer initiatives especially valuable.

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

In the aforementioned Communispace study, 49 percent of millennials reported work-life balance as an important part of their health and wellness, followed by relationships with friends and family (47 percent). Employees of all generations care greatly about achieving a proper Work/Life balance, making it an important part of any culture campaign.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help employees foster desired work-life balance:

  • Half-day Fridays: Offer this once a month, or during a specific quarter. Many companies do this in the summer, when people tend to go on more weekend escapes.
  • Flexible work hours: Instead of limiting office attendance to the standard 9-to-5, allow employees to work when and how they can personally be most productive, whether that means coming in and leaving early, or working through the night. As long as they are performing up to expectations and making themselves available for meetings and other requests from colleagues, allow them the flexibility to manage their own schedules.
  • Work from home: If possible, allow employees to occasionally work from home, be it once a week or month.
  • Unlimited time off: This is something many startups and even larger companies are starting to offer. Employees can take as much, or as little time off as their job permits, without worrying about PTO caps or tracking their remaining vacation days. Fostering trust among your employees does wonders for engagement and it also benefits employers as it has been suggested that employees may actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO.

A Shadow Initiative

This initiative allows employees to shadow their peers for a period of time. Business departments often get siloed and have little understanding as to what each other is doing. Shadow initiatives give everyone a chance to understand the roles of their collegues and see how their two positions can work together to achieve even better results.

To keep it organized, allow one department to shadow each month. For example, in March, members of the marketing team will shadow whomever they want. Set your time period (4 hours, an afternoon), and ask each shadow pairing to come up with one way they can work together in the next month.

Employees will love spending time doing something new and the business will flourish as connections are made that take projects and ideas to the next level.

To learn more, download the white paper All For One and One For All: Uniting a Global Workforce With Company Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

 

Trending HR Topics

Engage Blog: Top 10 HR Blogs of 2016

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

How fast time flies! Can you believe it’s already 2017? Every time a new year rolls around, I like to reflect on the previous year. For Achievers and the Engage Blog, 2016 was extremely eventful. For starters, Achievers’ Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 was a huge hit, with amazing keynote speakers, including famous journalist Joan Lunden and CNN commentator Mel Robbins. From the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala to a stellar lineup of speaking sessions, ACE 2016 brought together a Who’s Who of top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space. If you weren’t able to make our biggest event of the year last year, no worries. We have the sizzle reel right here for you to watch! Stay tuned, registration for ACE 2017 in New Orleans opens in just a few short months.

Here on the Engage Blog, readers enjoyed a wide variety of HR topics in 2016. Trending topics ranged from employee turnover and talent management challenges to top company perks and thought leadership on the hot topic of employee engagement. To recap the hottest HR themes from last year, we’ve compiled our top 10 blogs of 2016. A must-read for HR pros – and employee-focused management of all stripes.

  1. 30 Fun, Fresh Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – Or Week!
    Do you know when Employee Appreciation Day is? Officially, it’s the first Friday in March. But because we love employees so much, we celebrate them that whole week! Regardless of whether you celebrate it for a day or a week, it’s the perfect time to show your employees some love. To help you celebrate in style, we shared a list of fun ideas to help spread employee appreciation across your entire organization – including how to enhance wellness perks and boost employee recognition. Read more >
  1. 4 Ideas For Celebrating Employee Anniversaries
    Show your employees how much you value their work and dedication by celebrating employee anniversaries. By observing major milestones, you are demonstrating employee appreciation and encouraging employee recognition. Yearly work anniversaries are no longer limited to just a mug with a “Congrats on Your 1-Year!” sticker on it. Discover new and refreshing ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries. Read more >
  1. Top 5 Best Company Mission Statements
    Does your company mission statement resonate with you? Company mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. If your company mission statement lacks luster, your organization as a whole might suffer.  Find inspiration for your company mission statement by checking out our top five list. Read more >
  1. 3 Biggest Talent Management Challenges for 2016
    Did you know only 39 percent of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs? Why is this and what can you do about it? Sometimes employee dissatisfaction starts with management. It goes back to that famous saying, “Employees leave managers, not companies.” It’s a manager’s responsibility to help employees love their jobs. Discover three major talent management challenges and how to address each. Read more >
  1. 4 Signs An Employee Is About to Quit
    Employee retention is vital to maintaining company morale and reducing high turnover costs. It’s been estimated that employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of a departing worker’s salary. Learn how to retain great talent by understanding why employees quit and monitoring for signs that they may be planning to leave. Read more >
  1. 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader
    Don’t settle for average leadership. Learn how to motivate your team and become an inspirational leader. Marci Peters, Achievers’ Director of Customer Service, shares insight from her 20+ year career in customer experience and reveals five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within. Read more >

  2.  Top 3 HR Trends for 2016
    What were the top three HR trends from 2016? At the start of 2016, we said it would be the increased use of data analysis, revamped performance management processes, and a shift in employee learning and development opportunities. Were we right? Rediscover the top HR trends we believed would carry forward into 2017. Read more >
  1. Characteristics of a Good Manager: What Can and Can’t Be Taught
    Good managers can make all the difference for a business and its employees. Can someone be taught to become a good manager, or is it something you’re born with? We share what we believe are some of the inherent qualities that contribute to making a great leader, along with characteristics that can be taught. Read more >
  1. The Best New Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better than others. Start boosting employee engagement with new approaches in the workplace, including gamification, weekly open “office hours” for employee feedback, and tools to empower brand ambassadors. Access our list of employee engagement ideas to help motivate employees to reach their highest potential. Read more >       
  1. Which Company Perks Attract the Best Talent?
    Who doesn’t like a list of the best company perks? Top notch benefits and perks can be an essential hiring tool and serve as your company’s competitive edge to stand out from the rest. From paid time off to wellness programs, we reveal which company perks attract the best talent. Read more >

As we enter the New Year, let’s remember that great customer experiences start with a great employee experience. And it shows up in the bottom line too! According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Start by focusing on employee happiness, and you’ll soon see a positive ripple effect across your entire business.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Stronger Business Results

Here at Achievers, we want to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” to our readers. We appreciate you taking the time to read and share the articles we put a lot of thought and love into creating, and we look forward to bringing you more great HR content on the Engage Blog in 2017. Keep a lookout for new guest blogs from top HR influencers and powerful insights surrounding employee engagement, leadership, work culture, rewards and recognition, recruiting and hiring, employee retention, HR technology, and more. Cheers to 2017!

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 25+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Recruit and retain top talent

7 Creative Ways to Attract Top Talent

By: Sara Sayegh-Moccand
Digital Marketing Specialist, SalesWings

The goal of every recruiter is to find a candidate that perfectly fits the open position. In fact, perfectly aligning a candidate with a company is the most rewarding experience a recruiter can have. When you hire the right person your company likely will not incur costs such as time lost in further recruitment efforts or in training somebody that might not be a perfect fit. To avoid extra costs, companies large and small alike need to find better ways to identify, attract, and subsequently retain top talent. The million-dollar question is: how?

1. Present good fringe benefits

The most attractive companies take all of the great benefits they offer and then adapt them to the position they are seeking to fill. For example, a senior engineer is likely older and more established compared to a candidate just entering the job market, perhaps emphasizing childcare assistance rather than the Friday night team outing would be more enticing .For an example of how offering great fringe benefits can help attract top talent, look no further than Google.

2. Share your talent transformation plan

Show candidates that you not only have a plan for their immediate future, but also how you plan to provide growth opportunities. Demonstrate knowledge of their current skills to ensure that they are in the right position, then show them the way forward through a clear training and development track.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

Engaging with potential candidates on social networks such as LinkedIn can be useful, even if the candidate isn’t currently interested in the position you’re offering. A good way to approach this is by sending a message to the candidate with a link to your company website. You can also use a tool like SalesWings LinkedIn message tracking to score the level of interest of the lead. Perhaps the lead clicks on the link but doesn’t show any interest at the moment. With message tracking you at least know that they clicked on the link, so you can follow up by providing more information if necessary, hoping that the same lead will one day turn hot. Remember that 75% of professionals are passive candidates – meaning they’re not actively engaged in a job search – so it pays to have any edge in order to grab top talent before your competition does.

 4. Sell the work environment and profile

Showing candidates the great opportunities that come with working for your company can be a fantastic recruitment tool. For instance, giving examples of succession plans or the career progression plan of already hired talent recruited into a similar position can instill a level of confidence in the candidate that their employer will work to further their career.

A company should be up front about what is needed in order to be successful in a new role. If a candidate needs to develop new skills, the company should accordingly have a plan for how to help them develop those skills. Be open about internal and external training, any smart candidate will immediately see the benefits of developing their skills as they will have something to add to their CV.

Finally, talk about your company’s embrace of employee recognition. Employees crave employee recognition, with 93% of employees hoping to be recognized quarterly, if not more frequently. Share your company’s enthusiasm for recognizing great work and how employees are rewarded, whether through monetary rewards or social recognition.

5.  Seek to be acknowledged in a “Best Places to Work” ranking

Top candidates usually target high ranking “Best Places to Work” companies. Everybody loves to work for a company that treats employees well, so it is a good idea to exhibit the qualities the aforementioned high ranking companies do. Even if you don’t get acknowledged for your efforts immediately, you will still have taken important steps to make improvements in this area.

6. Focus on marketing

Integrate every digital marketing tactics into your recruitment efforts so that your talent acquisition team can identify, attract and engage with talent more easily. With this strategy, you can also target potential candidates before they begin their job search in earnest. The day they make their decision to leave their current company, candidates will send applications to a large number of other companies or agencies. With this method you can beat them to the punch, and be the company all other recruiters are competing against.

7. Employer branding

Demonstrating why your company is a great place to work is becoming a critical part of recruitment strategy. The LinkedIn report MENA recruiting trends 2017 reveals that over 81% of leaders in MENA countries need to invest more in employer branding. This is because employer branding has a significant impact on hiring top talent.

Your corporate website and LinkedIn page are great places to build your employer branding. A poor user experience on the career section of your website can negatively impact your brand, meaning you will receive fewer applications in general, let alone those from the top talent in your industry.

A great example of an employer branding strategy comes from Starbucks. In 2015, they used Twitter and Instagram to promote their brand. Potential hires had the opportunity to communicate with current employees by using the hashtag #sbuxjobschat. This allowed them to learn what inspired people in their jobs and what people look for in a company.

To sum up, communication is key to attracting top talents – if you don’t explain why your company is a great place to work, you will not attract the best candidates. Good luck and best wishes for a fruitful and rewarding new year!

If you’re looking to lure top talent, check out the blog post 12 Tips for Writing the Perfect Job Description.

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About Sara Sayegh-Moccand

Sara Sayegh-Moccand The author Sara is a digital marketing specialist at SalesWings, a website tracking and lead scoring add-on. The software identifies your most sales-ready leads based on their website activity. It analyzes your leads’ past and future visits and scores their level of engagement/interest.

 

 

 

 

Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Are your employees reaching their full potential at work? According to a Middlesex University study cited in a recent Sh!ft infographic, of almost 4,300 workers polled, a whopping 74% felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work. So how does a business engage its employees to make them feel empowered and more productive? One answer is by providing the right learning and development opportunities.

But how do you determine which learning and development opportunities are right for your employees? Getting the answer wrong could be costly. According to Sh!ft, the total loss to a business from ineffective training can add up to $13.5 million per year per 1,000 employees. The key is to stop wasting money on ineffective training programs and start approaching learning and development initiatives with a new, creative outlook designed to boost employee engagement.

Training Magazine recently featured an article providing a behind-the-scenes look at leading tech companies that are stepping up their learning and development opportunities to successfully engage employees. Following, we have pulled a few highlights from the article to help you gain some inspiration for your business:

Adobe’s focus on quality content

Adobe focuses on learning and development opportunities through its Learning@Adobe program. With the use of their own product, Adobe Connect, and other resources, they are able to offer a wide portfolio of e-learning tools. For Adobe, it’s all about the quality of content, and we can understand why:

“Adobe gets the content right—its 60-minute virtual Adobe Connect labs consistently receive net promoter scores above 90 percent.” – Training Magazine

Facebook’s learning and development package

Mike Welsh, Learning and Development Partner and People Engineer at Facebook, shared, “Facebook’s key learning and development objectives are to promote respect and foster a culture of continual learning.” So how does Facebook accomplish this? Through a number of innovative programs. First, the company focuses on personalizing the experience for employees with various specified tracks and on-demand classes. Next, Facebook provides an Engage Coaching Program that enables new managers to have one-on-one time with an executive as a mentor. Together, they work on their people management skills. Finally, Facebook’s FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice) program is built for peers and executive team members to provide rising leaders honest feedback.

Salesforce centers its attention on employee success

Salesforce focuses on employee success to drive customer success. In order to do this, Salesforce developed Trailhead, an interactive customer learning platform for in-house employee training. Trailhead also opens up one-on-one learning opportunities for managers and employees to discuss and track the progress of personal goals.

But Adobe, Facebook, and Salesforce are just three of many tech leaders that are effectively using and learning and development to drive employee engagement. Don’t lose sight of what’s important to your employees. According to Oxford Economics, 62% of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs due to lack of learning and development. Learn how to create an unbeatable learning and development program to retain your employees and keep them motivated.

What other ways can your business kick off an impactful learning and development program? Training Magazine shares five affordable ways for companies of any size to run a successful learning and development initiative:

  1. In-house mentorship and coaching
  2. Online education courses
  3. Gather employee feedback and test new ideas
  4. Train new managers to become inspirational leaders
  5. Value your employees like you value your customers

It’s been reported that three-fourths of employees that work for companies with financial performance that is significantly above average are moderately or highly engaged. Start engaging your employees with the right learning and development opportunities. By connecting employees to new learning and development resources, they can reach their full potential at work, feel driven to produce stronger results, and trust that their company cares about its employees’ success.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Company Perks

5 Insanely Great Company Perks That Will Draw Top Talent

Life would be simple if hiring the best people were only a matter of offering competitive pay. Incentive Magazine revealed employee benefits are more valuable than ever – according to MetLife’s 10th annual study of employee benefits trends, there is a strong relationship between satisfaction with benefits and overall job satisfaction. In today’s tight talent market, employers have to claim a unique position for their brand if they want to snag the top-tier candidates. Here are five compelling perks your business can use to make all your job openings magnetic.

1. Unlimited vacation

As achievement is increasingly measured by output rather than hours, work schedules are becoming less relevant. Remote working means a revolutionary new approach to accountability; employees may prefer working in the middle of the night or from a seaside cafe on another continent. Workers in the era of unlimited vacation are in some ways more connected to their jobs than ever before while also being free as birds.

2. Endless food

The days of packing lunches from home are ancient history in today’s most progressive organizations. Whether it’s the catered meals and stocked kitchens of SquareSpace, the fun lunches of Warby Parker, or the personalized birthday boxes offered by Stack Exchange, today’s work culture is all about great food. Even smaller companies keep their employees’ energy up by providing healthy high-protein snacks by the coffee maker.

3. On-site health support

Your company’s well-being relies on healthy employees, so why not invest in their health if you have the chance? This philosophy may take the form of on-site medical clinics, fitness centers, or bowling alleys – or it may include offering free gym memberships. Regardless of how fancy the facilities are the goal remains the same. Get employees up and moving around if you want to keep them engaged and energized for the long-term.

4. Unbeatable employee referral programs

Plenty of organizations offer plain vanilla employee referral programs, but if you want to be noticed for your policies, the trick is to pay attention to best practices. Serve up those referral bonuses promptly and be willing to reward outside your own organization. Nudge your staff several times a year to be on the lookout for new team members and change up the bonuses regularly. There’s no better way to build stability in your organization than by maintaining an effective employee referral program.

5. Rewards and recognition

Finally, employee recognition programs both attract employees and keep them engaged, as Ericsson’s E-Star program demonstrates. This company’s monetary and social recognitions program has a broad approach, with numerous benefits and perks, including a referral program, digital gift cards, mobile app capabilities and much more. These recognition all-stars do it all with style, building employee commitment by providing a positive work environment.

Download our Achievers Culture eBook today and learn more about how these perks can fit into your company’s strategy for building and boosting employee engagement.

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Tuition Reimbursement Policy

Do companies really benefit from giving tuition reimbursement?

Have you considered paying some of your workers’ tuition to continue their education? In an era where employee engagement is a top priority for businesses, tuition assistance is a much-sought-after company benefit. But it also has the potential to be a burden on your bottom line, so you must determine whether it ultimately provides a good return on your investment. The following points will help when developing a tuition reimbursement policy for your company.

Business investment or just another perk?

The opportunity to subsidize your employees to further their education requires careful decision-making. If your only reason for this offer is simply to increase employee engagement, you may want to consider other popular options such as flex-time or remote work opportunities. These options tend to improve employees’ work-life balance while being less expensive to implement.

On the other hand, if you do want to support your employees’ careers by helping them acquire specific skills, your organization has the chance to benefit from their improved knowledge and abilities. Furthermore, you will also build a strong employer brand and benefit from attracting top talent in a competitive marketplace. Remember that you may be able to offer up to $5,250 tuition assistance per year per employee and deduct it as a business expense on your taxes. Be sure to read the fine print on the IRS instructions regarding this tax break before you proceed.

ROI may be diffuse

Training Magazine highlights the 125 companies each year that excel in employee training. This eminent list includes some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious companies, and 99 percent of them offer tuition reimbursement. These businesses have determined that employee education is a worthwhile investment, however the true return might come in the form of lower employee turnover, greater productivity, better job candidates, and greater worker loyalty.

Roll out tuition benefits thoughtfully

If you do decide to offer a tuition program, you may wish to limit it to workers who have been with your company for a specific length of time. You can also specify the GPA that the employee has to maintain, and you can limit the areas of study to those that will directly pertain to the skills your company needs. Further, you may want to spend time talking with a worker who expresses interest in enrolling in school to learn how he or she will balance the commitments of job, class time, and homework.

By offering a well-considered tuition reimbursement policy, you will be partnering with your employees to build their success. At the same time, your company can benefit from their improved expertise and develop strong employee loyalty.

 

National Employee Benefits Day

National Employee Benefits Day: An article roundup

Today is National Employee Benefits Day!

Providing your workforce with a competitive and comprehensive set of benefits is an essential element of employee engagement, retention, and talent acquisition. Many modern employers are finding themselves in a “perks war,” fighting for job candidates with an escalating series of add-ons that extend well beyond standard programs like health insurance and 401ks. This benefits-centric culture is adding a new set of challenges to benefits administrators who have to balance the desires of current and prospective employees, the expectations of the executive team, and the constraints of their budget.

In the face of these growing challenges, benefits administrators and total rewards managers truly deserve some recognition: you help make your organizations great places to work.

In the spirit of celebrating benefits, we’ve rounded up some of our most popular perks and benefits articles from the past year:

How to convince employees to take vacation time

4 ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries

Which company perks attract the best talent?

Do dogs at work actually improve employee engagement?

Make employee training a perk, not a chore

3 cool employee perks for the hot summer months

Annual bonuses: How much do they actually incentivize employees?

Vacation Time

How to convince employees to take vacation time

Businesses don’t just run on machinery; they run on the hard work and innovation of employees. Unfortunately, many North American employees are stifling their productivity and creativity by working without significant breaks for many months, or years, at a time.

In 2014, more than 40 percent of Americans didn’t take any vacation at all. Taking vacation time, whether employees actually travel or not, is essential for allowing time to rest and recuperate. “Use it or lose it” policies encourage some employees to take vacation time off, but there are a number of other ways that you can improve vacation usage at your organization:

Encourage people to take time off

Some companies encourage people to take vacations by offering several weeks of paid days off per year. Other companies have policies stating that employees are required to use a minimum number of vacation days, paid or not. Companies can monitor whether employees are taking days off through their HRIS and remind them when too much time has gone by without a break. HR should work with the employee’s manager to resolve issues that make it hard for the employee to get away.

Take a vacation yourself

Employees know there are unstated policies that matter just as much as stated policies. If senior managers never take a vacation, or if they’re always calling to check in when they’re away, employees will think that they’re expected to always be available, no matter what HR says the policy is. Take a real vacation yourself to let your employees know that it’s really okay.

Don’t overload employees with work when they return

Who can relax on vacation when you know work is piling up at the office and you’ll be slammed when you return? Have a process in place to handle work so it doesn’t accumulate and overload an employee returning from vacation. Some companies even take care of work-related emails in employees’ inboxes when they’re away. It’s the electronic equivalent of coming back to a clean desk.

Think twice before offering unlimited vacation

Offering unlimited vacation time seems like it should reassure employees that it’s okay to take time off, but it can sometimes have the opposite effect. Without some official norm, employees don’t know how many vacation days it’s really okay to take — they realize unlimited vacation doesn’t mean taking off 364 out of 365 days, but they don’t know just how many days are acceptable. They may take less than they’d like because of the confusion.

Your employees are your best asset. Help them take advantage of their vacation time allowance for their benefit as well as the company’s.

 

Employee Appreciation Day

30 fun, fresh ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – or week!

by Rebecca Wetherbee

Can I just start by saying, blog reader… you rock! Everyone here on the Achievers team really appreciates YOU for sifting through the vast interweb and landing on the [engage] blog, for spending time reading and sharing the articles we work so hard to create.

We are all caught up in the spirit of Employee Appreciation Day, which is right around the corner on March 4th. In fact, we love Employee Appreciation Day so much that we celebrate it all week! There is so much you can do to express appreciation for the people who work at your organization, and we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our ideas… including things we’ve done in the past that our employees have loved.

It’s essential to make employee recognition, including rewards, part of your everyday company culture. But that doesn’t mean Employee Appreciation Week should go unnoticed. These extra-special perks will remind all of your employees how much the company cares.

 

Wellness

  1. On-site massage therapists or chiropractors

Your employees are on their feet, hunched over computers, and sitting for long commutes… help them relax.

  1. Guided meditation

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Bring in an expert to guide your employees, or host a recorded meditation for anyone who wants to participate in a quiet, dim room.

  1. Free yoga or other exercise classes

Hire an on-site yoga or exercise teacher to come in for the day and host a series of classes for employees.

  1. Catered lunch and/or breakfast

Bring your employees together and give them fuel for their busy day, by supplying healthy lunches or dinners for the whole company.

  1. Fitness trackers

Encourage employees to keep better track of their steps, heart rate, and sleep by supplying fitness trackers. Bonus: the data from fitness trackers can be used for employee step competitions throughout the year!

  1. Bring in standing desks

Not every employee will want to stand all the time, but you can provide supplies to temporarily convert desks into a standing format, or create permanent standing stations with monitors and power cords throughout the office.

Work

  1. Educational speakers

Give employees access to thought leaders in your industry. It’s educational, and entertaining!

  1. Budget for employee-selected training/development

Give team leaders a set budget for each employee they manage, then give employees the freedom to select the training they want – whether it’s a conference, class, or online course.

  1. Hold executive office hours

Typically, your executive team is only accessible to your high-level managers. Give employees at all levels the opportunity to connect, share ideas, and ask questions of the leaders at your organization.

  1. Personal project time

Set aside time for your employees to drop their regular projects and work on something they’re passionate about.

  1. Complete an initiative you’ve been promising

Have you been telling employees forever that you’re going to overhaul performance reviews, bring in better snacks, or renovate the office bathrooms? Nothing will show your employees you appreciate them more than by fulfilling those promises.

  1. Office revamp

Speaking of renovations, does your office need a facelift? Major construction isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there are a number of things that can improve employee experience, including: better chairs, better lighting, more plants, a fresh coat of paint, or whatever your employees say they need!

  1. Updated electronics

Time to do upgrades of laptops, monitors, smartphones, and software. Your employees will be thrilled, and probably more productive.

  1. A half day off work

Your employees will really feel appreciated if you let them leave early on March 4th!

  1. Flex vacation day

If it’s not feasible for all employees to take an afternoon off at the same time, grant everyone one extra vacation day to use as they please; or put basic parameters on when they can redeem. If you’re going to give this gift though, don’t make it too restrictive.

  1. Extended break times

Whether your employees typically get 15-minute breaks or 30-minute lunches, double their break times this week.

  1. Bring your dog to work

Dogs can be great for reducing stress at the office. Not to mention, the owners can save a little money on dog-walker fees.

  1. Give volunteering hours

Corporate social responsibility is an important way to keep your employees engaged. By giving your employees time off to volunteer, you reinforce your company’s dedication to CSR, and you give your team a great opportunity to get out of the office.

Recognition

  1. Public employee recognition

If you use a social recognition platform, this is something that happens every day. But you can make your recognitions extra special by blasting a few out to the company email list, praising someone during a team meeting, or posting recognitions up on public bulletin boards.

  1. Social media employee recognition

If you want to praise your great employees for the whole world to see, post individual recognitions on your company’s social media channels. Just be sure to get the employees’ permission before you share their names or photos.

  1. Rewards & recognition suggestion box

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a physical box – but it is a great idea to reach out to your employees and ask them what forms of recognition and rewards are the most meaningful to them. Is there something that your recognition or total rewards program is missing? This is a great time to find out.

  1. Office awards ceremony

Host a company-wide awards ceremony to celebrate some of the biggest successes over the past year, whether they were accomplished by individuals or whole departments. Make the ceremony a fun, creative, event – not just another company meeting.

  1. Personalized thank you notes

Recognition technology is a powerful thing, but we still love the idea of hand-written notes every now and then. It gives a certain touch!

Gifts & Treats

  1. Pick-a-subscription gift

Gifts like monthly cheese samplers, doggie gift boxes, or snack subscriptions are a great way to show your employees you care on an ongoing basis. Send out a list of options that fit your budget, and let your employees pick what works for them.

  1. High-quality sweet treats

Even if you keep the kitchen stocked with mini candy bars, your employees will be happier if you pick up a box of treats from the local bakery, the popular cupcake place around the corner, or the trendy donut shop.

  1. Better coffee

Get rid of the rocket fuel. Treat your employees to a selection of gourmet beans and blends. Or if budget allows, bring in a pop-up barista for the week who can whip up lattes and cappuccinos.

  1. Live entertainment

Concerts, comedy shows, and sporting events are all great bonding opportunities for your employees, whether you bring the performers on campus, or take your employees on a field trip.

  1. Spot bonuses

You can’t go wrong with bonuses. But if you’re going to go this route, be generous. Sums too small might insult your teams.

  1. Extra budget for team outings

Give team leaders budget for fun activities. They can plan outings that their team is likely to enjoy, and they can bond more easily in a small group setting.

  1. Fun desk drops

Give your employees something fun to look forward to all week by leaving quirky, fun, or useful gifts on their desks before they arrive.

 

Rebecca WetherbeeRebecca Wetherbee is Achievers’ social media manager, responsible for creating and promoting content across all of our branded social networks as well as this very blog.

Salary History

Stop asking for candidates’ salary history

There’s a common question during recruitment conversations that all job candidates dread: “What is your current salary?” So many recruiters ask this question that job candidates have grown accustomed to blithely supplying their salary history, believing that it’s a requirement to move forward in the interview process. The issue is that salary history is a very personal, and often misleading, data point for recruiters to gather. Your team shouldn’t be using a candidate’s past pay to assess their qualifications or value.

 
Job recruiters often ask for salary information under the pretext that the company doesn’t want to insult job candidates with a low offer, or that it needs to verify that compensation requirements fit within the organization’s ability to pay. However in many cases, recruiters don’t want to make an offer first in case the applicant would be okay with less. For example, if a candidate is earning $50,000 in their current role, and the department’s budget for the opening is $70,000, the recruiter can attract the candidate with a $60,000 offer and save the company $10,000. Hiring managers may be happy, but the first step to employee engagement does not begin with underpaying your employees.

 
Compensation for new roles should be determined according to what the person’s knowledge, skills, and years of experience are worth in relationship to the job requirements. Salary bands need to be based on what the job and the candidate’s skills are worth in context to the internal compensation policy and the desired level of market competitiveness based on a benchmark, often determined through administration of a salary survey. Does your company want to pay below market, at market, or over market based on a valid job evaluation methodology?

 
The right methodology for salary offers considers factors like job requirements, candidate experience, education requirements, size of the talent pool, competition with other companies, and other elements. The job market has undergone significant shifts in the last decade, and many of today’s jobs defy historical practices. Some people, like talented software developers without formal training and little job experience, are offered remarkably high starting salaries. The business recognizes the actual value of the role and the value of the person’s skills and competencies, and both values have little to do with a person’s prior salary history.

 
The relative worth of a position should be based on its value to the organization and the value in the labor market where recruiting is taking place. A job candidate may currently be underpaid or overpaid, and numerous factors unrelated to their true value may have influenced the current salary rate. If you don’t have an internal employee who can determine proper salary levels for each new role, consider hiring outside consultants that specialize in the science of compensation. If employee engagement and retention are your goals, a candidate’s recruitment experience and compensation package are some of the first touch points that will influence their experience of your organization.

4 ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries

We’re big advocates of everyday recognition, but we agree that there are some employee milestones that deserve extra-special recognition. Whether it’s anniversaries, retirements, or other major accomplishments, observing milestones is a great way to show an employee that you care about their contributions. Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate milestones with a bigger bang:

  1. Collaborate on a personalized reward

HR can collaborate with team leaders to figure out what type of employee rewards or celebration would be most meaningful to the employee, whether it’s a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, or a cake in their favorite flavor and color. Going the extra mile to personalize the celebration is a great way to make the employee feel understood and appreciated.

  1. Send a company-wide recognition email or online video

Recognition of career accomplishments is important to all employees, whether it’s a tenure of one year or 10. When a manager sends an email or video to all employees, recognizing a work anniversary and mentioning specific accomplishments, the employee has verification that work contributions are recognized as important to business success.

  1. Give the employee a choice

You can develop an employee rewards system with different items for each year of service and let the employee have fun by choosing. For example, a five-year-anniversary employee might have three options: a gift card, free lunch, or a company-sponsored donation to the charity of their choice. The 20-year employee could choose between a weekend trip with family, a gift of top-of-the-line technology, or paid sabbatical time.

  1. Generate company-wide support with interactive cards

Most managers will pass cards around the office to drum up signatures and well wishes, but we think that electronic “cards” make for more dynamic keepsakes. Our product Celebrations allows employees across an organization to share congratulations, encouragement, and memories whenever an employee celebrates a new milestone.

Achievers Fall Product Release

This card makes it easy and interactive to celebrate the employee through social recognition, but also with certificates, commemorative items, gifts, points, or all of the above. It’s a great way for employees from across the globe to contribute to their coworker’s special day.

Of course, you can still throw the traditional office party, but small parties have a limited and short-term impact. The recognition process must be inspiring as well as consistent, personal, and timely to deliver the biggest bang.

Company Perks

Which company perks attract the best talent?

Gone are the days of poor working conditions, grueling hours, and no benefits. In recent years, companies have seen the importance of offering quality perks for their employees. This realization has spawned a steadily building competition among companies as they try to out-perk other employers. But with the myriad of options available, from unlimited vacation time, to office dogs, to free lunch, how can you tell if you’re creating a real impact or just spinning your wheels?

While company perks are not the primary reason candidates join companies, some benefits weigh heavier in a candidate’s decision process than others. Perks, benefits, and employee incentives also play a role in improving employee retention rates and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Survey found that “professionals satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to also be satisfied with their work.” For those considering a new position in today’s market, the following company perks are the most compelling:

Paid time off

Paid time off gives your employees a better sense of financial security should an emergency or illness arise. If employees are offered unlimited paid time off, this introduces an element of trust, as management allows employees a high level of control over their workload. When employees feel respected, they often return that respect by managing their work responsibly.

Shared profits

Nothing gives your employees a meaningful sense of ownership like profit-sharing. Regardless of distribution methods, shared profits can transform your employees’ perception of themselves from workhorses or cogs to legitimate members of a team working toward a shared cause.

Frequent breaks

Some companies still cringe at the idea of giving their employees anything more than a quick lunch break during their shift. However, studies have repeatedly shown that working in short bursts can propel productivity, boost employees’ moods, and recharge mental capacities. Now that we’ve learned the traditional 9-5 workday with one break isn’t the most efficient way to work, it’s easier to experiment with different schedules to keep employees fresh and vitalize work flow.

Wellness programs

It goes without saying that a staff of unhealthy employees won’t do much for your productivity — nor will it entice new candidates to hop on board. While you may not have the budget for a luxurious on-site gym, there are plenty of ways to routinely incorporate wellness into your company culture. Some companies have begun offering nutritional counseling and healthy lunch days, or providing more relaxing break rooms so employees can unwind.

As you’re crafting new perks and benefits policies, you should listen carefully to the perks that your job candidates ask about most during interviews. What do they have at their current companies that they really enjoy? What employee incentives have candidates in your area started to expect from employers? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the most obvious perk is the one most valued by your people.

Dogs at work

Do dogs at work actually improve employee engagement?

Dogs at work are the latest perk to have employees salivating with envy. From Nestle Purina’s “bring your dog to work day” to the “woof-top” dog park built on top of Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters, a growing number of companies are letting employees bring their pooches to work.

The office is not your home, however. If it’s not appropriate for your employees to wander around in their PJs, why should you welcome dogs at work? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, and whether it actually affects employee engagement:

Pooches reduce workplace stress

Employees who bring their pets have less stress. In one study, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that workers who had dogs nearby experienced declining levels of stress throughout the day, but stress levels spiked by 70 percent for workers who left their dogs at home. From a work-life balance perspective, bringing your dog to work means that employees don’t have to worry about their four-legged friends sitting home alone all day. Pooches also contribute to the casual feel of the work environment and introduce a tangible sense of fun that relieves stress.

Staff members become more sociable

One of the reasons pets have such a marked effect on workplace-related stress is because they encourage the staff to open up socially. Even on the most hectic days, team members walking past a dog tend to engage in mushy, one-way conversations and scratch the dog’s belly. A dog’s antics give co-workers something to laugh about, and this binds them together — making for a friendlier office environment that, according to Purina, boosts productivity.

Dogs can distract co-workers

While a study by Central Michigan University confirms that dogs at work could help build camaraderie and trust, the study also admits that pets can distract some employees. What if co-workers have an allergy or phobia? Employees are unlikely to work efficiently if they must chain-swallow antihistamines or cower in their office to avoid canines. Also, what impression might clients get if they hear barking in the background?

Pet-free zones can help

Employers who ignore the wishes of canine-loathing staff do risk alienating a portion of their workforce. That’s why it’s crucial to lay down the ground rules before you invite your tail-wagging friends — and that includes designating pet-free zones for workers who are uncomfortable around dogs. Ultimately, the burden of avoiding messes and aggressive behavior lies with the pet owner. It’s a perk that comes with responsibility.

Inviting dogs to work may not be for everyone, and staff buy-in is crucial. However, if both the dog and team are happy, then maybe it’s worth giving dogs at work a trial run.

Ways to Motivate Part-Time Employees

4 ways to engage your part-time and hourly employees

Employee engagement is tricky even for full-time employees who are immersed in your company culture. For hourly and part-time employees, true engagement is even more difficult to accomplish. In many cases, your hourly or part-time employees are working in lower-paying roles with limited flexibility, no benefits, and a clock-in/clock-out mentality.

If you’ve noticed that your part-timers are feeling disconnected or unmotivated, there are several ways to motivate employees that will improve their experience, and ultimately their job performance.

Employee-led scheduling

Many part-time and hourly employees have limited or no control over the schedule they work. This can lead to resentment when work hours interfere with other things that may be going on in their lives. It can also be unhealthy if employees are asked to work split shifts, or switch day and night shifts on a regular basis.

While your company needs coverage during peak times, empowering employees to be part of the overall schedule design is beneficial for two reasons: it helps your employees understand and align to the needs of your company, and it gives them more flexibility to maintain their own version of work-life balance.

Change the work environment

Take a good, long look around the environment you work in. Is it warm and inviting, or drab and uncomfortable? Having a pleasant work environment can positively impact the everyday moods of your employees. And when hourly and part-time employees are in a good mood at work, their level of engagement rises.

Changes don’t have to be extensive or expensive to create a big boost. Updating hazy or buzzing lights to bright whites, covering dingy paint jobs with warm colors, and adding some vibrant green plants are all fairly affordable and fast ways to improve an environment. This is another great area to involve your employees — challenge them to help create an atmosphere they’ll enjoy.

Keep people in the loop

Because part-time employees are out of the office much more than full-time staff, they can feel disconnected when they miss announcements, activities, or opportunities that took place while they were away. Managers should maintain a protocol for how they disseminate essential information to part-time employees throughout the week, so that they’re in the loop and ready to hit the ground running each time they come in.

Alternative benefits

It’s simply not cost efficient to provide the same insurance coverage and other benefits to part-time or hourly employees as it is for salaried staff. However, there may be ways you can engage hourly employees through alternative benefits. For instance, although your company may not be able to afford health or dental coverage for part-timers, you may be able to offer them access to plans your company has negotiated. They can enroll and self-pay for coverage that may be less expensive than going through a health exchange.

Regardless of their role, all employees need to be recognized and incentivized at work. Make an effort to praise and celebrate their accomplishments, positive behavior, and time in service. Whether you offer monetary rewards, additional perks, or just regular verbal praise, consistent recognition is a key way to improve engagement.

Chances are, your company’s success depends on your hourly and part-time employees just as much as it does on your full-time staff. By making easy changes and finding new ways to recognize and appreciate their work, you can keep your part-time team happy, reduce turnover, and even increase productivity.

 

Want to make recognition a bigger part of your total rewards package? Download our whitepaper to learn how.

Employee Training and Development

Make employee training a perk, not a chore

Many companies tout their employee training and development programs as major perks of employment, but their staff doesn’t always agree. Any professional education program will come with a price tag, so it’s crucial that your employees truly benefit from these offerings. If you offer programs that don’t meet the needs of your employees, you’ll pull them away from their work and add unnecessary commitments to their plate: a lose-lose situation for both the company and employees. Before you put a program in place, but sure that you’re establishing activities or courses that will genuinely contribute to your employees’ growth.

Do your homework

If you’re a program administrator, you have some essential homework to do before you convene your very first session. You need to find out each staff member’s attitude and experience about being in the role of a student. The right training approach for someone fresh out of graduate school will be very different from that for someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom for decades. It’s also a good idea to ask each staff member how they learn best: Listening to explanations? Watching demonstrations? Role-playing and hands-on experimentation? A well-designed employee survey can give you valuable background information with which to design or select your education program.

Match training to needs

The ideal training programs will advance the interests of your entire business as well as that of individual staff members. Your choice of subject matter for employee development courses should be guided by the actual skill sets needed to meet current on-the-job demands. For instance, are your developers and engineers trained on the most cutting-edge tools and technology?

If you’re providing career advancement opportunities, your training needs to keep pace with your employees. Do you have leadership training in place for new managers? Do you have program or protocol training for employees who move cross functionally?

Set goals and measure achievement

Before starting the program, trainers must develop a list of competencies that students will achieve by the end of the program. These goals usually take the form of sentences stating, “After completing the training, students will be able to _______.” The blank is filled in with a specific skill or element of knowledge. Once these goals are set down, they provide a template for measuring the effectiveness of the training program after it has been completed. In addition to checking on how much your employees have learned, it is also important to ask them to evaluate the overall training experience. Anonymous survey tools allow participants to give constructive criticism of your program and trainer, providing valuable feedback for improving future sessions.

When they are well-designed, employee training and development programs constitute a significant on-the-job perk. Once you’ve committed the resources to making such education available to your staff, it’s important to go the extra mile and ensure the training is delivered in a way that employees will embrace and appreciate.

Employee Perks for the Summer

3 cool employee perks for the hot summer months

Are you and your employees ready for summer? Maintaining employee engagement during summertime can be challenging. But you don’t need to resign yourself to a period of low productivity and motivation just because temperatures are rising. Try these employee perks to keep your team members in the game while also giving them a chance to enjoy the season.

Flexible Work Schedules

Flex schedules are the norm in an increasing number of workplaces, and summer may be when your employees need them the most. Kids are out of school, there may be gaps in childcare coverage, and it’s a prime time for much-needed vacations.

These easy perks don’t cost you anything, but they can help your employees manage this busy, transitional season:

  • Half-Day Fridays: Let your employees go home early either every week or every other week.
  • Revolving Home Days: If employees can complete work from home, set aside certain days and times for it. This lets employees work during “off” hours so they can be with kids or attend functions during normal work hours.
  • Schedule Swapping or Earned-Time Allowance: Planning vacations can be like composing a symphony—lots of moving parts need to come together to create an enjoyable time away. If employees have less vacation time than they need, let them earn more days off by working extra hours before a vacation to create an earned-time allowance. Similarly, make it easier for employees to switch shifts with coworkers to accommodate everyone’s time away.

Relaxed Dress Code

While you want your employees to maintain an appropriate appearance at work, consider allowing some leeway on the dress code during the summer. Let men lose their ties for a few months, and let women wear sleeveless shirts or dresses. The more comfortable employees feel while in the office, the more their heads will be in the game.

Freebie Fridays

Another way to celebrate your employees’ devotion while maintaining their engagement is to hold special events throughout the summer. A smoothie machine one week, chair massages another, or an employee gathering outside of work hours can go a long way toward showing your appreciation. In addition to work-sponsored events, consider arranging discounts with local businesses like sports teams or amusement parks so your employees can enjoy some summer fun at a discount.

With a little planning and a lot of appreciation shown for jobs well done, perks at work can effectively maintain, or even increase, employee engagement during the coming summer season. Flexibility and perks can be the key to continued company success.

While you’re at it, why not take a second look at the rest of your Total Rewards Package? There’s a lot more that you can include in your compensation toolkit besides salaries, bonuses, and a few cool perks. Download our whitepaper, The Total Package: Including recognition in the compensation toolkit, to learn more.

Employee Bonus Plan

Annual bonuses: How much do they actually incentivize employees?

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Do you give your employees big annual bonuses as a reward for their work? Or perhaps you just give them out of tradition? If so, you have plenty of company: It’s common to rely on annual bonus plans to build employee motivation and pad salaries. However, a lot of bonus plans aren’t set up in a way that truly motivates good work. There’s a psychology behind rewards and employee incentives that you need to understand before you can create an effective bonus structure.

Do you give them, or do employees earn them?

If bonuses are going to serve as an incentive, you need to provide employees with clear metrics and objectives so that they understand exactly what they need to accomplish to earn the bonus. If you have a structure where everyone gets a bonus no matter what, that will quickly demotivate some employees, because they expect to receive a check regardless of their performance.

In addition to being clear, the bonus objectives need to strike a balance so that they’re not too far-fetched, or too easy. The goals should be attainable.

Too little, too late

Employees come to work every day of the year, and you need them to feel motivated and engaged on each one of those days. Most bonuses, however, only come 1-4 times per year. Even if employees feel a sense of satisfaction when they finally get their check (and research shows that sometimes they don’t), it won’t provide motivation for an employee who faces a challenging work situation weeks or months before bonuses are due. Furthermore, annual bonuses can actually spawn resentment or entitlement, creating interpersonal conflicts among employees or alienation from the company during a financially lean year.

Reward more with less

While financial incentives can be an effective way to motivate and reward employees, employers shouldn’t rely on periodic payout as their only method of engagement. Managers and employees should recognize each other and celebrate accomplishments both large and small all throughout the year. Real-time recognition that’s tied directly to an employee’s contribution is often more effective than the annual bonus—and it costs a lot less.

And if you’re running a recognition program manually with spreadsheets and closets full of rewards, you should know that there is a better way. Check out this whitepaper to learn how to make things easier.

 

Andrea Vearncombe  Andrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.

 

 

Benefits of Telecommuting

Should you let your employees go remote? How to weigh the risks and benefits

The benefits of telecommuting are becoming clearer, and this practice has gained popularity so fast that it is now considered a standard perk in some industries. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will primarily work from home. Not only that, but a Global Workplace Analytics survey found that 36 percent of employees would choose a telecommuting option over a pay raise. Would your organization benefit from allowing, or encouraging, some employees to work remotely? There are a few key factors you should consider before you decide to offer this option. And be aware—if you don’t discuss telecommuting proactively, your employees will likely start asking about it soon.

First, consider what types of jobs are best suited for remote work. Obviously anyone dealing with customers, patients, or physical objects can’t telecommute. If you have team members whose effectiveness depends on immediate information exchange, then their roles are not well-suited for telecommuting. However, many information-based jobs can be done from home just as well as they can from a cubicle, if not even better. Many employees report higher levels of productivity at home, when they don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers, ambient noise, and difficult commutes.

Effective telecommuting requires certain basic ingredients, both human and technological. Before being granted the right to work remotely, an employee should demonstrate consistently high performance and commitment to the job. Once they’re home, they’ll have no oversight, so managers will need a good way to track results and keep employees accountable. (Though this is true even for employees who come into the office every day – results speak much louder than butt-in-seat-time).

Additionally, you will have to consider the technology needed to support effective remote workstations. Will your staff members need to share a virtual whiteboard space, have real-time group meetings, or simultaneously mark up documents? Remote work platforms are becoming more sophisticated, but it might take some up-front investment on your part to provide your employees with high-quality software and audio and video equipment.

Telecommuting is somewhat unstructured by nature, so creating a structure is a good idea. Be clear with your employees about what hours you expect them to be available, and through what means of communication. Ask for input from your employees, and engage in conversations about the possible issues that might arise. Once you have the technology and policy in place, begin slowly: Have workers telecommute one or two days a week at first, and then evaluate how things are going at the end of each month. While you may increase this schedule to several days a week, you’ll probably still want to have regular meeting times where everyone comes together in the same place. It’s important that employees continue to feel a sense of belonging and identification with your organization.

Employee engagement is the key to business success. Employees feel more engaged and productive when they are able to effectively balance work and family obligations. In fact, businesses whose workers telecommute at least three times a month are likelier to see a 10 percent higher annual revenue growth. That means that telecommuting doesn’t just benefit your employees—it can benefit your business’ bottom line as well.  When managed well, your team of virtual employees can get the best of both work worlds.

Salary and Job Satisfaction

Money doesn’t motivate: Why employees need more than just a paycheck

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Why do your employees show up at work every morning? If you think it’s just to earn a paycheck, then you’re overlooking something essential about human motivation. Most people agree that fair compensation is a requirement for employee engagement and job satisfaction, but it only meets the bare minimum.

Research studies published in Harvard Business Review demonstrate that the overlap between pay level and job satisfaction is actually less than two percent. Of course salaries have to be competitive if you want to attract and retain employees in the first place, but once people are able to meet their basic lifestyle needs, their happiness and engagement are actually driven by non-financial factors.

Harvard researchers noted that corporate performance is directly correlated with employee motivation, so they ran a large-scale study to determine exactly how managers can foster a strong climate of motivation within their teams.

In a survey of 300 Fortune 500 companies, the researchers focused on four specific indicators of motivation:

  • Employee engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment
  • Intention to quit

They defined “engagement” as the “energy, effort and initiative that employees bring to the job.” Their research found that none of these four indicators of motivation were actually influenced by salary.

They also discovered two important human needs that determined how engaged employees will be. The first of these is the need to bond with larger teams and groups. When an employee feels proud to be part of an organization or company, they are strongly motivated to give their best effort. The second need that companies can fulfill is the individual’s desire to be challenged and to make a unique and meaningful contribution to their organization.

The take-away for HR and people leaders is that recognition and rewards shouldn’t just come in the form of salaries and bonuses. Instead, the most effective way to foster engagement is by acknowledging the human need for bonding and teamwork. Positive social recognition from both managers and peers will encourage individuals to meet challenges and contribute to the success of their team. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated by the people around them, they’re more likely to repeat the behaviors that earned praise.

Because this element of human-to-human bonding and recognition is so essential for job satisfaction, it needs to be systemic within your organization. Don’t leave recognition up to chance. Develop a strategy around how recognition and rewards will be distributed across each sector of your company so that every employee has the chance to participate. By making investments in employee alignment, rewards and recognition, and team bonding activities, you can earn much higher returns than just doling out large raises.

Want more tips for how to implement a seamless, automated recognition and rewards strategy? Download our whitepaper Do-it-yourself vs. Doing it right: Fueling employee engagement with a social recognition and rewards platform.

 

Andrea VearncombeAndrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.