unbeatable workshop ideas

5 Fun Employee Workshops to Host in the Office

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

Office workshops break up the day, boost employee loyalty, and reduce turnover because they communicate the message that each individual contributor is more than a number. The key is in choosing the right workshops; the less they feel like a chore for employees, the more effective they’ll be. According to management training and leadership experts at Mind Tools, ineffective workshops can bring more problems than they actually solve: “Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving,”

Consider the following five workshop ideas and how they might fit with your company culture. Choose a few to sprinkle into the company calendar, adding variety and fun to the usual brainstorming sessions and project-focused meetings.

Lunch and Learn Workshop

Choose a day each month when all the members of your department converge for an hour to “network” internally. Cater lunch from a local restaurant or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish to make it more of a special event. Each month, one team or employee will share an important project they’re working on. The rest of the team can then provide constructive feedback and fresh ideas.

This open dialogue strengthens both the sense of camaraderie and level of collaboration between teams. It’s easy to operate in a siloed organization, but that’s not good for business, or your employees. Use your monthly “Lunch and Learn” to remind employees that their co-workers are valuable resources that they can and should turn to.

Self-Defense Workshop

Not all workshops need to be work related—in fact, to keep employees interested, it’s better if some aren’t. Workshops such as this one for self-defense show employees that you care about their well being, both in and out of the office:

“For companies who care about their employees, especially those whose employees regularly walk to their cars at night or alone, it would behoove employers to offer self-defense training courses for workers,” says Jeremy Pollack, self defense expert for Home Security Super Store.

The most important part of this workshop is choosing the correct instructor. Pollack suggests the following tips for vetting:

  • Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
  • Has an HR rep or a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
  • How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
  • Does he or she fit with the culture of your workplace?

Vision Board Workshop

Transform a conference room into a creative space for employees to make their own vision boards. Vision boards are a visual representation of how you want to feel or something you want to accomplish – a way to bring things inside you to life. Giving your employees the opportunity to create their own vision boards is an exercise in abstract thinking and serves as a way to help them explore avenues and inspiration for personal growth, both within the organization and as individuals.

A few key materials for this includes:

  • White boards and markers
  • Pens/pencils
  • Sticky notes
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

Host this workshop each month, allowing  a maximum of five participants each time. At the end of the workshop, have the participants share their favorite piece of the completed vision board with fellow employees. This should be inspirational and eye opening for everyone, even employees who didn’t participate that month.

Take it up a notch by inviting a life coach into the office. The five participants can talk with the life coach for 30 minutes as a group to start thinking creatively about their profession and growth. They can use this conversation to spur their ideas.

Mindfulness Workshop

Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley has found that practicing moment-to-moment awareness can reinforce an employees’ confidence, satisfaction, focus and productivity. Help them funnel these positives into their job performance by offering mindfulness workshops.

A few mindfulness workshops you can host include:

  • Meditation, guided with a focus on productivity
  • Yoga for reduced stress
  • Awareness and relaxation training
  • Work-life balance training

If employees love this workshop, you could make meditation and mindfulness a daily part of their routine. For example, schedule one conference room as “open” from 8-10am for quiet meditation every morning. People can choose to use it as they desire, boosting efficiency and well-being at the same time.

Financial Tools Workshop

Facilitating a money management seminar will help your employees understand the nuances of investment, budgeting, diversification and other financial concepts. Equipping people with the knowledge and resources to allocate their income wisely is both a source of empowerment for them and a reflection of your leadership expertise and concern for their overall well-being.

According to experts at Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, “Companies providing financial education show improvement in the workplace including increased productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty and decreased healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk across the company.”

As the Jumpstart experts explain, a workshop like this is also beneficial to your bottom line, “Financial education programs have the effect of contributing to the company’s bottom line between $3 and $4 for every dollar spent.”

Financial workshop ideas include:

  • Financial tracking: Creating and maintaining a budget; setting goals.
  • Smart investing: How and where to invest; how to get the most for your money.
  • Credit cards: Smart use of credit; best ways to maintain good credit; what to look for in credit card rewards.
  • Retirement: How to prepare; what the company does to help; different types of accounts, along with benefits and drawbacks of each.

Regardless of your business’ overall size or scope, company growth is dependent on an engaged, cohesive and dynamic workforce. Therefore, offering workshops that benefit your employees, both professionally and personally, can mean the difference between attracting and maintaining top-tier talent versus mediocre space-fillers. Make your team feel appreciated, and their performance will speak for itself.

Are you looking for more ideas on how to improve your office culture? Check out my blog post 5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Week Achievers

Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

It’s our favorite time of the year here at Achievers: Employee Appreciation Week! During this week the amount of love being sent throughout our organization gets cranked up to 11. We know that a simple “Thank you!” goes a long way – whether it’s a social recognition, monetary reward, or just a friendly high five – so we’d like to take this opportunity to say a very public “Thank you” to every Achievers employee for all their hard work, dedication, and passion. We are so proud to have such a great team pulling together towards achieving our stated mission – to Change the Way the World Works.

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting a handful of our A-mazing employees by spotlighting actual employee recognitions delivered via Achievers’ own ASPIRE recognition program. While we don’t have the space to feature all of our employees in one blog post (wish we could!), every member of the Achievers family deserves massive recognition for all the great work they do. So thank you A-players for staying engaged, recognizing your peers, and helping our customers boost employee engagement in their own workplaces.

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

We hope you spend this fun week recognizing your employees too. After all, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more! Recognizing others is infectious and spreads positivity throughout an organization. So why not take the first step and recognize someone today for a job well done. But don’t limit employee appreciation to just one week. It’s important to appreciate employees frequently to foster employee happiness and continuously boost engagement and motivation. Recognize someone right now with our free and fun personalized online recognition card.

Looking for fresh ideas on how to show employee appreciation? Check out our blog post Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong
Kellie 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

The Role of Work Habits

Employee Habits Are Your Company’s Destiny

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

High-performance employers enjoy higher than industry average levels of productivity per employee. Measures of this success include revenue generated per head, return on capital employed, speed to market with new products and customer delight. These measures point to what a business and CEO get by BEING a high-performance employer, but they don’t explain what it takes to BECOME one.

The Role of Pivotal Habits

An underappreciated source of employee performance is their health, happiness and financial security – what we collectively describe as thriving.

Many people think that health is a matter of luck or good genes more than lifestyle, that happiness is a right or is related to how many things or experiences they have and that financial security depends almost entirely on how well they are paid.

The reality is quite different: the largest part (well over 50%) of our health, happiness and security is achieved by practicing a relatively small set of habits.

But how does employee health, happiness and security drive employee and company performance?

When employees thrive in life and at work, they can focus their time, minds and energy on building new products, being innovative and agile in their approach, and working with greater clarity and stamina (not necessarily longer hours, but “fuller” hours).

If you’re the kind of employer that supports employees in achieving their most important life goals, your reward is their loyalty, engagement and commitment. This is what shines through when they do their jobs and delight your customers, driving higher growth and return on capital employed. In turn, this creates new opportunities for their career growth, which is an important driver of employee happiness, especially for a younger workforce. This is truly a virtuous cycle that, once turning, plays a role in the enormous success of some of the world’s highest performing employers.

Do employees view thriving as their most important life goal?

It may sound presumptuous for an employer to claim that they understand what it means for each employee to thrive at work, let alone in life. Yet, when we’ve asked thousands of employees the simple question “what does success look like for you and what do you want for your life?,” they universally give answers that fall into the three broadly-defined buckets of health, happiness and security.

The habits that create health, happiness and security are so important in preparing us to perform and sustaining our performance over time that we call them the “Pivotal Habits.”

The Role of Work Habits

Then, there are habits that make up work. They are unique to each person or at least to their role. We prefer to think of our roles in terms of outcomes, but the quality of our performance is really a matter of doing the same or similar things, really well, over and over again. We can, therefore, think about each person’s job as a collection of habits, and we can think of the purpose of our job as a set of outcomes to be achieved by practicing those habits.

We call these habits our “Work Habits.”

Pivotal Habits PREPARE US TO PERFORM by giving us the mental clarity, focus, energy and stamina, and removing stress, financial concerns and health challenges. They allow us to perform our Work Habits with high fidelity, quality and consistency.

Together, they ensure we achieve the outcomes our roles ask of us and more. The beauty of focusing on both types of habits is that we drive higher performance for our companies in a way that leaves employees more engaged. This is what delivers the competitive advantage for high performance employers.

But wait, surely competitive advantage comes from something other than employee habits?

What about strategy, execution, new products, corporate agility, innovation, market timing, and a long list of candidates for the “IT” factor that explains high performance?

Searching online for “corporate competitive advantage” produces nearly four million hits and there are shelves of books and a wealth of high quality research in favor of the importance of strategy (e.g. Porter), capital funding, execution (e.g. Bossidy and Charan), culture (e.g. Drucker), visionary leadership and competent managers as drivers of competitive advantage.

Although each of these factors is important, on closer examination it becomes clear that there is a fundamental or atomic view of what each of these drivers has in common.

The building blocks of developing an effective company strategy are a set of Work Habits for those in strategic development roles. Execution is clearly about the whole workforce doing what they need to do, consistently over time (Work Habits).

Well-funded startups are routinely outperformed by two people in a garage, absent funding but with just the right Work Habits to produce the next big thing. Great leaders are not born; they spend each day doing pretty much the same things: telling stories to people to inspire them to build their vision (storytelling as a Work Habit) and great managers have their own set of high-performance Work Habits.

Therefore, the future of your company, and whether it will be a high performing business or not, depends entirely on the effectiveness of the different Work Habits practiced by your employees (as well as the Pivotal Habits that prepare them for sustained action).

Again, the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage is the habits practiced by your employees.

In fact, so strong is the link that we say, for employees and for your company, HABITS ARE YOUR DESTINY.

What makes high performance companies different?

High performance employers recognize the link between employee Pivotal and Work Habits and performance at work. They design their workplaces (the physical space, business processes, social networks and how they tell stories about their business to employees) in such a way that it becomes easy and natural for employees to practice these important habits. Pivotal and Work Habits are like the motor that turns the wheel of corporate performance.

Wheel of Corporate Performance

Why should CEOs care?

Most CEOs and other business leaders miss that:

  • Employee health, happiness and security are strong, yet underappreciated drivers of performance. At our Behavioral Research Laboratory (BRATLAB), we’ve spent the last decade researching just how strongly Pivotal Habits drive performance. Bottom line: Their impact is significant, perhaps greater than any other opportunity for improving employee productivity available to business managers today.
  • It is employee habits (both Pivotal and Work Habits) that are the fundamental unit of competitive advantage for companies, and becoming a master at designing for these habits will provide you with a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage. Difficult to copy because few other CEOs recognize the fundamental role of habits, and sustainable because employees will thrive, rather than burn out.

This leaves two big questions: exactly which habits matter most to performance (both Pivotal and Work Habits) and how do we design our companies to make it easy and natural for employees to practice these habits?

These questions will be answered in my next two guest blogs. Check out my second guest blog: Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

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About Andrew Sykes

Andrew SykesFor more information contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Reasons to welcome the millennial influence

The Demands of Millennials Make Our Workplaces Better

By: Anna Peters
Content Manager at College Recruiter

For all the complaining about Millennials and their approach to the modern workplace, they are actually responsible for much of the change happening in the modern workforce. Their entry into the workforce, was accompanied by a slew of stereotypes, followed recently by a round of myth-busting, with statistics and all, aimed at debunking those stereotypes. As an “ancient Millennial” myself (a term I borrow from journalist Jessica Grose), I can attest that at least some of the stereotypes come from kernels of truth, but like most stereotypes , they must be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, many of the changes Millennials bring to the workplace are actually good for everyone. Change is always hard, so it’s natural to initially oppose or question the forces of change. However, most of the changes that Millennials have brought about have actually made for a better workplace.

The influence of the Millennial generation is not to be underestimated, if for no other reason than its size. According to a recent report from SHRM, (“Millennials: Misunderstood in the workplace?”) as  Baby Boomers exit the workforce, an even greater number of Millennials will continue to enter the workforce to take their place. In fact, it is estimated that Millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than  half of the workforce by 2020. And, according to Pew, they already make up the largest overall share of workforce, having surpassed Gen X’ers in 2015. With those facts established, here are four reasons to welcome the Millennial influence:

Generalization #1: They need constant feedback: Millennials grew up in a feedback culture. Some say that Millennials are obsessed with getting positive feedback (you’ve likely heard of the “trophy generation”, but put simply, it is the belief that we are doing our youth a disservice by lauding them for mere participation rather than awarding success.). But even if that’s true, it likely contributed to an encouraging new trend – the phasing out of annual performance reviews. An annual performance review simply doesn’t tell us enough in today’s fast-paced business culture. If HR hears a complaint about an employee but their 8-month old performance review shows high marks, that documentation does little to advise any action. In 2017, we will likely see employers implement more regular feedback conversations along with frequent “pulse” surveys to help identify and address employee concerns in a more timely, actionable fashion.

When employers engage employees in regular, smaller-scale conversations, both management and employees are better equipped to deal with issues as they come up. This in turn helps employees to feel more engaged because they know their suggestions and concerns are being listened to. Furthermore, by combining these mini performance management conversations with real-time feedback tools for employees, management can help facilitate a culture of transparency in which both positive and negative business outcomes can be celebrated or addressed openly.

Generalization #2: They demand more work life balance: One of my favorite Millennial trends is that men are beginning to demand more time with their families. They ask for paternity leave more than their fathers did, for example. And because married Millennials overwhelmingly co-lead a dual-income household, they can’t buy into the 80-hour work week like their fathers did before them. As a recent article in The New York Times put it: “Millennial men—ages 18 to early 30s—have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet… workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

Likewise, a Department of Labor report also highlighted the growing importance of paternity leave as men consider whether to accept a job, noting: “Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.”

Millennials came of age watching their parents work long hours and aren’t convinced it translates to a happier existence, or even a fatter nest-egg for themselves. With this in mind, employers would be wise to encourage work-life balance in the name of productivity and worker satisfaction. Even the U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics agrees that hours with your butt in a seat does not equate to more productivity, “Only if we increase our efficiency—by producing more goods and services without increasing the number of hours we work—can we be sure to increase our standard of living.”

Generalization #3: They need hand-holding. It’s true that most managers don’t have time for hand-holding. However, research published in the Journal of Workplace Learning shows that companies who have a “culture of learning” rely not just on managers to disseminate information. Not only does their training help them perform their job functions better, but employees who are able to embrace learning and growth opportunities also feel more valued and engaged, doubling the value for the company. Learning can happen anytime, often facilitated by a co-worker (“Contextual factors influencing the facilitation of others’ learning through everyday work experiences” by Andrea D. Ellinger Maria Cseh), so managers don’t have to feel the exclusive burden of teaching their staff everything.

Generalization #4: They feel entitled to career advancement: Climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t as important to Millennials as it was to their parents (see Generalization #2: they value more work-life balance.) When they see their managers put in long hours at the cost of their personal lives, it doesn’t look appealing. In addition, Millennials learned the difference between “management” and “leadership” before they even entered the workforce, and the 80 hour week management job that only serves to maintain the status quo is not their idea of having an impact. Millennials might feel entitled to advancement in a different sense. They want to keep learning and keep contributing. If other generations in the workplace adopted this sense of motivation, you might not see a scramble to fill the senior manager job, but you’d have leaders everywhere.

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About Anna Peters
Anna PetersAnna Peters is Content Manager for College Recruiter. She manages all content, supervises a team of content writers and is part of College Recruiter’s senior management team. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

 

 

Who’s Your OGO?

By: Chris Jacobsen
National Account Executive, Achievers

A paradigm shift is happening in today’s workforce with the balance of power shifting from the employer to the employee. In response to this shifting playing field, employers are starting to register the power of recognition to boost engagement levels and increase productivity among their employees. But we still have a ways to go. According to a recent survey by KRC Research, workers say that an average of 50 days (nearly two months) pass between moments of recognition, while nearly 9 in 10 (87%) middle management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors. 88% also feel unrecognized by their coworkers. With the shift to an employee-centric workplace, these recognition “droughts” should be a thing of the past. But although a greater emphasis on engagement and recognition has been underway for some time, it still feels as though we’re at the dawning of a new day.

As an Account Executive for an industry leader in the employee engagement space, getting to play a role in helping to bring about this shift is personally rewarding. But let me take a step back and tell you a little about how I ended up here and why the idea of recognition is so personally significant to me.

It’s Fall of 2009, and my soon to be wife, Anne, and I are sitting down for pre-marital counseling before we seal the deal (I know this is a Human Resources blog; but bear with me, I have a point, I promise). Something that has stuck with me since those counseling sessions, besides my wildly understanding, compassionate, and beautiful wife of seven years, is the topic of love languages. I had never given any thought as to what my “love language” might be until I was challenged to do so in those counseling sessions. Lo and behold, mine is “Words of Affirmation”. According to the assessment: Give me a little appreciation and recognition for a job well done and I’m good to go. How delightfully ironic (or perhaps not!) that I now work for a company whose mission it is to enable recognition and employee appreciation to happen anytime, anywhere in the world; and in so doing, change the way the world works.

Given my penchant for learning and a desire to know as much about the field of employee recognition as possible, it’s no surprise I was drawn to a book titled O Great One!, A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition. “O Great One,” or OGO for short, was a nickname coined by the book’s author, David Novak, who: “Thought being called Grandpa, Poppy (or any similar title by his grandchildren) made him feel old before his time. Taking a cue from his father-in-law ‘Great Jack,’ he decreed his grandchildren should address him by his new moniker “O Great One” or “OGO” for short.” O Great One! (http://www.ogothebook.com/) is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit.

In the book, Mr. Novak tells how his interest in the idea of recognition grew from a personal experience of his – specifically, a birthday. On this particular birthday, his family gave him a gift in the form of a jar filled with strips of paper with moments of appreciation and expressions of love inscribed on them. This act had such a powerful effect on Novak that it provided the impetus for him to start a movement to attack “the global recognition deficit” – and to write a book, OGO, about the awesome power of recognition.

The importance of timely, frequent recognition is further emphasized within OGO as Novak recounts the experience of “Jeff,” who recognized a problem within his grandfather’s company after taking over as CEO.  The problem was a critical lack of employee recognition. With a few reluctant leaders on his team and skeptical board members, Jeff embarked on a mission to change the way his company works.

Being the former CEO of YUM! Brands (you know… KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Mr. Novak has a ton a of experience with employee recognition and the importance of making employees feel valued for their work. In leadership roles for many years, he witnessed first hand the tremendous success that comes with aligning employees to company values and business goals. Syntehsizing all of this experience into actionable insights, Novak lays out 10 guiding principles of recognition for employers and individuals alike:

  1. People won’t care about you if you don’t care about them
    You need to show people you care about them before you can expect anything from them.
  1. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to remember that there’s always someone who knows something we don’t.
  1. A great idea can come from anywhere
    Great ideas are essential to a company’s success, so view everyone as a potential source of inspiration.
  1. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them
    It is the visibility and velocity of recognition that drives engagement results.
  1. Make recognition a catalyst for results
    What gets recognized gets repeated. Tie recognition to company goals and values.
  1. Make it fun
    Make the recognition moments fun and enjoyable. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously!
  1. Make it personal
    Recognition should be meaningful and should resonate on a personal level.
  1. Recognition is universal
    The power of recognition does not discriminate, and all of us, no matter who we are, love to be recognized and should feel included.
  1. Giving recognition is a privilege
    And the act of giving recognition is its own reward.
  1. Say thank you every chance you get
    Saying “thank you” is free, so let’s start saying it lot more.

This book is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit. It feels great to be recognized and to give recognition. If more organizations focused their efforts on fostering cultures of recognition, both employees and employers stand to benefit in the form of incrased engagement, reduced attrition, and improved customer satisfaction. What I’ve realized after reading this book and working with Achievers and its customers, is that we truly can change the way the world works, one OGO at a time.

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About Chris Jacobsen
Chris Jacobsen
Chris’ passion for sales and HR software began in Southern California where he worked with ADP. He and his wife of seven years moved to Montreal in 2010 and now reside in New York’s Hudson Valley with their 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. Having worked in large and small corporations Chris is keenly aware of the power of recognition and showing appreciation for great work. Outside of helping organizations reimagine how they recognize their employees, Chris enjoys cooking, building couch forts with his kids, and running. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

 

Desire for Social Recognition

Why Employees Love Social Recognition

A business isn’t anything without its employees. So in order for your business to be successful in the long term, you have to ensure your employees are consistently performing at their best. How do you do that? By focusing on employee engagement. According to Gallup, “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202 percent.”

But how can you move the needle on employee engagement? One of the best and most effective ways is through employee recognition programs. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, recognition given to top performers was the most impactful driver of employee engagement. Social recognition, in particular, is a fun and easy way to quickly show employee appreciation and boost employee engagement.

More recognitions = higher employee engagement

Employees experience an increase in job satisfaction from rewards and recognition, and it’s important they come from peers as well as supervisors. As noted in our recently published eBook, The Case for Employee Recognition, 71% of employees rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and 72% rank recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. Furthermore, the report shows there is a negative correlation between the effectiveness of a recognition program and employee turnover rates – meaning employee recognition not only boosts employee engagement but reduces turnover rates as well.

Rewards and recognition create a positive workplace culture

A recent SHRM study noted that employees consider “culture and connection” to be a major contributing factor to employee job satisfaction. In recent years it has become widely accepted that implementing a robust rewards and recognition program is one of the top means of fostering a positive workplace culture, and one that promotes mutual respect and employee appreciation. In fact, a 2015 Cornell University research review noted that, “41 percent of the variation in employee engagement is attributable to the strength of recognition an employee receives,” and that 42 percent of companies with recognition programs include a social peer-to-peer component. In the conclusion of the study, the author states: “Recognition programs are becoming powerful avenues for exerting positive change in the workplace. What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement and a host of other factors that impact the bottom line, when properly executed. By making the programs strategic, leveraging peer-to-peer recognition, and garnering top executive buy-in, companies can maximize their return on investment on these programs.”

Social media is second nature

By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce, and they are accustomed to spending a big chunk of their time on social media. Giving and receiving positive reinforcement by way of social recognition is fun and natural to them. Social recognitions are not viewed as tasks or something they need to check off the “to-do” list, but an instinctive way to communicate with their peers and to showcase each other’s accomplishments. Social recognition has become an invaluable piece of the puzzle when it comes to initiating and sustaining an effective rewards and recognition program.

With 70 percent of U.S. workers not engaged at work, it is imperative for businesses to focus on employee engagement; and kicking off an employee recognition program is the logical first step. Through recognition, employees will feel more appreciated and, in return, be more productive. 77 percent of employees even stated they would work harder if they felt better recognized. As the Cornell report states, “What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement.”

To learn more about how your human resources department can establish a successful employee recognition program, download our 2016 Buyer’s Guide to Social Recognition.

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Emotion and Employee Engagement

Intention vs. Action: Love Human Beings Not Human Doings

By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

We judge ourselves based on our good intentions, and we judge others based on their actions. The holiday season is full of good intentions – but also many emotional pitfalls and opportunities to feel let down, put down, or shut down. We feel more pressure to be positive and present with family and friends, on top of accomplishing everything else on our normal end-of-year ‘To Do’ list.

So what gets in the way of us fulfilling our good intentions? Most of the time, it’s our emotions. According to research by Dr. Rachel Jack with Glasgow University there are four driving emotions that impact our ability to have the desired outcome we want. These four emotions are: fear, anger, happiness, and sadness. The challenge is that three out of four of these are negative. So how do we overcome negative emotions in order to achieve the positive outcome or results we desire?

In thinking about this question I was reminded of a client who was preparing for an important customer pitch. He had spent two weeks researching and putting together the best proposal possible with his team. But ten minutes before going into the meeting with his client, he received an email from his manager stating that one of his peers had been fired. He immediately wished he hadn’t read the email before his presentation because it caught him by surprise and left him with mixed emotions. He couldn’t understand why his peer was being let go and it led him to think negative thoughts: “Am I next?” “Why didn’t I see this coming?” “Should I be looking for another job?” Because of this negative emotional response he felt like he had been completely derailed.

But despite the shock he was in, he still had a presentation to give. When he walked into his client meeting he found he couldn’t focus – his energy was low and he couldn’t stop thinking about why his peer had been fired. Midway through the presentation he realized that his emotions were taking over his ability to deliver to the client. So much so that his other team members noticed something was off and began to wonder what had happened to him.

After the meeting was over, he felt the presentation had gone well enough, but was not as great as it could have. He wished he had the chance to re-do the presentation the way he envisioned. The meeting still went well and he was able to make the best of it, but his client and team members had no idea why he was distracted. They were judging him on his actions and how he was presenting himself in the moment – they didn’t know the emotional cause of his uncharacteristic performance.

This type of situation can, and does, happen to all of us. We are cruising along, focused on the day-to-day, when something unexpected happens that instantly derails us – whether it’s a co-worker saying something negative, or reading a difficult email. During these tough moments, it’s important that we bring ourselves back to present-moment thinking.

How do you bring yourself back to present-moment thinking? Start with asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does this feeling need to impact my actions, communication, and relationships right now?
  • Can I separate my thoughts and feelings from one another?
  • Can I take a few deep breathes to engage in the present moment and not be overtaken by what could be?

By asking yourself these questions calmly, you can slowly bring yourself back to present-moment thinking and overcome negative emotions.

The key Emotional Intelligence (EI) tool is to remember we are hardwired as human beings to feel before we think for our human survival, but this does not always serve us in our day-to-day living. Can you move away from the negative self-talk and feelings in order to achieve the results and have the impact you desire? Breathe. Ask yourself a few questions. And then get back to delivering on the good intentions you had set out to achieve that day. Most importantly, when you are interacting with friends and family this holiday season and you feel let down, remember to love human beings and not human doings. You can be pretty confident their intentions were worthy, it may just have been that their emotions got the better of them.

Want to learn more about EI? Check out our blog post How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Drive Employee Engagement.

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About Bobi Seredich

Bobi Seredich HeadshotBobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Measuring Employee Performance

5 Performance Measurement Myths

By: Meghan M. Biro

The question of how to measure employee performance represents one of the last vestiges of old-school HR methodology. Today’s workforce is digitally transformed, highly social and mobile, made up of multiple generations, and collaborating across virtual and global locations. There has been a profound shift in the workforce away from hierarchical, top-down organizations towards teams and collaboration, where having a culture of recognition can drive engagement and results far more effectively than infrequent reviews handed down from on high by management.

We all want the best hires and to lure the top talent. But once on board, they’re part of the organization, and now making sure that they’re fully engaged becomes the challenge. But how do we know if they are working up to their potential? Old-school approaches to performance management, which view a single employee outside of the context of today’s team-based, networked workplace, no longer ring true. Indeed some would argue that many of these approaches were myths to begin with – and I’d have to agree.

Here are five assumptions about measuring employee performance that need to be retired:

Myth #1 – Individuals should be judged solely on their own performance.

The idea that we perform as an island may apply to an isolated few, but it doesn’t fit the majority of workplaces — either today or yesterday. The investment made in working out how to evaluate individuals may be better spent evaluating the quality of their team or business unit’s output. What targets have been hit? What goals have been reached?

Perhaps we should be evaluating employees not only on their performance, but on their level of engagement and on their ability to thrive in team-based environment. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give the kind of discretionary effort that all bosses are looking for, and that have a tangible effect on a company’s bottom line. In fact, Aon Hewitt has reported that for every incremental one-point increase in employee engagement organizations saw a 0.6% increase in sales. For a company with sales of $100 million, this translates to a $6 million windfall! And in companies with the most engaged employees, revenue growth was 2.5 times greater than competitors with lower levels of engagement.

Myth #2 – Good employees just do the job, they don’t need a reason or added meaning.

Is the better employee really the one that doesn’t need to understand how their work aligns with company’s mission and values? Performance stems from engagement. And being engaged stems, in large part, from feeling aligned to — and invested in — the company purpose. Motivation and meaning go hand in hand.

Even if a task is performed well, accomplishing it inside a vacuum is going to create a gap somewhere along the line. Employees deserve to know why they’re there. They’ll participate more fully, and are more likely to push to reach targets and goals if they are invested in the rationale behind the effort.

Myth #3 – An employee that’s good this year will be good next year.

When a team of researchers dove into six years of performance review data from a large U.S. corporation, they found that only a third of high-scoring employees scored as high in subsequent years. And they found no evidence that high-performing employees always perform highly, or that poor performing employees perform poorly. Today’s workforce is continually being met with innovations that require new learning and new skills, so what’s “good” today may not be an accurate measure of what’s desirable tomorrow.

When a company uses trackable learning platforms, they have a means of measuring growth and development. To drive engagement and retention they can extend from onboarding programs, demonstrating a commitment to an employee’s growth from the moment of hire. 84% of employees want to learn, and keep learning. When you align an employee’s learning with the company’s business goals, that’s a win for all.

Myth #4 – Past performance is indicative of future results.

In 2015, a number of Fortune 500 companies announced that they were doing away with old school performance reviews. Accenture, the Gap, Adobe and General Electric all veered away from the annual or quarterly review ritual in favor of building a stronger culture based on continuous feedback and frequent recognition.

What’s happening instead is that many companies are moving to a system where employees and managers can give and receive social feedback and track the history of recognitions given and received. This new approach – measuring the frequency of peer-to-peer, intra-team and team recognitions within a powerful digital and social recognition program – provides better quality insights and has the potential to foster a far more positive, and productive, work culture.

Myth #5 – The best way to measure performance is when no one’s expecting it.

Spot checks, random and unexpected, are still recommended by some HR stalwarts, who assert that it’s a way to motivate employees to give a consistent performance. But it conveys an atmosphere of mistrust that may be more of a de-motivator.

Trust is critical to employee engagement, but it’s still in short supply: a recent survey of nearly 10,000 workers from India to Germany to the U.S. found that only 49% had “a great deal of trust” in those working above and alongside them. Contrast that with study findings showing that organizations are extremely concerned with driving engagement and promoting a workplace culture that is based on transparency and meaningful work. You can’t have both.

That we’re still having this conversation is in part because we may lack the imagination to see our way to a new starting point. But the real drive to perform comes from within.  We are motivated by purpose, and by being appreciated for what we do.

Employees today want to be engaged, we want to know what higher purpose our efforts are contributing to, we want to excel and to grow. Employers should start with that knowledge and measure their employees accordingly.

Make sure to check out the other series of guest blogs from Meghan Biro, starting with her first guest blog post For Recognition To Have An Impact, Make It Strategic.

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About Meghan M. Biro
meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

How to Empower Leaders to Become Engagement Champions

By: Mike Vickers
Customer Training Manager, Achievers

Creating an engaged workforce is critical to business success. Engaged employees positively impact retention, absenteeism, productivity, customer ratings, profitability, and many other business outcomes – as outlined by Gallup. Sadly, only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged – meaning they are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” And the numbers are even worse beyond our borders, with engagement standing at a mere 13% worldwide! While leading organizations are aware of the problem and are actively seeking solutions, many are not seeing a good return on their engagement investments. As customer training manager at Achievers, I often work with organizations who are excited and committed to improving employee engagement, but they don’t really know where to start. I think part of the problem can be solved by clarifying who’s responsible for improving day-to-day employee engagement.

While I completely agree that HR is responsible for managing many of the programs and practices that impact and measure engagement, we can’t stop there. So who exactly has the greatest potential to influence day-to-day employee engagement in our organizations? Leaders. Leaders at all levels, especially at a senior level, have an obligation and a responsibility to drive employee and business success by becoming engagement champions. It is a commonly accepted business truism that people leave managers, not companies. Managers are the people that employees must interface with on a daily basis and with whom they have their most meaningful and impactful interactions with (both positive and negative). Because of the outsized impact they have on employee engagement, leaders and managers must learn what levers to pull in order to foster engagement on their teams.

It has been found that one of the most effective ways to drive engagement is through recognition. In fact, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents to a recent survey replied “give recognition.” But employee recognition is just one piece of the employee engagement puzzle, albeit an extremely important one. What else can leaders do to help them become an engagement champion? Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model highlights five elements that drive employee engagement, and I believe leaders should use this as a guide in their role as engagement champions.

Josh Bersin's Simply Irresistible Organization model

Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model

Employing Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model and embracing employee recognition is a great place to start for leaders hoping to become engagement champions. [Josh presented the Simply Irresistible Organization model at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference back in 2014. You can watch his full presentation here if you’d like to learn more.] But how can organizations help accelerate their leadership’s path to becoming engagement champions? To begin with, they can use the following strategies to coach, develop, and support them on their journey.

Train leaders

Leaders need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive employee engagement. Training should focus on why it’s important, how it can benefit them in their roles, and what they can do to improve engagement. This could take the form of short videos, bite-sized eLearning courses, formalized training sessions, intuitive reference materials, or other ways you train leaders. Leverage the expertise of your L&D team and align any training with their initiatives and programs.

Communicate frequently

Since leaders are often busy people, they need to be reminded on a regular basis of practical tips for engaging their team. The model above provides a starting point, but regular communications can help to reinforce what you expect of leaders and the ways in which you are supporting them, including: training, technology and mentorship.

Enable them with simple tools

As Deloitte points out, “people are overwhelmed with the volume and always-on nature of messages, email, information, and work related activities,” so it’s important that engagement tools are easy to use for employees and leaders alike. Leaders need tools to frequently measure engagement, provide actionable insights, and support their engagement efforts.

When considering who to partner with to support your engagement initiatives, there are many to things to consider. First, you need to identify your needs. Many current software solutions focus on only one aspect of employee engagement, such as recognition or pulse surveys. Others, like Achievers, offer a more complete engagement solution. One that enables social and points-based recognition, results-based incentive campaigns, wellness initiatives, innovation programs, pulse surveys, actionable insights, and more.

Next, you should consider what you want the employee, leader, and administrator experience to be with your software solution. The Achievers platform is designed to be an intuitive experience for all users, regardless of what device it’s accessed on. Finally, you should consider only those providers who will be a true partner on your engagement journey. Since its founding in 2002, Achievers has partnered with hundreds of organizations to improve employee engagement and positively impact business results.

By clarifying who’s ultimately responsible for day-to-day employee engagement and empowering leaders to become engagement champions, organizations can create an engaged workforce and see business success. To learn more about how to become an engagement champion, download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Mike Vickers
Mike VickersMike Vickers joined Achievers in January 2014 to lead customer training and education. He has spent over six years designing and implementing learning and performance strategies for organizations of all sizes. Mike is passionate about transforming organizations through effective learning solutions, innovative technology platforms, and modern HR practices. Connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeVickers) or LinkedIn.

 

 

employee recognition culture

It Takes a Recognition Culture To Spark Engagement

By: Meghan M. Biro

Today’s workplace is evolving rapidly. The recent focus on employee engagement has taught us plenty, including how closely tied employee engagement is to an organization’s success, and what happens in this disrupted, transformed workforce without engagement: our top talent moves on. We also know that one of the primary drivers of engagement is recognition. So where do those understandings lead? If we want to be successful in this changing landscape they lead to a workplace culture built on recognition, rewards, feedback and transparency.

But to spark the kind of engagement that spurs organizational success, recognition has to be ingrained in the culture – a central and fundamental part of an organization’s DNA. When this is achieved there are countless examples of tangible results. Here are just a few:

  • Ericsson’s North American operations boosted its employee engagement scores 14% higher than the industry average;
  • When M Resort organization instituted a trackable recognition program, it elevated employee engagement by 12% within the first 8 months. It also saw a continuing rise in customer satisfaction ratings;
  • Leading health information network, Availity has aligned its corporate values with its employee rewards and recognition program, supporting a fun and engaging work environment, and ultimately solidifying its culture of transparency and respect.

Culture First, Then Engagement: 3 Must-Dos

When we look at employee recognition and ask where to start and what to focus on, most of the answers we’re getting point to culture. Culture is not just another word in the special-sauce lexicon of talent management: culture, done right, is the glue that holds a workplace together. But if it goes awry, bad workplace culture can be the source of endless friction that keeps a workplace apart. In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a new SHRM study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of employees say their engagement at work hinges on having good relationships with their co-workers.

An effective culture of recognition has three prongs:

Transparency and Democratization

Positive relationships at work are built on daily interactions between employees and through opportunities for productive, creative collaboration, not occasional projects or isolated moments. Another common expectation that has come to the fore as millennials have entered the workplace in greater numbers, is transparency. Recognition programs limited to “top down” performance incentives handed down by leaders who don’t bother to consult employees on their needs and preferences can shift culture in the wrong way. Instead of inspiring greater buy-in and cultural unity, these misguided efforts may instead inspire a job search. In a workforce that values transparency, a one-directional, hierarchical approach can look like thinly veiled condescension.

What does work: opportunities for recognition and rewards that build cultural synergies demographically, structurally, and geographically. These are the stitches in a quilt of recognition that includes everyone on all levels, entry level to C-suite, by enabling participation in all directions: uphill, lateral (peer-to-peer, team to team and across teams and departments), and top-down. Recognition in this form can navigate global divides, connecting multiple hubs and geographically dispersed locations. It can’t be left to a manager to know which of his or her people want the chance to cheer their teammates on, nor should it. And they shouldn’t need to approve recognitions either. To manage recognition instead of enabling it it goes right back to the problem of top-down relationships — it simply gets in the way. On top of that, managers have enough to do, as we all know.

Integration

In the latest Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, 85% of executives named engagement a key priority, but understanding how to improve it is another story. Only 34% said they felt ready to deal with issues of engagement, though 46% of companies are tackling it head-on. In terms of recognition, integration means cross-platform, frequency and flexibility. It means offering varying forms of recognition and rewards from social to monetary, from informal “Thank You’s” to big ticket rewards and incentives. Integration also means enabling recognition across any platform: via smartphones, tablets, PCs, or even an on-site kiosk.

Integrated recognition programs are already evolving: some feature open APIs that connect to other important drivers of engagement, such as health & wellness and learning & development. This also speaks to the importance of culture and another expectation that has its roots in the millennial mindset: that employees should be valued not just as talent, or “human capital” but as real humans with real lives. Workplace flexibility remains a high priority for today’s workforce, but the digital transformation also means that health & wellness, learning & development, and performance management — can all exist online or in app. It’s an easy enhancement with great payback. Moreover, it’s another stream of trackable data.

Measurability

A culture of recognition that exists across multiple platforms and embraces a wide range of functions also provides a continuous stream of data – not just for a CHRO or an HR team to measure and gain insights from, but for managers and leaders throughout the organization. Tracking program ROI and managing rewards budgets is only one part the equation. Again, this is one of the most profound ways to drive and support transparency: by sharing and democratizing the data. Consider the possibilities of a team that can look at its own performance and behaviors; of managers tracking recognition patterns as they relate to engagement and performance. In terms of retention, skills gaps, identifying front-runners and planning successions, it’s an invaluable resource.

The right reporting and analytics tools provide another source of in-the-moment feedback as well, part of that reciprocal interaction between human talent and digital tools. It also makes reporting and ROI part of the very functionality of that recognition culture. In terms of feeling invested in business outcomes, and aligned with business goals, data and graphs speak volumes.

Endless Opportunity

A recognition culture supported by a robust digital platform provides endless opportunities for positive reinforcement, all tying back to tangible benefits and results. Developed with an organization’s mission and values in mind, a recognition culture should leverage technology to humanize the workplace and provide additional meaning for every task and interaction. In this current environment that values transparency, trust and flexibility, but is more scattered across locations, devices and platforms than ever, this is what it takes.

Check out Meghan M. Biro’s third guest blog post 5 Performance Measurement Myths.

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About Meghan M. Biro

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

Case for Employee Recognition

Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

Do your employees feel recognized? Think carefully, because over 65 percent of employees report they don’t feel recognized at work. And lack of recognition just happens to be the number one reason why employees quit. Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and with higher employee engagement come lower turnover rates and stronger business results. Engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations than their disengaged colleagues. Also, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.

So, how do you start building your case for an employee recognition strategy? Start with The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book – an all-in-one guide that highlights everything you need to know about employee recognition. It details where the modern-day workplace is heading, why employee recognition is invaluable for businesses, and ultimately how to secure senior management buy-in. Below are some key takeaways from The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book that every HR professional should be aware of:

The ever-changing workplace

The workplace is constantly evolving and it’s important to be aware of where it’s heading. Organizations are no longer hierarchical and top down, but instead collaborative and bottom up. Baby boomers are retiring faster than young workers can replace them, intensifying the war for top talent and putting the ball in the millennials’ court. By 2018, it’s expected that millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce.

Case for Recognition Gen Y Chart

The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

Why employee recognition is a need, not a want

It’s simple: employee recognition positively impacts employee engagement and drives business success. According to Gallup 80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. With $8 billion in assets and 260,000 customers, Meridian Credit Union saw a measurable, positive impact after implementing a rewards and recognition program.

“Analyzing the impact of engagement by comparing the top and bottom quartile of engaged employees showed that each highly engaged employee (top quartile) was responsible for over $2 million in growth, while each of the least engaged employee (bottom quartile) were responsible for $1.29 million.” – In regards to Meridian Credit Union, The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

How to secure senior management buy-in

Hopefully now it’s clear that both your business and employees can benefit from employee recognition. But how can you get senior management on board? Start with the data. Numbers don’t lie and leaders will pay attention when you present them with ROI numbers for engaged workplaces, its impact on financial performance, and how recognition is a key driver of both. All this valuable data and more is presented in our new eBook: The Case for Employee Recognition.

Learn how employee recognition promotes engagement, creates an infectious work culture that retains top talent, and improves overall customer satisfaction by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book.

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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 20+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Employee Recognition HR Stats

5 Eye-Opening HR Stats: Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are arguably the most important component of a successful business.  Employees put a human face on the product, build relationships with customers, and define the work culture that feeds business performance – yet 32% of companies struggle to retain top talent. What defines an effective retention strategy varies from business to business, but there is one common element that has been found to work across most business types and sectors: employee recognition. In fact, a recent Achievers’ study found that employees have a deep desire for recognition, with 93% hoping to be recognized at least once a quarter. In addition, 75% of employees who received at least monthly recognition (even if informal) reported being satisfied with their jobs. And finally, in a recent Harvard Business Review study, 72% of respondents ranked recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. With these kinds of numbers, it is clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit from a well-executed employee recognition program.

As we approach the end of 2016, this is the perfect opportunity to define the tone for the New Year and reflect on the importance of employee recognition for businesses. To help set the groundwork for a successful 2017, we present to you five revealing HR stats that prove the value of employee recognition.

  1. Employees are loyal to careers, not jobsWorkplace loyalty is not derived from a job; it is nurtured through a fulfilling career.  78% of employees would stay with their current employer if they knew they had a career path instead of just a job. With employee recognition, you can motivate and identify core competencies to help develop career paths for employees in a positive and organic way.
  1. Understanding progress mattersGoals can be daunting: understanding the progress made towards attaining them makes them seem more manageable, and 32% of employees agree. Employee recognition isn’t just for the big wins; it’s an excellent way to support progress and provide encouragement by giving employees feedback every time they move one step closer to completing their goals.
  1. Respect knowledge and experiencePeople work hard to cultivate their skills, and 53% of employees say respect for their knowledge and experience is their top expectation of leadership. An employee recognition platform allows both leaders and peers to publicly praise employees for their expertise, providing the employee with further motivation to develop it further.
  1. Recognized employees are happy employeesEmployee recognition doesn’t require a huge commitment. In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month – which is a good cadence to check in on progress to long-term goals – reported being satisfied with their job. While 85% of those that were recognized weekly reported being satisfied. The more satisfied your employee is, the more engaged they will be, and the more likely they will stay with your company for the long-term while producing stronger results.
  1. A mission statement is meant to guide employeesUnnervingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees don’t know what their company mission statement is. An employee recognition program, clearly linked to a company’s mission and values, is a great way to align employees around those values. By praising and reinforcing behaviors and outcomes that line up with and support the company’s mission and values, employees are inspired to live and breathe those values every day. This in turn helps to build a unified corporate culture and makes clear to individuals how their work helps the company to achieve its goals.

Retaining employees is about establishing reciprocal loyalty, making their jobs feel meaningful, and supporting and encouraging their professional development – one of the best ways to do all of these things is through employee recognition. When a company demonstrates its commitment to supporting and recognizing its employees, they will be rewarded with engaged employees who are dedicated to contributing to the company’s mission and bottom-line.

To discover more eye-opening HR stats and learn more about the correlation between recognition and retention, check out our white paper: The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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Also, don’t forget to check out our cool infographic highlighting these 5 eye-opening HR stats.

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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.

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation

Spreading Employee Appreciation Across Achievers

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

It’s that time of year again, time to give thanks! And what better way to give thanks than to thank our very own employees here at Achievers. A business is nothing without its employees, which is why we encourage frequent employee appreciation. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the top employee recognitions sent across our ASPIRE platform, powered by Achievers’ HR technology. We’re proud of our employees and everything they accomplish day-to-day. Check out some of our favorite recent employee recognitions and get inspired to thank someone in your organization for a job well-done!

ASPIRE recognition for embrace real-time communication ASPIRE recognition for care, share and be fair ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for live passionately ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for thank you ASPIRE recognition for act with a sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for build a positive team spirit

Huge shout-out to Achievers’ employees for everything that they do. If you want to know what it’s like to work at Achievers, check out the Achievers Careers Page. We’re always looking for top talent to be a part of the A-Team! Apply today.

And don’t let employee appreciation be limited to the holiday season. Start encouraging employee appreciation throughout the entire year with an unbeatable employee recognition and rewards program! Take the first step by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong
Kellie 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.

 

 

Cox Automotive Spark Week

Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are a core determinant of company success, but with a staggering 68% rate of employee disengagement, it’s clear that effectively leveraging their full potential can be a precarious task. Factors that drive employee engagement vary across employees, but a crucial factor is how connected they feel to their company’s culture and values. In fact, 82% of employees believe culture is a competitive advantage, yet only 28% believe that they understand their culture well. Creating a great company culture is not an easy ‘drag and drop’ nor can it be quickly implemented to garner immediate results; it requires a thought-out strategy and the right tools to help execute. One crucial piece of the great culture puzzle is recognition, and one company that is demonstrating a powerful use case of leveraging recognition and to drive engagement is Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive is an Atlanta, GA-based subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and the parent company of such well-known brands as Kelley Blue Book, Xtime, Autotrader and Manheim. Because it consists of geographically dispersed corporate and subsidiary units, Cox Automotive’s employee population is as diverse as they come. They’re a unique mix of offline and online, front line and back office. All this diversity can make it tricky for Cox Automotive to unify the entire company around a single culture.  Implementing Spark, Cox’s internal rewards and recognition platform powered by Achievers, was a significant step towards strengthening company culture and employee engagement – but the Spark Team wanted more. They wanted to do something unique to create buzz around Spark and drive members to actively participate in the program. After days of brainstorming, Spark Week was born.

Since its inception, Spark Week (its name inspired by the popular cable special Shark Week, but with considerably less blood and gore) has become a highly anticipated event every August for the Cox Automotive community. Designed to increase interest in their rewards and recognition program, Spark Week boasts a fun and unique roster of activities that drive awareness and participation.

Spark Week kicks off with a company-wide email highlighting the Spark Week calendar of activities. This sets the tone for the eventful week by communicating the upcoming activities with a fun, themed approach. Each day pairs a different element of the Spark program, such as group recognition or redemptions, with a creative component, such as a meme contest or digital treasure hunt. An uptick in recognition activity during Spark Week makes it a strategic time to launch new features in their employee engagement platform; for instance, the new feature Service Awards made its debut on the platform this year.

“Love Spark Week! So glad employees get the opportunity to recognize others who have been outstanding and be recognized for their hard work. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team!” – Kristin Hoopes, Sr. Accounting Specialist, Cox Automotive

The huge success of Spark Week is evident from the extensive data gathered from Cox Automotive’s employee engagement platform, including:

  • A staggering 25,522 “Thank You” recognition cards sent across the platform.
  • A daily recognition average of 3,4563.2 times more than their usual daily recognition average.
  • A 114% increase in recognitions sent compared to the entire month of July.
  • A whopping 626 redemptions made.
  • A total of $1,725 worth of Spark points donated to St. Jude.

Spark Week’s success was also demonstrated by the high levels of participation of different business units who willingly submitted content throughout the week. One auction house created and shared a video where different employees reflected on their favorite redemption and encouraged other members to redeem their points. Another auction house decided to join in on the action by making an entertaining video – complete with their own shark mascot. Self-generated contributions indicate a strong sense of ownership and belief in the value of employee recognition programs. Spark Week is now an embodiment of the culture at Cox Automotive and one of the biggest internal events of the year.

The more successful an event, the more daunting it can seem for others to replicate. However, the most important element of Spark Week can be distilled down to a simple, accessible concept: make it about your employees. Reflect on what motivates them to deliver excellence and extra effort, and think about the elements in your program that could have the same motivating effect. Pair the aforementioned with fun and engaging external activities, like team breakfasts or photo contests that align with your company values to create your own version of Spark Week.

Focusing on what makes your employees happy is key to a successful business. Just remember: Every time you have a 1% increase in employee engagement, you gain an additional .0.6% growth in sales for your company. There is no better time than now to follow in the footsteps of Cox Automotive and start building your very own Spark Week-like initiative to increase employee recognition and engagement.

Check out Cox Automotive’s fun infographic highlighting Spark Week’s success!

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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.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement during the Holidays

How to Boost Employee Engagement During the Holiday Season

Keeping your employees fully engaged during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, is challenging. Workloads can get heavier as co-workers take time off. Employees are thinking about friends and family members who are off work for the holidays. Children are out of school, complicating scheduling. Employees must work extra hours in order to meet customer demands. Managers push their employees harder to meet year-end goals, yet often fail to give them adequate recognition. With only 34.1 percent of employees engaged at work at the best of times, it’s especially important not to lose sight of employee appreciation and recognition during the stressful holiday season.

How can you maintain employee engagement under such tricky circumstances? One of the best ways is to ramp up the utilization of employee recognition best practices and reinforce positive relationships between employees and employers. Below are five tips on how to improve employee appreciation and recognition during the holiday season:

  1. Know your employee preferences 

    An Ernst & Young survey of global workforces reported that one-third of employees found maintaining work-life balance is getting more difficult. During the holidays, employees have extra demands on their personal time, so maintaining work-life balance gets even more challenging. One way to show your concern for your employees’ well-being during the holidays is to consider their working preferences during such a busy time of the year, such as offering options like flex schedules and the ability to work remote. Also, encourage both in-office and remote employee to recognize and thank coworkers who willingly help fill work gaps when they’re away on vacation.

  2. Communicate year-end goals and plans for the holidays 

    Inform employees on your company’s year-end goals and communicate your guidelines and policies for schedule flexibility. Healthline research found that 62 percent of people feel very stressful or somewhat stressful during the holidays. The more transparent your managers are about goals during the holiday season and the more they give employees recognition for successfully meeting them, the more your workforce will believe your organization values their effort.

  3. Plan inclusive social activities to help build a positive culture 

    Sponsor holiday activities that encourage your employees to work as a team, such as planning the after-hours Christmas party. Social events can also include service projects, such as a team of employees who donate time to feed Thanksgiving meals to the homeless. Remind employees that they can choose to give back this holiday season by donating their recognition points towards a charity of choice. Motivate others by rewarding the employees that choose to spend their time and/or points towards charity work.

  4. Recognize the holidays and create a festive atmosphere 

    Pretending the holidays do not exist in an attempt to avoid work disruption is likely to create employee resentment, says Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation and author of “1501 Ways to Reward Employees.” Acknowledge the holidays and celebrate with festive mood. The holiday period is a great time to recognize people who cook a turkey for the office party, play Santa Claus or decorate the office for holiday cheer.

  5. Give rewards and recognition 

    While giving an employee a certificate for a free ham is a nice gesture, it does not do much to increase employee engagement. An employee engagement program focused on recognition and rewards allows coworkers to commend each other for work contributions and successes throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. It also broadcasts achievements to the entire company, boosting morale up and highlighting employee accomplishments on a daily basis.

Employee recognition should not be reserved for the last two months of the year. Businesses need to continue employee engagement efforts throughout the year to keep employee appreciation momentum strong. Employees want to feel recognized every day, and that includes the holiday season. If people recognize each other throughout the year, they enter the holiday period and the New Year as a team working together towards business success.

Take advantage of employee recognition to boost employee morale and appreciation this holiday season. Start by downloading the report: The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.

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Inspirational Leadership

5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

How important is it to have inspirational leadership versus average leadership? The answer: Very important. According to Great Leadership, organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Which is why it should be mission-critical for businesses to focus on developing inspirational leaders to improve company culture, teamwork, performance and bottom-line results.

CEOs are focusing on leadership development opportunities for their workforce more than ever to maximize business performance and encourage their employees to reach their full potential. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. The same study found that managers with high talent are more likely to be engaged than their peers: According to Gallup: “More than half (54%) of managers with high talent are engaged, compared with 39% of managers with functioning talent and 27% of managers with limited talent.” With numbers like these it’s clear to see why it’s so important to foster proper leadership development, so those leaders can in turn inspire their employees, driving engagement and leading to better business outcomes.

So what exactly does it take to become an talented and inspirational leader? There have been countless books written on the subject of leadership, but the secret to being a strong leader is not in a chapter of any book, it is having a passion for leadership. Having the passion for leadership isn’t something you can just learn or pick up over time – it is built within your DNA and motivates you to get up every morning and make an impact. But there are some proven ways to bring out the leader in you.

After more than 20 years in leadership roles, I have identified what I believe are the five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within:

  1. Find your inspiration
    Identify a role-model. For example, Bill Gates or Richard Branson, to name a couple current examples that instantly leap to mind. But they don’t necessarily have to be famous – think of any successful leader in your life who inspires you daily and aligns with the type of leader you want to be. Start exemplifying their leadership behaviors, whether it’s being more supportive, positive, fair, consistent, transparent, appreciative, or all of the above. It’s important to look up to someone – every leader had another leader to look up to at one point in their life.
  2. Lead by example
    This step sounds cliché, but is absolutely true. You should always lead by example and practice what you preach. No leader is effective or taken seriously if they can’t act on their own beliefs or practices. Leaders need to actually lead the way, versus just talking the talk (and not walking the walk).
  3. Nurture others
    Take care of your people, from hiring to training, support and development and career pathing. Your team needs to feel the love when it comes to the full employee experience. It’s not always just about getting work done – it’s about feeling valued, appreciated and taken care of.
  4. Empower your team
    First and foremost, hire the right people with the right attitude and who are passionate about what they do. You want to build a team that meshes well together and shares the same values as the company, then train them well, starting with a strong, structured onboarding program. And of course, always provide a supportive, empowering environment for your team to thrive. Allow employees to learn from failures and celebrate their successes with frequent recognition and rewards.
  5. Have fun
    It’s as simple as that! Business is business, but you have to make time to play and have fun. It makes all the difference when you enjoy what you do – people can see when someone loves what they do and your positive energy will only benefit the workplace. Also, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, 70 percent of successful executives learn their most important leadership lessons through challenging assignments. Consider taking an out-of-the-box approach with challenging assignments to make them more fun.

Not only do these five keys result in better leadership, but they also have the side benefit of increasing employee engagement. Inspirational leaders take the time to inspire, support, listen and identify opportunities for their team. According to The Harvard Business Review, developing strengths of others can lead to 10-19 percent increase in sales and 14-29 percent increase in profit.

As an inspirational leader, you can effectively engage your employees and develop their strengths for more successful business results. If you act upon these five keys with genuine interest, honesty and sincerity, you will become a more inspirational leader, foster strong and meaningful relationships and improve your bottom-line.

With 51 percent of employees reporting that they are not happy at work (see our latest infographic), companies clearly need more inspirational leaders to boost employee engagement and retain top talent. Want to learn more about the current state of employee disengagement? Download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement White Paper.

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About Marci Peters

Marci Peters

Marci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next

Most of your company’s expenses are unavoidable, but employee attrition is one of the costs that you can have significant control over. Employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of the departing worker’s salary, so it’s in your best interests to find ways to address employee attrition head-on. Of course it’s necessary to create a culture in your organization that makes people want to stay — but it’s equally important to be able to recognize which employee is planning to quit next. Research into employees quitting provides some actionable insights:

Demographics most likely to quit

Over half of employees who leave their jobs do so within the first year, according to a study by Equifax. This statistic indicates that the early phases of your new hires’ careers are the most sensitive and that you should pay extra close attention to new hires who show continuing signs of disengagement at the workplace. To this end, it is important to focus your onboarding program on how to engage employees as quickly as possible to avoid high turnover. It’s also helpful to be aware of which industries have the highest percentage of employee turnover. The average turnover rate in 2015 across all industries was 16.7 percent. However, the banking and finance industry saw an 18.6 percent turnover rate, the healthcare industry was at 19 percent, and the hospitality industry topped the list with a whopping 37.6 percent employee churn rate.

Specific traits that mark a quitter

While knowing that your industry tends to have especially high turnover rates can cause you to be more alert to the risks, it also helps to know what specific traits to look for in your employees. Research conducted at Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University yielded an actionable set of behaviors that you should be watching for. If employees display at least six of the behaviors listed in the Utah State University study, the likelihood they are planning to quit in the near future reaches 80 percent. Top behaviors listed in the study include:

  • Less focus on the future: Since they know they won’t be around as projects are completed and rolled out, workers planning to quit in coming weeks tend to show markedly less willingness to sign onto long-term projects. They may also pass up opportunities for training and development, and show less interest in advancing to higher positions within the company.
  • Less connection to work: As they begin to withdraw and their engagement level drops, workers planning to leave soon tend to display lowered productivity. They’ll come up with fewer new ideas and suggestions for innovation, and they won’t go beyond the required minimum effort.
  • Less social energy: Employees likely to quit soon begin to retreat from normal socializing at work. They become “more reserved and quiet,” and they also avoid interacting socially with their boss or other managers.

Employee engagement is a reliable indicator. Reviewing the problematic behaviors listed above, it becomes obvious that they all describe a worker who is not engaged. The direct correlation between engagement and retention is further demonstrated by the USU’s list of behaviors that don’t correlate with quitting: If you have an employee who suddenly schedules a lot of doctor’s appointments, shows up at work in a suit, or even leaves a copy of their resume on the copier, you may want to check in with that person — but (contrary to conventional wisdom) those actions don’t necessarily indicate that the worker plans to quit. And, interestingly, these non-problematic behaviors can all occur in a fully engaged worker. Predicting employee attrition, then, becomes a matter of being able to recognize lack of engagement, rather than other less reliable markets.

Developing your action plan

Using employee recognition as an indicator enables you to identify your most loyal employees. These top performers are the ones who are not only engaged in producing high-quality work, but they’re also the ones who reach out to recognize their colleagues and promote an atmosphere of warmth and recognition within your organization. Conversely, once you find out which people are most engaged with their coworkers, you can also more easily become aware of the ones on the opposite end of the spectrum: the employees who are retreating from engagement and showing signs that they might quit.

Recognizing coworkers is a solid sign of engagement

According to a recent Achievers study, it was discovered employees who were about to be promoted sent an average of 3.8 times more recognitions than their coworkers; meaning active recognizers are more likely to be promoted within their organization as opposed to non-active recognizers. Those employees who feel appreciated and engaged tend to reach out to express active recognition of their colleagues are more likely to stay than quit, and they’re also the ones you need to nurture and groom for leadership roles.

Once you identify the members of your staff who are in greatest danger of quitting, you can develop managerial practices to build employee morale and loop the outliers back into a sense of alignment with the company. A desire to be recognized and appreciated for the work that they’re doing is one of the primary reasons that people quit their jobs, and a Forbes survey found 79 percent of employees “don’t feel strongly valued for the work they put in.” That same article stated, “When you take into consideration the high cost of turnover and an increasingly improving job market, these findings ought to get you thinking about your own recognition strategies. How can you expect employees to stay at your organization if they’re not getting the appreciation they deserve?”

Don’t lose top talent and take action immediately by developing the right employee recognition strategy for your business. The more you increase employee recognition, the more you’ll increase employee retention and engagement as a result. To learn more about how you can increase employee retention through a culture of recognition, download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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Executive Buy-In

How to Get Executives On Board with Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Dr. Donald Clifton’s book How Full Is Your Bucket revealed the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. But there’s a proven way to address this problem: focus on employee engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and recognition happens to be the #1 driver of employee engagement.

It’s clear businesses need to focus more on employee engagement and recognition strategies. Not only does engaging and recognizing employees make them feel valued, but they are more productive in return. By focusing on employee engagement and happiness, your bottom line results will improve as a result. In fact, the Harvard Business Review recently shared that developing employees’ strengths can increase sales up to 19% and profits up to 29%. And if you’re still skeptical, just listen to our customers. Taken together, it’s pretty clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit when they have the right rewards and recognition programs in place

If this is the case, why do some businesses find it hard to get a successful rewards and recognition program off the ground? It’s not due to a lack of desire from employees, or support from their managers. According to our latest infographic on the state of employee disengagement, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, while WorldatWork reported that 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense. So where is the roadblock? Oftentimes, we’ve found, it comes down to a lack of executive buy-in and support. Gaining executive buy-in is one of the most critical factors for initiating and maintaining a successful employee rewards and recognition program; it is also one of the toughest hurdles for HR to overcome.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help HR professionals get executives on board with employee rewards and recognition programs.

Get their attention with numbers

Numbers don’t lie, so why not show your executives some numbers that’ll be sure to grab their attention. According to the Hay Group, a global consulting firm, “Our research into employee engagement has shown that companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.” Still not convinced? How about some powerful numbers provided by best-selling author and leading authority on employee recognition, Dr. Bob Nelson. Nelson shares that organizations which have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees that are:

  • 5X times more likely to feel valued
  • 7X more likely to stay with their company
  • 6X more likely to invest in their company
  • 11X more likely to feel completely committed to their jobs

And if you’re targeting the C-suite, make sure to share this little tidbit: The financial return of Fortune’s Best Places to Work has been shown to be 233% higher over a 6-year period as compared with overall market returns and companies with higher employee satisfaction scores have been shown to have a 700% higher shareholder return.

Win them over with the right program

But getting executive buy-in for your rewards and recognition program isn’t just about convincing them of the potential ROI or how it will lead to bottom line growth. At it’s core, it should be about taking care of your most valuable asset — your employees. With that in mind, you also need to sell them on your vision of an employee rewards and recognition program that reflects your company’s culture and values and keeps employees needs at the forefront. What makes it unique? Why will your employees love it? How is this particular program the perfect fit for your business?

To help guide your pitch, start with the following key points:

  • Reinforces core values. Inc. recently shared why defining company values is important, stating, “Promoting your values throughout your organization can help your employees focus on their goals.” With the right employee rewards and recognition program you can easily tie in your company values with every recognition, reinforcing core values across the organization daily. With such strong reinforcement your employees can better focus on goals and, in turn, be more productive.
  • Results-driven. Recognitions can be tied to specific business objectives, such as rewarding employees for hitting a certain sales target, as well as to broader objectives like a focus on customer satisfaction. Employee recognition is particularly powerful because it can infuse each and every action and interaction in your company with inspiration. Points-based employee recognition underscores the value employees are creating when they contribute to success and do the right things.
  • Data and analytics. Key metrics can be accessed for real-time analytics and reporting. A good recognition and rewards program can give you the ability to track every recognition and reward given or received, allowing you to identify top performers and empowering managers to take action accordingly.
  • Cost-savings. It’s a no-brainer — online, social recognition solutions require less time, effort and cost when compared to trying to create a do-it-yourself solution or continuing to invest in outdated years of service programs.

A critical factor for any business and executive is to draw in and keep top talent. The best way to do so is by focusing on employee engagement and how to make employees happy through the right rewards and recognition program. Remember, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement. Employee engagement can quickly become top of mind for any executive once they understand how much it directly impacts business revenue.

To learn more, download the Obtaining Executive Buy-In for Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs White Paper.

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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.

 

Manager and team

Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Manager

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Gallup also discovered that great managers tend to share the following traits: motivational, assertive, accountable, transparent, and makes decisions based on productivity, not politics. As a manager, your success depends on both your and other people’s efforts. To get the optimal performance from your team members and be the best manager you can be, follow these 7 tips:

1. Focus on team building

While you’ll be relating to each of your employees as individuals, you also need to be aware of the fine art of team building. Your staff will be most productive when they mesh well together and have a strong identity as being part of the same team.

2. Work on your communication skills

Clear messaging is a fundamental piece of your management skill set. Focus on what you want your direct reports to hear, and keep in mind that people have varying styles of processing information.

3. Ask for feedback

The best managers are always in conversation with the people they’re supervising. Asking for feedback helps you avoid becoming isolated, makes you aware of problems before they become critical, and opens the door for innovative new ideas.

4. Set high standards

The best way to elicit great performance from your team is to be clear about your high expectations. Of course, expecting excellence must always go hand-in-hand with providing your staff with all the resources and support they need while holding yourself to the same high standards.

5. Delegate effectively

One hallmark of inexperienced leadership is a reluctance to delegate crucial tasks. You can’t produce optimum results if you micromanage or maintain control of every single function. Prepare your team well for a project and then let them run with it; you’ll be more relaxed and you’ll achieve more in the end.

6. Avoid inter-department conflicts

The agility that characterizes today’s most effective organizations often requires improvisation and free-form cooperation between different departments. You can facilitate this flexibility by maintaining good relationships with your colleagues in different departments while clearly articulating areas of accountability.

7. Recognize and appreciate your employees

Employee engagement, productivity and retention all depend to a high degree on the human sense of being appreciated. Make sure that your direct reports are not included in the 53% of employees who don’t feel recognized for their achievements at work. Monetary and social approaches can both be part of an effective system of rewards and recognition.

Management excellence is learned, not innate. When you integrate these time-tested tips into your management tool kit, you’ll not only reach your productivity goals sooner, but you’ll also nurture a positive workplace culture. By focusing on becoming a better manager, you will build better work relationships, boost employee happiness, and produce stronger business results.

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Manager and Employees

10 Things a Good Manager Never Does

According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, 3 out of 4 employees report that their manager is the worst and most stressful part of their job, and 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for another job in the next year. Don’t lose top talent because of poor management. We’ve compiled the top 10 things that leadership should never do if they want to keep their employees happy and engaged in the workplace.

  1. Pit generations of workers against each other
    In a multi-generational workforce, each generation has something to offer your organization. A good manager connects more experienced older workers with the younger employees to encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.
  1. Rely only on financial motivators
    Employees want more than money. They want opportunities to learn and grow, to feel like a valuable member of a successful team, and get social recognition as well as financial rewards.
  1. Under-appreciate employees
    Under-appreciated employees are usually unmotivated employees. A good manager uses a variety of techniques to demonstrate employee appreciation, including giving rewards and recognition.
  1. Discourage enthusiastic new hires by neglecting a formal onboarding program
    Recent Aberdeen Group research found that only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding program, with the remaining two-thirds neglecting new hire socialization and acculturation. Implementing a formal onboarding process, including new hire socialization or a “buddy system,” speeds the pace of integration of new employees into a positive organizational culture. According to Aberdeen, “When onboarding goes ‘right’ new hires feel engaged, motivated to perform, and eager to contribute to overall business objectives.”
  1. Ignore employee turnover rates
    CompData surveys for 2015 show a total turnover rate of 16.7% for all industries. If your turnover rate is higher than this, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed. A good manager determines the reasons for a high turnover rate and takes steps to increase employee engagement in order to reduce attrition.
  1. Take credit for their employees’ efforts
    Some managers never share the limelight of success. The many benefits of an organization-wide employee recognition platform include the fact that effort and results are made public and employees get the credit they deserve. A good manager should recognize achievements and take shared responsibility for failures.
  1. Expect people to do the impossible
    A Stanford study found that productivity declines sharply when someone works more than 50 hours per week. Giving someone an unreasonable deadline is a setup for failure.
  1. Micromanage employees
    Micromanaging is an outward sign of distrust and a relationship issue. It discourages teamwork and open communication. Good managers challenge employees to be innovative and gives them the right tools to succeed.
  1. Make non-transparent decisions
    Making decisions with a lack of transparency damages the employer-employee relationship by implying a hidden agenda and discouraging collaboration. It reeks of the outdated command-and-control management style. Good managers encourage employee input into decision-making.
  1. Ignore employee career goals
    Most people take a job with the expectation they will have career development opportunities in the form of conversations with peers, formal training, stretch assignments and management feedback. The manager is the link between the employee and opportunities that can build a career. Good managers ensure that link is strong for employee success.

The common thread linking all ten poor managerial practices is the failure to recognize the importance of employee socialization, engagement and recognition. To better understand what it takes to be a best-in-class manager and provide your employees with the support they need to succeed, download the report “The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.”

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Culture of Trust

The Currency and Culture of Trust: 5 Ways to Improve Trust Within the Workplace

iPhone

By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

Picture this: Your phone rings and you see the caller I.D. pop up on the screen. The little voice in your head questions, “Should I answer the call or send it straight to voicemail?” It’s understandable that we don’t always want to pick up our calls. But have you ever put yourself in the other person’s shoes and wondered how many times someone has chosen to not answer your calls?

As leaders, it’s important to get every call answered. But even more important is having the trust in your team that they will be there when you need them – and vice-versa. With one missed call, opportunities can be lost and situations addressed too late in the game. Simple things like not picking up phones calls are subtle clues in a work culture that the level of trust may not be where it should be. Reputations and relationships are formed – at a foundational level – during stressful moments when trust is either built or broken.

As leaders, not getting your team to answer calls may be a warning sign that there is something bigger going on. You have to remember that every interaction with someone is a chance to build trust, including a simple phone call. All great teams have one thing in common – trust: as defined by the ability to be vulnerable, admit weaknesses, and believe in one another. It’s extremely vital to set egos and titles aside in order to move the organization forward as a whole. Even little things like having the confidence to say “I’m sorry” is important for a team looking to build trust.

If your team has a challenge with trust, there can be big costs associated. According to famed productivity and organizational behavior expert, Stephen Covey, trust is a real and important economic factor. In his book, The Speed of Trust, Covey discusses the ‘trust tax’ and ‘trust dividend’ – if there is low trust among your team, speed decreases and cost increases as a result. If you are working in a high trust culture, there is the opposite effect, with an increase in speed and decrease in costs (in essence giving you a trust dividend). With a high trust culture, you are also creating a happier and more engaged workplace which boosts productivity. You might have great strategies and execution plans, but if you have low trust you won’t get the desired results. Keep in mind that high trust won’t save a bad strategy, but low trust will derail a good one.

According to the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer, “Nearly one in three employees don’t trust their employer. And more than two thirds feel that CEOs are too focused on short-term performance.” What can you do differently to build trust in your company with team members and clients? You have to be willing to move away from old habits and negative attitudes to effectively change behaviors and build a healthy culture that is more proactive than reactive.

Here are 5 powerful ways to improve trust within your workplace according to the research by Stephen Covey in The Speed of TrustHere are the ‘Stop’ and ‘Start’ behaviors that promote them:

  1. Deliver results

Stop these behaviors:

  • Accepting low standards
  • Quitting or not seeing things through
  • Overreacting to setbacks
  • Making excuses
  • Saying you are too busy and swamped

Start saying:

  • “Let’s do this together!”
  • “What are the measures and how will we know? By when?”
  • “What does success look like?”
  • “How will we celebrate?”
  • “Let’s discuss our barriers to success and a Plan B.”
  1. Talk straight

Stop these behaviors:

  • Lying or deceiving
  • Hiding or covering things up
  • Beating around the bush
  • Giving upfront disclaimers
  • Withholding information

Start saying:

  • “Here’s how I see it…”
  • “I respect you and I want to talk straight.”
  • “Here is my intention…”
  • “Here are the brutal facts…”
  • “I want to be as transparent as I can.”
  1. Listen first

Stop these behaviors:

  • Speaking first
  • Interrupting
  • Thinking about what you are going to say next
  • Multi-tasking during conversations
  • Pretending to listen

Start saying:

  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “Let me make sure I understand.”
  • “Let’s clarify…”
  • “What’s your perspective?”
  • “What do you mean? How are you feeling?”
  1. Right wrongs

Stop these behaviors:

  • Taking things so personally
  • Making assumptions
  • Justifying bad behavior
  • Denying you made mistake
  • Covering up anything
  • Procrastinating

Start saying:

  • “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”
  • “This is my fault. It won’t happen again.”
  • “I’m truly sorry for how my actions impacted you.”
  • “What can I do to make this right?”
  • “Here is what I can commit to doing moving forward…”
  1. Show appreciation

Stop these behaviors:

  • Assuming people think you care as a reason not to show it
  • Micromanaging others and their work
  • Withholding trust
  • Confusing accountability with trust

Start saying:

  • “I truly appreciate you and what you did.”
  • “Here is what I appreciate about you…”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “How are you doing? Tell me about you.”
  • “I believe in you. I know you can do this.”
  • “How can I support you?”
  • “What are your thoughts about this?”

You have the ability to rebuild trust and inspire others in your organization to do the same. Trust may be thought of as a soft skill set, but it delivers bottom line results. Please join me at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where I will be sharing more about the currency and culture of trust. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post. Can’t wait to see you there!

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About Bobi Seredich
Bobi Seredich Headshot

Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Employee Experience

Beyond Employee Engagement: 6 Tips to Improve the Employee Experience

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“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

The recent history of work has been characterized by increasing levels of automation, greater demands on workers’ time and an overall breaking down of the walls between work and home life. But in our race towards organizational productivity we’ve added so many layered and complicated processes – along with countless devices, tools and platforms – that we’ve ended up completely dehumanizing the workplace. Employees are often termed as mere resources or just another headcount on spreadsheets; they’ve become easily replaceable in the eyes of poor leadership.

This begs the question, what do our jobs mean to us? The reality is that only a small number of people believe that our work drives our lives and defines who we are. The majority consider our jobs to be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself – and justifiably so. It is this silent majority of the workforce that we need to keep engaged by improving and humanizing their experience in the workplace. It is time we start thinking beyond engagement and try to learn what people really want from their job and the workplace.

A decade ago there was a huge push by major businesses to concentrate on customers and gather and act on their feedback. CX, or customer experience, is the sum of all touch points that the customer has with an organization. Starting with Awareness, the first step on the customer journey, then Research, Consideration, Purchase and finally, Service and Support (or some variation thereof), CX encompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer’s experience. Companies spend millions of dollars on nurturing their customers because they know that nurturing and subsequently up-selling to current customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.

Similarly, EX, or employee experience, is the sum total of the interactions employees have with their organization – from recruitment, to onboarding and beyond. EX is measured by the individual’s experience at all points of contact as measured against the individual’s expectations, and has an effect on engagement, productivity, happiness, personal development, and advocacy. Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are hands down more productive, satisfied, and fulfilled with their job. It’s simple: more satisfied employees equate to more satisfied customers, which leads to more revenue for your business. Attrition is expensive and it is time we start focusing on EX in order to make people want to stay and be part of something bigger than themselves.

Conventional wisdom has linked an employee’s engagement and overall experience to the interactions they have with their immediate manager and the group of people they work with on a daily basis. While that is generally true, we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of the top 6 ways you can go beyond engagement, focus on the full employee experience, and humanize your workplace.
 
1. Open and transparent interactions

open and transparent

In a world where technology has transformed our most basic forms of communication and connection, workplaces have struggled to keep up. Today’s employees seek workplaces where openness is the default for communication, where their voice is heard, and where they feel significant, connected and recognized for their contributions. To create such an environment, employers need to foster a culture where people feel empowered to share feedback, suggestions and recognitions. In this way, employers can magnify the positive interactions among their employees and give senior leadership a view into how their workforce interacts with each other and the amazing work that comes as a result. But to begin with, employers must remember that their employees are not just numbers on a spreadsheet or in an HR system – they are the heart of the company culture.

2. Flexible working hours

flexible working hours

There’s been a lot said about organizations needing to offer more flexible hours to employees and the ability to work remotely. We can’t stress this enough. People have lives outside of work and the easiest way for an organization to show their employees that they care about their well-being and work/life balance is to offer a flexible schedule. That being said, you can always suggest core availability hours, say 11 AM to 3 PM, where you can expect them to be available for collaborating with their teams. If you trust your employees to make the right choice, they will make it 9 times out of 10.

3. Gamification

gamificationAs demonstrated by the recent Pokémon Go craze, or the popularity of Fitbits and “counting your steps,” it’s clear that gamification is a powerful motivational force. What scores of fitness gurus, gym sales people and even spousal encouragement couldn’t force people to do despite years of trying, Pokémon Go has been able to achieve in a matter of weeks. It has managed to get users outside and walking. So how can we bring gamification to the employee experience to produce long-term engagement? The key is to not just to rely on once a year employee engagement events or retreats to magically increase engagement. Bring the gamification into the day-to-day. Encourage little competitions amongst teams or departments and reward achievements continually. Have mini events every month to bring people together. Encourage employees to compete both against each other and their own prior results to keep them motivated. Gamification builds the company culture and is just another fun activity for employees to look forward to and participate in.

4. Recognition and rewards

rewards and recognitionEngaging employees is no easy feat. Recent Gallup surveys have showed that employee engagement has held steady at only 30% of the US workforce for the last few years, trending slightly upwards over the last couple of years. But a proven method for improving engagement levels does exist. Dr. Bob Nelson, best-selling author and a leading authority on employee recognition, has found that, “Organizations that have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees who report they are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with the company, six times more likely to invest in the company, and eleven times more likely to feel completely committed in their jobs, which has been shown to account for 57 percent greater effort on the part of employees.” And according to the Achievers 2015 Workforce Survey (revealed in our Getting to Greatness: The Route to Employee Engagement infographic), 57% of employees don’t feel recognized for their progress at work while 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, it not more. So don’t miss the opportunity to recognize and reward great performance at work. Through the right rewards and recognition program, tied to real business goals, companies are able to see a direct impact on revenue, retention and customer satisfaction. The value of recognition and engagement is stronger than ever, with a 1% increase in employee engagement equating to an additional .6% growth in sales. But it isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s about making employees feel valued, happy and engaged.

5. Eliminate email

eliminate emailThis will most likely be the most controversial suggestion I make, but I am not alone in recommending that employers try to eliminate email, or at least scale back its use as the primary means of communication within teams. There are a slew of group messaging and collaboration tools like Slack, HipChat and Jabber that empower teams to have effective real-time communications. Leaders can join or subscribe to conversations that they are interested in rather than having to be copied on every email sent by their team members. This is one of the many ways that leaders can encourage employees to get their work done more efficiently while not being too invasive and showing trust in their workforce. Creating a natural, trusting atmosphere for employees goes further than you think.

 

6. Pay parity

pay parityFinally, it is critical that organizations pay their employees fairly. For many years it was clear that there existed large disparities in compensation based on an employee’s gender, ethnicity or personality type. Do not compensate two people who are doing the same work different salaries just because you can, or because they won’t ask. Be fair. For far too long companies relied on people not talking about their salaries with co-workers as cover for unequal treatment. Equal and fair pay is not only ethically sound, it is sound business practice. When employees know they are getting paid fairly they will be more engaged and stay with your company for the long haul, because it’s a place where they feel valued and appreciated.

Based on a recent Gallup poll, an estimated $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover and 71% of the workforce around the world is disengaged. Employee experience is the next business frontier that needs to be fully explored and optimized, and the best way to start improving the employee experience is by making your workforce feel appreciated, recognized, connected and empowered to make a difference.

Are you ready to transform your workplace by focusing on the full employee experience? Download our white paper The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement to learn more about how critical employee engagement is for your business and what you can do to improve EX today.

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Amit K. HeadshotAmit Kaura (@tweets_bitter) is a technology leader at Achievers and is helping build the next generation Employee Success Platform. Achievers’ employee recognition and rewards platform provides digital systems for sharing recognitions, feedback, and suggestions. The platform allows you to humanize the workplace by digitizing and thus magnifying the positive interactions among the workforce.

 

Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Finding the right social employee recognition solution: partner, platform, program

Employee recognition — done right — is today’s must-have for business. Social employee recognition systems appear on Gartner’s Hype Cycle, climbing the curve to become a standard business system — but how do you choose the right system? It’s a choice that comes with very high stakes. Pick the wrong partner and you not only risk throwing your money to the wind; you could also alienate your entire workforce. Ouch.

Let’s consider what to look for to better your chances of finding the right fit.

It starts with finding a partner. This means the people and services that stand behind the solution. Ultimately, a platform is only as good as the people who bring it to life. The success of your employee recognition program hinges on the support and expertise your vendor provides.

A platform: The core technology system that your employee recognition program will run on. Enterprise platforms – rather than a mobile-only solution for example – give you the place to consolidate all of your employee programs and get visibility and control over program spend. Platforms that offer an API enable you to integrate the solution with other enterprise applications. It’s a great opportunity to keep employees productive by having recognition right within their flow of work and enables you to bring your workforce data together, ultimately getting more value out of your investment in each application.

Ability to create your unique program. Getting results relies on how well the set of features and functions you’ll be using can be tailored to the culture and objectives you’re targeting.  It might go without saying, but recognition tools need to be front and center.  Here is a short list of some of the essential recognition features to look for that will ensure your program will be successful.

Recognition tools to look for:

2016 Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Learn more about what you need to consider to find the right employee recognition solution for your organization in our new 2016 Buyer’s Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Employee Appreciation Day

Achievers employees, we appreciate you!

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we wanted to highlight a handful of our A-mazing employees. While we didn’t have the space to feature everyone, all members of the Achievers family deserve recognition. We hope you’ll be recognizing your employees this week as well!

Need ideas for how to do it? Get 30 fun, fresh ideas for celebrating Employee Appreciation Day!

2016-EAW_social_4 2016-EAW_social_6 2016-EAW_social_8 2016-EAW_social_10 2016-EAW_social_12 2016-EAW_social_14 2016-EAW_social_16 2016-EAW_social_18 2016-EAW_social_20 2016-EAW_social_22 2016-EAW_social_24 2016-EAW_social_262016-EAW_social_2

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.

Employee Recognition

Why you need to celebrate employee milestones

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.

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.

Employee Appreciation Day

It’s time to give thanks — to your employees

The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us to be grateful for everything that enriches our lives. When you’re caught up in daily management tasks, however, it’s easy to forget how much you appreciate your coworkers and employees, and it’s easy to underestimate how much it would help to show more gratitude. When you show your staff you’re aware of — and grateful for — their contributions, you build a sense of shared purpose and strengthen the connection they feel to you and to the business. Here are a few employee recognition ideas to let your employees know you’re thankful for their efforts:

Go out for coffee one-on-one

Appreciation comes in many forms, but one of the most potent is to show genuine human interest in your workers. They are used to meeting with you for task-related purposes, but they may not know the real you. You can create an entirely different experience by inviting them to join you one-on-one for coffee. Show interest in your employee during that meeting, just as you would in any person whose company you enjoy. These special visits will not only make employees feel that they matter to you, but the conversation may also alert you to any personal stresses the worker encounters. Don’t come across as intrusive, though; keep the interaction friendly and encouraging.

Let them hand off a task

No matter how satisfying someone’s job duties are, a few small tasks will feel like drudgery. American Express suggests you can show your appreciation by letting your employees “ditch” one (small) project they dislike, while you step in to do the work instead. This will provide your workers with a strong sense of solidarity and a little extra breathing room to focus on other tasks. Is there a perk for you? You bet! You may gain fresh awareness of operational areas you haven’t personally handled lately, leading you to a better understanding of how your employees are spending their time.

Offer pleasant surprises

Even the most sophisticated person never outgrows that childhood fondness for pleasant surprises. An employee appreciation survey by Glassdoor found that when “…employees want to feel appreciated by their employer, nearly half say unexpected treats and rewards are great ways.” These rewards can take various forms, and they don’t need to be large to elicit delight and convey gratitude.

Thanksgiving brings a valuable reminder of the power of rewards and recognition, but these interactions shouldn’t be limited to one season of the year. To keep your employees engaged and productive, find ways to let them know year-round that you are grateful for their efforts.

Thank your employees this Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! Have you thanked your employees yet?

Employee engagement has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, as research repeatedly shows the link between engaged employees and high-performing organizations. However, the same body of research shows that many organizations believe they have far too many disengaged staff members. This is unfortunate, as the key to employee engagement isn’t much of a mystery.

The power of thank you

Employee engagement requires a people-centric connection between staff members and management, and there is no greater way to improve this connection than with meaningful employee recognition. Regular and sincere use of words and actions that say thank you goes a long way toward demonstrating appreciation for staff members’ efforts, and employees that feel appreciated renew the cycle by working harder.

Consider one dramatic example of showing employees how much they are valued: PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ensures key employees know just how important they are to the company by writing personal thank-you letters to their parents. Extreme? Maybe—but imagine how proud you would be to hear your parents share such a letter with friends and family during the holidays.

Employee recognition ideas for Canadian Thanksgiving

The upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving holiday makes this a great time of year for thank-you-themed recognition, even if you aren’t quite comfortable writing thank-you notes to your employees’ parents. These employee recognition ideas aren’t complicated or expensive, and all are sure to have a big impact on your staff.

  • Public praise: When you share positive feedback and sincerely thank staff members in front of their peers, you not only recognize their efforts—you also motivate the rest of the team by setting the bar a little higher.
  • Gift cards: This token of appreciation is a great way to say thank you. When possible, choose a gift card specifically geared toward the individual’s taste, or give the employee an opportunity to choose his or her own reward for a job well done.
  • Thank-you notes: A quick note offering specific praise and heartfelt gratitude can go a long way toward showing your appreciation. Remember, this is more than signing your name to a pre-printed card. Add a few words about the recipient’s individual contributions.

The Canadian Thanksgiving holiday is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your team’s achievements and consider whether you have made genuine efforts to show your gratitude for their contributions. These suggestions are time-tested and proven effective for a quick, inexpensive engagement booster.

Employee Recognition

Why recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment

When it comes to business success, engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization. As more employers start to understand the power of engagement, we see businesses strive to achieve a powerful trifecta of senior leadership, managers, and employees who align to achieve bottom-line goals.

In her Forbes article, “How To Succeed At Real-Time Talent Alignment,” Meghan Biro comments that to achieve alignment, “Ideally, your recruiting process should be linked to leadership, culture and the on-boarding process. How you bring a new employee on board will determine whether or not you keep them for more than 18 months.” She’s right. This cohesion is essential to recruiting and retaining top talent; but how exactly can employers achieve this alignment? The key is recognition. Not only does recognition make employees feel valued, but managers who inspire their employees with meaningful recognition drive alignment and perform better in the marketplace.

Biro highlighted four opportunities that every employer can seize to drive real-time talent alignment. Here, we’ll show you how recognition plays into these scenarios to ensure engagement and alignment across the organization.

Get to know your employees

Employee recognition is the spark that gets it all going. It fulfills our intrinsic need to achieve and motivates us because of our inherent desires for acceptance and belonging. Encourage managers and leadership to get to know the people on their teams and what motivates them, and recognize them for their accomplishments. This will build trust and loyalty among your organization and ultimately drive alignment.

Be prepared to make changes fast

Here, Biro discusses the importance of equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed, and being prepared to gracefully offboard them if they don’t. To ensure that top talent live up to their potential and that their performance meets your expectations, recognize employees for living the company’s core values. Make sure employees understand what behaviors are measured and why. If you reinforce desired behaviors with positive feedback, those behaviors will be repeated.

Don’t hire a resume, hire a human

When filling leadership positions, many companies have a habit of taking their best performers and creating the worst managers. Before you fill a management role, consider what types of skills this position requires beyond the list of qualifications. Does this person have coaching skills, recognition experience, and a track record of success working with a team? Evaluate how you can equip your leadership with the recognition tools they need to be great coaches and ensure alignment.

Hire ahead of need

The number of available jobs is on the rise, and this is creating a job-seekers market in many areas. If you wait until you have an urgent need to fill a role, you might find that it’s harder than you expected to attract top-quality candidates. Plan ahead by building your employer brand and by promoting a culture that is rooted in recognition, engagement, and alignment.

Interested in learning more about how recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to learn tips and strategies you can implement today.

Source: Lockwood, Nancy R. “Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role.” HRMagazine Mar.2007: 1-11. SearchSpot. ABI/INFORM Global (PQ). Web. 8 Apr 2013.

Cox Automotive

Rewards & Recognition + Community Relations = A Winning Combination

At Achievers, we love our customers. We’re interviewing them to highlight their expertise, advice, and secrets to success. 

Cox Automotive, a leading provider of products and services that span the automotive ecosystem worldwide, has nearly 25,000 employees working across more than 24 brands, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, and a number of other best-in-class companies. Cox Automotive’s expansion over the past few years has created an interesting opportunity for Heather Markle, Cox Auto’s Manager of Rewards & Recognition.

How many of you remember your Achievers launch? Heather’s first launch was in October of 2012 and her 9th launch will be September 30th.  With at least three more launches planned for 2016, Heather and her team are not only focused on scaling their program as they acquire new employees — often thousands at a time — but also on keeping their existing program fresh and top-of-mind for legacy users.

Spark, which Cox Auto’s iteration of the Achiever’s platform, is a fun play on words for the automotive industry that reflects their dedication to “sparking” motivation, inspiration, and engagement through social recognition.

We sat down with Heather and her colleague Stephanie Hogge, Analyst, Rewards & Recognition, to find out how they’ve managed to keep their program relevant and engaging with so much growth at Cox Automotive.

Q. Is there any one thing that you can share with us that has contributed to the success of Spark?

Heather: Sure, if there is one thing I’d like to stress today it’s the value of partnership. We’re constantly looking for ways to embed our program into company initiatives, contests, and events. That level of alignment reinforces the value of the program and helps us leverage Spark points to drive behaviors. What we’re most proud of is our partnership with our Community Relations Team. Stephanie can share how we work together to offer meaningful rewards to our employees while also allowing them to give back to their favorite charities.

Q. Stephanie, how did you help build this partnership? 

Our partnership really began when members of the Community Relations (CR) team approached us after a big event to see how they could recognize volunteers in Spark. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the team to make sure all of our employee volunteers get the public recognition they deserve. We are always looking for ways to integrate Community Relations and Spark. For example, last year we co-sponsored an event for our Atlanta employees celebrating the 100,000th recognition sent through Spark. Each attendee was encouraged to make a small donation, which the CR team then distributed to some of Cox Auto’s favorite charities. Earlier this year, we were excited to announce that every donation made through Spark’s “Give Back” feature is now eligible for matching through CR’s matching gifts program.

Q. How have employees responded to this partnership? Have you received any feedback?

Employees have been incredibly positive about this partnership. This is made apparent to me every time I look at redemption activity in Spark, and see how many people have decided to donate their hard-earned Spark points to a deserving organization. In 2015 alone, Cox Auto employees donated almost $9,500 worth of Spark points to 70 unique organizations. I think people appreciate the ease of making a donation through Spark especially because the dollars are automatically matched by Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive

Q. What’s next for Cox Automotive?

Heather: Our company is truly global now. We are working to expand our program to the UK and Australia hopefully next year. We not only focus our adoption efforts on acquisitions, but through enhanced partnerships like the one we have with our Community Relations Team.

As we became Cox Automotive, our Achievers platform was the first platform to launch to our entire employee population. Spark was the first site to bring our company together. Having that level of buy-in from our leaders goes a long way to set us up for success. We look forward to getting our passport stamped in early 2016 as we help to spread our culture of recognition world-wide.

To learn more about how Heather has transformed the culture of recognition at Cox Automotive, and to hear how she’s using the Achievers platform to engage both online and offline employees, be sure to attend her presentation at this year’s Achievers Customer Experience. See the full agenda and register here: www.achievers.com/ace

 


Heather MarkleHeather Markle, Manager of Rewards & Recognitioni
n-tra-pre-neur (In¹tre-pre-nur) n. A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product.

I stumbled upon AutoTrader.com five days after I graduated from Oglethorpe University with a degree in Business and Behavioral Science. Fifteen years and eight roles later, I have become a strategic, multidisciplinary designer & intraprenuer with an eye for innovation and pixel perfection. I continue to look for opportunities to fill gaps with unique approaches to common problems. My creative skill set and passion for new technology make me a natural fit to lead our Rewards & Recognition team, define our awards strategy and champion our platform adoption efforts.

Employee Recognition

Discover the irrefutable case for employee recognition

You’ve seen the YouTube videos of happy flight attendants creatively rapping the in-flight safety instructions, or read the stories of employees who have gone way beyond their job duties to help a customer. These make for great stories, but you can’t help but notice that most of these employees work for winning companies. Would the employees have gone above and beyond if they didn’t have a great work environment? Or would the companies be so successful without engaged employees?

You may think your employees are engaged now, but have you planned for the future? What will change when baby-boomers retire? What if your company could be more successful just by recognizing your employees? Here are a few reasons you need an employee recognition program:

Impact of the future workforce

Baby boomers are retiring, and they are taking much of the skill and experience in their companies with them. This year, 60 percent of new jobs being created require skills held by only 20 percent of the population. Millennials are already starting to take over; earlier this year, they surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. You need to have the feedback channels, communication strategy, and collaborative environment to be able to recruit top millennial talent during this generational transition.

More employees work outside the office

The workplace is changing — literally. New communication tools are making it possible and easy for employees to work from home or other remote locations. As mobile trends continue and mobile apps become more advanced, more work is going to take place away from the office. How will your organization make these people feel like they are an engaged and valued part of the team? Do you have recognition programs in place that allow your mobile team to participate seamlessly?

Customer service is linked to employee engagement

The customer is always right, and that is even truer today. In a world where one tweet or a short video clip can do major damage to a company’s reputation and bottom line, it is critical that customer-facing employees are engaged and motivated. The good news is, you can empower your employees to provide great customer service and create repeat customers. Consider the ROI of this new strategy; organizations that prioritize customer service make 60 percent more profit!

Reinforce the right behaviors

Employee recognition does more than just give people warm and fuzzies. It is a strategic investment that aligns employees with corporate objectives. Employee recognition works by reinforcing behaviors that help achieve goals, and it solidifies people’s emotional connection with their jobs and the company. Engaged employees who are aligned with business objectives will work harder to achieve goals and serve customers, meaning they will push the company to succeed.

Get senior management involved

Although we often hear executives say that employees are the organization’s greatest asset, they are also often viewed as the biggest cost. So how are you going to justify an employee rewards program that increases the cost? By explaining the ROI. Use numbers and provide examples of the outcomes that can be achieved.

Winning companies have a great work environment. Great work environments are created when employees are aligned with business objectives and rewarded for meeting goals. It’s time you created a recognition strategy that can push your company to the next level.

Want to learn how to create a recognition strategy that’s tailored to engage and align all of your employees? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Employee Recognition

Trend alert: Employee recognition is hot and lapel pins are not

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but a lot of employees think sporting a company lapel pin is about as “in” as wearing socks with sandals. There are much better ways to reward your employees and reinforce your brand besides just handing out tchotchkes.

Companies today are getting extremely competitive when it comes to culture and perks. Does your employee engagement strategy reflect what employees truly want and even expect from their employers?

What’s out? Passé trends include:

  • Ad hoc and disconnected recognition
  • Hierarchy
  • Annual or semi-annual feedback & bonuses

What’s on-trend today is:

  • Collaboration and bottom-up communication
  • Cross-team recognition
  • Tailored but fair rewards

Modern recognition strategies are necessary to win in today’s competitive business landscape, and these strategies must be transparent and advanced – just like the modern workplace. Evolving your engagement strategy reaches beyond what’s “on-trend” and extends to the bottom line. We curated this list of ten reasons why you need to replace the lapel pins with real-time recognition:

  1. Create better shareholder value.
    Recognized employees will work harder to satisfy your customers, which has a direct effect on your organization’s stakeholders.
  2. Align employees with business objectives.
    This reinforces the right behaviors and makes recognition more purposeful.
  3. Get employees engaged.
    Recognition solidifies employees’ emotional connection with your company.
  4. Celebrate individual accomplishments.
    While team recognition is important, employees want to feel that they have made an impact at an individual level too.
  5. Employees will work harder.
    80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance.
  6. Maximize retention rates.
    Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations.
  7. Leverage your greatest resource.
    Recognition is the easiest and most meaningful way to motivate your people.
  8. Become more productive and profitable.
    Organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive and 40 percent more profitable than organizations with low engagement levels.
  9. Develop your future leaders and motivate them to stay.
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better.
  10. Reinforce positive behaviors.

When great work is recognized, it’s repeated.

Wonder what other recognition styles are in this season? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to find out!

Employee Recognition

Revamp your employee recognition strategy to drive results

Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition

Everyone likes to know that people around them notice and appreciate them.

This applies to the workplace too. We often hear organizations say that their number-one asset is their people. Considering this, businesses should be concerned that only 49 percent of North American employees are happy at work. According to WorldatWork, 89 percent of organizations report that they have some type of recognition system in place, but with these staggeringly low employee engagement rates, it’s clear that these programs are far from effective.

It’s not simply a matter of sending out thank-you cards; organizations need to ensure that their employee recognition program is planned and executed to deliver certain results. Here are some tips:

  1.       Start at the beginning

If you were renovating a house, you wouldn’t begin painting until you had finished drawing the floor plan, framing the walls, and hanging the drywall. It’s important to take the same approach with creating a meaningful employee recognition strategy. If you don’t start by creating an employee retention plan that will work at your company, all of the other employee engagement efforts will go to waste. Try administering a baseline employee engagement survey. This will give you insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Determine where your employee engagement levels stand today, and then create reasonable timelines and benchmarks for growth.

  1.       Ask, “What’s the point?”

Once you’ve determined where you currently stand, you can create goals. Why do you want to improve your employee recognition program? Do you want to improve employee retention, or align global employees with a common goal? Maybe you want to foster team spirit and collaboration. Whatever your goals are, they need to be defined so that you can build a program that centers on fulfilling these objectives.

  1.       Look at the big picture

In order for the program to run smoothly between departments and deliver the intended results, recognition needs to be tied in with compensation and benefits, performance management, rewards, career development, employee engagement and alignment, and retention and recruiting.

  1.       Go mobile

People are doing more and more on their mobile devices, and they expect to be able to use their phones and tablets for work. Your recognition program needs to be accessible to employees on the field, telecommuters, and even your global workforce. If you use a software platform to manage rewards and recognition, ensure that you have a cloud-based, mobile-friendly solution.

Whatever your needs are, it’s important to start with objectives and execute on a plan that’s sure to deliver results. A cohesive strategy for employee recognition will result in greater engagement, higher retention, better customer service, and a company-wide culture of recognition and success.

Want to know more about creating an employee recognition program? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.