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.

Employee Engagement Ideas

The best new employee engagement ideas for 2016

Employee engagement is “the top human resource challenge organizations anticipate facing in the next three to five years,” according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. If you want to stay ahead of this challenge, you need to keep your employee engagement strategy fresh, relevant, and exciting for all of your employees. Here are a few employee engagement ideas we think you should implement in 2016:

Introduce gamification

One coffee company found that their employees were having trouble retaining detailed information about their products, so it introduced a game-like quiz designed for mobile devices. Top performers on these quizzes were rewarded with gift cards and other perks, while managers gave special attention and mentoring to those who had more difficulty.

Open the door with office hours

Good managers are the “closest thing to a silver bullet” in building employee engagement, according to management consultant Oliver Mincey, and accessibility is key. Holding regular weekly “office hours” is one way for high-level executives to welcome informal conversation with employees from all levels of the company. Encourage all staff members to provide feedback, voice concerns, ask questions, and share new ideas during this time; employees will feel valued, and you’re likely to acquire actionable suggestions.

Align individuals with company vision

The Federal Office of Personnel Management has released a 2016 plan for increasing employee engagement. One of their primary recommendations is that managers demonstrate to employees that their individual job responsibilities are specifically relevant to carrying out the organization’s mission. This will place the employee’s daily tasks in a highly meaningful context, leading to a natural outcome of greater engagement.

Encourage brand ambassadors

In today’s networked landscape, it makes sense to establish a presence in your employees’ social media communications. MarketingLand points out that skillful managers equip their employees with shareable company content. When a worker’s personal branding overlaps with organizational branding, the level of that worker’s engagement stays high.

Gallup poll published in 2016 found that almost 70 percent of workers across the United States feel disengaged and dissatisfied with their jobs, and their alienation ends up costing American businesses between 450 and 550 billion each year. Don’t let your business become part of these negative statistics; whether you use the employee engagement ideas listed here or come up with your own alternatives, it’s important to remember that your company’s health is only as strong as the engagement of your people.

 

kevin_sheridan

New Year’s reflections on job engagement

by Kevin Sheridan

This time of year, it’s natural to become reflective; to reflect on the last year and on resolutions you have for the New Year.

One of my central messages in my keynote presentations is to encourage more reflection on job engagement. Roughly 60% of the worldwide workforce is not Engaged or Disengaged in their job, otherwise known as the middle category of Ambivalence.  A large reason so many people are stuck in this “blah” middle category is that they have not reflected on whether they are in the right job in the first place, or as Jim Collins said in his best-seller Good to Great, “the right seat on the bus.”

The great news is that we, as managers and employees, are already empowered to do something about it and re-cast ourselves into the right job or seat on the bus.  Ask yourself these types of questions and you may indeed find yourself re-calibrating your job description and job duties, or taking a completely different job in a different industry:

  • Does my job make the best use of my skills and abilities?
  • Am I passionate about my job?
  • Am I prideful about where I work?
  • Do I consistently have fun at work?
  • Am I proud to work with my coworkers?

These are only a few of the most useful questions to reflect upon in order to ensure you are fully engaged in your job.  A more comprehensive list of job reflective questions is available on my website.

Are you in the right seat on the right bus?  Don’t let another year pass by without being engaged.

Kevin Sheridan is an Internationally-recognized Key-Note Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement.   He spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long- overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement.  His book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers. 

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior.  He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Web page: www.kevinsheridanllc.com

Twitter: @kevinsheridan12

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinsheridan1

Email:  kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

Talent Management Strategy

3 biggest talent management challenges for 2016

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

Employee Performance Review

Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown

The performance review process is undergoing a revolution. One by one, mega-corporations like GE, Adobe, Accenture, Microsoft, and Netflix are announcing they’re scrapping their annual rankings- or ratings-based performance management systems and replacing them with real-time feedback systems. The reason is clear: Real-time feedback is a better fit for today’s fast-paced business environment and a younger, tech-savvy generation of workers.

Out with the archaic system

The traditional annual or semi-annual employee performance review system is the model that most businesses still use to assess performance, justify compensation increases, and provide feedback. In a technology-driven, constantly changing corporate environment, the often tedious, once-a-year evaluations—that risk inspiring employee fear more than improved performance—are already in danger of becoming archaic.

The traditional rank- and ratings-based system carries a lot of potential negatives, including causing high levels of employee frustration, pitting employees against each other, and fostering disengagement. In the context of neuroscience, the disengagement emanates from the employee’s brain responding negatively to being compared to others instead of being assessed as an individual. Once disengaged, feedback falls on deaf ears.

Annual or semi-annual evaluations can also be ineffective when the focus tilts too heavily toward things said and done many months ago. Millennials want real-time feedback as a means of achieving high performance levels in their current environment. As the first generation of workers to grow up with instant communication, they expect more frequent evaluations and fast, relevant feedback.

Reluctance to let go of the past

There has been a reluctance to let go of the traditional employee performance review process. For all its faults, it’s a well-embedded process, and alternatives are untested by time. Only 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have moved away from annual ratings, per the Institute for Corporate Productivity. However, when GE decided to scrap performance reviews, people took notice because the company had one of the most rigid review systems for one of the world’s largest workforces.

In the old GE system, employees were reviewed annually, ranked against peers, and the bottom percentage fired. The new system works very differently. GE is rolling out a process in which managers and direct reports hold regular and informal “touchpoints” for reviewing and revising priorities based on customer needs, and providing immediate feedback following assignments. Regular, personalized feedback is delivered via an app to 307,000 employees.

Deloitte conducted a public survey on ranking- and ratings-based performance management systems, and the results were dismal. Only 8 percent of respondents believe their performance management system drives high value levels. Deloitte concluded from the responses that traditional performance management systems actually damage employee engagement and alienate high performers.

In with the new real-time feedback system

With such large and well-known companies realizing it’s more effective to regularly provide employee feedback because one size does not fit all, more widespread adoption seems likely to follow. Real-time feedback can make your employees feel recognized and appreciated for the work they’re doing now, not 12 months ago. It can also improve the quality of feedback because it concerns current performance, enabling employee behavior adjustments that can improve productivity immediately.

Real-time feedback also creates a valuable and uplifting two-way dialogue, rather than a top-down assessment. Your employees get unique feedback without being boxed in by a set of questions, and high performers can get the tools needed to succeed now. Real-time feedback turns the employee performance review into ongoing coaching. There are various forms of real-time feedback. They include weekly one-on-one meetings with managers, routine catch-up sessions via email or an intranet communication program, engagement surveys, feedback apps, and real-time recognition programs.

Real-time recognition programs can be particularly successful in building engagement within the broader business context, because they include peer and management feedback. Across the company, your employees can celebrate wins together. The showdown between real-time feedback and annual reviews has arrived, and real-time feedback is off to a fast start.

Stress Management at Work

7 ways to reduce employee stress around the holidays

The holiday season is a cheery time, filled with lights, presents, and time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also a stressful and exhausting time for employees trying to balance work and holiday responsibilities. So, in the spirit of giving, here are seven tips for helping employees deal with stress management in the office:

  1. Provide free flu shots at work

Arranging for free flu shots at work saves employees a trip to the physician’s office or pharmacy. This simple act also sends the message that you care about their health and time. Meanwhile, you benefit by having fewer absences during flu season.

  1. Allow flexible work schedules

Allow flexible work schedules so employees can get still get work done while attending to personal holiday obligations. For example, allow a four-day workweek, or time off during the week to run errands with make-up hours worked at home or job sharing/balancing.

  1. Assist employees with daycare

Students get up to two weeks for holiday break, creating a trying situation for parents of young children and obligating them to use vacation hours during what may be your busiest time of year. You can help relieve the stress by allowing telecommuting or providing access to daycare services during the school holiday period.

  1. Adjust workloads and deadlines

Employers usually have leeway when it comes to assigning workloads and setting deadlines. You can look for ways to temporarily lighten the load by only requiring critical projects or tasks, or moving deadlines to allow more time to complete work. Be realistic about what can and can’t be accomplished as the year winds down.

  1. Offer holiday benefits

Holiday benefits include everything from floating days to financial and other rewards. The key is to give the benefits early enough in the holiday season so employees can take them into consideration during their holiday planning.

  1. Offer holiday health and wellness training

People tend to adopt unhealthy habits during the holidays, such as eating fatty foods and foregoing exercise. Departure from regular routines can be a great stress inducer, so offer health and wellness training that proposes specific strategies for maintaining healthy habits during the holidays.

  1. Celebrate your employees 

Businesses succeed because of their employees. During the holiday season, employers should celebrate and reward employees, commending each on his or her yearlong contributions to business success.

Stress management at work is good for employee mental and physical health, as well as for workplace productivity. A Virgin Pulse survey found that 64 percent of respondents admit that stress distracts them from work and reduces the quality of the work produced. But the good news is that you, as an employer, can do a lot to help employees enjoy the holidays while keeping the business on track.

How to deal with difficult customers

Dealing with difficult customers? Help your employees maintain morale

Difficult, upset or angry clients create challenges for your workplace beyond the obvious need to turn dissatisfied customers into happy ambassadors for your business. When your employees routinely deal with difficult customers, the work environment can become highly stressful, and as a manager you have to take steps to guard against damage to employee morale. Failure to recognize and support workers who undergo this kind of pressure can harm your business and create a negative feedback loop: Stressed employees will provide poorer customer service and eventually seek a different job. You’re left with the repeated expense of hiring and training, while your (perhaps dwindling) customers are served by discouraged or inexperienced representatives. Here are three tips for supporting your workers and helping them learn how to deal with difficult customers.

  1. Provide specific training

Dealing with confrontations in a business setting requires a specific skill set, and no one is an automatic expert. Provide your workers with plenty of training in best-practice customer service responses, and include a chance to role play difficult interactions with specific scripts. This will help your staff avoid falling back on existing emotional patterns of dealing with family arguments.

  1. Empower your employees

In many cases, the best way to satisfy an unhappy customer is to offer them a special service or exception to the rule. Employees on the front lines of handling customer complaints need to have the power to make such decisions without being required to seek management approval. This provides a streamlined customer experience, while also building employee self-esteem by showing that you have faith in their decision-making.

  1. Brainstorm proactive measures

An excellent way to reduce your employees’ stress levels is taking measures to reduce future customer unhappiness. Meet with your staff on a regular basis and ask for their input about changes that may alleviate client frustrations. This team orientation will avoid isolating stressed employees, and will identify customer satisfaction as a mutual goal. You can also take this opportunity to praise individual employees for having handled a difficult interaction especially well. Expressing appreciation is especially critical for supporting employees on the front line of customer service.

When your employees are happy and engaged, they’ll have the emotional strength to put their training to work and handle difficult customers. As a result, your brand will benefit from reduced turnover and from the repeat business that comes from a highly professional customer approach.

How to motivate employees during the holidays

How to motivate employees during the holiday season

The winter holiday season is often a distracting time for employees. They may be hosting family members or planning to travel, the kids are home from school, and they may be working under generalized holiday stress. The common outcome for business is a high absentee rate and a distracted work force, leading directly to lowered productivity. As a manager, it’s your job to find positive ways to keep everyone on task. Below are three basic tips to keep your employees enthusiastic about their jobs despite the pressures of the season.

Plan ahead and be flexible

Don’t let holiday scheduling sneak up on you. Meet with your staff right now to go over everyone’s scheduling needs and to make sure the office doesn’t end up shorthanded. Nothing adds to holiday burnout more quickly than employees being forced to do someone else’s work in addition to their own. If your staff can work remotely, consider letting them extend their time away while still meeting productivity goals. Also remember that winter holiday travel can be affected by weather, and half your team could end up snowed in at an airport across the country. Likewise, allowing schedules to flex a bit to accommodate holiday obligations can help support your employees’ work-life balance and build loyalty to your company.

Create a festive atmosphere

Your employees are going to appreciate your acknowledgment that the holiday season is special. Business Know-How notes that you can increase employee motivation by offering a few celebratory observances. “Secret Santa” exchanges are popular and cost-free for your company. Plus, supplying an assortment of treats and decorations that recognize all of the different holidays that are celebrated during this season can create an atmosphere of emotional warmth. If possible, schedule a holiday party during the workday, so you’ll avoid putting pressure on your employees to invest scarce personal time in work-related events.

Offer rewards and recognition

Kimberly Merriman, associate professor of management at Penn State University, points out that providing parties, gifts, and other forms of acknowledgment carries important symbolic value: “They send a message that the employment relationship is more than simply a transactional one.” A Glassdoor survey focusing on holiday recognition found that “53 percent of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss.”

Knowing how to motivate employees is essential throughout the year, but it takes on unique importance during the holiday season. If you plan ahead, create warmth and recognize each employee’s unique contribution, you can build good will that may last until next year’s holiday season.

Human Experience at Work

Today’s workforce mindset – employees want a human experience

 

In today’s competitive economy, if two organizations are both doing a great job engaging their workforces, what makes one of them better than the other? Aon Hewitt recently surveyed 2,539 employees at companies of 1,000 or more across several industries, and Raymond Baumruk, partner and leader in the firm’s Next Practices/Employee Research & Insights group, shared top findings with attendees of Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015.

Baumruk said they were somewhat surprised to find that the things many companies see as “differentiators,” employees actually view as “table stakes,” or basic expectations of potential employers. Baumruk also shared that there has been a shift in the past three to four years. Potential employees are looking for more of a human experience, in which error can happen, people can laugh, and ideas and opinions are solicited and respected.

When it comes to base expectations – the “table stakes” that any company should offer – the study found that employees expect a company to:

  • Communicate completely and honestly (80% cite this as a base expectation)
  • Recognize strong achievement or performance
  • Have a collaborative environment and encourage teamwork
  • Have a strong management and leadership team
  • Provide valuable work tools/resources, including technology

The characteristics that employers said they consider differentiators that make an organization attractive include:

  • Fun place to work (In an interesting side note, Baumruk said that Baby Boomers were more likely to cite this than Millennials)
  • Flexible work environment
  • Good fit with employee values
  • Provides stimulating work

The survey showed that, much like the differentiators, these characteristics revolve around the human experience and are relationship oriented vs. organizational oriented:

Companies focus on:                                                                     Employees want the focus to be on:

Teamwork                                                                                          Recognition

Customer satisfaction                                                                      Respect

Profit                                                                                                    Loyalty

Quality                                                                                                 Balance

Brand image                                                                                       Teamwork

Productivity                                                                                        Open communications

The top work characteristic employees want in an organization today is recognition. In addition, employees want to be recognized by managers and leadership in a way in which their peers and colleagues are aware of the recognition – through email, in-person meetings, etc. Open and honest communications are just one of vital elements to creating the human experience that today’s employees want.

And as Aon Hewitt discovered, from Baby Boomers to Millennials (and even Centennials), employees are looking for a human experience – engaging, fun, open, honest, and collaborative – in the workplace.