Employee Recognition Best Practices

4 employee recognition best practices

Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:

R: Regular

People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.

I: Immediate

To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.

S: Specific

Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”

E: Encouraging

Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.

The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.

Company Culture

Company culture: Where should it come from?

Having a positive company culture is an essential part of fostering engagement among employees, and it also directly influences a company’s “productivity, creativity, value and growth rates,” according to Columbia Business School professor Shiva Rajgopal. Although the essential value of company culture is undisputed, the question remains of who should initiate it: Should it come from top executives and trickle down? Should it be determined by HR professionals who roll out “culture” activities? Or should it be a grassroots effort by employees who live the culture every day?

Leadership gets the ball rolling

“Someone in a leadership position in your organization needs to make the initial decision that cultural change is a priority,” according to culture change consultant Micah Solomon. He points out that, while employee input may identify problem areas, management has the power to implement necessary structural changes throughout the organization. These changes are going to affect every department, and may include new HR hiring priorities and procedures, new evaluation metrics for managers, and new standards for line workers.

All employees bring company culture to life

It’s not enough to simply dictate cultural change from the top down, however. As Solomon puts it, “If employees are only doing things right because you spelled out every little thing, even if you do so very, very elegantly, you haven’t created a culture, and you haven’t created an approach that is sustainable.” To transform company culture from mere words into a living force that permeates the whole organization, you will need to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. “Culture-driven companies explicitly put their people first,” states Forbes culture consultant Josh Bersin.

Everyone benefits from a positive culture

A high-quality corporate culture has direct impact on a company’s value, with some industry analysts now studying Glassdoor ratings as part of their valuation process. Furthermore, the “culture winners” are drawing top talent, as is evident in the overlap between Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For and LinkedIn’s list of The World’s Most In-Demand Employers.

Want to learn more about how company culture impacts employee engagement? Download our latest whitepaper, All for one and one for all. 

Performance Improvement Plans

How to handle performance improvement plans without causing disengagement

If employees have been underperforming, performance improvement plans are sometimes the best option. This process can be awkward for managers as well as employees, but the right approach can reduce everyone’s discomfort and contribute to better employee alignment. Here are four tips for increasing the chances that your employees will react constructively when you have to put them on a PIP:

Provide specific factual documentation

To keep the discussion focused and avoid sidetracking into argument, it’s important to cite exact dates and descriptions of problem episodes. The most concise format for documentation includes a description of the behavior or product that was expected, an outline of what the employee actually did, and a list of the consequences of the employee’s actions. In addition, if any earlier remedy or consequences were put in place as a consequence of that episode, it is important to include a notation of those.

Schedule face-to-face meetings

No good manager relies only on written communication for such a sensitive interaction. You should speak to your employee in person to inform them about the fact that you will be putting them on a PIP and then send them initial written documentation. After they receive the documentation, it is imperative that you schedule a face-to-face meeting in which you can have a two-way conversation about the issue. Following your conversation, you can confirm what you agreed on in a document that you both sign.

Ask employees what they need

In some cases, an employee’s sub-par performance is the result of insufficient resources, training, tools, or other support. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to come into the PIP meeting with an open mind rather than with an assumption that the employee is entirely culpable. A productive PIP meeting should be based on the attitude that you and the employee are collaborating on finding solutions for a problem.

Develop an action plan together

While you may enter the discussion with some clear requirements in mind, it’s important that the employee have a voice in developing the action plan. If additional training is one of the items on your action plan it may be beneficial to ask the employee exactly what skills they would most like to improve. The key to a successful PIP is having employee alignment and buy-in.

Handled properly, a performance improvement plan can turn out to be a positive experience for a struggling worker. If you seek input from your employee and approach them with the sense of solving a problem together, the PIP can be a bridge to a more productive working relationship.

Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

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Create a magnetic company culture with recognition and great data

by Sarah Clayton, Communications and Campaigns Specialist 

A Magnetic Culture is one that draws talented employees to the workplace, empowers them, and sustains an environment in which they are less likely to leave.

– Kevin Sheridan, Employee Engagement & Virtual Management Expert

At Achievers, we love to get like-minded people together, so we have been hosting regional events to discuss engagement and recognition strategies with our local clients and others in the business community. We recently co-hosted a breakfast seminar with our client partner, Discover, to discuss the impact of having a magnetic culture.

The speakers gave thought-provoking presentations that sparked insightful discussions around a key element of company success: recognition. People are a valuable resource: when you invest time in your people, you will see that investment reflected in their work. Our motto at Achievers is “Change the way the world works”, and that means providing our clients, and prospects, with the tools to effectively invest in their team through recognition. To that end, we have summarized some focal points from the seminar and their connection to the Achievers platform.

Alarmingly, nearly two thirds of the workforce is defined as “ambivalent employees”: a delicate group who lie in limbo between engaged and disengaged. If addressed correctly, members of this group can be converted to productive, engaged employees. The alternative is that they remain ambivalent (the ‘quit and stay’), or that they progress toward disengagement, neither of which are attractive options for a company or culture. Thus the question begs: how do you engage an ambivalent employee?

There’s a saying that “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” Data helps you identify, analyze, and solve problems, so we made it a priority to have an abundance of data accessible through our platform. It provides insight into engagement levels, the impact variables or events have on engagement, and workplace trends (to name a few).

The most valuable aspect of the data we provide is that it is real time, so you can react promptly to the needs of your team. When a company has agile response times to employee behaviors, it goes a long way to build trust and grow engagement. For a company to thrive in the Information Age, external expectations of real-time information exchange and reactions must be integrated into company practices.

In order to realize the full potential of a resource, it’s integral to understand how to leverage it — an idea that is especially relevant with a company’s human capital. In conjunction with the data we provide, the unique employee profile that is generated through platform activity provides managers insight into the skills and behaviors of their team members.

An employee profile is a valuable tool for employee development because it acts as a centralized collection of their recognition moments, awards, milestones, and interactions. It streamlines the process of performance reviews, and the continual collection ensures no accomplishments are missed. The exposure a profile can provide into interdepartmental relationships and traits valued among colleagues presents a strategic opportunity to help develop career paths. When managers can show an employee that they are actively invested in their future with the company, the employee is more likely to reciprocate through engagement.

High usage levels across the platform are indicative of strong employee buy-in: we’re presenting them with a communication channel they want to use. The ability to voice their opinions through recognition not only fosters engagement, it creates a sense of empowerment.

The historic practice of reserving recognition for management contributes to a hierarchical role divide that is not conducive to a collaborative work environment. With organizations becoming progressively flatter, power that was once centralized at the top is being disseminated across employees. To successfully navigate structural shifts, power needs to be given an outlet — and recognition is a popular choice. It facilitates cohesion between company values and employees, and it helps employees shape the work environment they want to see.

Employee engagement is an output that is derived from multiple inputs, with the end goal being a magnetic culture. The Achievers platform provides several tools that can be leveraged according to trends and strategic company goals to develop a culture that resonates with employees.

 

Sarah Clayton

Sarah 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.

Why Employees Quit

4 signs an employee is about to quit

When employees quit, it has a multiplying negative impact: their co-workers may feel over-burdened and discouraged, while the company suffers from a drop in productivity. Furthermore, the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training replacements is substantial. To proactively retain your top talent, it’s important to understand why employees quit and monitor for signs that someone might be ready to leave. Here are the four biggest indicators that one of your employees has started hunting for another job:

  1. Becoming disengaged

A person who sees their future at a different company is less likely to stay closely engaged in their present position. Any significant decrease in an employee’s participation in discussions, a reluctance to sign up for training opportunities, or an avoidance of committing to long-term projects could be a danger sign.

  1. Using personal devices

If you notice your employee suddenly bringing their private laptop to work, or having an unusual number of conversations on their personal cell phone, it’s not usually a good sign. They could be pursuing external job openings, or they could be establishing private working relationships with your clients.

  1. Being quiet about a new educational achievement

Workers who plan to stay with your company will probably loop you in on any extra training or certificates that they want to pursue. They would naturally be interested in whether their new education would promote their career within your company, or whether any of their training costs could be offset. Conversely, if you become aware that someone has completed a degree, received a new certification, or attended a training and they haven’t brought it up with your company, it might mean they’re positioning themselves for a career change.

  1. Changing absentee patterns

One of the most common red flags is when an employee who rarely uses sick days is suddenly developing a cluster of viruses, dental appointments, or other ailments that result in random hours away from work. Likewise, if someone who typically takes all their vacation days at once is now taking them one at a time, you may want to have a conversation with them about how they’re feeling about their work. Don’t accuse employees of faking illnesses or using their vacation time inappropriately; that will be a fast way to alienate people. Rather, use these signs as a reminder that you should be checking in with your employees on a regular basis.

Understanding why employees quit is the first step toward changing their minds. When you notice one of the four listed symptoms, you still have the opportunity to initiate a positive conversation. Once you learn about the person’s plans and reasons for wanting to make a change, you can explore the potential for meeting their needs while retaining them at your company.

Company Mission Statement

Top 5 best company mission statements

There are many ways to define or approach a company mission statement, but the intent is the same in all cases: Mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. While many mission statements aren’t particularly inspiring, the most effective ones help employees find meaning in their work and feel like they’re making a difference for the greater good.

Unfortunately, our 2015 North American workforce survey found that a majority of workers fail to find such a sense of purpose in their employer’s mission statement; often because they don’t even know what it is. They understand job demands and performance evaluations, but aren’t able to see how their own daily efforts impact the bigger picture.

The best company mission statements pull double duty as compelling engagement tools. For example, our mission statement at Achievers is “To Change the Way the World Works.” We know it sounds lofty, but we genuinely believe that the work we do each day can have a real impact on the work lives of millions of employees globally. And we like to think that our big mission is part of why our employees come to work every day and give an A-plus effort.

If you think your mission statement still needs work, we’ve pulled some inspiration from organizations with passionate employees and big goals. Hopefully this will help you find a new way to energize and align your employee base:

  1. Twitter

The mission: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information, instantly, without barriers.” The technology company aims to remove communication barriers and help people connect with one another. What’s more heartwarming than that?

  1. Clarks

The mission: “Our passion is to listen to our customers and deliver a product that allows the consumer to feel the pride, respect and trust of everyone at the Clarks Companies N.A.” Clarks focuses on guiding employees to create high-quality products and deliver excellent customer service.

  1. MGM Resorts International

The mission: “MGM Resorts International is the leader in entertainment & hospitality—a diverse collection of extraordinary people, distinctive brands and best in class destinations. Working together, we create partnerships and experiences that engage, entertain and inspire.” MGM’s commitment to diversity encourages its employees to work collaboratively as they pursue innovation.

  1. Coca-Cola

The mission: “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” This uplifting mission statement reaches beyond the company’s flagship soft drink, instead resolving to make the world a happier and more inspired place.

  1. REI

The mission: “We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of adventure and stewardship.” Their mission ties their employees to a love of the outdoors, sustainability, and healthy living.

According to Gallup, sincere mission statements help improve employee loyalty, employee alignment, and customer engagement. With those results, there’s no reason not to get on board by creating a company mission statement that actually works.

 

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!

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Employee Appreciation Week

Send recognitions for Employee Appreciation Week!

Happy Employee Appreciation Week! At Achievers, this is one of our favorite times of year. While we believe strongly in appreciating our employees all year long, there is something special about a week when companies across North America realize that it’s time to do something extra special.

For those of you who aren’t using the Achievers platform, we wanted to give you an easy way to send recognition cards to your hard-working colleagues. That’s why we’ve created an Employee Appreciation Week tool where you can pick from a variety of different digital cards and email them to anyone who deserves to be appreciated.

So what are you waiting for? Start recognizing!

 

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