For Recognition to Have an Impact, Make It Strategic

By: Meghan M. Biro

We’re way beyond the old paradigm of years-of-service plaques or holiday gift cards as a form of employee recognition. We know that such rewards, tied to tenure or sporadically bestowed on an individual employee for a job well done, fall short of achieving any larger goal. For employees, they do little to spur a sense of being truly valued by an organization. For the organization, they don’t spark the levels of engagement that we know drive performance and lead to desired business outcomes. Why is this an issue? Gallup research this year found that only 33 percent of US workers feel engaged at work (it’s a mere 13 percent worldwide!). That’s nearly the same figure it was 10 years ago.

And even if organizations do connect recognition to driving individual performance and achieving desired business outcomes, how many have a recognition program that actually works? Achievers’ 2015 “The Greatness Gap” survey of the North American workforce found that most employees are far from satisfied with how, when, or why they receive recognition — if they do at all. They don’t feel they are recognized at their preferred frequency (41%) or get a manager’s in-the-moment feedback (60%) They don’t feel recognized for making progress (57%) or achievements (53%). Based on these findings, disengagement, not engagement, seems to be the rule.

But this gap is more than just a gap in driving engagement via feedback. It represents lost intelligence on how to improve the employee experience and better align it with business goals. To play an effective role in an organization’s success, a recognition program needs to serve a powerful strategic function for both employee and employer.

Strategic recognition serves a number of dual roles:

 

It’s part of a widespread, unified system of employee engagement —

that can be customized into any format, platform and frequency.

 

It’s aligned to the vision and values of the organization —

and can be tailored to meet individual employee preferences.

 

It generates powerful insight on employee performance and behavior —

but “learns” from even the delivery of a “smile” emoji or an e-thanks.

 

It’s closely aligned to business goals and targets —

While also recognizing employees for “softer” contributions & achievements as well.

 

It builds bridges between the executive/management and employee sides —

and enables uphill, peer-to-peer, team-to-team, and intrateam recognition as well.

 

It functions from a single, Cloud-based nervous system, regardless of organizational side or geographic location—

but always feels local and human in scale and tone.

 

It identifies out-in-front performers and succession candidates —

while pinpointing gaps and trouble-spots as well.

 

A strategic program of recognition builds engagement — and therefore has a positive impact on retention — supports talent management, and is closely tied to business goals. It is also the foundation of a cohesive, supportive environment. It also looks at the future as well as the present. It may be further refined to fit organizations shifting to more autonomous, team-based structures — a coming workplace shift identified by Deloitte’s 2016 human capital research. Or it may already be addressing profound shifts in workplace demographics (4 generations working together) and geography (global organizations with multiple hubs).

How long does it take for a strategic recognition program to take root and deliver game-changing results? Shop Direct, a multi-brand digital online retailer with some 4,500 employees, launched its highly successful recognition program across multiple global sites two years ago and it is already being credited with having a major positive impact across the entire organization. 

Shop Direct’s Shine program was designed to reinforce the organization’s purpose (to “Make good things easily accessible to more people”) and values (Trusted, Together, Proud, Ambitious, Innovative), and to drive performance. The program enabled instant recognition and rewards across multiple sites. And with features like at-a-glance data and in-the-moment messages, it soon turned into a keen motivator that has boosted engagement levels by 14%. But perhaps the clearest indicator of success has been the high level of adoption that the program has achieved. In less than one year, Shop Direct employees had sent more than 355,000 recognitions, and activation rates stood at an impressive 97%. Shop Direct has since garnered multiple awards for its innovative thinking — including being ranked as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces.

Likewise, communication and network services giant Ericsson (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), needed a strategic solution to its employee recognition challenge. The platform had to be able to connect over 15,000 employees in dozens of hubs across North America — and improve on existing manual recognition programs. After implementing the Achievers solution, Ericsson’s HR team was able to automate recognition among geographically-dispersed employees, track program spend (without once going over budget), and use program data to link recognition to business results. Employees enthusiastically embraced it, making it the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented.

If no man or woman is an island, no employee should feel like he or she is working alone. Whatever job we do, we all want to be appreciated. What’s most profound about a truly strategic recognition program is that is answers that very basic human need. But all the while, it’s an incredibly powerful driver — and monitor — of a much larger success story: the organization itself. That’s a win for everyone.

Check out Meghan Biro’s second guest blog post It Takes a Recognition Culture to Spark Engagement.

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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.

 

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 jobs 

    Workplace 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 matters 

    Goals 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 experience 

    People 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 employees 

    Employee 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 employees 

    Unnervingly, 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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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.

 

 

Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

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

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

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

Adobe’s focus on quality content

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

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

Facebook’s learning and development package

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

Salesforce centers its attention on employee success

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Company Culture

Why Work Culture Directly Impacts Employee Performance

A recent study from researchers at the University of Warwick, cited by Entrepreneur magazine, revealed that happiness makes people 12% more productive. Said the authors of the study, Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick:

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%… Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.” Added Dr. Sgroi: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

What contributes to this happiness? There can be many factors – from family life, to favorite activities, even literature, music, or movies – but work culture can also play a major role in employee happiness. Work culture is a collective term for a handful of the most important factors that are under an employer’s control, and as such, it is highly relevant for every manager. The underpinnings of a strong company culture include factors related to an employee’s physical health, emotional well-being, mental clarity, and can help give their work a greater sense of meaning. Work culture is rooted in the beliefs and values that an organization establishes, and when these are clearly communicated throughout the organization, they can help boost employee engagement and motivation. Here’s why:

Worker trust is linked with shared company culture

Optimal employee performance depends on the ability of employees to trust their organization. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Stephen Covey and Douglas Conant assert that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. To truly build a company culture around the key value of trust, it is required to, “personally celebrate employees for their contributions.” This climate of trust, supported by recognition, results in a positive company culture, which in turn solidifies your financial standing. Trust can also be established during periodic employee performance reviews, when managers get the chance to listen to their employees and learn what makes them happy, including what they want in a positive company culture.

“Why we work determines how well we work”

This axiom was presented by researchers who studied scores of workers and companies worldwide. If people perceive underlying purpose in the work they do, they perform better. One example given by the authors had two groups of workers that were assigned to analyze medical images. The group that was told the images contained cancer cells spent more time and did higher quality work than the control group who were not given any context for the task. When you convey the importance and coherence of your company’s purpose, you help your employees to feel that their work has meaning. Your company’s cultural values and mission statements play a larger role than you think. Reinforcing cultural values that resonate with your employees on a personal level directly impacts their motivation and drive to perform better at work.

A strong work culture balances out corporate change

“Fast-paced change, uncertainty, and volatility are the lexicon of our work lives,” according to Peter Cheese, the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Corporations are changing fast in order to keep up with emerging trends, and they need their employees to be agile as well. A strong organizational culture keeps everyone aligned and engaged, so that riding out changes becomes a mutually shared effort rather than a divisive or damaging force. When employees feel left out of the loop or are unaware of the company’s bigger picture, their performance and motivation suffers as a result. Keep your employees informed on changes happening within the organization, so they know what’s ahead for the business and the impact their role has in all of it.

Industry research on the importance of a positive work culture reveals that 87% of organizations agree that culture and employee engagement are among their most urgent challenges. To learn more about developing your company culture, download Achievers’ e-book: All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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Company Perks

5 Insanely Great Company Perks That Will Draw Top Talent

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

1. Unlimited vacation

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

2. Endless food

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

3. On-site health support

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

4. Unbeatable employee referral programs

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

5. Rewards and recognition

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

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

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Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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Characteristics of a good manager

Characteristics of a good manager: what can and can’t be taught

You’ve heard the expression “born leader” before. Is there such a thing? And if being a good manager is due to inborn traits, is there value in all the leadership training programs currently available? The truth, as you probably suspected, is a combination of both. Here’s a look at some of the inherent qualities that contribute to effective leadership, together with an exploration of the ones that can be taught:

Inherent leadership qualities

According to Psychology Today, about one third of leadership ability springs from a person’s innate tendencies. These include the following:

  • Extraversion: A good leader often has to deal with other people all day long, so it’s better to be energized rather than drained by the experience.
  • Social intelligence: Managers don’t necessarily need the kind of intelligence that allows people to solve calculus problems, but they need a quick understanding of the structure of social interactions.
  • Assertiveness: Obviously a leader must be willing to put their message out in clear terms.
  • Willingness to take risks: Leaders must be capable of taking calculated risks without being timid or foolhardy.
  • Empathy: Good leaders have the capacity to see the world through the eyes of those whom they direct.

Leadership qualities that are teachable

In one study, managers who took a leadership course saw improvement in many of the characteristics of a good manager as long as they started with one key quality: employee motivation. University of Notre Dame, which offers leadership training, identifies business course topics that contribute to the development of skilled leaders. These topics include:

  • Good communication skills: A person’s extroversion is only beneficial if it is backed up by skillful speaking and writing abilities.
  • Team building ability: Leading depends on building effective working groups and bringing stakeholders together. This is the learned skill that extends social intelligence into measurable progress.
  • Recognition of the need for change: Taking bold steps to enact change when it’s necessary can feel risky, but a good manager is ready to step outside their safety zone and try something completely different.
  • Vision and goal setting: A persuasive manager develops visions and goals interactively through an empathetic understanding of subordinates’ needs.

Tips on training your managers

Leadership author Erika Anderson points out that the central leadership quality of self-awareness can be developed by inviting feedback from direct reports and encouraging managers to listen carefully. Instituting organizational channels for two-way communication between managers and their teams is good way to nurture self-awareness.

Rudy Giuliani is quoted as having said, “Leadership does not simply happen. It can be taught, learned, developed.” With training opportunities available to develop their innate abilities, your managers can prove his point.

Employee Incentive Programs

Best employee incentive programs for health & fitness

Many companies consider wellness programs to be a nice extra — an optional perk to keep employees engaged. The evidence, however, demonstrates that workplace wellness programs have far-reaching economic benefits for the companies that put them in place. Harvard Business Review notes that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on employee health care costs as a result of their long-running emphasis on worker wellness. This works out to a return of $2.71 for every dollar they invested. Here’s a quick look at how you can help your employees improve their level of wellness.

Incentives are essential

The Wall Street Journal reports “Nearly 90 percent of employers offer wellness incentives or financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward getting healthier.” This percentage represents a substantial increase from earlier years, as organizations have come to recognize two things: first, they will benefit financially from a healthier workforce, and second, employees aren’t good at following through with new health habits in the absence of incentives. The fact that people have trouble sticking with health resolutions is well-known, so organizations and workers alike can benefit from well-organized programs.

Diverse approaches to employee incentive programs

Employee incentive programs can be structured around several models, and you may want to draw from each one in order to suit the diversity of personal styles among your staff:

  • Personalized interventions: These reward individual employees for taking specified personal health steps, such as completing a health risk assessment, reaching a target weight, or getting a cancer screening. Individual incentives don’t invite team effort or competition, but people who prefer to make such efforts privately will appreciate receiving an individual bonus.
  • Employee competitions: Some people are motivated by the recognition they will achieve by coming out on top of a friendly competition. The contest model can be applied to such actions as quitting smoking, attending a certain number of exercise classes, or walking the greatest number of steps in a given period. Incentives for winning such competitions can be gift cards, vacation days, and/or public presentation of prizes.
  • Collaboration: The third model for creating employee incentive programs is a collaborative one. Lunchtime walking groups or gym clubs use a supportive camaraderie to encourage employees to remain disciplined. Incentives here can also be cash, gift cards, or peer-to-peer recognition.

Letting your employees know you care about their health and wellbeing will build a sense of loyalty in your organization and contribute to a stable, productive economic future as well.