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4 Easy Tips to Instantly Engage your Employees

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement” refers to, “An employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organizational goals.” The more engaged employees you have, the more positive results you will see – from both a bottom line and a corporate culture standpoint. It’s as simple as that. But as Gallup recently reported, a mere 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work! And it’s not that much better here in the U.S., where only one in three employees are engaged at work.

Is employee engagement something your company struggles with? Start shifting the numbers in your favor with these four easy tips to instantly engage your employees:

Throw out the job description

We aren’t suggesting you should abandon your entire functional structure, but when thinking about roles, titles and capabilities it’s important to keep individual employees in mind. Management expert Glen Llopis encourages supervisors to build each job around the capabilities and interests of the person who currently holds that position. He points out that people stay more focused and perform much better when they enjoy the work they’re doing, and a good manager should be able to expand their leadership lens to consider an employee’s strengths when assigning any projects.

Praise co-workers

Managers aren’t the only ones who can commend a job well done. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition within the workplace can be invaluable in increasing employee engagement. A simple “great job” from a co-worker goes a long way in encouraging employees to embrace teamwork and celebrate accomplishments. When co-workers celebrate shared wins and encourage one another to succeed, they are motivated to perform at their best and gain a sense of camaraderie around achieving one common goal. Spreading praise throughout the office is contagious and serves the dual purpose of instantly engaging employees and building a supportive work culture around shared goals and values.

Make every employee an “insider”

If you trust your employees enough to tell them about your company’s challenges – as well as its victories – you’ll find that they place a high value on your honesty. When employees feel like they’ve been brought in on the real, inside story, they are better able to understand the reasoning behind their company’s policies and actions. As an additional benefit, greater transparency and democratization often lead to innovation, as employees feel inspired and empowered to offer creative solutions to shared problems, which they will likely want to implement themselves. This approach may require a shift in perspective, especially if your company is accustomed to placing multiple filters between the C-suite and line workers. But it’s been proven that in companies with a flat organizational structure transparency can have some very tangible positive results.

Give immediate rewards and recognition

“Congratulate” is one of the “10 C’s” of employee engagement listed by Ivey Business Journal, and there’s a good reason for this. Their research finds that most employees feel that they receive immediate feedback (otherwise known as criticism) when they do something wrong, but that recognition for their positive contributions is usually slow in coming. The most effective leaders make sure to deliver immediate recognition and tangible rewards for a job well done. Rewards and recognition are most impactful when given frequently and tied back to specific desired behaviors or actions, as opposed to generally positive feedback provided quarterly or even yearly.

Employee engagement is not something to take lightly. Industry research shows why employee engagement matters: Just a 1% increase in employee engagement leads directly to an additional .6% growth in sales (according to Aon Hewitt) and companies with highly engaged workplaces have been shown to outperform their peers by 147%. So don’t pass up these simple solutions to help address a complex issue.

Learn more about milestones along the route to employee engagement from our Getting to Greatness Infographic.

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Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

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

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

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

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

Employee Health

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

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

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

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

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

A Kindness Initiative

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

It should include the following components:

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

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

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

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

A Volunteer Initiative

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

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

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

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

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

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

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

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

A Shadow Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

 

Attract Top Talent With Unbeatable Culture

Harness Your Great Culture as a Hiring Tool

By: Melissa Ricker

When it comes to attracting talent, competitive pay and great benefits are two big factors. But there’s a third factor that’s high on the list: company culture. For some professionals, the opportunity to work for an organization with a productive culture that aligns with their own values and work style may even outweigh compensation when it comes to deciding on whether to take a particular job. So if you’ve put in the work to build a great company culture, it should be front and center during as you seek to find the best employees.

Step 1: Have a Great Company Culture

Ideally, your company’s founding leadership fostered a desirable corporate culture from the outset. However, even if that’s not the case, it is never too late to drive change. Culture is the glue that holds an organization together, and the type of glue you use matters. What does your company stand for? What are your values? What is your vision? What do you want your company’s reputation to be? A culture cannot simply be defined in an email and handed down to employees. Sure it has to start at the top so everyone knows that culture is a priority, but everyone needs to buy in and believe that their needs are being met in order for the culture to take root. Every employee is expected to live the values, lead by example, and stop behaviors that violate company standards and shared cultural norms.

Elements of strong corporate culture should revolve around the following traits:

  • Teamwork. Build a team instead of a group of people. Collaboration should be valued.
  • Integrity. Without honesty and integrity, a company is destined to fail. A culture should embed the expectation that all employees act ethically and lawfully.
  • Safety. A company must protect the health and safety of its people. Employees need to feel safe and know that the company will provide them the right tools to do their jobs.
  • People Focused. One of the easiest ways to lose top talent is to fail to develop them. Passionate employees want to continually grow and develop their career. They want to reach their full potential, and they need their employers to empower them to do so.
  • Customer Success. Businesses should strive to be customer centered by building close partnerships with their customers and having a strong desire for their customers to be successful.
  • Quality. Employees should value high-quality workmanship. Shortcuts should not be allowed. The company’s reputation rides on the quality of each individual product that is delivered.
  • Innovation. Creativity and intellectual risk taking should be encouraged to continually move forward in an ever-changing market.
  • Recognition. Recognizing both individual and shared accomplishments, especially when they reinforce shared values, is one of the most effective ways to define a positive, shared, corporate culture.

Once your culture is defined, it needs to be deeply embedded and reinforced. Is your culture so rooted in the organization that it is woven into meetings, company emails, and informal conversations? Do you have a formal recognition program in place that reinforces shared company values and bolsters corporate culture?

Step 2: Use Your Culture to Attract Talent

Once you have a well-defined culture in place, you can use it to recruit top-notch employees. A great corporate culture will cause employees to seek you out. People want to work where they are valued and where their hard work and contributions to the success of the company are recognized. So it only makes sense to hire people whose personal values mesh with the values you desire. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If you assess cultural fit in your recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new role, drive long-term growth and success for your organization, and ultimately save you time and money.” Here is how to do it.

Advertise Your Culture

Your website, your publications and your job postings should advertise your company culture. When a potential candidate walks into the lobby and through the office building for an interview, is the culture you aspire to evident right away?

Your company’s mission statement and values should be promoted and clearly visible all over your place of business. Do not make potential candidates guess as to the type of person you are looking to hire, or what values they should share.

Furthermore, don’t just tell potential candidates about your company culture with words. Show them. Encourage team members to promote your company’s culture on social media. Post pictures of company outings, community service projects, and successful project completions. During interviews, give candidates a chance to talk to other employees. Take them on a tour and point out behaviors that exemplify your culture. Give job seekers a chance to see what it would be like to work for your company.

Interview for Cultural Fit

The interview is your opportunity to determine if the potential new employee is a cultural fit for your business. The most intellectual person on the planet with pages and pages of credentials may not thrive in your company if they do not model the values you are looking for. It is essential that you ask questions to help you determine if someone will reflect the behaviors and beliefs that are crucial to your corporate culture.

  • What drew you to this company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are the things on your life that matter most to you?
  • How would you describe a desirable Work-Life balance?
  • How would you describe the perfect company culture?

Having a strong corporate culture is not only important, it is strategic. Savvy business leaders know that the right culture attracts the best employees. Talented and career driven individuals seek out companies that embody the values that are important to them. The bottom line is that when an employee’s personal culture aligns with the corporate culture, the company will prosper. Use your corporate culture as a marketing tool and watch your business blossom in success.

To learn more, download the eBook All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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About Melissa Ricker

Melissa RickerMelissa Ricker covers business and career topics for JobHero.

 

 

 

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. It’s crucial to create a workplace culture people love. 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. 

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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.

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.

 

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.

Office Holiday Party

Underdressing & overserving: Avoid these common issues at your office holiday party

Do you dread throwing the obligatory annual office holiday party? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. While popular among employees, holiday parties can be stressful for managers because spouses and partners may be present, alcohol is usually involved, and inhibitions are generally lowered. Here are six of the most common pitfalls of office holiday parties, along with easy tips for heading them off.

Reluctant guests

This fact should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Attendance at the office holiday party should not be mandatory. Some employees are just not the party-going kind, and even party lovers will feel more festive if they’re there by choice. Likewise, significant others may be welcomed, but their attendance should not be heavily stressed.

Employee costs

If you can’t afford to hold your party without asking your staff to pick up part of the tab, your goodwill effort might backfire. Management expert Alison Green notes that a simple party with small treats will feel like more of a gift than a pricey dinner that your workers have to subsidize.

Overwhelming details

Party planning works much better if you keep your priorities in order. Young Upstarts points out that color-coordinated napkins and perfect tablecloths won’t matter nearly as much as plenty of good food and a generous bar, including options for non-drinkers too.

Drinking and driving

If you’re serving alcohol, HR specialist Suzanne Lucas urges you to make it easy for partygoers to be responsible by making prior arrangements with a cab company, renting a bus, or holding the party in a location that’s convenient to public transportation.

Too much drink, not enough food

You can head off potential overindulgence in alcohol by making sure there’s a steady supply of munchies. Include protein, vegetables, and gluten-free options so everyone will find something appealing.

It’s a party, not work

As a manager, the office holiday party is not the place to bring up work topics. Trying to use the good cheer to fuel work tasks will only deflate the team’s holiday spirit and deplete their motivation.

When handled well, holiday office parties can deepen the camaraderie among team members and build warmth that lasts well into the new year. If you’re sensitive to the potential pitfalls, you can plan ahead and avoid them. Then, you can throw a holiday party that’s enjoyable for workers and management alike.

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.

Dogs at work

Do dogs at work actually improve employee engagement?

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

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

Pooches reduce workplace stress

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

Staff members become more sociable

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

Dogs can distract co-workers

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

Pet-free zones can help

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

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

The route to employee engagement

Infographic: The route to employee engagement

The most successful businesses are rooted in an engaged workforce, where employees are valued for their contributions. It seems simple, yet many companies are missing the mark when it comes to connecting their employees with core engagement factors like their company’s mission, their experience of recognition at work, and their workplace culture.

This is the “greatness gap” that many employers are dealing with today. HR and business leaders work hard to create a company mission and vision, craft a culture statement, and roll out employee recognition programs … yet something’s still not clicking. That’s why we decided to survey hundreds of full-time employees throughout North America to determine how engaged they feel at work, how often they get recognized, and whether they feel aligned with their company’s mission. The results were pretty shocking — and we’ve highlighted some of the biggest stats below.

We encourage you to get the rest of our employee engagement insights by downloading the full Achievers 2015 North American workforce survey results right here.

Greatness-Infographic-FINAL_smaller

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The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility

The importance of corporate social responsibility programs for employee engagement

Organizations with well-defined social responsibility programs can improve their brand reputation, attract more job candidates and customers, and increase employee engagement.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs arose from the understanding that businesses function as a part of society—the success of each deeply affects the other. The importance of corporate social responsibility has increased in recent years, in large part due to the growing influence of millennials. According to the Brookings Institute, within 10 years millennials will represent three quarters of the workforce. For this generation, brand loyalty belongs to companies that offer actionable solutions to specific social problems. Eighty-three percent of millennials expect businesses to try harder and achieve more with their social responsibility programs, according to a recent study.

This discerning generation is seeking out companies to work for and to patronize that make genuine contributions to charitable and social causes. This shift in values makes a real difference financially. A report by the Harvard Business Review pointed out that there is a strong link between CSR programs and profitability: “CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed—it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.”

Additionally, the US Federal Reserve found that three out of four (74 percent) of the highest revenue companies in the US now have CSR programs. Globally, the percentage of CSR reporting organizations rose to 80 percent of the world’s largest corporations.

From an HR standpoint, corporate social responsibility programs are instrumental in helping employees feel more engaged and more aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values. According to Forbes, “More and more, executive management came to realize that employees expected choice and access in their giving and volunteering.”

How can companies allow their employees to get involved with social responsibility at work? Here are some examples of how companies are encouraging employees to get involved with social responsibility programs:

  • Toyota offers each employee a $250 grant to their favorite charity after they complete 50 hours of public service.
  • HP allows employees to take four paid hours for volunteering each month.
  • Timberland invites and encourages employees, business partners, and even customers to get involved in its volunteering efforts.
  • KPMG hosts recognition award dinners where senior managers personally congratulate employees who excel in volunteering.

Other popular CSR programs include the coordination of group trips for employees to volunteer together during the work day, and employer matching for employee donations to specified charities.

The future of business belongs to millennials, who are the largest population group in US history and already outnumber baby boomers. They were raised with concerns about society and the environment, and they look to businesses to solve the world’s greatest problems. Meanwhile, many of the world’s most successful organizations have incorporated social responsibility into their core brand mission and messaging.

At Achievers, we’re such big believers in the power of CSR for employee engagement that we’ve dedicated one of our Achievers 50 Most Engaged Elite 8 Awards to corporate social responsibility. In 2015 the honor went to Netsuite, Inc. for initiatives led by its corporate citizenship arm, Netsuite.org.

Corporate Wellness Programs

Step it up! 5 ways to make healthy lifestyle part of your company culture

Corporate wellness programs can lead to better employee engagement, greater productivity, and fewer long-term health care costs. However, you don’t need enterprise-level resources to support your employees in leading a healthier lifestyle. Even small and mid-sized businesses can introduce changes that will support a culture of health and wellness, and many of them don’t cost anything.

“The workplace is too often an overlooked but important part of the employee well-being equation. With people spending so much time on the job, it’s key for companies to recognize their influence on people’s health, well-being, and productivity,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, the habits-focused well-being company. “Ultimately, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to improving employee well-being, and successfully changing habits goes way beyond a person’s individual willpower. As an organization, anything you can do to support your people’s health will make a difference. It’s all about helping them by making small tweaks to the environment and culture so that healthy choices and changes are easier.”

  1. Promote exercise

Physical activity is one important key to better health. Depending on the size and nature of your workplace, you have many options for encouraging your workers to be active. Secure bike parking and employee showers are great options if your facilities allow for those, but simpler innovations can also be effective. Establish and incentivize a lunch hour walking club, or subsidize gym memberships and give points for hours attended. Fitness trackers are also increasing in popularity, and they allow employees to track their steps and other relevant health data. Holding friendly competitions, such as steps challenges, using these devices is a great way to integrate technology into your wellness programs.

  1. Get everyone on their feet

Numerous research studies indicate that prolonged periods of sitting result in unique health problems, and that “exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting,” according to one biomedical researcher. Provide your staff with standing desk options and encourage hourly stand-and-stretch breaks. Walk-and-talk meetings are another great option, because they simultaneously allow for physical activity while also keeping meetings from running too long.

  1. Offer healthy snacks

Good nutrition will give your employees the stamina they need to stay sharp throughout the workday. While special occasions still warrant cookies and cake, you should support your workers’ daily nutrition with healthier options. Stock vegetable snack trays, fresh fruit baskets, and plenty of low-calorie snacks that people can grab when they’re in a rush. Be sure to position healthy options right within eyesight, and consider hiding less healthy options in cabinets or in opaque containers to reduce temptation. Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google, refers to these easy techniques as “nudges,” and they’re extremely powerful. Google employees were able to cut 3 million calories from their diets as a result of nudges, and your employees could see similar results.

  1. Support mental health

Stress, anxiety, and depression are destructive forces in your employees’ lives. Linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and immune disorders, these mental health issues also lead to sleep deprivation, family problems, and poor performance at work. Your company and employees both will benefit from any programs you put in place to address these common issues. In addition to providing support resources for employees in need, review your health benefits to ensure that you’re providing adequate mental health care coverage, and encourage or require employees to use all of their allotted vacation days.

  1. Prevent illness

Flu season takes its toll each year on productivity, as employees and their family members succumb to long spells of illness. Furthermore, a hard bout of flu weakens the immune system, leaving the person vulnerable to whatever ambient infections cross their path. If possible, provide on-site flu vaccines to your entire staff. If this isn’t feasible, consider subsidizing your employees’ share of vaccine costs and provide paid time to go and get the shots. Additionally, managers should always encourage sick employees to stay home—not only will they recover more quickly, but they won’t spread their illness to colleagues. Ensure that your managers are trained to prioritize employee health over face time.

The health of your business cannot be separated from the individual health of your employees. When your organization becomes an ally in supporting each member’s wellness, you’re committing to better engagement, improved productivity, and increased loyalty. À votre santé!

Cultural Fit Interview Questions

6 questions every recruiter should ask to determine cultural fit

Savvy hiring managers have shifted their thinking about how to vet prospective candidates: they’ve realized that they have better long-term success when they focus on cultural fit moreso than work history and experience. While many job skills can be taught through on-the-job training, there’s almost nothing a manager or HR person can do to change an employee’s personality, work preferences, and sources of motivation.

Finding a person who is the right match for your company’s culture can be tricky. Check out six cultural interview questions every recruiter should ask to determine whether a job candidate is a fit for your organization.

  1. Describe your ideal work environment and team interactions

Begin by listening to how candidates express their work preferences. Listen carefully for jargon and stilted answers; pre-interview research of your organization may be influencing their answers.

  1. Explain how you interact with colleagues outside of your team, at higher or lower-level positions, or on multi-departmental teams.

When hiring for an open position in a highly collaborative environment, you’ll want to be sure that candidates are comfortable working with nearly any other employee in the organization.

  1. Tell me what your earliest work or volunteer opportunities taught you about career goals and values.

While personalities may be pretty set, how employees approach situations can change over time based upon individual experiences. Knowing what a person has taken away from prior experiences that continues to be impactful as an employee can tell you a lot about how he or she will mesh with your own organization.

  1. What are three things you expect from your work environment in order to be successful in your role?

With this question, you will be trying to gauge several things: level of supervision and collaboration, amount of concrete versus discrete support needs, and how future-thinking tasks like continuing education or development may impact how your candidate expects to work toward success.

  1. What was your best work environment experience? (For entry-level candidates, invite responses related to volunteer experience or school/club experience.)

By describing past environments in which he or she has been successful, a candidate can reveal what circumstances they need to thrive: anything from team structure, to preferred manager style, to office environment. This will give you clear insight into whether the attributes of your organization align with the candidate’s needs.

  1. What was your worst work environment experience and how would you have changed it to be a better experience?

This question may lead to interesting responses. Watch for the difference between complaining about an experience versus lining out problems and suggesting how they may be addressed. This will show you if a potential employee may be willing to work to address any problem areas your company has already identified.

Asking candidates skill-based and behavior-based questions are a great way to understand their capabilities and experience, but cultural interview questions allow you to determine how well an individual will fit in at your organization based on their intrinsic strengths, personality, and preferences. Be sure to integrate these culture questions in each of your interviews if you want to increase the chance of long-term employee engagement and success.

Work-life balance tips

You look like you need a vacation: Helping your employees disconnect

Are you one of the 64 percent of managers who expect their employees to be continually available by email and phone? This figure comes from a recent survey by Workplace Trends, and the ramifications of blurring the boundaries between personal time and work time are concerning. Too often, both employers and employees assume that true dedication means they’re never off the clock – in reality, this inability to leave work behind yields only inefficiency and emotional burnout. Forward-thinking employers support (and even pay) their staff to disconnect completely when they’re not at work.

Weekends and vacations act as mental “reset buttons,” helping workers remain effective by allowing them to refresh themselves and engage fully in other interests. Decades of research show that humans perform better when they have the chance for rest and recuperation. Football coaches encourage players to get plenty of rest before a game, and colleges warn students not to study all night long before a big exam.

An increasing number of businesses now recognize that their workers are more engaged on the job when they have the chance to disconnect. In fact, the CEO of Evernote now pays employees $1,000 to take a vacation in which they stay entirely disconnected from work. FullContact went one step further, offering its employees $7,500 to take non-working vacations.

The trend toward working from home and using personal mobile devices on business trips creates confusion about what constitutes personal time. In addition, the economic pressures of the recent recession have instilled fear in employees that if they take truly disconnected vacations, they might be passed over for promotions.

To encourage your employees to get the mental refreshment they need, here’s a quick list of work-life balance tips:

  • Set an example: When you’re not working, let your staff know that you aren’t available by phone or email.
  • Make disconnecting during non-work hours a company-wide policy, and publicize it widely.
  • Provide assistance with delegating, especially if your employees have a tough time believing it is safe to leave work in a colleague’s hands.
  • Reassure workers that you don’t value them on the basis of over-connectedness. Instead, praise them for demonstrating good mental hygiene (as shown by being able to step away from phone and email).
  • Incentivize taking all the allotted vacation time.

Even if it takes a bit of effort to break the habit, your organization will benefit from the change in culture. When your employees have the chance to take a true break from work on evenings, weekends, and vacations, they’ll come back with increased productivity and improved morale.

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire greatness during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-05What is greatness? Your employees and colleagues are doing great things every day, and the only way to keep them motivated to keep up the great work is to recognize them for it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start recognizing the greatness in your fellow colleagues today!

As we close out Employee Appreciation Week 2015, here are a few articles to help inspire you to recognize greatness today, and every day!

How to inspire greatness: stop leadingInc.

13 epic battle speeches that will inspire greatnessMashable

These 4 feelings could hold you back from greatnessEntrepreneur

The complexity of greatness: beyond talent or practiceScientific American

 

Have you recognized greatness today?

Employee Appreciation Week

3 Links to drive results during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-04

Eventually, it all comes down to results. While the journey is definitely important, it’s also crucial to measure how that journey leads us to success. Recognizing success within your organization has a fantastic side effect; it encourages even more success.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on getting results to inspire recognition—and results—today!

5 Unconventional habits that’ll make you successfulThe Daily Muse

Micro vs macro: Using “success factors” to manage your team99U

7 Scientifically proven ways to achiever better success in lifeInc.

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

3 reasons your mobile app shouldn’t mirror your desktop application

By Justin Rutherford, National Account Executive, Achievers

A couple of years back, I downloaded one of the most popular CRM apps for iOS thinking this was going to triple my productivity, “Now I can work while on the train to the office. This is awesome!” But I quickly realized the app was less than I’d hoped for. It was clunky and difficult to navigate. After several attempts to squeeze even an ounce of value out of the tool, it was promptly deleted and I haven’t attempted using it since.

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

And this isn’t unique to this particular company. Many organizations evaluating enterprise applications are overlooking some basic needs for users when determining what to put in front of their employees. Although I’m not a developer, I’ve tested my fair share of apps. As someone who frequently has conversations with HR leaders on the topic, here’s where organizations are missing the mark with their enterprise apps:

1.  Feature overload

Think about the consumer applications that have been wildly successful from the start. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. Their focus from day one has been a delightful, wholly native mobile experience. Product design for each is focused on doing one thing really well; sharing photos, newsfeed of mini blog posts respectively. Over the years they’ve compounded their initial success, slowly layering-on features that continue to enhance that experience.

But that isn’t what I experienced with my CRM app. It was packed with “features” that were more congesting than they were useful. Because it was so overloaded, it was frustrating and difficult to navigate.

Ray Wang did a great job cataloging what many of us have experienced with business applications on our mobile devices. He notes that first and second generation mobile experiences failed us,

Instead of crafting new experiences, first and second-generation apps, mostly mimicked the same experiences as the systems of transaction they replaced.

Lightbulb moment. We don’t need everything from desktop versions of software on our apps. If we’re on the move and using our phones, that probably means we just need some of the basics to “get it done.” Look at email apps for example. They’re pretty basic. Read, reply, draft and send. And you know what? That’s all we need when we’re away from our desks. The complicated things can wait until we’re back at our desks.

If enterprise apps released themselves from the shackles of desktop replication, their customers would have a much more productive, enjoyable mobile experience.

2. Utilization and adoption

I can tell you the top five apps that I open up daily, why they fit into my routine, and what value I derive from them personally and socially. Now take a look at what business applications are on your phone today. I’d wager a bet that email is the only one that sees any serious traffic on a regular basis. Why is this?

If a tool isn’t useful to the majority of your workforce, they’re not going to use it. My CRM company didn’t factor in how different users would most value the app, so it was targeted at a small, specific user persona, essentially alienating everyone else—including me.

Take stock of what your employees are using, and figure out how to cater to as many of them as possible. If you’re having trouble identifying value in business apps across the organization, it’s because too few employees are deriving meaningful value from the tools they’re provided.

For HR leaders, the biggest task is to be champions and enablers of culture. A big piece of that monstrous, constantly shifting puzzle—empowering individual contributors and people leaders with the right tools to execute on engagement and leadership strategies. At scale. If what you’re putting in front of them isn’t enabling this to happen, employees will continue to cobble together what they need to get the job done.

If done correctly, utilization and adoption doesn’t become a means to an end for enterprise tools, as in, “I have to use this tool because HR says I have to” but a natural result of users finding the app makes their lives easier.

3. The user experience

In a world of system overload, well documented by Josh Bersin, software tools find they become lost in the mix, plagued with 30% adoption rates across the organization. Demand for employees’ attention comes from so many directions, so when it’s difficult to see immediate value, they’ll quickly move on.

My CRM app was anything but enjoyable to use. I was frustrated with the first tap, and was more inclined to write a scathing review in the App Store than ever use it again. They could learn from companies like Evernote, who continues to deliver a positive user experience. They lured me with it’s simple to use note-taking feature, and over time, I discovered new uses that made the mobile experience uniquely valuable, while also complimenting the broader features and functionality of the desktop version.

Mobile can’t just be a box that’s checked. The user experience must be one that employees want to use because they love the experience—not one they have to use. And the bonus side-effect of loving your mobile app, is that your users are more likely to get attached to the desktop version, too. Win win.

comscoreTalent strategies are quickly becoming people strategies. In the same way, talent focused technologies that are doing it right, are focused on the value the individual user derives from the tool. With mobile usage quickly eclipsing that of desktop, it’s more important than ever to make sure the tools you’re providing to your employees make their work life easy, connected, and seamless.

 

 

 

 

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

 

To learn more about Achievers’ latest product release, read the press release.

 

JustinJustin shares his passion for talent strategies that deliver an employee first experience as a National Account Executive for Achievers. When he’s not poring over the latest analyst reports, Justin devotes a significant portion of his free time eating all the great food San Francisco has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire leadership during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-03

A good leader can make all the difference in a team’s success—and longevity. And one key to encouraging a culture of recognition lies within your leaders. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, too—they’re not just managers.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on leadership to inspire recognition—and leadership—today!

Between Venus and Mars: 7 traits of true leadersInc.

Become a better leader by thinking like Swiss cheeseLifehacker

You don’t have to be a CEO to develop leadership qualitiesEntreprenuer

5 Ways to transform yourself into a leaderThe Daily Muse

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire collaboration during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-02Put a few great minds in a room together and see what happens. You already have talented, motivated, and creative talent in your organization. What do you think will result when you encourage them to collaborate in new ways?

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on collaboration to inspire recognition—and collaboration—today!

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a collaborative leader?Harvard Business Review

What jazz soloists know about creative collaboration99U

Thomas Edison’s keys to managing team collaborationFastCompmany

Standing improves group collaborationMashable

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for employee appreciation week?

 

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

3 keys to social recognition for HR professionals

This month, Brandon Hall Group released their recent Employee Engagement Survey, which suggested that a strategic employee engagement solution dramatically impacts an organization’s bottom line. For many companies, investing in social recognition solutions has had an incredible impact on retention, performance and productivity.

But how can HR professionals use social recognition to successfully implement an employee engagement program and align their employees to their organization’s values and business objectives?

Read on for three keys to understanding social recognition for HR professionals, and how to build the business case for implementing a social recognition solution..

Current engagement strategies aren’t effective
Only 32% of organizations have implemented formal engagement strategies. And just about everyone else relies on engagement surveys conducted by HR teams. While surveys can provide insight into the health of the organization, they represent a static point in the past, and fail to capture engagement in real time. Brandon Hall Group’s research revealed that one key to a comprehensive, long-term employee engagement strategy is consistent recognition. Adopting a social recognition platform brings employee success to life and increases engagement levels, boosting organizational performance.

It’s not about money
Many businesses use monetary incentives as tools to engage their employees. Brandon Hall Group urges organizations to think differently when it comes to employee engagement. Although monetary rewards can easily be paired with a recognition, the power of social recognition shouldn’t be overlooked. Today’s modern workforce values immediate feedback, and uses it as a springboard for innovation. When employees experience immediate recognition for their contributions, it naturally increases recognition levels across the organization, further driving business results and establishing a culture of recognition.

Link engagement to performance
In order for companies to effectively boost engagement levels, they need to ensure that recognition is part of the culture. The best way to facilitate this is by implementing a social recognition platform. From there, leaders can use the tool to align individual performance, productivity and engagement to company performance. The link between engagement and productivity is innate: employees who are engaged at work are driven to outperform.

 

Learn more about how investing in a social recognition platform can positively impact your business. Download the Brandon Hall Group report, Building the business  case for social recognition solutions.

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Employee engagement: the buzzword for business success

The term, “employee engagement,” earned itself buzzword status in 2014, and with good reason. With each passing year, we learn more about the importance of engaging employees, and why they’re the key to any successful business and employee engagement continues to be the cornerstone for success—both for employees and businesses.

As you prepare for 2015, here’s a roundup of some of our favorite articles and resources from 2014 to help you engage, align, recognize, and reward your employees in the new year.

Engage

Why Employee Engagement Is Critical to Corporate SuccessMashable

How to Lose an Employee in 10 DaysAchievers

Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement NowGallup

Align

Company Culture Is Part of Your Business ModelHarvard Business Review

It Really Pays to Have a Rich Company CultureEntrepreneur

Company Culture: What’s the Big Hype?Achievers

Recognize

The Art and Science of Giving and Receiving Criticism At WorkFast Company

The Ultimate Guide to Employee RecognitionAchievers

The Wrong Way to Thank EmployeesThe Wall Street Journal

Reward

11 Non-Traditional Ways to Reward Innovative EmployeesTLNT

5 Ways to Reward Great Employees Besides MoneyInc.

Top Talent, Tight Wallet: 4 Budget-Friendly Ways to Reward EmployeesThe Daily Muse

 

Wishing you an engaging New Year!

– Your friends at Achievers

 

 

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Keeping Employees Engaged Over the Holidays—And After

By Cheryl Kerrigan, VP Employee Success, Achievers

Keeping employee morale and productivity up during the holiday season isn’t easy. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year employees are pulled in many directions, excited—and distracted—with the festivities at work and at home. The key to keeping employees focused, and to continue driving momentum during the last few months of the year is with culture. Managers can engage their teams and keep them productive—and happy—with a few thoughtful steps:

 

1.     Align your team

Do your employees know your company’s mission? More importantly, do you know your company’s mission? If your employee base is aligned to your organization’s mission and business objectives, they’re more likely to stay motivated throughout this busy time of year. When you involve your employees in setting benchmarks for achievable goals, especially as the year winds down, you’ll find they continue delivering the caliber of performance you appreciate the rest of the year. Over communicate individual roles and responsibilities to keep your team aligned, focused, and motivated to succeed.

2.     Celebrate success, every day

Embrace the opportunity to celebrate and thank your employees at work, every day. Employees value immediate feedback so make it a daily habit to recognize your employees for a job well done and you’ll begin to see great behaviors repeated. According to Gallup, 80 percent of employees say that recognition is a strong motivator for their work performance, and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. There’s really no reason to put it off. Recognition is a great way to motivate your employees to continue driving results through the excitement of the holiday season, and long after.

3.     Empower employees to work from anywhere

If work-life balance is important to your company culture (it should be), then the holidays are a great time to prove it. Start by defining goals and making sure employees are clear on your organization’s direction. Next, empower them to work remotely or provide more flexibility with hours, so employees can accommodate for family travel and schedules. Show your employees you trust that they’ll get the job done. They‘ll appreciate the flexibility of completing tasks on their own timeline. Come January, you’ll see a refreshed and re-energized team back in the office, ready to tackle new challenges.

 

cheryl-kerrigan
Cheryl is Vice President, Employee Success at Achievers where she is responsible for overall people strategy, which focuses on attracting, retaining, and inspiring top talent. Cheryl brings more than 15 years experience in Human Resources; prior to Achievers, she held an HR Leader position at Eloqua. While at Eloqua, she was responsible for building out the HR function and strategy and attracting and developing the talent to grow the business from 10 million to over 100 million in revenue. Cheryl earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Guelph and a post graduate certificate in Human Resource Management from Seneca College.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of (christmasstockimages.com) / CC BY 3.0

How not to engage your employees

How Not to Engage Your Employees

This week, Canadian ad agency, Union Advertising, shows us how they reward their employees for their hard work. While obviously a spoof, the hint of truth to the ad will strike a nerve with most of us, and is a great example of how not to treat your employees.

Are there really employers like this out there? I hope not.

Instead, we’d love to hear what your organization does that actually puts a smile on your face and makes you feel recognized and rewarded.

Share your experience in the comments!

 

HR Tech Europe

Lessons Learned At HR Tech Europe—When I Wasn’t There

Don’t get me wrong; I learned a lot from HR Tech Europe in Amsterdam, and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The sessions were great. Connecting with several analysts and the media was enlightening. The people I met in the Spire bar as we passed around red drink tickets and stories were plenty and inspiring. But, the biggest takeaway from my first HR Tech Europe experience didn’t happen at the show; it happened at an old Heineken Brewery.

heinekenWith two fellow Achievers (as you can see by my pictures below with amazing colleagues Loren and Katie; we had a great time), we took part in the Heineken Experience. On Saturday afternoon after HR Tech, we spent three hours learning about the quality of Heineken beer and had a few (ok, a lot of) samples. But what stood out most for me wasn’t the product, or the brilliant Heineken marketing, or the fun experience and copious amounts of silly pictures—it was that Heineken’s unwavering focus on their people continues to make this company great.

Throughout the experience, it was obvious that Heineken creates a culture where their people, and in turn their company, can thrive. It starts with a dedicated room that shows a video from their Executive Director of their Board, Charlene Lucille de Carvalho-Heineken, describing the values of Respect, Quality and Enjoyment. She comments on how every decision the company makes flourishes from these values, creating an aligned purpose.

There’s a wall of stories describing how the leadership was insanely focused on putting their people first. In one story from 1923, Heineken became one of the first Dutch companies to establish a non-contributory pension fund for its employees. In 1929, a decade after an economic crisis, Heineken refused to fire or lay off employees, and instead provided early retirement options at age 58. In 1937, they developed The Heineken Foundation for Personnel to provide extra support for employees in need. Decades later, Heineken continues to focus on innovating great culture fit, earning them awards around the world for their focus on employees. Seriously, this company is amazing—just check out their latest hiring campaign.

The people I met embody everything we all want in our employees. They’re focused, energized, passionate, and engaged. Listening to—and watching—them speak about the product was inspiring, and more akin to a parent talking about their newborn child. The woman providing us our first sample didn’t call it “yellow beer,” she called it “liquid gold.” And all did it with a passion and confidence that they belonged to the Heineken family. You’d never guess they’d been doing the same thing, hour after hour, over and over, to more than 600,000 visitors so far in 2014.

Every interaction, from the gentleman selling us our tickets, to the lovely woman accepting them, to the person that checked out all the things I couldn’t resist from the gift shop, and everyone in between, showed that the employees not only lived and believed in the brand, they’re actively a part of the Heineken journey.

And I’m not just talking about people. Heineken’s horses are behind the brew, too.

Heineken2Yup! That’s not a typo. Even the horses are recognized as part of the family with an entire section dedicated to the role horses have played in Heineken’s growth for over 150 years. Horses were the prime method of distribution for the tasty-suds, from the streets of Amsterdam and beyond, up until the 1960’s. They highlighted their importance and displayed their continued purpose. They displayed how they are part of the family. They even have a vacation day each year when all the horses are taken on a field trip to run free in the pastures. They even take care of them after they retire for the remainder of their lives. The horses are as part of the culture as their people.

Heineken3Throughout our tour there were many passionate references to the ‘secret-sauce’ in their beer—affectionately named the ‘A-Yeast’—that keeps Heineken’s taste consistent, in 180 countries worldwide. It reminded me of the importance of alignment, and why company culture is the secret sauce your competition can’t duplicate. There are 20,000 beer brands worldwide that can make a beer with a similar look, feel, taste, and smell as Heineken.

And, so it happened that my biggest ‘ah-ha’ from HR Tech Europe came off-site of the event in an old brewery. I urge you as business and HR leaders to consider this: Anyone can build your product and compete in your market. Give a smart kid some money and a laptop and they can probably build a product better than yours—I saw more superior products in the Disrupt HR section of HR Tech than what’s currently out in the market. That means what sets you apart isn’t just in what you build, but who builds it, and why. One of my primary goals as a manager and a leader in two fast-growth companies has been simply this; don’t let a single employee be a passenger. Hire to your company values and culture, and ensure that they have the chance to belong to something they can feel passionate about and engaged with. This includes being transparent, allowing employees to have a voice, having a purpose, mission and values that are clear and lived by senior management (and not just a page on your website), and recognizing and aligning employees with that vision.

Isn’t this what HR Tech is all about? All the fancy tools and technologies are great, but so often they aren’t people centric. Technology, tools, platforms—whatever you want to call them—are enablers. They need to enable people to align to the behaviors and values you want every employee to embody, and empower them to do their jobs more effectively and passionately.

Heineken4I learned a lot at the Heineken Experience but one other thing was new and cool to me. I was unaware that the three letter e’s in the Heineken logo were turned slightly to make it look like they were smiling. A nice touch for their brand and culture. With the whole experience that day, my fellow Achievers and I had three faces smiling back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RobRob Catalano is a Vice-President at Achievers focusing on the company’s global expansion. Marketer by trade, but focused on HR by passion – Rob has spent a decade growing Achievers in multiple roles focused on helping companies engage, align and recognize their employees to drive company purpose, values and phenomenal business performance. Follow him at @RobCatalano

 

Humanizing HR Technology

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

We’ve seen an unprecedented explosion in SaaS-based HR technology in the past 5+ years. Solutions that potentially solve virtually every conceivable problem within the broad spectrum of Human Resources—recruitment, on-boarding, performance management, employee engagement, recognition, talent management—the list goes on. The possibilities are infinite as to how successful these emerging technologies are at driving business value for organizations across the globe.

Yet, with all of this technology goodness comes a basic observation, or challenge, that may impact the ability of organizations to maximize value; people. None of this great technology will do us much good if we’re not ensuring employees remain at the forefront of the business.

What exactly does this mean?

Think about it for a second. Technology has streamlined business processes, opened up the floodgates to data accessibility, instantly connected people regardless of geography, and promoted user experience personalization—we’re connected anytime, anywhere, and using our devices of choice, from smartphones and tablets, to laptops, and even wearable devices.

The business case has been clearly made, and it’s an attractive one. The effects of these advancements are hugely positive, and advantageous to driving business value and outcomes. On the other hand, we’re also seeing a trend where technology adoption has somewhat replaced the face-to-face human interaction. Instead of walking over to a colleagues desk, we send an email. Don’t want to talk on the phone? Send a text. The impact? A de-humanization of the workplace—an over-reliance and dependence on technology to facilitate people interactions.

Technology can still be our friend

I’m not saying using technology isn’t a good thing, but I am saying that over-dependence at the expense of face-to-face contact could have significant negative repercussions. Nothing will ever replace the influence, impact, and strength of face-to-face interactions, and this is critically important to think about and consider within the realm of Human Resources and the workplace.

Without a doubt, technology is, and will continue to be at the center of the workplace and human resources strategy, driving business value, but it’s crucial that we don’t do so at the expense of our human connections. Organizations are made up of people who require an emotional connection to each other, the workplace, and the brand. As HR practitioners we need to be cognizant of this cause and effect relationship, and support our organizations to maximize their investments in technology, people and the workplace.

 

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

Talent Community

What’s a Talent Community?

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

Talent pool, talent network or talent community—semantics shemantics. We in the HR industry appear to be having some difficulties wrapping our heads around all of this. For starters, we can’t seem to agree on the definitions for each of these terms, let alone understand what the core purposes of each are. The so-called ‘industry influencers’ are struggling with this as well. If the thought-leaders and influencers are struggling, how can the industry at large have a clear understanding?

Part of the problem with understanding talent communities, lies in our attempts to define it. While we could sit around and debate the meaning of specific words, concepts and ideas, a simple definition just doesn’t capture the essence of what a talent community really is at its core.

Instead, what if we equate the core purpose of a talent community to the practice of relationship building? Take a marketer for example. Why are successful marketers successful? Is it because they create more appealing advertisements? Is it because they have a way with words? Or is it because they are the loudest on social networks? No, not really, and probably not.

A marketer’s success hinges on their ability to build strong relationships based on value, respect, credibility, honesty, and reciprocity. They have the ability to effectively tap into the emotional core of their target audience. They’re engaging and conversational, always discovering and sharing, and asking questions. Their success is directly correlated to their engagement with their audience.

This is exactly what a talent community is all about. The final desired outcome is a rich community of top talent that loves and promotes the brand.

Yet, to date, the approach that the majority of the HR industry has taken is what I call an “old school sales” approach. The industry has this notion that employers hold all the power, and that simply offering an open position is all the effort needed to attract top talent. With this approach, dialogue between a prospect and the organization is limited and one-sided, not to mention inconsistent. Oh, and it’s terribly boring—for everyone involved. How in the world can this practice differentiate you from your competitors, promote brand awareness, and ultimately build strong relationships? Tactics like these only seek to define a position, not create a community.

Appropriately, the answer here isn’t easy. Simply stating the desired qualities of your ideal employees won’t magically draw them to you. Instead, seek out the best talent you know, and ask them how they build relationships with their target audiences. Then begin to cultivate the type of community that attracts the caliber of colleague you’re looking for.

Like any good community, your talent community is only as good as its members. Dedicate the time and effort to understand yours, and you’ll find your success far surpasses a simple definition.

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

Happy at Work

Get Happy—5 Links to Help Keep Everyone Smiling at Work

Imagine it’s a Monday morning and you’ve just arrived to the office. How’s your mood? Are you excited to be at work? Does the prospect of a new week get you excited? Are you smiling?

Happiness in the workplace may sound like a pie-in-the-sky concept, but the good news is, it’s not. Although happiness has often been attributed to an individual, there are things managers and companies can do to help foster a happy office environment. Here are five of our favorite links from around the web to help get your office smiling.

 

1. Why Happiness at Work Matters – (Inc.)

2. Make Fun a Workplace Priority for Happier Staff and Clients – (Lifehacker)

3. The Benefits of Bringing More Play into Your Work – (tinybuddha)

4. 5 Simple Office Policies That Make Danish Workers Way More Happy Than Americans – (FastCo.Exist)

5. Reframing Your Way to Happiness – (Forbes)

Maintaining a happy and fulfilling home life is a goal most of us have. So, with most of our waking lives spent at work, striving for the same at work makes perfect sense. Keep these tips and insights in mind as you and your company works to keep your employees happy and engaged.

 

Photo courtesy of: adt610 via Compfight cc

HR Achievers AACE

The New Face of HR

product spotlightThe HR space is in the midst of a dramatic upgrade, and this year’s #AACE14 conference proves there’s a new face to human resources.

As a newcomer to the space—I joined Achievers in San Francisco last week—I have to admit, I had a few preconceived ideas about what an HR conference would look like.

Yet, when I hit the conference floor this morning, I felt like I was walking in on the latest, Silicon Valley darling’s newest product launch. Even at 7 AM, the mood was electric, and excited attendees chatted over coffee while exchanging social media handles. It was all very sexy.

Not exactly the stuffy, rigid, image of HR professionals I was used to. But, after spending the day with this group, I’m happy to say my perception of HR is forever changed. Gone is the notion of a matronly HR administrator, cloistered in an office far away from the team, buried behind a towering pile of personnel forms and employee handbooks.

After just one day with the esteemed group attending #AACE14, it’s clear there’s a new face of Human Resources. Here’s what they look like:

Innovators

Not one single person here today is satisfied with the status quo. Like any other disruptive technology or movement, innovation is at the heart of everyone involved, and the result is impressive. From exciting product innovations, to groundbreaking corporate initiatives making employee recognition a priority, the event was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm.

In the past, HR was plagued with the reputation of being an inflexible, necessary evil. After what I’ve seen today, that reputation no longer applies, and innovation is the new normal for HR.

 

Risk Takers

Using the word “risk” in same sentence as “human resources” might sound, well, risky, but it’s not. After listening to a handful of companies share their stories about implementing employee engagement platforms, one thing was clear; this wasn’t an easy sell. While just about everyone on the planet acknowledges being recognized for a job well done is welcome feedback, not everyone understands how that’s done—or is willing to take on the challenge of figuring it out. None of those people where in attendance today. Fortunately, today’s HR professionals are fiercely dedicated to their craft—not to mention fearless. Not only do they have to convince a tough crowd of executives that employee recognition is a worthwhile investment, they also have to convince armies of employees. Change can be a challenge, but the dedicated professionals here today, are taking it head on, and we’ll all be thanking them for it, soon.

 

Humans

Yes, human. A resounding battle cry throughout the day, was that we need to put the “human” in human resources. Whether it was highlighting the need for focus on developing relationships, to understanding the value of social recognition, everyone here today agreed—we’re all humans. Every piece of technology, every campaign, every initiative, had one thing in common; we all need the human touch. As our founder, Razor Suleman, said in his keynote this morning, “This is about the conversation, not compliance.”

 

The power and energy at this conference is infectious. I spent over 15 years of my career, seeing my colleagues in HR one way, and after just one day at #AACE14, I’ll never see HR the same again.

 

Purpose over perks: SF panel takes on office culture

culture_management
The San Francisco Bay Area takes office culture seriously, with office chefs, baristas, masseuses and kegs spreading far beyond the Google campus. The Bold Italic and General Assembly cohosted a panel with leading culture creators from eBay, Airbnb, Square, Whisk, and Coalesse to discuss how to create effective office culture in this competitive environment.

The lively discussion centered around these increasingly ubiquitous perks and their real impact on engagement and productivity in the workplace. In all, the panelists agreed with moderator Josh Levine, brand strategist and principal at Great Monday: “It’s not that you love your job. It’s that you have the opportunity to.”

So how can we effectively adopt these processes and give our employees the greatest opportunity to love their jobs? By creating office culture deliberately, starting with a central purpose, and adapting from there.

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The “Happiest Jobs in America” reveals the #1 reason for employee happiness

What do a loan officer, warehouse manager and accountant have in common? Okay, the answer probably didn’t come to you immediately, so I’ll let you in on the secret: these are some of the happiest jobs in America. Yes folks, you heard that right. CareerBliss recently released the list of the 20 happiest jobs in America, and since you’re probably wondering how in the world these jobs ever topped the list, we’ll break down the key reason why these jobs outshine the competition.

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It’s Friday! Fun, fun, fun, fun.

Rebecca Black may have written the anthem, but Achievers sets the trend when it comes to Fridays!  What better way to unwind at the end of the week than with some fun, fun, fun, fun?  Our First Round Fridays often reign top of the list for reasons why employees love working at the company.

Check out some highlights!

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Forget employee of the month; It’s all about employee of the moment

Hey A,

We’ve had an Employee of the Month program for years now – our executive team loves it.  The program is meant to be a motivator, but sometimes we’re recognizing people who did something great at the beginning of the month, so the impact of the reward isn’t as great at the end of the month.  How can we evolve our program?

Sincerely,
May B. Better

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