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Recognition: The MVP of Employee Engagement

No longer a specialist relief pitcher called in to face a tough hitter, or a rarely used bench player padding stats in garbage time, employee recognition has become a widely recognized superstar when it comes to driving employee engagement. And with only 41% of employees recognized at their desired frequency, and 60% feeling their managers don’t recognize them in the moment, a huge opportunity exists for your business to leverage recognition to engage your employees.

While there are a variety of ways to help create an engaged workforce, many experts, including AON Hewitt and the Harvard Business Review, believe that recognition is the most important pillar of any employee engagement program. As Meghan M. Biro states in her new eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience, “Be it bonuses, awards, rewards, a virtual gold star, or a simple shout out on social media, fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results.”

With the shifting dynamics and demographics in the contemporary workplace (millennials now outnumber baby boomers and the economy is reaching “full employment”) there is a greater emphasis on the individual. Accordingly, employee recognition should follow suit and be relevant to the person receiving it.

Gone are the days of the monolithic approach to recognition, in which employees were only recognized once a year during a performance review, with little news of their accomplishments reaching the greater organization or even worse, once every five or ten years with a “Years of Service” award. Replacing this approach with one focused on recognizing and rewarding people frequently with meaning and specificity has become critical in creating a true culture of employee recognition. And it follows that the more frequent the recognition the higher the employee engagement.

The Impact of Recognition: Is It Real?

Recognition as a philosophy is one thing, but does it have quantifiable value when put into practice? Horizon Blue Shield Blue Cross of New Jersey thinks so. In 2013, they implemented their Step It Up employee recognition program (hosted on Achievers recognition and engagement platform) across their four business locations in the hopes of increasing employee engagement. By year’s end, 90% of employees had joined the platform, with executives leading the way by being amongst the most active users. All of this activity contributed to:

  • 6 percent increase in its overall engagement scores
  • 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition
  • 97 percent activation rate for its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program

The Step It Up program is still in frequent use today, with executives continuing to lead the recognition charge.

What You’ll Learn

Instituting a company-wide recognition program that encourages frequent peer-to-peer recognition regardless of title or department can be a game changer. In her new eBook, Meghan M. Biro provides the reasons why employee recognition is the most valuable tool for creating a culture of engagement and explains how tying recognition to core company values can ensure repetition through reinforcement – and have a positive impact on key business metrics including productivity, innovation, retention, and customer satisfaction.

If any of these business objectives mentioned are important to you, then it is time to consider implementing a strategic recognition program. But what should you look for when deciding on the best platform for it? To find out the answer to that question and more, download Meghan M. Biro’s latest eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

 

Team Work Culture

The Language of Engagement

By: Karin Volo
Chief Joy Bringer, Evoloshen Academy

“I love my job!”
“I can’t wait for Monday again!”
“I’m doing what I was born to do!”
“I am living my life’s purpose!”
“I don’t consider this work—it feels like play!”
“Where did the day go? I got so much done!”
“This is the best company to work for!”

How often do you hear these types of statements? Or perhaps we should ask have you EVER heard anyone saying these things?

Within highly engaged organizations, statements like these are actually pretty common. Employees at these companies love their work and are deeply, emotionally connected to their co-workers, their company’s purpose, and their own passions. Their values are aligned so that they can easily live and breath the company values since they are a part of who they are authentically.

And what happens to the culture and the performance at companies like these? They tend to be highly productive, profitable, and making a positive difference in the world on some level.

There are many ways to understand and begin to tackle engagement. Achievers has created the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards to recognize and showcase organizations that are truly making employee engagement work for them. They have defined eight parameters for engagement that include: Culture, Leadership, Accountability & Performance, Professional & Personal Growth, Communication, Vision & Values, Rewards & Recognition, and Corporate Social Responsibility. All of these areas are great places to start tracking and improving your level of engagement.

In doing the research for our book Engage! we found many examples of companies that are demonstrating a whole new way of doing business, innovative companies like Virgin, PUMA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Achievers, and many more. But most of all, we found that it is through company culture where you can work actively with principles of engagement to make a positive impact. To paraphrase Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, culture is to employees what brand is to customers and the market. Or as management guru Peter Drucker famously put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But the quote I love best is from Simon Sinek, TED speaker and author of the book Start With Why, who said: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” No matter how you say it, it is clear that companies with highly engaged employees and a culture of engagement are consistently among the most successful, innovative and inspiring organizations on the planet.

In Engage!, we defined the formula for creating highly sustainable engagement through the following five Cultural Keys:

  1. Collaboration – taking teamwork to the next level and having a sense of belonging and family
  2. Creativity – allowing the innovation and creative ideas to flow from within the organization
  3. Connection – creating a deeper emotional connection both to the employees and the customers through the bigger purpose and values
  4. Celebration – focusing on what is going well, celebrating the small wins as well and the big ones, showing appreciation and recognition
  5. Contribution – giving back on some level that is related to the business that gives meaning and significance to the employees and makes the business do good in the world.

When all of the 5 KCI’s (Key Cultural Indicators) are high, there seems to be a powerful positive force or energy within a company that accelerates productivity and drives the business forward.

Whether you refer to Achievers’ Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ or to our 5 KCI’s, you can see how closely both “languages of engagement” correlate with each other—these are similar messages using different words to describe the same essentials.

Whatever words you choose to use, actively working on engagement is sound business strategy. It is possible to systematize it and it is essential to continually work with it consciously. At times, you may see examples of zany engagement activities (team-building exercises anyone?), but there IS a method to making work fun and bringing out the best in your people. And when you are able to do that consistently, you tap into an often under-utilized resource—your employees—who, working together, bring success to your company.

Working actively to build a culture of engagement is the first step in building an environment where your employees and your business can thrive. Your employees will be excited to come to work on Monday mornings and you’ll often hear what is music to any employer’s ears: “I love my job!”

Come see Karin Volo at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where she will be running the panel discussion with the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Elite 8 winners on employee engagement. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post.

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About Karin Volo
Karin Volo
Karin is an expert in engagement, career, personal, and organizational development- aka the Chief Joy Bringer. She is a co-author of the international best selling book, Engage!  With 15+ years experience working with international Fortune 500 companies on two continents, she has insights on business building, cultural transformation, and high performance. She is the best selling author of 1,352 Days: An Inspirational Journey From Jail To Joy, the Bringing Joy children’s series, a regular blogger on Huffington Post, a faculty member at the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, and an expert judge on employee engagement in both the UK and the US.