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An increasing number of workplaces are integrating sophisticated and strategic employee rewards programs to motivate employees and show appreciation for their hard work. Unfortunately, however, some of these companies are still giving rewards that their employees don’t actually want. Company-branded t-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads often go straight from workplace to thrift store. To makes sure your rewards program has the positive effects you’re looking for, you need to give your employees the rewards they actually want. Here are four fail-safe tips for recognizing your employees in a way that they’ll truly appreciate:
- Establish a rewards marketplace
Give your employees the ability to “shop” from a marketplace full of items they actually want or need. Many recognition and rewards platforms, including the Achievers platform, have marketplaces built into the product. This allows employees to apply their awards money to anything from an espresso maker, to designer bags, to a new iPad. When they experience the excitement of shopping, it will help reinforce the positive feelings they have for your organization.
- Award team prizes
If it took teamwork to deliver the outstanding results that you’re rewarding, you’ll nurture the group’s sense of unity if you give a shared prize to the entire team. Underwriting a team dinner out or providing tickets to an event that team members can enjoy together is a great way to build a powerful sense of group identification.
- Give gift cards
No award is exactly right for every employee; a diverse workforce means that your scope of rewards and recognition needs to be equally diverse. Prepaid gift cards are the perfect way to provide precisely the reward that your worker will appreciate the most. A survey from the Incentive Research Foundation found that 83 percent of recipients prefer receiving gift cards to cash. The reason likely lies in the fact that gift cards are more personal than cash, and they also enable people to experience guilt-free shopping.
Employee rewards programs provide a powerful force to keep your workforce engaged. Choosing the right rewards lets you take full advantage of this important aspect of your company culture.
Employee recognition is foundational in building your company’s long-term success. Employees who feel genuinely appreciated stay more engaged in their work because they understand the value that they bring to their team and the organization. This greater level of engagement will, in turn, stimulate higher productivity, a more pleasant workplace climate and much lower staff turnover rates. All these benefits translate into cost-effectiveness and a stronger bottom line for your business.
Team leaders are essential to your recognition program
In some cases, you may have team leaders who developed their management style before the importance of workplace recognition was widely understood. They may not feel that formal appreciation is relevant to the workplace, and may figure that receiving a regular paycheck is as much recognition as any worker needs. Here are three tips for how HR (and/or other leaders) can bring these managers on board and help them see the bottom-line value of giving positive feedback:
- Take recognition to a higher level
Effective recognition for good performance is not a concept limited to lower-level or line workers. As Firebrand founder and CEO Jeremy Goldman writes, “What do your boss, colleagues, and office janitor have in common? All of them want to feel appreciated.” By recognizing and rewarding team leaders for increasing the number of formal appreciations they offer their direct reports, you can jump-start positive change throughout all levels of your organization.
- Hold an offsite retreat
This may initially be a tough sell to managers already working hard to get through each day’s tasks, but it’s a plan well worth pursuing. Stepping outside the daily hustle is essential in order to think about cultural changes such as placing higher value on workplace recognition. Changes in outlook require thoughtful consideration; they don’t magically emerge from being placed on the latest “to-do” list. Additionally, getting out of the office helps task-oriented managers gain a clearer view of why interpersonal workplace relationships matter.
- Invest in leadership development
A good way to approach a manager who isn’t supportive of employee recognition is to offer an opportunity for further training. Anyone who is serious about their own career will be eager to pursue a high-quality educational opportunity, especially if it’s underwritten by their company. Good leadership training programs should include a substantial emphasis on the why’s and how’s of employee recognition, and your managers may bring back new insights and techniques you hadn’t even considered.
Building a culture that recognizes employees is part of maintaining your company’s competitive edge. Supervisors and team leaders will be your strongest change agents once you help them recognize the importance of their role.
“Boomerang” employees are workers who leave an organization and then come back a few months (or even years) later. Depending on their reasons for leaving and what they’ve been doing in the meantime, these returning employees can bring major benefits to your company. Here are three big benefits to re-hiring employees, and a few cautionary notes:
- Improved morale
Talented employees are constantly being recruited and headhunted by your competitors, and it can be painful to watch these workers jump ship for a more tempting situation. When they return, it sends the validating message that your organization is actually the best thing going right now. According to Winston Binch, chief digital officer and partner at Deutsch LA, “Our boomerangs prove to us all that we’re on to something, that what we’re doing is noteworthy, and it’s worth sticking around for.”
- Cost savings
It requires fewer resources to source, recruit, and onboard a former employee than someone who’s entirely unfamiliar with your company. You may not even need to use a recruiter, and a boomerang employee can save you time and money by being ready to hit the ground running.
- Fresh skills and energy
If your employee left their position with your company in order to pursue a passion, gain new skills, or try their hand at building a startup, they will have grown and changed during their absence. When they return, they are likely to bring fresh talent, knowledge, and networking contacts to your company.
While hiring boomerang employees is usually a net plus, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls in this practice. If an employee left due to personality conflicts, and the problems stopped as soon as they were gone, it’s not worth taking a chance on reintroducing a source of disruption. Likewise, if the employee was not performing exceptionally well at the time of departure, they need to have a clear explanation regarding what factors interfered with their previous performance, and why things are different this time.
As companies recognize the benefits that boomerang employees bring with them, these returning workers are being welcomed back in far greater numbers than they once were. Seventy-six percent of HR professionals note that they have become more open to re-hiring previous employees than they used to be, while 56 percent say they now give high priority to former employees who left in good standing, according to a Kronos survey. Judicious rehiring of good workers is increasingly recognized as a way to bring fresh energy and value to your organization.
Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:
People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.
To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.
Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”
Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.
The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.
If you haven’t heard the news already, Achievers Customer Experience (ACE), our annual employee engagement and user conference, will be in Toronto this September! We provide our attendees with a compelling lineup of speakers who are experts in engagement, rewards and recognition, HR technology, and the Achievers platform.
We are very excited to announce this year’s keynote speakers:
Fostering Leadership and Achieving Dreams
For over 3 decades, Joan Lunden has been a trusted voice in American homes. As the longest running host ever on early morning TV, for nearly two decades Joan greeted viewers each morning on Good Morning America bringing insight to the day’s top stories.
In June of 2014, Joan was diagnosed with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, which required chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Joan made a decision to take her battle public and has since shared her journey through cancer treatment with the world, becoming a prominent voice in the breast cancer community.
An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, woman’s health & wellness advocate, and mom of seven – she continues to be one of America’s most recognized and trusted personalities.
At ACE 2016, she’ll be sharing her secrets to becoming a great leader and achieving your goals.
The 5 Second Rule: Achieve Breakthrough Performance in your Career and Life
Mel Robbins is a TV personality, coach, author, and speaker, and is currently one of CNN’s most popular on-air commentators and opinion writers. Mel has shared her expertise in human behavior on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Oprah, The Today Show, and Fox News. She was named America’s Outstanding News Talkshow Host at the 2014 Gracie Awards.
Her TEDx Talk on “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” has over 3 million views, and her book on the brain and productivity, “Stop Saying You’re Fine”, is a business bestseller that has been translated into four languages.
Mel will give the ACE audience her strategies for improving your performance both in and out of the office.
Redefine Possible: Lessons for Tackling Mountains in the Corporate World
Spencer West’s charisma and dynamism captivate audiences every time he speaks. Whether addressing corporate leaders, nonprofits, or the education world, listeners are mesmerized as Spencer describes his journey after losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five to last year, when he climbed, and summited, Mount Kilimanjaro using his hands and wheelchair.
Spencer is a top-ranked keynoter, author of the best-selling book “Standing Tall: My Journey”, and star of the documentary “Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West”, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.
At ACE, Spencer will teach attendees his approach to overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles – including those we encounter in the workplace.
Staff turnover can be damaging to your organization, and you can only tackle this problem by identifying and changing its main causes. Below are a few strategies you can use to gather data on why your employees are leaving.
A properly conducted exit interview can yield a goldmine of information to help reduce future turnover. To get the most value from this conversation, you need to ensure departing employees feel free to disclose their real reasons for leaving. Problems with managers are a common reason for employees leaving — thus the truism, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers” — so it’s always better to have the exit interview conducted by someone who didn’t directly supervise the employee. It’s also useful to interview consultants and contractors at the end of their tenure; they often witness problems while inside an organization.
Survey current employees
The people who currently work for you are experts on the factors most likely to lead to future turnover in your organization. If you can create a forum in which your employees feel safe to express their full opinions, you’ll get access to a lot of the information you need. Anonymous surveys through platforms such as your Achievers instance or Survey Monkey are one good way to assure employees that their criticisms won’t be held against them. Another excellent method of discovering problem areas is to hire an outside consultant to come in and interview employees, alone and in groups.
Read employee reviews of your workplace
Sites such as Glassdoor offer current and past employees the opportunity to review their experience working for your organization. Reading through these honest appraisals is a good way to find out what your employees really think.
Gather the right data
To strategically change your company’s policies, you need to go beyond employee input and make an effort to gather data from the larger marketplace. Here are a few examples.
- Salary: If employees are leaving for better pay or benefits, exactly how much more are other companies offering?
- Benefits: Are there essential perks or benefits your employees are chasing, such as better maternity/paternity leave, or better health benefits?
- Schedule flexibility: What type of flextime or remote work opportunities do your competitors offer? What percentage of their workforce has access to these perks?
- Company culture: Data can be qualitative as well as quantitative. Are you losing workers to a company that makes them feel more appreciated? Read your competitors’ job postings to see how they present their employer brand, and also read their Glassdoor reviews.
Your employees want you to know how they feel. If you create a safe channel for them to share this information, you can build a strong culture of staff loyalty and reduce the disruption of workforce churn.
Recruiters are key business personnel, because the quality of your entire organization depends on their ability to find and attract the best possible candidates. Competition for top recruiters is intense, but here are five tips on how to find a recruiter that will put you ahead of your competition:
Use an executive recruiting organization
If your company is large enough to need a specialized recruiter, it’s large enough to consider the option of hiring an outside recruiting organization. Investing in third-party expertise can have far-reaching benefits for the future of your company, since a top-notch HR hire will then go on to fill your ranks with equally excellent employees. If you decide to take this option, look for an executive search consultant or team that specifically outlines their background in sourcing HR talent.
Screen for key characteristics
When you publicize your company’s need for a new recruiter, you’ll encounter an assortment of candidate profiles. If you keep in mind the primary qualities of your ideal recruiter, you can build your selection process to screen for those specific qualities. According to Concordia University, the primary characteristics that you should look for in a recruiter are: organizational ability, ethics, communication skills, problem-solving acumen, leadership talent, and experience in the field.
Post the job in HR trade publications
To find professionals in any field, you go to the specialized online forums where they network with each other. Human resources professionals are consummate networkers, and a focused HR job board on their favorite trade publication is likely to be the first place they’ll look for new opportunities. Two examples are HR Jobs at the Society for Human Resource Management and the Career Center at Workforce HR Jobs.
Take a team approach to hiring
Whether you’re adding to an already-existing HR department or hiring your first dedicated recruiter, the decision is too important to rest solely on one person’s opinion. It’s a good idea to interview potential HR candidates at least twice, and invite other managers to sit in on at least one of the interviews.
Present an updated view of HR’s function
The function of the recruiter within a company is currently undergoing a radical shift. In order to attract the top HR talent, you have to demonstrate your understanding of the new role that human resources leaders play in today’s organizations. Recruiting and hiring is no longer merely an administrative role; instead, HR professionals are key members in the company’s management team, helping build core strategy for the future.
Finding and attracting good recruiters requires a significant investment of resources, but this investment is one that will return abundant benefits in social and financial realms.
You’ve heard the expression “born leader” before. Is there such a thing? And if being a good manager is due to inborn traits, is there value in all the leadership training programs currently available? The truth, as you probably suspected, is a combination of both. Here’s a look at some of the inherent qualities that contribute to effective leadership, together with an exploration of the ones that can be taught:
Inherent leadership qualities
According to Psychology Today, about one third of leadership ability springs from a person’s innate tendencies. These include the following:
- Extraversion: A good leader often has to deal with other people all day long, so it’s better to be energized rather than drained by the experience.
- Social intelligence: Managers don’t necessarily need the kind of intelligence that allows people to solve calculus problems, but they need a quick understanding of the structure of social interactions.
- Assertiveness: Obviously a leader must be willing to put their message out in clear terms.
- Willingness to take risks: Leaders must be capable of taking calculated risks without being timid or foolhardy.
- Empathy: Good leaders have the capacity to see the world through the eyes of those whom they direct.
Leadership qualities that are teachable
In one study, managers who took a leadership course saw improvement in many of the characteristics of a good manager as long as they started with one key quality: employee motivation. University of Notre Dame, which offers leadership training, identifies business course topics that contribute to the development of skilled leaders. These topics include:
- Good communication skills: A person’s extroversion is only beneficial if it is backed up by skillful speaking and writing abilities.
- Team building ability: Leading depends on building effective working groups and bringing stakeholders together. This is the learned skill that extends social intelligence into measurable progress.
- Recognition of the need for change: Taking bold steps to enact change when it’s necessary can feel risky, but a good manager is ready to step outside their safety zone and try something completely different.
- Vision and goal setting: A persuasive manager develops visions and goals interactively through an empathetic understanding of subordinates’ needs.
Tips on training your managers
Leadership author Erika Anderson points out that the central leadership quality of self-awareness can be developed by inviting feedback from direct reports and encouraging managers to listen carefully. Instituting organizational channels for two-way communication between managers and their teams is good way to nurture self-awareness.
Rudy Giuliani is quoted as having said, “Leadership does not simply happen. It can be taught, learned, developed.” With training opportunities available to develop their innate abilities, your managers can prove his point.
Many companies consider wellness programs to be a nice extra — an optional perk to keep employees engaged. The evidence, however, demonstrates that workplace wellness programs have far-reaching economic benefits for the companies that put them in place. Harvard Business Review notes that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on employee health care costs as a result of their long-running emphasis on worker wellness. This works out to a return of $2.71 for every dollar they invested. Here’s a quick look at how you can help your employees improve their level of wellness.
Incentives are essential
The Wall Street Journal reports “Nearly 90 percent of employers offer wellness incentives or financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward getting healthier.” This percentage represents a substantial increase from earlier years, as organizations have come to recognize two things: first, they will benefit financially from a healthier workforce, and second, employees aren’t good at following through with new health habits in the absence of incentives. The fact that people have trouble sticking with health resolutions is well-known, so organizations and workers alike can benefit from well-organized programs.
Diverse approaches to employee incentive programs
Employee incentive programs can be structured around several models, and you may want to draw from each one in order to suit the diversity of personal styles among your staff:
- Personalized interventions: These reward individual employees for taking specified personal health steps, such as completing a health risk assessment, reaching a target weight, or getting a cancer screening. Individual incentives don’t invite team effort or competition, but people who prefer to make such efforts privately will appreciate receiving an individual bonus.
- Employee competitions: Some people are motivated by the recognition they will achieve by coming out on top of a friendly competition. The contest model can be applied to such actions as quitting smoking, attending a certain number of exercise classes, or walking the greatest number of steps in a given period. Incentives for winning such competitions can be gift cards, vacation days, and/or public presentation of prizes.
- Collaboration: The third model for creating employee incentive programs is a collaborative one. Lunchtime walking groups or gym clubs use a supportive camaraderie to encourage employees to remain disciplined. Incentives here can also be cash, gift cards, or peer-to-peer recognition.
Letting your employees know you care about their health and wellbeing will build a sense of loyalty in your organization and contribute to a stable, productive economic future as well.