Category Archives: Employee Recognition

The Woodstock For HR

The competitive world of HR Conferences may be changing forever. And that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. Innovation is happening in this space – from stronger SHRM state conference offerings, to an additional HR technology-related conference (HR Tech World) being introduced in the U.S,, to other new entries – all designed to disrupt the usual HR conference offerings and deliver greater value to attendees.

The best example of this is the WorkHuman conference, held last month in Phoenix. With well over 1,700 attendees and almost no corporate sponsors (except for the organizer, Globoforce), the focus was on engaging, useful, envelope-edge pushing content and nurturing/inspiring attendee experiences. Described as “the Woodstock for HR” by Globoforce CEO, Eric Mosley, WorkHuman isn’t our parents’ HR conference. Heck, it isn’t even our HR conference.

Re-certification credit opportunities abounded, but the focus of WorkHuman – unlike many of the really large HR conferences – was on the attendee experience. From early morning yoga and runs or walks, to healthy snack breaks, to half-hour content blocks (how many one-hour sessions can you attend in a two-day conference?), to lobby-area snackable content presentations, to blockbuster keynote speakers:  this conference is changing how HR does conferences and I see its impact on almost every other HR-related conference I attend.

It’s true that I advised the organizers on their first two conferences, but I came as an attendee this year and was thrilled to see that, despite its rapid growth (year one:  300+ attendees; year two: 600+ attendees), its focus on engaging the full human attendee has not wavered. Any time you get more than 1,500 conference attendees, the organizers tend to focus on 1) logistics, 2) schedules, and 3) sponsors/exhibitors. The people who attend become “blocks” that need to be moved around, That hasn’t happened at WorkHuman. Attendees arrive as humans and leave as engaged and inspired humans.

  • Logistics

While the conference space was large, every thought was given to the humanity of the attendees. One didn’t need to walk far to get a drink of water. The signage was easily read. The venue provided rooms of appropriate size located in close proximity for the audiences – so that session sampling was possible. The “center aisle” held snack stations, a “spotlight” stage with indoor amphitheater seating for shorter more informal presentations, comfortable chairs for congregating and conversations, info stations, and cheerful, easily identified staff to answer questions and provide directions. It’s clear that the attendee was not relegated to “steerage” status at WorkHuman. They were front and center at all times.

  • Schedules

It’s true that activities started very early – but the early agenda entries were healthy and focused on strengthening the body as well as the mind, as opposed to cramming in more re-cert credits. Starting a conference day with yoga or a group run followed by a healthy breakfast seems a smart way to start a day of learning, regeneration, and inspiration.

  • Sponsors/exhibitors

The short description is that there weren’t any. Well, outside of Globoforce, the conference organizer. It’s a rather remarkable conference experience, to be focused on new ideas, on new connections, and new ways of leading rather than being sold by vendors at every step of the way. Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not anti-sponsor/exhibitor. This is just a new way of organizing. It is fitting for a conference focused on bringing humanity into our everyday organizational life to create an exhibitor-free experience. It makes sense. As the conference gets bigger and bigger, it may make business sense to bring on a few selected sponsors, but don’t look for a major exhibition hall any time soon. Attendees take away value far greater than cheap exhibitor tchotchkes at WorkHuman.

Globoforce upends the usual HR conference calculus. By investing in the WorkHuman movement, by engaging the most current speakers and content, by prioritizing the attendee experience as the most important component of an HR conference, the WorkHuman team has created – and strengthened – one of the most compelling business conference events currently available.

Next year’s conference will be in Austin, TX (April 3-5) and keynoter Brené Brown has already been announced. I hope I see you there!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Recognition, Engagement, Globoforce, Humanity in the workplace, WorkHuman

Watson Says Multiple Channels of Recognition Mean Higher Engagement

data point tuesday_500

Here’s what I like about whitepapers from IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute: they are short in length and long on data and context. I appreciate that they share the underlying scientific concepts within their analyses of the data from their massive WorkTrends™ survey. 19,000 workers in 26 countries, a cross-section of industries, all major job families, and thousands of organizations responded to the 2013/2014 survey. Watson is all about slicing and dicing data and he came up with some interesting, although not surprising, conclusions about the impact of multiple channels of employee recognition.

In a point in time when organizations are grasping at any reasonable straw to increase engagement, decrease turnover and compete more successfully in the talent market, new approaches to employee recognition appear to be providing significant outcomes and ROI. Legacy recognition programs that attempt to reward employees for sticking around for 3, 5, 10 and 15 years have long ceased to motivate engagement or even longevity. Who would stick around one day longer to ensure they got an ebony clock on their 5 year service anniversary?

This survey analysis, How do I recognize thee, let me count the ways, explains concepts like Reinforcement Theory, ERG Theory and Social Exchange Theory to provide context for these findings that link recognition to engagement:

  • Employees who receive recognition are more likely to be engaged at work. The engagement level of employs who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the engagement level of those who do not.

  • Workers who receive recognition are less likely to quit. Without recognition, about half (51%) of surveyed employees say they intend to leave, with recognition just one quarter (25%) say they intend to leave their organizations.

  • Employees whose organizations use multiple communication channels for recognition are more likely to feel appreciated and show a higher level of employee engagement. The more channels used for recognition, the higher the employee engagement level.

  • The findings imply that technologies such as social and mobile could be strong candidates for the effective delivery of recognition as they offer interactive, frequent and immediate communication via multiple channels.

When voluntary quits in the U.S. are at their highest levels since early 2008, and the number of open jobs are at their highest level since 2000, it’s no wonder that employers are increasingly turning their attention to strategies that encourage employees to engage more and leave less. And because employers spend around 1% of their total payroll on reward/recognition programs, many are beginning to look at the ROI of that spend – and are frankly willing to spend more to increase their ROI. A negative ROI on 1% of payroll isn’t a good investment. But a positive ROI on 2% of payroll? That requires a new context and solid evidence that the investment will pay off. Data analysis like that found in this report, helps organizations create the appropriate business case for moving reward/recognition programs into the 21st century.

The important takeaway from this analysis is that one channel of recognition communication doesn’t cut it anymore (if it ever did). The data clearly suggest that multiple technology-enabled channels including social and mobile increase the financial and engagement ROI of recognition programs. Years of service awards don’t move the needle any more.

IBM SWI Recognition whitepaperAt a point in time where nearly half of employers are considering implementing new or additional recognition programs in the next 12 months, adopting approaches that use multiple technology-enabled channels appear to be the smart way to go. At least that’s what Watson thinks.

 

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Filed under Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, IBM Smarter Workforce, Watson

The Employee Recognition Landscape is Changing

data point tuesday_500The fifth research report in an annual partnership between SHRM and Globoforce was published this week. And, interestingly, there is a surprise. Namely, that retention/turnover is the top challenge reported by nearly 1,000 SHRM members. This is a surprise top challenge compared to the last 2 years – and it makes sense. With the economy and hiring improving, businesses are wise to become concerned that the “grass is greener” syndrome may take hold of their very best employees. The employees who are super marketable as job opening grow.

(In full disclosure mode, I should mention that I am the former Chief Operating Officer of SHRM and am currently Chair of Globoforce’s WorkHuman advisory board.)

In 2013 and 2012, the SHRM/Globoforce surveys identified employee engagement and succession planning as the topmost HR concerns. Perhaps the fact that retention/turnover are the top concerns is fueling the fear of escalating talent wars due to economic growth, demographic shifts, globalization and a workforce that believes they can have it all: meaningful work, career growth, leaders they trust, equitable pay and appreciation for their efforts.

The concern for employee engagement is down with 47% of respondents citing it as a top challenge compared to 39% in 2014. That’s a big delta. And potentially a big deal.

GloboforceSHRM June 23 2015The other surprise for me in the survey results is the data-backed understanding that values-based employee recognition is seen as contributing significantly to bottom-line organizational metrics. This is surprising for two reasons:

  1. The culture conversation is becoming rooted in values, and
  2. HR organizations are using data to create business cases for culture/values as a quantifiable business imperative.

The strength of values-based recognition behaviors and programs is growing:

GloboforceSHRM 2 June 23 2015Tying employee recognition to organization values seems a no-brainer and the data are proliferating that building employee programs and leadership behaviors on foundations of values-based culture are not only winning the war for talent, they are winning the competitive wars for revenue and growth, innovation, collaboration, and profitability.

The report is a fairly quick read and if you’re interested in learning about how recognition, values and culture are impacting the workforce today, the nearly 1,0000 SHRM members who took the survey have interesting insights to share.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Organization Values

The Recognition Landscape Isn’t Changing Much

Data Point TuesdayRecognition programs are vital tools in an organization’s total rewards strategy, but beyond the knowledge that “recognizing employees is a good thing to do” we can look to data that back up recognition programs as an important part of an organization’s culture. WorldatWork and ITA Group’s Trends in Employee Recognition 2013, is a good example of a data driven look into why recognition programs are important. Their report summarizes the results of a survey sent globally to 5,520 WorldatWork members, which aimed specifically to measure specific types of recognition programs and the impact on the workforce. Respondents were randomly selected members who had designated responsibilities at the executive, top or senior level and members that specified total rewards as their specific function area.

While many functions and structures of the workplace are shifting as the world of work becomes more global, tech-enabled, and demographically diverse, recognition programs remain steady as a utilized tool among organizations.

% orgs with recognition programsWhat shifts in the landscape of recognition programs is not the use of programs themselves (as we see from the percentage of organizations using recognition programs remaining steady over a 5 year period) but the types of programs used. Of the top 5 recognition programs in 2013, the top 3 remained the same (length of service, above-and-beyond performance and peer-to-peer recognition) but programs that motivate specific behaviors moved to the 4th spot for most used programs, with a 7% increase over 2011 to 41% (a statistically notable change since 2008). Also notable is the drop in retirement recognition programs as a prevalently used program. As WorldatWork states in the report, the data seem to indicate organizations are moving away from legacy recognition programs towards programs that can drive results (how much and fast is the landscape changing, though?).

ecognition Program ChangesWhile fresh-off-the-press data is valuable, looking at data like this (with a bit of hindsight) is also valuable in that it reminds us that data and reports around organizational culture can accurately predict trends in upcoming years, and allows us fact-check theories and perspectives. WorldatWork’s data pointed to organizations moving towards recognition programs that can be leveraged to have a more direct impact on business results (like peer-to-peer recognition, programs to motivate behaviors, and above-and-beyond performance) vs. recognition programs like length-of-service and retirement recognition programs which have been in use for many years. They note that programs to motivate specific behaviors grew every year by 16 percentage points since they survey was first instituted in 2008. We’ve seen such trends hold true, with organizations in today’s increasingly fast-paced and competitive context instituting recognition programs that can more quickly impact strategic goals. Workplace wellness programs are another type of recognition program that WorldatWork’s survey points to which we’ve seen adopted at a growing pace. In 2011 and 2013, respondents noted wellness rewards programs as “other recognition programs” that their organization use.

Some other nuggets of data to consider from WorldatWork’s report included:

  • In 2013, the top 4 recognition goals remained primarily unchanged from past years and were recognizing years of service, creating a positive work environment, creating a culture of recognition, and motivating high performance.
  • The most common types of recognition awards reported in 2013 were: certificates/plaques, cash, gift certificates, company logo merchandise, and food.
  • Organizations in 2013 budgeted an average of 2% of their payroll budget to be used for recognition programs (the same as 2011).
  • Only 12% of organizations in 2013 reported training managers on recognition programs.
  • 46% of respondents in 2013 reported management perceiving recognition programs as an investment vs. an expense.
  • Only 34% of respondents in 2013 said they believed recognition programs had a positive impact on retention.

The fact that organizations have consistently utilized recognition programs over the years reminds us that this is an important part of creating a great organizational culture and a great total rewards strategy. But are organizations reworking recognition programs to be as impactful as possible, or are they just sticking with “tried and true” methods? Do plaques, gift cards and food motivate employees to stay engaged and on board? Perhaps the respondents in this survey, only 34% of whom believe recognition programs had a positive impact on retention, are on to something. Perhaps sincere appreciation from trusted leaders and peers are more meaningful than a certificate. Perhaps a hand written thank you note from the CEO for above and beyond performance creates more stickiness than a $25 gift card. Or maybe a video message from a senior leader on a milestone employment anniversary date motivates greater engagement than a plaque.

We at Great Place to Work® certainly see positive correlations between lower levels of turnover and great workplace cultures. So if leaders don’t associate recognition programs with lower levels of turnover, there’s more work to be done. Maybe ditching the plaques and adding some human touches to your recognition programs might be something to consider. One thing is certain: everyone – regardless of generation – wants to be appreciated for their contributions by leaders they trust. It’s really not that hard to understand. But how do we make it happen?

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Recognition, Great Place to Work, Recognition Programs

Where’s the Trust?

Data Point Tuesday
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey released last Wednesday, only half of U.S employees believe their employer is open and upfront with them, indicating that despite the mending U.S economy and the return of many organizations’ profitability employees are still struggling to trust their organizational leaders. This distrust comes with serious negative consequences. The APA reports that trust and engagement play important roles in the workplace, accounting for 50.8% of the variance in employee well-being. In predicting trust, the dimensions of employee involvement, recognition, and communication predicted 54% of the variance. Employees reported having greater trust in companies when the organization endeavored to recognize them for their contributions, provide opportunities for involvement, and communicate effectively. In predicting work engagement, employees’ positive perceptions of their employer’s involvement, growth and development opportunities, and health and safety efforts accounted for 27.1% of the variance.

An interesting and positive finding from the APA survey, is in strong contrast to the recent reports that have suggested upwards of 70% of employees in the U.S. are not engaged or are actively disengaged. APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey finds approximately 50% of working Americans reporting average levels of engagement, with around a quarter reporting low or very low levels and just under a quarter reporting high or very high levels. The mean engagement score for working Americans was 3.62 on a six-point scale (zero representing never being engaged and six representing always being engaged). Additionally, the survey finds that 70% of U.S workers report that they are satisfied with their jobs, however, just 47% continue to be satisfied with employee recognition practices and 49% with growth and development opportunities offered by their organizations.

Taking a closer look at the statistics on trust, about one third of respondents say their employers are not always honest and truthful, and nearly a quarter say they don’t trust their employers. Interestingly though, this lack of trust does not necessarily correlate to feelings of unfair or bad working environments. The survey found that 64% of employed adults feel that their organization treats them fairly, despite that only 52% believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Does this mean as an organization you can cultivate fair and honest practices without any transparency? Does this mean that leaders get a pass on being trustworthy as long as they provide safe working environments? These are interesting data to be sure. But perhaps the bigger question is how productive are employees who don’t trust their leaders? What levels of discretionary effort and personal development will employees expend who feel physically safe but don’t trust their leaders? As a leader, the question I would ask is “how long can I rely on an employee population that doesn’t me?”

APA Center for Organizational Excellence April 2014
The APA’s findings come after surveying 1,562 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. and who are employed full time, part time, or self-employed.

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Filed under American Psychological Association, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Managerial Effectiveness, Rewards & Recognition, Worplace Trust

Employee Recognition

Data Point Tuesday

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Employee recognition is an important form of positive feedback (who doesn’t love being recognized for their efforts after all?!) and a 2013 study by Globoforce gives us even more reason to institute this type of feedback in our organizations. The study examines the growing intersection between recognition and employee performance and has some noteworthy points. Where recognition is concerned, perhaps the most important point made is that recognition directly impacts business results. Out of 708 randomly-selected fully employed persons in the United States (aged 18 or older) who are employed at organizations with a staff size of 500 or more employees,  those who were recognized with values-based recognition reported a positive change in their productivity. Additionally, 49% of respondents who had experienced values-based recognition indicated a positive change in relationships, 43% indicated a positive change in their customer service efforts, and 82% stated that being recognized for efforts at work motivated them in their job.

These statistics reinforce the value and importance of recognizing employees, but what I found particularly interesting and a less obvious benefit of employee recognition was how the ability to give vs. receive recognition affected employees. The study found that employees who are empowered to recognize other employees at their organizations were twice as likely to identify themselves as highly engaged; highlighting that value should be placed on allowing employees to give recognition as much as it is placed on making sure employees receive recognition. Another interesting and less obvious result of employee recognition is the link between recognition and alignment with organizational culture and values. Of respondents surveyed, 48% indicated that receiving recognition when they did something right served to align them with their organization’s values and culture. As I discussed in another recent post, employees who feel strongly aligned with company values and mission are more satisfied with and likely to remain at a job, so this relationship between values and employee recognition is a valuable one to explore.

globoforce

Employee recognition can also influence employees’ perception of performance reviews. Globoforce’s study found that 76% of respondents thought recognition data would make reviews better, and 75% of respondents who had been recognized recently stated that they enjoyed their reviews. We can attribute these changes in perception toward reviews to the attributes like engagement and connection with company values, but also to another idea. As the study points out, peer and managerial recognition act as a form of social crowdsourcing, a familiar and comfortable concept for employees who most likely use crowdsourcing programs like Yelp or Amazon regularly. 80% of respondents felt that crowd sourced (manager plus crowd sourced peer feedback) to be more accurate. With employee recognition serving as a form of crowd sourced feedback it makes sense then that employees who were recently recognized felt more comfortable in reviews. But why does it matter if employees enjoy their reviews? The research shows that employees who are satisfied with reviews are more highly engaged, less susceptible to job poaching, and more satisfied with their job.

This data show that creating a system that gives employees feedback from peers as well as from managers – feedback that is values-based – is the gift that keeps on giving. To employee engagement, to higher retention, to financial performance. Who doesn’t want that gift under the tree on Wednesday?

What does employee recognition look like in your organization? Do you have recognition programs in place? Do you encourage employees to recognize others as well as for managers and supervisors to give recognition? Use this data as a catalyst to examine how recognition plays a role in your business. Ramping up the positive feedback could just be the key to a healthy domino effect, creating employees that are more engaged, more productive, more connected to company values, and more satisfied with their reviews.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute