September 15, 2015 · 4:00 am
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.
At 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.
Filed under Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, IBM Smarter Workforce, Watson
Tagged as Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, IBM Smarter Workforce, Watson
June 23, 2015 · 4:00 am
The 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.
The 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:
- The culture conversation is becoming rooted in values, and
- 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:
Tying 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.
Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Organization Values
Tagged as China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Organizaation Values
March 3, 2015 · 4:30 am
Recognition 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.
What 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?).
While 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?