Workforce Surveys

Derek Irvine, Globoforce

Recognize This! – “Facestabbing” in the workplace is a symptom, not the disease.

What’s your opinion of managing “Facestabbing” incidents in the workplace? When it comes to your attention that an employee has posted a negative comment of some kind about your company, superiors or colleagues, how does your company respond? How do you think it should respond?

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Is there a formal policy? What is it? If not, do you think there should be a formal policy or procedure for addressing such comments progressively up to and including termination? Do you believe in a more informal approach?

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Or do you see it more like my friend Bob Selden, author of the Management-Issues issues blog, who sees such Facebook commenting as “the old ‘water cooler gossiping’ or ‘heard it at the pub’ that have been part and parcel of work life forever?”

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I tend to fall in the camp of how medical professionals might address Facestabbing – treat the disease, not the symptoms.

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Recognize This! – Is another “initiative” the way to go to help employees overcome lingering recession fears and re-engage in the workplace?

The press in the UK has been buzzing these last couple of weeks with news of the reinvigoration of the Employee Engagement Task Force initially launched after the publication of the Engaging for Success report, more commonly known as the MacLeod Employee Engagement Report, issued in 2009.

The goal of the task force seems to be to offer practical opportunities, guidance and methods for increasing employee engagement, including a forum for the sharing of best practices.

Timing couldn’t be better as another survey of 4,400 UK companies found 45% of employees are keeping their heads down to avoid layoff in an environment in which 1 in 4 companies are ignoring the need to engage top performers. Why does this matter? Shouldn’t companies be happy employees are “buckling down?” Not in this case. Risk averse employees are also producing less and innovating less out of a desire to “just get the job done and don’t rock the boat.”

Overcoming this fear holdover from the recession is a key goal of employee engagement initiatives to be addressed by the task force, though Les Allen made an excellent observation about this in his Business Performance blog:

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Recognize This! – Annual feedback (if that) does little to motivate, inspire or keep employees on track.

Our semi-annual survey of U.S employees, the Globoforce® Workforce Mood Tracker™, found an overall dissatisfaction and disconnect among U.S. employees regarding both the frequency and effectiveness of performance reviews. (Read the news.)

• 53% received a performance review annually
• An alarming 22 percent reported never having a review at all.
• 24% dread the annual review more than anything else

A measly 7% receive monthly reviews of their work. When you look at all of that, it’s clear that companies have substantial motivational issues on their hands at performance review time. And who can blame the employees or the managers who have to review them? As our CEO, Eric Mosley, said in a press release last week on this topic:

“Providing employees with feedback and recognition only once a year is not only unfair, it minimizes the importance of each and every one of those people to the organization. An ongoing, 365-day review process that accurately measures employees’ year-round performance not only displays achievements, it uncovers the true leaders and influencers across the organization. This type of approach, driven by a strategic recognition program, provides employees with the feedback, appreciation, and direction they need to approach their peak performance level.”

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Recognize This! – Reinforcing behaviors in a timely way will always be at the top of my recognition best practices list.

Ascent Group recently came out with their annual Reward & Recognition Program Profiles & Best Practices. The report is well worth the investment. Highlighting just a few of the key findings:

Reinforce behaviors and reward results. Recognize the right behaviors and communicate such that the employee’s behavior becomes a model within the work group.”

When you define the behaviors that reflect your values, your employees begin to see the values come alive in their daily work.

Be timely, specific, and communicate! Make sure you recognize behavior and reward results in a timely manner so employees know exactly why they are being recognized.”

Recognition given at the annual banquet or performance review does nothing to reinforce in the moment precisely what it is you need them to repeat. Make sure messages of recognition are specific and reference the value demonstrated.

“Match the reward to the person and the achievement.”

Every person is different. A BBQ isn’t motivating for a person who lives in a high-rise apartment building. A gift-card to a steakhouse isn’t rewarding for a vegetarian. Let your employees choose what’s personally memorable and culturally relevant for them – from 2,500 brands and 25 million options around the world.

“Involve employees in the design and refinement of your reward and recognition programs.”

One of our 10 tactics discussed in Winning with a Culture of Recognition, involving employees – from every division, region and level – turns employees into program evangelists, ensuring rapid program adoption.

Don’t just offer rewards and recognition for front line employees – extend the program to cover all employees in the department so the entire group is working towards the same goals.”

One of our 5 tenets of strategic recognition also discussed in our book, giving the opportunity to all to participate not only reinforces the needed behaviors and values across your entire workforce, but makes it possible to measure the understanding and demonstration of those values by employee, division, region and company as a whole.

“Look to technology to facilitate program administration and tracking.”

Doing any of this strategically – especially on a global scale – is far beyond the capabilities of an Excel spreadsheet. Take advantage of our Global Strategic Recognition solution to eliminate the administrative overhead, hassle and risk associated with old-school tactical approaches to recognition and reward.

“Measure the effectiveness and impact of your reward and recognition programs.”

Without a strong technology solution, it’s impossible to measure results. Our real-time In*telligence reports let you customize dashboards and reporting elements to deliver the status updates and success metrics your executives demand.

I encourage you to download the full report. Tell me, what other best practices would you highlight for recognition and reward programs?

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Recognize This! – Behaviors drive values drive culture. You cannot change the culture unless you address the underlying behaviors.

As the employee engagement discussion has grown, so has the discussion about the importance of company culture. After all, what is it you’re hoping employees engage with? As the importance of culture has surged, so has the resurgence of Edgar H. Shein (recently profiled in a Q&A in Strategy+Business).

For example, Schein explains the why well-intentioned efforts at culture change fail:

“They think that to change culture, you simply introduce a new culture and tell people to follow it. That will never work. Instead, you have to conduct a business analysis around whatever is triggering your perceived need to change the culture. You solve that business problem by introducing new behaviors. Once you’ve solved your business problems this way, people will say to themselves, “Hey, this new way of doing things, which originally we were coerced to do, seems to be working better, so it must be right.”

Using that as a starting point, here are five steps to changing your culture.

1) Do the business analysis to identify the culture you need to succeed
– Is that culture innovative (Apple) or iterative? Low-cost (Wal*mart) or high-end (Lord & Taylor’s)? This is a critical definition as it will guide all future decisions.

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Recognize This! – Employees will follow your lead on what you truly value based on what you recognize and reward.

Frequent readers of my blog know how I feel about company values and their influence on the culture of the organization. Ann Rhoades, president of PeopleInk and a founding executive of JetBlue (whose values are a topic of praise and a mini case study in our book Winning with a Culture of Recognition) wrote an entire book on the topic: Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition. She gave some highlights in a recent Smartblog post, saying:

“Just by looking at the behavior of leaders, you can tell what the values of a company really are. And all too often, those lived values bear almost no resemblance to the stated values — those lofty statements painted on the walls or sanctified in a mission statement. … Your values will be perceived as hollow and meaningless unless you base compensation and rewards on expressions of the behaviors that go along with the values.”

I couldn’t agree more. Regardless of the STATED values, it’s the TOLERATED values around which the culture is formed. Making the stated values and the tolerated values one and the same is possible through strategic employee recognition – structuring your recognition and rewards program such that:

1) Every recognition given is linked tightly (and with a detailed message about how and why) to a company value demonstrated. – “Ann, great job on the MacGuffin project. The way you rallied everyone from multiple parts of the organization to pull together a comprehensive, detailed response embodies what we mean by ‘Teamwork.’ I’m sure your efforts will be the linchpin to our winning this business.”

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Recognize This! – Employees are regaining control of their value in the workplace.

Where does employee retention fall in your priorities for 2011 list? Too many are still complacent, believing the poor job market will keep workers in place. But hiring is steadily ticking up and unemployment steadily falling.

How at risk are you? According to MetLife’s Ninth Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends:
• 1 in 3 employees are a flight risk
Employee loyalty at a three year low, dropping 11 percentage points (after a steady decline)
• Employee satisfaction is also dropping at a rate of 8 percentage points over the last three years

Since employers also admit being less focused on employee satisfaction and work-life balance at the same time they’re report dramatic productivity gains is it any wonder employees are less loyal to the companies trying to wring blood from a stone?

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Recognize This! – HR priorities are many. Solving one can be the solution to many others.

Concluding my week-long series on the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from the Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll, is a tie!

Priority 5 for HR in 2011: A Tie! — Improving Employee Performance, Workforce Planning, Improving Strategic Effectiveness of HR

Improving Employee Performance
has a lot to do with management of the company culture itself. Two research studies on this topic seem to contradict each other. The first argues changing culture is hard because it’s “sacred.” If you break culture down into climate, and then into habits, change becomes easier because are more willing to change habits. Based on brain science, the second study argues habits are, in fact, hard to change because doing so is actually painful, requiring a conscious override of “deeply comfortable neuronal circuitry. But (and this is a critical point I think the first researcher would also agree with):

“Therefore, to engender change among people in an organization, it’s important to keep attention focused on the desired end state, not on avoiding problems. This goal-directed positive reinforcement must take place over and over. The most effective way to achieve this is to set up practices and processes that make it easy for people to do the right thing until it becomes not only second nature, but an ethic taken to heart (and to the brain) by the entire company.”

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Recognize This! – Values + Strategy + Recognition = Effective Communication of Change Needs

My fourth post in a series about the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from the Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll, continues to bring together the learnings from Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3.

Priority 4 for HR in 2011: Managing Organizational Change

It’s not surprising this is a hot topic in today’s economic environment. I’ve written before about the impact of the recession (and the resulting changes in company strategy and objectives) on employee understanding of those changed objectives and what that means in their daily work. Recent research from Booz & Co. reported “56% of executives say ensuring day-to-day decisions are in line with strategy is a significant challenge.”

Getting this right is now more crucial than ever. Numerous indicators point to an improving economy and job market. Employees have more options for employment. Customer budgets are opening up. What are you doing to effectively and appropriately redirect employee energy to those projects and strategic targets you need them to hit? How are you ensuring this message is carried accurately to all global locations so no employees feel like outcasts?

Employees are more than willing to work on these priorities – if they know what they are. Commenting on results from research conducted with Gagen MacDonald, an APCO Worldwide senior executive commented:

“The large gap between employee and employer connection we’ve seen in the last two years is alarming. It’s clear from the survey results that to close this gap, CEOs and their executive teams need to have clearly defined company values aligned with their business strategy and support … and regularly communicate those values personally.

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Recognize This! – Don’t trust “fixed grin” employee engagement scores as an accurate representation of how employees really feel.

In this third in a series of posts about the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from the Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll, Priority 1 and Priority 2 drive Priority 3.

Priority 3 for HR in 2011: Engaging Employees

I can’t seem to read my email in any given day without seeing another employee engagement research report, each riddled with stats. Here’s just a sampling from the last couple of months:

* 45% said improving employee engagement is a top challenge, and 70% expect that challenge to intensify. (UNUM)
* Employees’ levels of engagement are much lower than they were pre-recession, with levels of commitment to the organisation dropping by 17 percentage points since 2006. (Mercer)
* More than half of CEOs are not engaged in engagement, 22% do not understand it, 19% don’t see the business benefits, and 15% are aware of the concept but not ROI from it. (HR Magazine)
* 69% of Canadian companies consider low employee engagement a major issue in their organization. (Poll)

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Recognize This! – Senior leaders need to improve respect for employees, trustworthiness, and caring to better manage the workforce.

The Corporate Executive Board recently shared with us the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from their Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll. Each day this week, I’ll address one priority.

Priority 1 for HR in 2011: Improving Senior Leader Capabilities at Managing the Workforce

Senior leaders constantly juggle innumerable priorities, each often requiring a different capability. Which should HR focus on to help senior leaders improve? I suggest senior leaders can’t hope to manage effectively unless they have the respect and trust of their teams. Their employees must also know the senior leader cares about them as people, not just “human capital.”

Paul Marciano, author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, recently offered seven “critical” ways managers show respect for employees. His way was employee recognition: “Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a daily basis.”

I don’t know if Paul listed these in order of importance, but there is no denying that acknowledgment of ourselves, our work, and the value of our contributions goes a long way to telling us we are respected in the workplace. Paul’s last item was trust: “Demonstrating faith and belief in their employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions,” which leads in the next capability senior leaders need to manage the workforce.

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Recognize This: Poorly structured recognition programs can be more damaging than no program at all.
Dan McCarthy, author of the Great Leadership blog and a person I respect, recently blogged Without Integrity and Trust, Rewards and Recognition are Meaningless.”
Dan points out that poor program design allows for participants to “game the system” and “do whatever it takes to gain the advantage and win at all costs.”
And the money quote from Dan: “Rewards and recognition are supposed to motivate, inspire, and not create cynicism and mistrust.”
That’s why we so strongly advocate strategic recognition programs in which the focus is on appreciation, not competition. Incentive programs, in which people compete against each other for a prize, can have their place, but far more prevalent in the culture should be an employee recognition program in which all employee are encouraged to notice and appreciate the good work of their colleagues.
The key to structuring recognition and rewards to avoid “gaming the system” lies in creating a common “language” of recognition that is understood by all employees, regardless of where in the world they may work, job duties, or level within the organization. That’s why we recommend the company values (and demonstration of them in daily work) as reasons for recognition and reward — then publicizing that (as appropriate) through internal social recognition mechanisms.
This helps all employees understand what it takes to be recognized — especially if a detailed message is included describing precisely why the employee deserved recognition — and prevents such gaming.
Have you participated in a recognition, rewards or incentive program in your workplace? What was your overall sense of the program? One that could be “gamed” to the advantage of the highly competitive? Or one that allowed all employees to demonstrate their excellent capabilities and achievement, for which they would be recognized?

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Recognize This: No one owns “human capital” except the individual human.
Any entrepreneurs out there reading this blog? Any small business owners?
I would argue every employee reading this blog is a small business owner – you own your “human capital assets.” You make the decision every day whether you are bringing all of your talent, skills, efforts, creativity and desire to “do a good job” to the workplace.
However, for the vast majority of workers, we cannot rely on a “workforce of one.” We must work with and for other people to get the job done. Perhaps along the way we can have fun, too.
A couple of months ago Fortune magazine came out with their Best Companies to Work For list. While the list itself is interesting, I was more caught by how the Great Place to Work Institute, the non-profit that compiles list, defines a great place to work:
“A great place to work is one in which you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with.”
Since we all choose to bring ourselves to work every day, I think we can all choose the attitude we bring as well. I choose to trust those I work with, take pride in what I do, and enjoy the people I work with. It certainly colors my attitude every day. I like to think it makes it easier for those who work with me to feel the same.
Do you work in a “great place to work” – even if the company didn’t make the “official” list? Tell me the company and why it’s great!

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Recognize This: Shareholder value will never guarantee customer satisfaction or an increase in their purchasing behavior.
Is your company a slave to the quarterly analyst call? Are you focused, before all else, on increasing shareholder value as the best marker of company success?
Even Jack Welch has denounced this as a dumb idea. More voices continue to chime in, most recently Roger Martin, dean of the Roman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada, as quoted in TLNT:
“Concentrating primarily on creating shareholder wealth is ultimately a loser’s game.  The reason: the only sure way to increase shareholder value is to raise the market’s expectations about the organization’s future results. Unfortunately, executives simply can’t do that indefinitely.… Talented executives can grow market share and sales, increase margins, and use capital more efficiently, but no matter how good they are, they can’t increase shareholder value if expectations get out of line with reality.”
Instead, Towers Watson (authors of the article) suggest:
“Instead of training her gaze directly on shareholder returns, a high performing executive leader should pay attention to the performance of employees and the linkage of employee performance with customer satisfaction and purchase behavior.”
If employees are focused on making customers happy such that they buy more, shareholder value is sure to increase. But there’s no guarantee with the reverse equation of shareholder value first, employees and customers a far-behind also-ran.
In fact, Gallup research found causation between employee engagement and financial success. Guess what? Working for a financially successful company does not necessarily make employees more engaged. But engaged employees do drive financial success.
One way to accomplish this is by including “customer satisfaction” as a reason for recognition in your strategic recognition and rewards program. Doing so reinforces for all employees the value the company places in focusing on the customer, and gives employees an opportunity to acknowledge each others’ efforts in making customers happy.
What does your company focus on at its key marker of success? Shareholder value? Customer satisfaction? Employee retention?

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Recognize This: If you want employees to think like “owners,” give them a reason to care about the business like an owner would.
I’ve heard nearly every cliché under the sun for employee:
· Team member
· Partner
· Customer Success Enabler
· Owner (at an ESOP company)
What others have you heard? Why do I bring this up? Because too often such cliché attempts to “get employees to care more about the business” are undertaken as the solution. How ridiculous.
Judah Schiller, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, recently had this to say on Huffington Post:
“Many companies are still missing the boat when it comes to getting their people to show up at work with their hearts, minds and bodies present. Most employees view work only as a means to an end–a way for them to collect a paycheck and receive health benefits. Part of the problem is that companies consistently fail to make a strong connection between their own “big picture” and its relevance to their employees. They continue to talk at rather than with their workers, dictating what’s good for them, rather than making an effort to understand their wants and needs.”
Yes, employees want to understand the big picture. But simply telling them the big picture doesn’t accomplish the goal. You have to make that big picture real in their everyday work. And you can’t do that through a slick communications program, online newsletter or Twitter campaign.
If you want to make your “big picture” matter to your employees in such a way that they are focused on helping you achieve it in their daily work, you need to make it real for them. The best way to do that is through strategic recognition in which you tell employees – frequently, honestly and specifically – how their individual efforts are helping the company succeed. Praise them when they get this right. Make it real in their daily work and connect that to how those efforts are contributing to achieving the company’s strategic objectives.
It takes a bit more effort than announcing all “employees” are now “team members,” but the results are far more effective – and you may have some fun along the way.

Also, don’t forget to tweet your tips for employee appreciation and recognition using hash-tag #appreciationtip to be entered to win a copy of the Winning with a Culture of Recognition eBook or Amazon Kindle pre-loaded with the eBook.

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