Category: Benefits

Why is Employee Engagement Such a Hot Topic with HR Leaders?

By John Schaefer, June 12, 2015 6:30 pm

Employee Engagement seems to be front of mind with most HR Executives I meet lately. Not surprising, as dealing with an increasingly diverse workforce, challenging economy and more aggressive competitive business environment appears to be the new normal. In my 27 years helping clients improve their recognition, employee engagement and performance management programs, I continue to find that getting high engagement trickles down to a couple of key issues:

1. It’s all about perception. The effectiveness of any awards or rewards program will be directly related to how much your employees believe in your motives. In other words, the level of employee trust and belief they have in management’s genuine concern for them as human beings will grease the skids to higher levels of program acceptance, participation, results and ultimately ROI.

2. Every annual report features a letter from the CEO raving about how much he or she values their employees; “… couldn’t have done it with you you! ” language is the norm in every one of these enthusiastic messages. Unfortunately, in the hectic day to day process of running the company, this message rarely trickles down to mid and front line management, where every employee’s view of the company and their culture is formed. A short, honest and concise explanation to managers about both How and Why to use recognition is helpful in launching a program that will successfully engage the majority of your people. Email me for a copy of my Supervisor Training Program – Why Should Supervisors Care? Getting to the bottom of what they’re really thinking … What’s in it for me? We call this Making it Real!

3. Most companies use a variety of disjointed programs to recognize and reward employees. While these initiatives may be working, it’s difficult to measure costs, participation and results. A more integrated, simplified and relevant strategy will make sense to your people and be easier to manage, track and measure. This KISS method of getting the most out of your employee recognition investments will pay immediate and lasting dividends.

The attached article Rethinking Employee Engagement, prepared by Incentive Services University, will give you some things to think about regarding Employee Engagement within your organization and how an enhanced Recognition and Rewards strategy may be helpful in meeting your financial goals. Our Umbrella approach can give you some ways to better utilize your current award and reward budgets and turn what are now seen as expenses into profits.

If you have any comments, thoughts or questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for your continued interest in learning how to optimize your most important resource – people!

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit or email me personally at

Great Article on the Four, Soon to be Five, Generations in the Workplace

By John Schaefer, October 31, 2014 12:00 pm

I was recently sent a new white paper on Managing the Multigenerational Workplace by Dan Bursch, Program Director at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. What I anticipated to be an other recap of what I already knew, was anything but. Burch does an excellent job of not only defining and simplifying the five generations, but showing clear and concise recruiting and recognition ideas for each. I think that you will find, as I did, that this is a balanced, complete and accurate view of where the workplace is going and how companies that embrace intergenerational communications will have a distinct advantage in the future. You can view and download the article here –

Throughout my 26 years involved in recognition, employee engagement and performance management I’ve seen a growing interest in the challenges of the multiple generations in the workplace. The fact that Millennials now out number Baby Boomers and are well on their way to representing half of the entire workforce (46% by 2020), as well as the pending influx of the new Gen Z will continue to make HR’s interest in effectively dealing with generational issues an area of growing opportunity for many years to come. Knowledge is king, so we can all benefit from understanding and embracing the differences, rather than fighting and lamenting them.

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit or email me personally at

How Developing Intrapreneural Employees Will Improve Your Yearend Results

By John Schaefer, November 21, 2013 12:32 pm

Larry Myler is at it again … his recent Forbes article on the benefits of promoting Intrapreneurs and their innovations to impact the bottom line is right on track. Check it out at:

But the 100,000 questions is -how do you get employees to the point where they want to share that much creativity, be that engaged and that excited about helping your organization? That’s the question that everyone in the HR community is asking and is the key to optimizing employee value in any type of company.

I suggest you first consider whether your organization uses a Theory X or Theory Y management philosophy. Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’. His X-Y Theory remains central to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture.

McGregor’s X-Y theory is a simple reminder of the natural rules for managing people, which under the pressure of day-to-day business are all too easily forgotten. He suggests that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

theory x (‘authoritarian management’ style)

  • The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can.
  • Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organizational objectives.
  • The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

theory y (‘participative management’ style)

  • Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
  • People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
  • Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
  • People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
  • The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
  • In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilized.

In our work at Schaefer Recognition Group we talk about showing employees Love and Respect, the ingredients of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need Level Four – Self Esteem(where most of your employees reside).  The importance of engaging people emotionally (love and respect) before you ask them to offer you their 110% effort is supported by a Theory Y management style and the understanding of the power of Discretionary Effort.

Theory Y leaders do not feel  the need to micro manage (shows a lack of respect), other than in cases where they are working on specific performance issues with an individual employee or team; and that is always short lived.  Your Intrapreneurs will surface and thrive in a Theory Y, high trust and unintimidating work environment where transparency, vulnerability, honesty and independence are fostered.

Conversely, an old-school, autocratic Theory X work environment will normally lead to less creativity, lower productivity, more protectionist attitudes and thus a lack of cooperation. You lose spontaneity and get none of the “two heads are better than one” benefits from your team.

Today’s leaders, using a  Theory Y management style, will see more Intrapreneurs emerge and will be able to benefit from the secret sauce of the 100 Greatest Companies to work for – lots of Discretionary Effort among a workforce that is excited, empowered and energized to happy to bring the best they have to the workplace.  They’re freely willingt to do it and your get it essentially for free!

For more information on John Schaefer, Schaefer Recognition Group and to learn about how our Umbrella Recognition Solution can work for you and your employees, visit or email me at

Taking Employees from Engaged to Intrapreneural – New BYU Study

By John Schaefer, October 2, 2013 11:55 am

While the word Intrapreneur has been around since the 70’s, Larry Myler and his partners at Brigham Young University’s Entrepreneurship Center and the Ballard Center are using it as part of new theory. Here’s how he defines it:

in·tra·pre·neur, (intrəprəˈnər,-ˈno͝or), noun.

An employee who is both willing and able to develop and implement innovative solutions, thereby adding surprising value to some or all of the organization’s stakeholders.

Their premise makes a lot of sense.  Gallup research shows an employee engagement rate of 30%, so the logical solution for companies is to work on getting as many of the remaining 70% engaged as possible … right?  Larry suggests that while that’s a great idea, it may not be the most effective goal.

“Upgrading even one person from engaged to intrapreneur can create more value than migrating a larger number of disengaged people to the engaged group”, says Myler.

Moving people from engaged to intrapreneur represents a new challenge for organizations.  Larry suggests that it requires two things:

1.  building the skills that increase their intrapreneurial capacity; and,

2.  changing key factors in the organization itself to create a more favorable environment for innovation.

The BYU study will cover two primary variables that companies need to consider with regards to intrapreneurship:

1. Workforce readiness (barriers and drivers of individual intrapreneurship)

2. Organizational readiness (systemic barriers and drivers of innovation)

The best part is that it costs you nothing to participate in the study.  Just reach out to Larry at

You can follow Larry at to stay up to speed on this exciting, new project.

At Schaefer Recognition Group we are interested in work like Larry’s, because of how it will impact existing recognition award, performance management, incentive and employee engagement initiatives.  Often, organizations have a very disjointed approach, with programs that were started in individual departments, by various people, at random times for different reasons.  Even if they’re working, it’s hard to tell and can’t be easily measured.

We have developed an Umbrella Recognition Solution to help clients organize all of the ways that they communicate with employees into a single strategy on one robust technology platform.  Combined with your new engagement and intrapreneurial goals, we can help save money, get far better results and can prove it to your CFO!

Visit us at to learn more about how a training-based Umbrella Solution may be a valuable part of your future intrapreneurial transformation.

Building a Balanced Recognition Program is Like Buying a New Car

By John Schaefer, September 19, 2013 8:06 pm

Just Don’t Expect the Ford dealer to Suggest a Chevy!

I’ll bet you can’t wait for your next visit a car dealership?  Didn’t think so, but why do we find it so distasteful to walk onto a car lot?  It’s uncomfortable, there is limited trust, and you can’t help feeling like your being manipulated by an expert with an agenda, right?

Implementing employee recognition programs is a lot like buying a car. You work with either a Consultant or a Vendor (often both), each with a limited solution set and a very tight agenda.  They all make sense, have wonderful credentials, sound smart and leave you both excited and overwhelmed.  Sadly, this often leads to inaction, as you descend from the information high and reenter the reality of your overworked day.

What if there was an alternative?  I found in at RC Auto here in Phoenix and it makes a ton of sense.  Owner Roger Camping used to be a car salesman at a top Chevrolet dealer and got fed up with the scenario described above.  Rather than selling the virtues of a single brand, RC can get you any vehicle you want.  But that’s not the best part.  Roger and his staff are experts on all of the top brands and models, so they can help you not only identify the best vehicle for your needs, but will accurately show you the cost of ownership.  Then, they handle all of the purchasing, set up, licensing and paperwork, so you just grab the keys are go. He’ll even show you how to set up your Bluetooth phone!

Instead of being swayed by advertising or what her friends suggested, my 20 year old daughter sat through Roger 101 and came away with a Toyota Tacoma pickup.  Sure, it was a bit more money than some of the other options, but the cost minus the Blue Book value at the anticipated time of resale, made it the least expensive to own; and not by just a little!  This approach, along with other usage, function, age and utility considerations put me in a Ford F250 Diesel truck, my wife in a Jeep Wrangler XL, my other daughter in a Nissan Pathfinder and my son in a Mazda 3.  Find Roger at

We use this same approach to help our clients organize all of their company’s recognition, performance management, motivation and training programs into a single strategy – it’s called the Umbrella Recognition Solution.  To learn more, visit us at .

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