Category: Low or No Cost Employee Recognition Ideas

Five Steps to an Effective People Strategy

By John Schaefer, June 7, 2016 12:50 pm

In today’s economy there are few things a company can do that will have greater financial benefits over time than developing an well thought-out, comprehensive and compelling People Strategy. Here’s a five step plan that may help you get a sense of how easy this can be to implement at your organization:

Step1 – Know Who You Are
The trick to it is in first making sure that your strategy is in line with the company’s overriding Purpose, as well as your Mission, Values, Goals and Growth Plans. This is easier said than done, because many organizations find at this stage that they don’t yet have a good feel for why they exist and the best types of people to attract that will help them achieve their goals. I suggest going through this exercise before attempting a formal People Strategy.

Step 2 – Recruiting
Once you know why you exist and what you’re really about as an organization, it’s helpful to create a recruiting methodology that coincides with your Purpose, Culture and Style, so you attract people with a share vision and views. This will insure greater retention and reduce costly turnover of employees who don’t fit comfortably within the company. While we work with clients on a wide range of award and reward programs to improve employee engagement, performance and value, we can show that a small reduction in turnover alone will pay for the bulk of your investment in recognition; so this is a big deal!

Step 3 – Awards/Rewards and Incentives
A good strategy should combine all of the ways you touch employees. This includes everything from simple, no-cost day-to-day appreciation to periodic recognition that thanks people for their efforts, and then a series of well formulated performance management incentives. While this may take time to develop, as you don’t want to overwhelm people with too much too soon, we suggest picking the “low-hanging fruit”; the hand full of behavioral initiatives that when improved, will have the greatest impact on savings or profit. This will get things rolling in the right direction, so leadership will be open to adding more measurables to the platform and yield even more returns over time.

Step 4 – Training
Finally, it’s important to properly train your managers to understand both How and Why to use recognition effectively. If you launch your program with well-informed leadership, excited about the program and ready to use it, you have the best chance of coming across as believable, winning employee trust and launching a long term People Strategy that has high levels of participation, as well as provable ROI. You’d be surprised how many companies spend a ton of time creating the perfect program with a balance of all the right messaging and measurables, and then miss the mark by launching it with minimal gusto and low enthusiasm.

Step 5 – Rinse and Repeat
The most overlooked part of most programs we review is the Measurement & Analysis. If you don’t actively track, measure, tweak and work to optimize your program content and communications on a regular basis, it will likely to lose momentum and the results will slow. We see a lot of situations where elements of an initially vibrant recognition program have decended to nothing more than entitlements, being dangled to entice activity, not properly rewarding positive growth. A support team that monitors and manages your program to keep it fresh, relevant and engaging is key to getting the most out of your People Strategy.

We call this entire process an Umbrella Recognition Solution. When you’re ready to embark on this project for your company, we would be happy to offer some thoughts and ideas that may help you make it the best it can be.

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

Why Millennials Don’t Want to Work for You

By John Schaefer, December 14, 2015 10:34 am

I’m always impressed by how well my friend Louis Efron captures the reality of our current generational employee challenges. Leading with a focus on Corporate Purpose, Louis consistently captures the keys to business success and growth defining simple, logical and practical ways of engaging today’s diverse workforce for maximum job satisfaction, value and profit.

His latest Forbes article talks about the best ways to capture the interest and harness the value of today’s Gen Y and the upcoming Gen Z employees. This group is estimated to make up 40% of your workforce by 2020, so this is not an insignificant issue. Check out the article and let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss ways to integrate your recognition, employee engagement and performance management strategies around a goal of better engaging your growing team of Millennials.

Louis Efron Forbes Article

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

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 http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

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 – http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/~/media/Files/documents/executive-development/managing-the-multigenerational-workplace-white-paper.pdf

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 http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

What’s the Best Form of Recognition for Today’s Employees? It’s a Communications and Trust Challenge

By John Schaefer, February 5, 2014 11:07 am

If you Google “Recognition” or “Performance Management” you’ll get a ton of information and it all sounds good.  Our industry has become a very confusing place full of impressive-sounding books, expert advice, and all kinds of versions of the “new secret to recognizing and engaging today’s employees”.

Some guru’s claim that trophy-value, logoed recognition awards have the best ROI, because they can’t be shopped and have lasting, reoccurring value to employees.  Other experts claim that the secret is in top down, transparent and honest communication; everything is driving from upper management with their level of believability as the key to getting employees to bring extra effort to their work.

Still other consultants claim that in today’s workplace Peer to Peer recognition is what is valued and suggest that all you have to do is spend small amounts of money to get big results in discretionary effort.  They say that employees value the recognition of other employees more than management, because their peers are down there in the trenches with them and know what’s really going on.

Guess what? … they’re all correct, based on each expert’s background, experience and viewpoint.  People who come from the Incentive side of the industry see the value of calculated ROI based on measurable behaviors.  Those who come from a background in traditional recognition and the Service Awards side of the industry see the value of engaging employees emotionally and how love and respect leads to lower turnover, higher morale, more creativity and behaviors that lead to greater profits.  Those who come from a more academic background, the psychologists and teachers, tend to focus on the low or no cost Peer to Peer recognition tools as the best way to get the most out of employees in the workplace.

Having studied all of these theories and ideas for over 25 years, I have come to the conclusion that all of these tools need to work together, so the best possible approach to optimizing employee value is really a communications and training-based challenge.  Yes, it requires support and transparency from the top down, but Peer to Peer and Supervisor to Peer recognition is where the rubber meets the road day to day.  When presented properly, customized, logoed awards do have the most long term value, however for earned incentives, cash equivalents; travel and lifestyle awards work better for recognition of earned behaviors that can be calculated against actual dollar savings for the company.

It all trickles down to an exercise in improved communication and a properly structured approach. You must start with upper management buy in, and then move to a training-based approach that engages midlevel managers and supervisors, so they come across as enthusiastic and believable to employees. A comprehensive program will then fan out in to recognition awards that appeal to the employee’s Right Brain, creating trust and emotional engagement, and performance management rewards the appeal to the employee’s Left Brain and achieve logical, calculable results.

If you start with company Mission, Values and Goal, engage your management team first, then reach out to employees emotionally and logically, you will be able to get the most ROI from your combined recognition and incentive investments.

We call this an Umbrella Recognition Solution and it is what top performing organizations are using to optimize their most value asset – people!

I just received a great piece from Skip Weisman called The 4 Conversations.  I think that this does a great job of simplifying the communications challenge that most companies face in dealing with their employees.  Since recognition is a subset of communication, I think The 4 Conversations can be a great part of your training-based approach to a powerful recognition culture. Check it out –  #mce_temp_url#

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