Posts tagged: employee recognition best practices

How To Thrive Now That Work-Life Balance Is Dead

By John Schaefer, January 20, 2015 10:00 am

I just read this new article by Louis Efron (www.LouisEfron.com) in Forbes and wanted to share it with you all. It really hits right to the core of what our lives are all about and whether we think about it or not, it is a big part of how happy and fulfilled we will be.

The constant corporate buzz and push for work-life balance is well intentioned, but the concept no longer exists. In the olden days – before smart phones, email, text and voicemail – it was possible to draw a line between work and personal time. You could leave an office at 5PM on Friday and not physically or mentally return to work until Monday at 8AM.
I work a lot because I love what I do. But because I love what I do, I don’t consider it work. This is both good and bad. It is good because I am living my purpose in life. It is bad because I sometimes don’t know when to shift focus elsewhere.
In today’s world, your conversation needs to focus simply on life balance. That is, how you balance and integrate everything you need and want to do each day, week, month and year. This includes making a living, time with your family, friends plus time for you and time for anything else you want to accomplish. Even the traditional concept of retirement is different. There is no escaping our connected world.
The whole idea of balance in life can appear elusive or even unimportant. When it comes to equilibrium, a number of studies discovered poor physical balance is significantly linked to an increased risk of sports injuries. Not surprisingly, the same applies to your personal life balance and health risk. Study after study confirms poor life balance is directly related to both physical and mental sickness and unhappiness.

Reminders To Recalibrate Life Balance
A recent New York Daily News interview with seventy-two-year-old X-Men actor Patrick Stewart drove the importance of life balance home for me yet again. Like so many people in today’s busy world, Stewart, revealed during his third marriage that he regretted focusing on his career at the expense of his family. This is not uncommon. Many people feel the same way late in life. I have worked with countless executives who lament on similar regrets approaching retirement.
Of course there are days when I let my career pursuit steal more focus than it should from my family and other important and enjoyable activities in my life. Stories like Stewart’s remind me what I need to do next. You won’t have to look hard to find other examples which will relate to your situation in life.
Signs Your Life Balance Is Off
When your life lacks balance, it is painfully obvious from the outside looking in. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees when in a rut.
Luckily, self-diagnosing your life balance is easy. Just pause to take inventory of what is going right and wrong in your life.
In this short pause, identify if you are experiencing any of the following challenges:
• Frequently tired or sick
• Difficulty sleeping or waking
• Hearing frequent complaints or jokes about the attention family and friends receive from you
• Feeling guilty about time allocation
• Regularly distracted from your current task
• Making simple mistakes
• Generally unhappy with your life
Many of the circumstances on this list can also result from depression. However, the question still remains as to the root of the problem. Depression can be and frequently is brought on by poor life balance.
Six Questions About Life Balance
Access to effective tools is helpful in all human endeavors, including achieving life balance. When my life is out-of-sync with the balance, success and happiness I desire I ask myself the below six questions to recalibrate. If I can’t answer, “yes” to all six, I investigate why. Then I work towards a solution to solve that issue.
1. Does my life balance contribute to the career and personal success I desire?
2. Does my life balance give me more energy in my day?
3. Do I sleep well and wake up refreshed?
4. Do important people in my life feel they get the attention they deserve from me?
5. Am I able to fully focus on a task at hand?
6. Does my life balance make me happy?
How many of the six questions did you answer yes to?
At the end of the day, life balance is about a commitment to more success and happiness. As the self-help guru Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Commit to your six yeses now. Start realizing your true potential in life. You will be amazed at the positive life transformation which will follow.
For more information on Life Balance and how it impacts Recognition, Employee Engagement and Performance Management visit http://www.SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com

“How to Get Twice the Productivity Out of Your Employees . . . and They’ll Thank You for it!”

By John Schaefer, November 4, 2014 10:49 am

Employee Engagement and Performance Management are challenges that every company executive agrees are important to their organization’s growth and profitability. But with past Downsizing, continued Outsourcing, continuous New Technology and a Younger, more Diverse Workforce, many of their traditional Recognition and Performance Improvement programs are proving to be ineffective – and they want to know why!

The psychological studies of Maslow, Gallup, Dr. Ken Kovach, Walker Information and Great Place to Work Institute agree on the benefits of focusing on the emotional aspects of the work experience, rather than the logical. Yet, more and more companies are moving to more cash-equivalent recognition programs, believing they’re giving their people “What They Want”. While the response seems valid, it usually yields less than satisfying results.

Why the discrepancy between what the experts have proven and what employees respond in company surveys? A 2004 University of Chicago Study may offer part of the answer.

For their study, the University of Chicago selected two groups of people and had them play a word game with the goal of improving performance. One team was offered cash as an incentive and the other was offered non-cash rewards of the same value. When the scores were totaled, the performance increase of the non-cash group was more than twice that of the cash group (39% vs. 15%), not an insignificant difference. However, as the rewards were about to be presented, they asked the non-cash group if they would prefer to receive the cash value instead of the reward item. Amazingly, almost 80% said they’d prefer the cash.

Why did this happen? It has to do with the answer given to another question – “Would you likely purchase the reward item offered if you did not win it here?” Surprisingly, the people who answered that they were least likely to buy the item with their own money, correlated highest with the “I’ll take the money!” answer. The study supports the ineffectiveness of cash, but also points to the benefits of offering unique, luxury or experiential items that employees are not likely to buy for themselves.

This is all well and good, but if you were to sit down with all of your employees and ask them the open-ended question, “What do you want us to provide for recognition”, the top three answers would be the same as they have been for decades:

1. Cash
2. A Day Off
3. Something that I can use (a cash-equivalent retail reward).

This shouldn’t be that big of a surprise, because it’s like asking the Third Grade Class what they want for lunch and assuming they’ll say broccoli, not ice cream. Maybe it has something to do with the question? Perhaps employees are reluctant to admit they are satisfied with their pay. Maybe they just don’t trust your motives behind the question.

Asking employees what they want tends to imply that you don’t know and really don’t care all that much. The moment they think that you are using recognition more out of obligation than desire, they will emotionally disengage, feel a bit insulted, and give you the answer they think you want to hear –
“ . . . Aw, what the heck, just give me a gift card!”

Bottom line, you don’t have a recognition or awards problem, you have a communications problem. The reason that this is so prevalent in many organizations, is because employees just don’t believe you really mean it. Overworked supervisors don’t need anymore “to do’s” on their already full plates, so they’ll prioritize your requests to recognize employees based on their personal beliefs and styles. When under pressure, that style is all too often a version of the old, autocratic view – “yea, I recognize ‘em, every two weeks with a paycheck; now quit whining and get back to work!”

Sure, that’s a bit over the top, but I’ll bet it’s not too far from how the message is perceived by many of your employees during the hustle of a normal work day. And because it’s a habit, your well-meaning supervisors aren’t even aware that they come across that way.
It’s all about perception, Making it Real, and being Genuine in the eyes of your people. When that happens, and they believe you Truly Care, they’ll bring their “A” Game to work (and all of the productivity, creativity, profitability, teamwork and cost savings that entails) . . . and you get it for free!

This is one of the secrets of today’s great companies, and the best part is, it’s easier to make it happen in your organization than you think!

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 Organizations Need Now From Human Resources

By John Schaefer, August 20, 2014 9:34 am

Louis Efron has written a very timely, new article for his Forbes magazine column that it well worth your consideration, if you’re an HR executive. The changing landscape of HR has come a long way, but perhaps not yet far enough. Louis shares five keys to relevance in HR in today’s economy. It boils down to helping to define and harness corporate purpose, align with employee purpose, then measure key behaviors, skills and goals to prove ROI (Return on Investment) and ROE (Return on Engagement).

Employee Engagement is the key to everything productive in any sized company, no matter what you do, where you are or the demographic make up of your team. By first focusing on defining your corporate purpose, your organization is poised for success. By next aligning with employee who have complementary purpose, you will improve recruting effectiveness, reduce turnover costs and build the potential of a highly engaged team. Then, but identifying, tracking, measuring and reporting on the behaviors that support your purpose, mission, values, goals and objectives, your company is able to maximize ROI and ROE.

Sounds easy, but it requires a strategic approach and a comprehensive, all inclusive program. Together, Louis and I are working with clients to help them on the front end to define their purpose, plans and goals and educate their team. Then on the back end we work to coordinate all of the ways they touch employees with a single employee engagement, recognition and performance management strategy that saves money, improves results and proves both ROI and ROE.

Check out the article – http://onforb.es/1uWWibj, then feel free to contact Louis or I for more information on how may be able to help you optimize yo ur most important asset – people!

John Schaefer -America’s Employee Recognition Expert
www.SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com

New Article Highlights 11 Things You May Not Know about Employee Recognition

By John Schaefer, July 23, 2014 10:57 am

Officevibe, the employee engagement company from Montreal, Canada says there are 11 things you don’t know about employee recognition. Perhaps there are more, but for now, let’s evaluate what Jacob Shriar, Officevibe’s in house oracle has to say:

The biggest reason that most Americans leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated. Can’t argue with that one, but why is this so prevalent? If you ask managers and supervisors about their employee who have left, many times they are surprised, stating that they didn’t even know anything was wrong and that the employee appeared happy and engaged. That means that it’s a communications and trust problem, not a company policy issue. Employees must feel like they can trust and count on their leaders. Then, all you have to do is give them the direction and tools they need and get out of the way. Small doses of acknowledgement (Peer to Peer) recognition along with rewards for meeting measurable standards (Performance Management) will fan the flames and optimize employee morale, engagement and profitable results. Consider these 11 facts:

1 – Jacob claims that 41% of companies that use Peer to Peer recognition have seen increases in customer satisfaction. I can’t confirm the percentage, but I agree with the trend. Peer to Peer recognition creates a simple, clean and trackable way for employees and supervisors to catch people doing something right. If you ask employees, many will say that they only hear from their boss when the mess up, so a well-designed and accessible Peer to Peer program makes is easy to catch people doing something right!

2 – 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense. That sounds pretty good, but it leads to the realization that 54% of managers see recognition as an expense, which can get trimmed, cut or marginalized during cost cutting times … the exact opposite of what the company needs to be doing when things get tight. The reason recognition is seen as an expense is when it is disjointed, poorly measured and viewed by employees as an entitlement. Small trickles of money going out with no way to measure if it’s worth spending … sound like an expense or an investment? Organizing recognition into a comprehensive strategy using technology to make it easy to educate and share among employees and managers will give you a track to run on, so you can compare costs with results and see true ROI. Otherwise, why bother?

3 – 14% of companies feature their recognition programs as a part of the recruiting process. Not a bad idea, because recruiting is about attracting employees whose personal purpose is in line with the company’s purpose. In other words, you need to find folks who will blend with your organizations culture … that’s even more important than experience and qualifications. If you have a good recognition strategy that promotes what you’re all about, it’s a great idea to mention it during interviews. If people aren’t intrigued by what you expect and recognize, they may not be a good culture fit.

4 – Companies that have a strategic approach to recognition report a 23% lower turnover rate. That’s huge! If you consider that the cost of recruiting, hiring, training and then losing an employee is estimated to be about 300% of their salary, a reduction of 20+% in turnover could easily pay for most, if not all of the cost of a formal recognition program all by itself. The big question is – “why do they stay?” That gets right back to trust, which is based on having a consistent culture of Love, Respect and Transparent Communication. It really makes good common sense and is nothing more than the Golden Rule applied to your business. Treat others as you’d like them to treat you will go a long way toward developing a winning culture of trust that will immediately impact turnover rates.

5 – Recognizing Employee Performance increases Engagement by almost 60%. That’s an interesting statistic, but considers this; behaviors that are measured are perceived to have value. As Elton Mayo discovered back in the mid 20’s at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works – “The need for recognition, security and sense of belonging is more important in determining workers’ morale and productivity than the physical conditions under which he works.” The very fact that you acknowledge your understanding and value of an employee’s work is actually more effective that the level of performance itself. Just noticing people and thanking them for their work and will go a long way towards improving overall engagement.

6 – A well run recognition program can lower frustration levels by as much as 28%. Why? It has to do with the comfort of knowing what’s expected of them and having the tools and support to get the job done. The One Minute Manager talks about the importance of not micromanaging. Ken Blanchard suggests that you hire good people, train them well, and then get out of their way! Most employees that know what to do and have the resources to do it, will give you more than a basic day’s work and be happier to do it than employees that are over managed and limited in their flexibility.

7 – Peer to Peer is 35% more likely to have a positive impact than Manager-only programs. While Peer to Peer is just one small slice of the total recognition pie, this added component empowers employees and makes it easy for them to point out what’s going on in real time. By making it easy for everyone, from leadership to management to supervision to employees, to show appreciation, say “thanks” and point out when others are going above and beyond, everybody get a lift and it’s contagious!

8 – 85% of companies that spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition see a positive impact on engagement. Statistics show that most organizations spend between 1 and 2% of payroll on all of their recognition, employee engagement and performance management budgets. They’re not doing it because they have extra cash. Sure, they could just give everyone a 1 or 2% raise, but the best companies realize that a formalized, well-structured program that focuses on supporting the organization’s Purpose, Culture, Mission, Values and Goals is a far better use of their money and the ROI they get from a well-designed program proved it year after year.

9 – Organizations that recognize both individual employees and teams see results approximately 14% higher than companies where recognition is not consistently used. Today’s younger employees prefer frequent and honest recognition. They also like to see everyone on their team share in the glory, so using team recognition, then singling out individual super-stars as well, makes a lot of sense to your Gen Y employees and will get them more engaged.

10 – Organizations with a serious approach to recognition are 12 times more likely to have strong business results. Wow, that’s a lot! Think about it – Recognition drives Culture, a good Culture improves Behaviors and better Behaviors directly impacts Results. But, none of the Results will happen if you don’t have both managers and employees trusting your leaders and believing that your motives are sound. We call it, “Making it Real”, and it makes all the difference!

11 – 31% lower voluntary turnover is reported by companies using effective recognition programs. Sure, you’re going to mis-hire from time to time and have to fire some under-achievers, but voluntary turnover is much more dangerous. Often those employees who leave on their own are your better performers, so they not only hurt productivity immediately, but when they wind up with your competitors, it’s a double whammy to your organization.
Quality recognition is about tying together all of the ways you touch employees, doing in a manner that gains and maintains their trust, and consistently letting everyone know what’s expected. When you do it right, you are well on your way to optimizing your most valuable asset – 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.

New SHRM study on Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement – so what’s new?

By John Schaefer, May 14, 2014 9:08 pm

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently published the 2013 findings on the new trends in Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction.  Some if it’s no surprise, but there are a few areas that should be important to HR executives tasked to optimize their human resources.

Here are a few facts from the study:

  1. Job satisfaction stayed at 81%, flat from 2012.  This is not a big surprise, as the economy and governmental uncertainty has not changes very much.
  2. 94% or respondents believe that positive feedback has an impact on improving performance, yet a full 19% of companies report no formal performance management program.  Here again, no surprises, as when the economy is tight, companies get a pass on recognition as fewer employees will leave for fear of not finding another job.  Sadly, when the economy turns, close to 70% of employees will be looking for a better opportunity. Kind of a chicken and the egg situation, and bad news for companies that aren’t taking care of their people now.
  3. Job security leads the list of employee concerns at 59% and that also makes a lot of sense.  With economic growth at close to a standstill and one of the lowest labor participation rates in history, employees are more worried than ever that there will.  Respondents showing compensation concerns are up from 50% to 60% aligning with higher job security worries.
  4. 73% shared that relationships with coworkers is the most important area in engagement. This may offer a clue as to why recognition programs with both Manager to Peer and Peer to Peer awards perform better than top down recognition alone.

Overall, there’s nothing surprising, new or unexpected.  It still all comes down to employee engagement, but herein lies the problem – what defines engagement in today’s workplace?  Some experts say that all you have to do is pat your people on the head regularly and show that you appreciate their work.  Others say that recognition for traditional measures like longevity, attendance, safety and wellness if the key.  Still others argue that it’s all about measurable behaviors, like sales, customer service, and client retention, and driving performance that yields ROI.

Wish it were that easy, but in reality, their all right.  If you truly value your people, you have to show it; and they have to believe your mean it.  It also makes sense to promote initiatives they reduce turnover, lower accident rates and keep insurance costs in check.  The folks in the C-suite want to know that the money invested in people is offering a return, so measuring improved behaviors drives the results.

We believe that it comes down to a balance of all of the above, tied in the a training-based approach to engage the management team first, then a realistic way for employees to feel the love while also sharing in the benefits of their improved productivity.  Sounds simple and makes a lot of sense, but it can be tricky.  Employees must trust you and believe that your motives are sound. Only then will they feel good about helping the company be all it can be.

Don’t be the last one to the party or it could be too late and your top performers will have found greener pastures.  Set a goal to improve top down communication, create a consistent believable message structured around realistic goals and objectives, then launch a balanced program through an enthusiastic team of supervisors that understand what’s in it for them and want to see it work.

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