Posts tagged: Employee Recognition Process

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

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 .

Trust is the Secrect Ingredient in all Successful Recognition and Performance Improvement Programs.

By John Schaefer, December 18, 2010 8:56 am
It finally hit me why I struggle to understand why there are so many speakers “talking” about employee engagement, recognition and motivation, but nobody like us.  I think that we cross that dangerous line into the area of TRUST.  You can provide people information about why they “should” have a better attitude, work harder, work smarter, work safer, and the logic makes sense.  But it what your employees hear is data that leads to you doing more for them, it’s really seen as a motive of subtle manipulation… you against The Man!
All areas of Employee Performance Improvement come from Discretionary Effort; that belief from the employee’s heart that you as an organization truly value and respect them.  Only when you are starting from a basis of genuine caring and trust, will discretionary effort kick in and your engagement ideas be seen a Win-Win opportunities.  The best part is that once you’ve created this attitude, all of the improvements come for free.
If you’d like to know more about how this can happen at your company, visit me at

Moving the Middle

By John Schaefer, December 16, 2010 3:33 pm

I met Bob Dawson the other day and after a lenghy talk, found that we have a lot of the same things to say.  This artcle Bob wrote about moving the middle of the sales team parallels my SeeSaw Effect theory closely.  We both agree that small movements in the large (~60%) mid-level performers is the key to getting the most out of your incentive programs.  See if you agree with me that Bob really knows his stuff!

 Typically sales force incentive programs are designed as a “top heavy” approach. It rewards the top 10 to 20 percent of the sales force with a high-value award and lets the bottom 20 percent of the sales force flounder with minimal results.   These well intended sales incentive programs often leave a great deal of “success” on the table.  A 2003 study “Shifting the Performance Curve” by the Sales Council of the Corporate Executive Board explains the potential outcome of Moving the Middle:

  A 5 percent performance gain from the middle 60 percent of your sales force yields over 70 percent more revenue than a five percent shift in the top 10 percent of your sales force.

 Clearly, Moving the Middle of your sales team is something to be considered! This process does not require a major over-haul of your program, nor does it impact the ROI (you are measuring that aren’t you?) of your incentive sales program.  Segmenting your sales performers, as a part of your plan design, much like you segment your customers based on their buying habits, is the approach to use.

  The process is quite simple and easy to implement.  Maintain your incentive reward posture for the top performers in your company.  These sales people are your best assets to maintain and grow accounts. Next, identify those performers who may be new to your company and/or industry and as such require additional training, or those who aren’t quite out of the starting gate despite having been given the proper tools to work with. These are typically your bottom 20 percent who are struggling to make a contribution to your company’s growth. Don’t totally discount this group!  Often times this group can be coached appropriately and as a result, many of these sales team members can reach the performance levels of the middle 60 percent.  Once you have settled this group, turn your attention to the middle 60 percent.  This group of sales professionals is where you can get the most potential impact of your Moving the Middle strategy.   In fact, this part of your sales team represents the best opportunity to accelerate growth among your clients with the most potential. Achieving the movement desired for this group requires a complete understanding of the demographics of the group and more importantly, ensuring that this group is well equipped to perform at peak levels.  Sales support for this group is vital.  Performance based incentives work best with this group.  These individuals recognize their place in the sales food chain and they always have their eyes on the top performers, waiting for their chance to join that group soon. Encourage members of this group to exceed personal and company objectives, and align the incentive with the value of exceeding the objective(s).

 Move the Middle of your sales team and watch the difference it makes in your results.  One such company that we consulted with had a traditional, top heavy, incentive program in place that only recognized and rewarded the top performers.  After our review of the present incentive sales plan we made some specific recommendations to Senior Management.  Our recommendations included changing the present top heavy performance objectives to a tiered program with sales achievement levels that were attainable by all of the sales team.  These changes provided immediate results by showing a 7.2 percent increase in sales and a return-on-investment of five to one during a flat market. Even the lowest performers were given a lofty target of 12 percent higher than their previous target and exceeded that target by nearly 26 percent.

 Contact Information
Bob Dawson, CITE
(916) 865-4652

The Future of Incentives is Going Digital

By John Schaefer, December 1, 2010 7:14 pm

I found this article from Hinda Incentives. I think they may be on the right track, see if you agree.

In the early days of digital marketing and social media, brand advocacy online was more or less a volunteer effort. Early adopting tech users with good (and bad) consumer experiences with brands took the time to talk about that brand in their own social feeds. The early days were also exciting in the fact that social media opened up this new door for consumers to be able to interact with brands. Marketing was no longer (well in theory anyway) a one-sided conversation where the brands controlled all the messages. Consumers could now be part of that marketing conversation.

It was – and still is – an exciting time. The winds are changing though. The initial thrill of being able to talk to a brand is wearing off. Social media usage is growing exponentially and not all the users want to be part of brand advocacy for kicks. There has to be something in it for them. Companies now have to not just rely on the “yay social media” wave but come up with effective ways to keep the consumer base engaged in conversation about their brand.

That’s where incentives and loyalty programs come in.

Incentive and loyalty companies (in theory anyway) are masters in modifying behavior. We typically see this in the form of employee motivation, helping company workers take the necessary to achieve and even excel certain goals. Incentive programs should be designed to drive a certain behavior from a group and reward them accordingly for participating in those behaviors.

Tapping into digital loyalty is a huge opportunity for our industry. Using our knowledge and capabilities to help drive consumer behavior will be huge in the digital space. So a company wants consumers to talk more about their brand online….talk about in what ways? Do they want more Twitter mentions? Foursquare or Facebook place checkins? Completed activities on SCVNGR? If they do these things, what’s in it for them? How will they be motivated to take part in those behaviors desired by your company/brand.

Digital media and loyalty is going to be part of the incentive industry’s future. Loyalty programs will play a much bigger role in successful digital marketing efforts.  What do you think? What other ways will incentives play a part in the future of digital marketing?

If you’d like to know more about how this can happen at your company, visit me at

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