Posts tagged: Employee Retention Strategies

What makes us feel good about our work?

By John Schaefer, February 13, 2014 11:53 am

Do you ever wonder what motivates us all to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money (I think everybody really knows that). But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and achieving a sense of purpose.

In this TED video presentation, behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. (Filmed at TEDxRiodelaPlata.) It’s become increasingly obvious that the dismal and predictable science of economics is not as firmly grounded in actual behavior as was once supposed.  Dan Ariely tells us why in this intriguing presentation.

If you’re like me, and most other people I would assume, you will be surprised, yet find yourself nodding in approval when you see how small and subtle differences in the way management acknowledges employee work can have significant and lasting impact on morale, energy, creativity and overall job performance.  These interactions and the subsequent interactions of groups of employees that experience inappropriate management styles and nuances has a huge effect on productivity, turnover, achievement levels, cooperation, discretionary effort and ultimately profits.

Let me know if you agree and how you think we can work to change this common and debilitating problem. As I’ve said many times in this blog … it all comes down to employee perception and how much they trust management’s motives.

Here’s and Interesting Take on Employee Engagement That May Surprise You.

By John Schaefer, October 30, 2013 8:50 pm

I met Louis Efron, and he seemed like a pretty low-key guy to me.  After reading his latest Forbes article, however –, I’m beginning to see his inner tough-love guy!

Most of the time, when you read about employee engagement, it’s all about what the company can do, how management should change, the training you must provide to your supervisors, new tools, techniques, software and communication skills.  But what responsibility does the employee themselves have?  Or better stated … if you are a disengaged employee, what options do you have and what can you personally do about it?  Should you just wait for your leadership to hire Louis Efron, Larry Myler, Bob Kelleher or some other engagement guru to make it all better or is some of the solution up to you?

Louis shares how he took a personal flyer to follow his dream after a 20+ year career in corporate America.  Now I’m not sure Louis was Actively Disengaged, but he did get to the point where he made a tough decision to venture out of his comfort zone and follow a personal dream.  “…yea, that’s okay for some people, but I don’t have the guts to be an entrepreneur or run a charity or start a church or take the big pay cut to go work as a fry cook in a local diner”, you may be thinking.  You just might reconsider when you read the stories of people who did, do some Goggling and see what you’re missing!

We have some friends who did just that.  She was a school teacher and he worked as a mid-level manager in a high tech firm here in Phoenix.  After they had their second child, this couple made the crazy decision to move to Oregon and buy a farm.  Seriously; a real “…if you build it, they will come” farm, with crops and tractors and planting and harvesting and all of the stuff that most of us could only imagine.  Well, it wasn’t easy, but after a couple of years, they were not only making it financially (not getting rich, but not starving) and raising their kids in a small community with great family values, low overhead, low crime rate and real salt-of-the-earth neighbors and friends.

Sure, your employer has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners of the company to make it possible for you as an employee to be as happy, efficient, productive and profitable as possible, but the rest is up to you.  If you’re not the “dream follower” type, then your other options is to become part of the solution. Volunteer to help spearhead Peer Review Groups, lead Productivity Circle, offer suggestions, be a breath of fresh air to those around you, or simply stay positive and engaged.  It’s your choice and you can do more to help your company succeed than you probably think.  Just don’t be a downer!

But, if you’ve got the cojones to venture out after the life and career your always wanted, go for it!  You might fall on your face, but you also might the joy, rewards and satisfaction that is reserved for those who set their own course.  If you do the work, take the risks and get engaged in your own venture, you just might be one of the new success stories that Louis Efron is talking about.  My advice … go for it!!

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.

The Secret to Building Sustainable Cultures and Business Models

By John Schaefer, September 28, 2013 9:25 pm

I just read a great piece from Bob Kelleher, founder, Employee Engagement Group

What an upbeat, positive, logical and enheartening look as some scary facts about the world in which we live and work.  Bob says, “Engagement is still the secret sauce that sets leading companies apart. However, employee engagement, profit, growth, client satisfaction and even solid leadership by themselves are not sustainable”. No kidding, but how do we achieve high levels of engagement?  I submit that the secret to the secret sause is believability and trust, and that comes from training your management team both the How and Why of engagement.

So, how to get get managers engaged?  I think that the easiest way is to show them “What’s in it for me?”… in other words, your managers and supervisors have to see your approach to employee communication, recognition, performance management and ultimately engagement as beneficial to both the company and themselves.  Once they see your approach as worthwhile personally, not just the rules that they must work by, everything begins to change.

Bob believes that, “… Organizations must define both their “what they do” and “why they do it” by crystallizing their employment value proposition (EVP) as a means to retain, attract, and hire the best employees.”  Couldn’t agree more.  With the fast growing Gen Y employee population in today’s workplaces, you need to have a beliveable, valueable, worthwhile mission and demonstrate your passion for it every day.  Younger employees join your organization more like investors than employees.  They want to know how they can be part of something important, what they can contribute, what they’ll gain and who will be helped. And, they’ll give you about 90 days to show them before they begin looking around. That’s both a high calling and a massive challenge, but the companies that embrace and understand it will win big, have fun and get the privalege of sharing the good times with the best employees out there.

Check out Bob and his team at  While you’re there, make sure you look at Our Values and note the list of causes they support.  These guys practice what they preach!

For help with fresh engagement ideas, give The Employee Engagement Group a call. To organize, measure, track, optimize and prove your getting significant ROI from your efforts, Schaefer Recognition Group may be able to help.

John Schaefer is a Consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies realize and react to what he calls the Employer/Employee Disconnect. “Your people have the capacity and desire to become far more involved and productive than they are today. The resources required are freely available, if you simply choose to use them,” says Schaefer. “The key is to get your managers and supervisors to embrace this challenge by seeing what’s financially in it for them.”

How Do Your Employees Really Want to Be Recognized?

By John Schaefer, September 25, 2013 8:49 pm

Depends on age, job type and skill level, but most importantly … do they trust the reason you’re asking!

I have been following Cindy Ventrice and her “Make Their Day” Weekly Tips for several years and she’s definitely a pro.  I recently received a link to one of her surveys,,  and found it quite interesting.

While I like where she is going with this, I think that her survey results to be a bit limited.  I’m sure the results are accurate, but they only address a small sliver of the total recognition pie. While some of the best recognition is certainly those honest moments of praise from the boss or thanks from a coworker (we call this Manager to Peer and Peer to Peer recognition and it is free of very low cost stuff), it’s definitely not all that employees value. Successful programs have a more comprehensive structure.

A balanced approach to employee engagement includes:

1. Right Brain Recognition – to show you LOVE them. The most popular form of Recognition is for Length of Service, because it’s well understood, totally objective and fully tax deductible.

2. Left Brain Performance Management – to get them INVOLVED. This is where all of your measurable behaviors reside, so this is a very fluid, flexible and regularly update part of your strategy.  With proper support, this is the part of the program that throws off the ROI that pays for everything else.

3. Full Brain Motivation – to let them know you RESPECT and APPRECIATE them. This is the fun part, and can include all forms of communications, events, Peer and Manager interaction, guest speakers,  activities, charity work and opportunities that show that your understand and believe in your people.

Recognition builds trust, Performance builds teamwork and improves habits, and motivation is the frosting that makes it all worthwhile, so they stay and continue to contribute.  No one part works well without the others.

The companies with the best results have programs that address their employee’s complete brain, including all three tools of engagement above – Recognition, Performance Management and Motivation.  They also know the importance of training employees and managers on not only what to do, but why.  Finally, they implement and support the elements of the program in the proper order, so they engage people emotionally first, then offer them ways to improve productivity and share in the financial results, and finally use creative tools to make it fun and engaging for everyone.

We call this an Umbrella Recognition Solution and you can learn more about the benefits of a comprehensive approach to employee engagement at

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