Posts tagged: improving your recognition culture for today’s economy

Take Aim at the Heart of your Workforce for Maximum Engagement

By John Schaefer, March 8, 2017 10:08 pm

In order to maximize performance, it’s important to understand the cross-section of a typical work force. It’s common for a normal group to have 15% of its employees in a top, elite group. On the other hand, 15% may be disengaged or problem employees. This leaves the bulk of your work force, 70%, in the middle.
The group at the top consists of self-motivated, talented employees. Most of these people are experienced and take it upon themselves to do their jobs in the best way possible. This elite group produces outstanding results whatever the motivational factors may be.

On the reverse side, the bottom 15% is generally unmotivated and disengaged. This bottom percentile does not have experience and most likely will never obtain it as they bounce from one job to the next. These people more than likely will not be with you in the future.

The group that makes up the major portion of your work force is the middle 70%. The results, records, and bottom line of your organization are dependent on whether this middle percentile can be motivated and trained to improve. The individuals within this middle group must feel they have an attainable goal and will be recognized for improving their personal performance. It is unrealistic in their minds to strive to be better than the elite employees.

When structuring a performance recognition strategy, it’s important to focus on this middle 70%. Programs that only highlight the top 15% spend money on people who will probably accomplish similar results independently. The focus should be on the portion of the work force that will bring the biggest return. Every employee in the middle 70% should feel they have the ability and opportunity to achieve pre-set goals.

In many situations, we have found that incentive dollars and manager time are directed incorrectly. Most of the time and resources are spent with the low achievers who will not be with the organization in the future, while most of the incentive budget is spent on the high achievers who would have accomplished similar results independently. Focus on motivating and engaging the middle 70% and watch your performance improve.

You’ve heard this called “the 80-20 Rule”; I call it “the See-Saw Effect”. Give me a call or shoot me an email if you’d like to know more about how the See-Saw Effect may be costing you time, money and engagement levels.

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.

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.

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.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_what_makes_us_feel_good_about_our_work.html

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.

Creative Ways to Engage Your Multi-Generational Workforce

By John Schaefer, September 16, 2013 2:40 pm

Remember when recognition used to be easy and straightforward? Baby boomers were content with traditional, logged awards and annual congratulatory events. Generation X brought in an interest in flex time and unique benefits such as work from home, office-based exercise options, and childcare benefits. Now we have a growing team of Generation Y workers intrigued with new technology, adventure travel, work/life balance and unique group recognition opportunities.  It’s getting a bit challenging, isn’t it?

I recently came across a couple of recognition ideas that I think will make a lot of sense with your younger employees. The trick is figuring out creative ways to tie these kinds of rewards in with your current recognition strategies and budgets.

There are three ways that we communicate with employees:

  1. Recognition awards engage the Right Brain (the emotional side) and tells them you Love and Care about them as people.
  2. Performance Management rewards engage the Left Brain (the logical side) and show them how improving certain behaviors will allow them to personally share in the company’s success.
  3. Acknowledgement can appeal to either side of the brain; sometimes both, and shows specific achievers how much you appreciate their unique accomplishments.  This is probably where these ideas would fit best within a total recognition strategy.

The Surf Office –

Michal Kostal, cofounder of the surf office is a lifetime surfing enthusiast. Fed up with his desk job, and looking for ways to combine work with his surfing passion, Michal and his partner founded The Surf Office on the coast of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.  “Our project is an uncommon “coworcation” place”, says Kostal.  It’s a simple idea, really. Employees who able to work remotely can combine business and leisure time in a unique environment. The property provides private and shared space, a bed, a desk and high-speed Wi-Fi. For the right type of employee, this sure sounds like the ultimate performance award, doesn’t it? Check it out at www.thesurfoffice.com.

Go Moment –

This one is a bit more customize, but intriguing.  Go Moment will create incredible one-of-a-kind experiences to motivate and engage your employees; each with a personal touch.

LA rep Emilee Wilson shared it with me this way… “Personally, when people ask me what I do, I tell them ‘I sell success’ and it’s true!” They offer unique, unforgettable experiences that are not usually offered to the public, such as skydiving in active volcanoes, luxury yacht cruise experiences in Newport Beach and San Francisco, and extreme storm chasing!  These ideas are sure to intrigue you highest achieving Gen Y folks! Learn more at http://www.gomoment.com.

I see these two reward ideas as somewhat “the frosting” on you Total Recognition cake. You still have to get your management team educated on how to build trust with their people, show them you genuinely care about them as human beings, and offer them ways to share in the glory. Then, you can dangle crazy stuff like The Surf Office and Go Motion opportunities for those top folks that really rock and roll!

It’s all part of a balance approach to employee optimization we call an Umbrella Recognition Solution.  To find out how your organization can get the most out of your investments in people, visit us at http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com .

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