Much of the literature today on building a strong corporate culture is centered around the importance of keeping employees positively engaged at work, creating a culture in which each employee feels connected, empowered, and ultimately contributing to the forward momentum of the organization.
One important way that we can impact employee engagement is through recognition – whether it be through verbal praise, monetary rewards, social networks, or service award programs. The impact of recognition on employee engagement can be a significant factor in training – and retaining – quality employees who feel engaged and empowered to make a difference every day. In fact, research by the Aberdeen Group found that “60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance” (Driving a Culture of Employee Recognition, 2013). In addition, “ . . . in organizations where recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity and customer service are about 14 percent better than in those where recognition does not occur” (Bersin & Associates, 2012). Recognized employees are more likely to be engaged employees – interested in and contributing to a positive organizational culture and its growth.
We can all identify the A players. On sports teams, they are the stellar athletes. They are recruited by top universities and professional teams. They are the standouts. They make multi-million dollar deals with endorsements and commercial contracts. And in business, they are often the dealmakers, the go-getters and the promotion-seekers.
In contrast, you may not notice the B players, in sports teams or in your business. But they are also there – day after day, consistently and conscientiously getting the work done. On a sports team, they are the solid, dependable players who deliver reliable results – game after game. In your business, they always execute.
The truth is the majority of Service Award programs out there are outdated and ineffective. Many programs were designed years ago and based on concepts from decades ago. It’s easy for these programs to get put on auto pilot but if you haven’t evaluated your program, now is the time. This is real money that could be better spent.
Here are 5 common myths about Service Awards and the reality…
World class athletes understand that no matter how hard they train, it’s impossible to maximize performance unless they compete. They can’t be at their best unless they measure themselves against the best. Competition, visibility and recognition fuel performance. – Incentive Services University
As organizational leaders, we know that employee recognition is crucial to maintaining motivation among quality employees. We all want to be recognized for our achievements, appreciated for our efforts and commended for our contributions. A hand-written thank you note, a tasty treat, or even an extra day of vacation can all be a grateful gesture for a job well-done.
Call it whatever you want: recognition, honor, pride, self-esteem . . . it’s very basic – the inner desire to have one’s achievements noticed. In some cases, a pat on the back will do the job. In others, it is tangible recognition. Whatever it is, it represents that you are important and your efforts are appreciated – you’re a winner, a performer.
~ Joe Cronin, President, Incentive Services
Every employee has an innate desire for recognition – recognition for hard work, for dedication, for accomplishments and contributions to the organization. Every employer wants their employees to be fully engaged – engaged in work, in corporate values and in organizational objectives. It is the intersection of these two desires that leads to the growth and success of both the employee and the company. In fact, it is the sincere recognition of employee accomplishments which contribute to engaged, excited employees who are ready to contribute to the organization each day.
“Take aim at the heart of your workforce.”
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.
What sets your organization apart from the competition? What makes your customers keep coming back to you – and not to another company? What is it that defines your company, your brand, your business?
In today’s competitive market, the answers to these questions revolve around the most important assets that drive your business – your people. It’s your employees who bring the commitment, the drive and the message that you deliver to your customers every day. “People are, have always been and always will be the Number One differentiator” (R. Vaden, Employees Set Business Apart from Competitors, 2013). Your people set you apart.
At the same time, it is also your people who can make or break your business. Who are your high performers? What do they bring to your organization every day? Are they delivering the right message, a consistent message, to your customers with every encounter? It isn’t enough to talk the talk, if your employees can’t walk the walk.
Engaged or disengaged? Quit or Stay? As leaders in our organization, we all wonder which terms apply to our employees. How do we keep them “engaged” in their role, actively participating, and contributing to the company’s goals and strategic direction? A 2012 study indicated that 29% of employees “ . . . who are fully engaged do more in less time than their colleagues” and yet “ . . . 75% of organizations have no engagement plan or strategy” (Dale Carnegie Training).
The level of our employees’ engagement may be more than just black and white, engaged or disengaged. According to a recent Employee Engagement update, there are actually five levels of employee engagement ranging from those who are fully engaged to those who are fully disengaged by ranking employees based upon their levels of both contribution and satisfaction. (BlessingWhite Research Update, 2013).
According to a recent study by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training, “employee engagement is important because ‘engaged employees’ are more committed and productive”. Unfortunately, the study also concluded that “. . . only 29% of employees are fully engaged while 26% are disengaged” (Victor Lipman, Forbes website, 12/14/12). But what is employee engagement? Fineman & Carter (2007) define employee engagement as “the willingness of employees to invest discretionary effort on the job”. Vazirani suggests that engagement is “. . . the level of commitment and involvement an employee has towards their organization and its values”. An employee’s level of engagement in an organization can make or break their feelings about work and eventually influence performance.
Engaged employees tend to be more satisfied with both job and company. They have a positive attitude, greater productivity and are less likely to leave their position. Conversely, disengaged employees tend to be dissatisfied with both job and company. They have a negative attitude, higher rates of job turnover and often adopt a “quit and stay” attitude about their job and their company. But employee engagement can mean much more to an organization than just attitude and productivity. Levels of employee engagement can significantly impact a company’s bottom line.
“Thank you.” “Great job.” “Congratulations!” Whether adults or children, we all like to receive validation for our efforts, achievements and success. Employers often spend a great deal of time, money and energy recruiting and hiring new employees, optimizing employee performance, and ensuring the retention of talent. But many organizations forget the basic tenet that employees are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to stay with a company when they feel valued and appreciated for their time and efforts. It all starts with the importance of recognition.
What do we mean by recognition? According to Kim Harrison, “Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations” (Why Employee Recognition is So Important). In fact, we all have a fundamental human need to be recognized, noticed and appreciated. But according to John J. Oliver, ” Recognition is one of the most powerful, least used management tools. . . It’s not about favoritism, but about recognizing and rewarding all employees who meet well-defined and stated criteria” (The Rewards of Recognition). Recognition in the workplace may be formal or informal, but – when sincere – it is always appreciated.
Employee Incentive Programs reward exceptional employees for reaching work goals, achieving milestones or simply doing a good job. These types of programs are designed to offer incentive and rewards to valued employees. Employee Incentive Programs have proven very successful in arousing motivation in employees and increasing the overall performance of the company. An incentive program is a great way to show employees that you value their input while at the same time increasing your businesses potential.
Company success rests on the performance of employees. As organizations look at ways to reward and motivate their workers, recognition methods have come a long way from a pat on the back and upgraded parking spot. Structured incentive programs—which reward employees for meeting performance-based milestones—are helping employees set, meet and exceed goals, and helping companies attract and retain valuable talent. Employee incentives also help build brand loyalty.
In fact, employees who participate in company-driven incentive programs say they feel more valued (85%), are more loyal to their companies (65%) and get better results (60%). And at companies without incentive programs, one-third of office workers say they’d put in an extra workweek each year, if their company would implement one.
With apologies to Shakespeare, we did not come to praise cash, but we didn’t come to bury it either – only its use as an employee incentive.
Research released within the past year continues to support the widely held belief that people who earn enough income to cover basic needs are happier than those who don’t. Beyond that minimum level, however, those who are much richer aren’t necessarily much happier.
The first wave of Generation X recently turned 45, making Gen Y-ers the new youngsters. Traditionalists are wrapping up their careers, and Boomers soon could follow them into retirement – or not. With four generations on the job, employers find that their biggest diversity issue these days is age.
Sheila Gallagher tries to be a sensitive manager. So even though young Frank Brodie, a new Carleton College graduate, had just joined her restaurant sales and support staff at General Mills in August, Gallagher invited him to make a presentation at his very first staff meeting in September.
As someone whose job it is to advise companies on employee engagement, I was fascinated to read “Making Employee Engagement Fashionable” by the CEO of Gucci recently on BusinessWeek.com. As I was moved to comment on the column, strategic recognition is the key to fostering a truly engaged workforce. As the recession drags on, company leaders are looking for any solution to boost morale, increase productivity, and help gain competitive advantage. Employee engagement is rapidly becoming the answer for many organizations, though many remain confused about the benefits of employee engagement, what it is, and how to foster it in their organizations.
Micah Joel, a systems engineer at SupportSoft in Redwood City, Calif., calls himself a “B player.” There is no shame in his voice. He will work a 60-hour week when the company is under the gun but also feels no guilt when he cuts out early to volunteer in community theater or train for triathlons. His goal is balance, not a corner office. Gratifying work is more important to him than promotions or pay raises. “I work for mental chocolate,” says Joel, 29.