Author Archives: Alex Grande

About Alex Grande

Founder and CEO of Recognize.

Introducing Employee Engagement Score

Cockpit

It is important to provide a metric that measures how focused a company is in recognition. It encourages companies to recognize more than the favorite outgoing employees, and to find new people to recognize. The result is more recognition across the organization.

Recognized employees in last seven days / Total employees = RES

The metric is intentionally designed at the organization level to encourage collectivism. Companies need visibility that the work they do benefits the company. Most Western companies focus on the individual performance, where RES helps focus at a higher level. When others are recognized, employees can instantly see the RES go up. Thus, workers know their contributions help the whole organization, collectively.

Four levels

The RES has four levels for engagement. They are simply separated by 0-25, 25-50, 50-75, and 75-100. Shown below is the color scheme.

RES

RES

RES

RES

Move past individualism for greater organizational success

Wayne Brockbank wrote on Harvard Business Review the necessity for HR to focus more on the organization rather than solely focusing on the individual. The Recognize team believes the same: a duality of both individualism and collectivism within the organization. Traditionally western companies focus on the individual and are blind to the benefits of collectivism. The following are ways Recognize employee recognition app showcases the organization.

Recognize promotes collectivism in two ways: Employee Engagement Score (RES) and teams functionality.

Recognition Engagement Score (RES)

The RES is the measure of how many employees are recognized in the past week compared to how many total employees are in the organization. It is a metric dedicated not to the individual performance, but to the organization. It shows the degree to which the organization is focused on recognition.

Recognition Engagement Score

Recognition Engagement Score

Team leaderboard

Recognize also encourages what we call collective gamification through the team leaderboard. Every recognition is tied to a point value in Recognize. At the end of each month the team with the most collective points is celebrated and the points reset for the next month. Teams now can work together to reach the most recognitions.

Team leaderboard

Team leaderboard

The Recognize team fully agrees with Wayne Brockbank cry for western organizations to begin thinking at the collective-level of the company to understand that the group is stronger than the sum of its individuals.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

― Aristotle

Employee recognition for startups

Entering Startup

Entering Startup

“The Ducky goes to… David!” Leann Arkema, the VP of operations at Breakthrough, announces to the company of 14 employees. Everyone claps while David smiles and stands. “I accept this reward…”, David begins. Everyone quiets down as David reports some of the successes that week and thanks everyone for thinking of him for his hard work. Next week David will pass the Ducky onto someone else to be highlighted at the team meeting.

Employee recognition isn’t only for large companies with budgets for online solutions, like Recognize. Homegrown employee recognition works well in small centrally-located companies with passionate employees who are creating culture as they go. A recognition program in this setting can go a long way if it resonates with the team and is highlighted in monthly or in weekly meetings.

“The holder of the chalice presents a colleague with this commendation for feats of strength and stamina in the line of duty during our Friday Hour of Awesomeness.” – Peter Shanley Director of Strategic Programs at Neo

At the innovative interactive agency, Neo, they pass around a chalice to the employee of the week that went above and beyond. They call it the Neo Unicorn Cup. “Holder of the chalice presents them their commendation for feats of strength and stamina in the line of duty during our Friday Hour of Awesomeness.” Says Peter Shanley Director of Strategic Programs at Neo.

The Neo Unicorn Cup

Neo Unicorn Cup

Personalized employee recognition

The mascot is a large duck at Breakthrough, an online therapy startup. Leann Arkema says “The ducky symbolizes something that looks calm, but under the water the legs are moving very fast. That’s how we like to think at Breakthrough. We are relaxed while we work very hard.” Leann added a twist to their employee recognition program, the ducky is signed by the recipient. The ducky is now covered in memories of recognition.

Framework for startup employee recognition

  1. Choose a trophy for the monthly recognition. Ideally a company mascot or special symbol
  2. Email company introducing the program
  3. Pass the trophy around on a weekly or monthly basis in a team or company meeting
  4. Allow the last winner hand the trophy to the new winner
  5. Email company who won the trophy
  6. Keep the trophy on the desk of the winner for the week or month
  7. Add something special to the program to make it unique to your organization

Employee recognition works at startups to Fortune 500. What’s most important is tying the program to company culture. Companies will engage staff when they include a public, fun, and equal recognition program across the organization.

Deadlines are dead

Why do projects end on a deadline? Sounds like something died. No project manager would like to think their project is dead. They would say it is something living.

Lines don’t die or end. Lines stretch into infinite. In fact, the etymology of the word “deadline” is from the Civic War where if prisoners crossed a line they were shot dead. And that’s what we are referring to when we complete a project- shooting people!

Steps to creating a deadline in modern business:
1. Realize the idea
2. Execute strategy for idea
3. Gather others to complete idea
4. Estimate or require the finish date
5. Complete project

Introducing Livecircle

If you look at the steps, you’ll see the idea goes full circle from imagination to creation. At Recognize, when we complete a project, we call it a “Livecircle”. It is our word for describing when a project is complete. The reason for the word circle is the final deliverable is a tangible item of the first idea. Clearly, a project doesn’t die on a line, it lives after a full orbit around a workflow.

From now on, let’s agree to stop using the word deadline. It is negative and boring. As we continue to charge into the age of technological enlightenment, it is time to think towards a positive future and use words to back that up. Just as if you force yourself to smile, you’ll begin to naturally smile, let’s use words the describe the present and the future we want to create.

Employee recognition points redesigned for stronger employee engagement

Five_Points_-_George_Catlin_-_1827

Recognize Points are unlike any other recognition program. Our competitors have companies pay for points to be given out to staff. The status quo in employee recognition is to then have the staff get stuff with the points. With that comes red tape surrounding recognition. Furthermore, monetary rewards often hinder performance (1). We believe recognition should be light and fun. That means points should symbolize friendly competition between teams as well as show progression in positive events. Recognize stands out, because no other program provides this strategy.

Recognize Points give staff a chance to be the best every month

Recognize employee recognition platform engages staff by focusing on motivating beyond cash incentives. We learned from our customers that they were looking for a sense of journey, or a way to feel accomplishment each month. To help achieve this, we created the Recognize Points.

Profile

The stats page is focused on the user


The stats page will show the current user no matter where they are in the leaderboard. Users can focus on winning to the next spot. Now that points reset, staff members always have a chance to rise up.

Recognize continues to be the best at helping companies find ways to intrinsically motivate their workforce.

Footnote:
1. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation

Collective Gamification

Only 13% of the world’s workforce is engaged (1), leading to billions of dollars lost in potential productivity. To fix this, Dan Pink identified purpose as one of the three most important drivers towards engagement (2). Recognize has an innovative strategy to help staff feel they have purpose in the organization. We call this strategy Collective Gamification.

Earth

Increase levels together through Collective Gamification

Workers don’t realize their influence in companies, because they lack tools to visualize the difference they make. To provide insight, Recognize is building strategy to show workers their influence in the organization. Imagine a gauge that represents a company’s Recognition Engagement Score (RES), or how much recognition is engaging staff in an organization. When a worker sends a recognition, this gauge’s needle moves to the right- providing instant feedback to the user they are influencing the greater good. Another use of Collective Gamification is collective levels. When a user sends a recognition they influence the leveling-up of their team, department, or company. Staff work together to increase their team’s level. The result is more togetherness and teamwork.

It isn’t about me anymore, it is about us

Employee recognition must go both ways to truly work in an organization. A worker receives recognition, giving them a sense of connectedness with the company (3). A worker sends a recognition, and sees immediate collective benefit. If staff realize this potential through collective gamification, only good will follow for the organization.

References

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx
2. Dan Pink on motivation:

3. http://hbr.org/2013/07/connect-then-lead/ar/1

Personalized recognition campaigns to incentivize behaviors and promote mastery.

Flock of birds

Employee recognition is a means to show staff their time is valued, they have purpose, and ability to grow in an organization. At Recognize, we now help companies maximize their staff’s potential through personalized recognition campaigns, or levels of achievement.

The employee recognition campaign strategy

  1. Discover the values or the behaviors the company wants to promote. In Recognize, those values are presented as graphical badges.
  2. Determine the principles that guide those values or behaviors. Managers and company leaders are educated on the principles and asked to look for peers exhibiting those principles. As result, the staff has a top-of-mind mentality towards promoting the company’s goals.
  3. Each badge has levels of achievement. The levels are marked by number of recognitions for a specific badge. At each level we recommend employees are given status, access, and power in the organization.
  4. The employee can print out a recognition certificate to show their accomplishments.
  5. The Recognize Team sends leaders weekly reports of who is excelling based on recognition data.

The employee feels intrinsically motivated when they have purpose and mastery in the organization. Status, access, and power help create that motivation.

Recognition levels

Recognition levels

Status is when an employee can move up in each of the recognition badges. For instance, if “Social Media” is an initiative, the manager can create a Social Media badge. When an employee reaches new levels of Social Media, they are rewarded with an additional title of Social Media Expert or Social Media Strategist. The employee now knows they are noticed for their abilities.

Access is opening new doors to employees through a variety of methods. At lower levels, an employee may have access to a special parking spot for a period of time. At higher levels an employee has access to a conference. The increase of rewards motivates staff to excel in values or behaviors the company looks to promote.

As they say, power is addicting. Increasing an employee’s power in the organization drives the feeling of mastery. We recommend giving staff various levels of decision-making power via the recognition program. A junior marketer may actually be an expert in email marketing, and through employee recognition this can be discovered and validated. If this employee levels-up in a recognition email marketing campaign, they can be rewarded with power to make specific email marketing decisions. The junior marketer may still be a junior marketer, but has a new sense of purpose and mastery.

The Recognize campaigns emphasizes intrinsic motivation in the workplace. Through a well-planned campaign a company can promote any behavior. To learn more about recognition campaigns, please contact us.

Photo by Don McCullough.

Four tips towards an employee recognition company culture

Getting started and onboarding staff to a program is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations interested in recognition. To help articulate and solve some of our customers concerns, the following list can help guide the beginning of a recognition-focused culture.

1. Survey staff on employee engagement.

Does your staff feel recognized? An anonymous survey helps gauge your staff and sets a base.

2. Ease your staff into a recognition program.

– Mention Recognize at an all company meeting as a priority for the company.
– Send an email to all company with a link to sign up for Recognize or program of your choice.
– Track who has activated their accounts on Recognize and gauge interest amongst staff. Don’t force anything on the company. If people are resistant, continue to ease into the program organically.

3. Meet with department directors and team managers to set guidelines on when to Recognize.

– Recognize at end of projects or specific tasks domain to the company.
– Remind managers and directors to make sure to recognize someone every day on the team or the whole team once a week.
– Ask staff to send emails to managers or directors once a week on one thing they accomplished. On Monday, have the manager recognize their team for those tasks. Creating that feedback loop is crucial.

4. Tie recognition into the company’s structure.

Provide status for high achievers. With Recognize, we send monthly reports of whom is doing the best work each month. Let everyone know who those individuals are via a monthly recognition party. Incentive good work tied to company values by rewarding staff each month for each of the values. Each month reward staff who are high achievers in each of the company’s core values (e.g. innovation, leadership). Finally, the highest-rated receivers in each core value should be given more access to perks or power inside the organization. Don’t stop at $20 gift cards – give staff the ability to make special decisions if they are high achievers.

Engraining employee recognition while promoting company’s core values can be easy if admins and leadership follow certain practices to make it a habit for the organization. Contact us if in need of recognition consulting for help getting started. We custom tailor recognition programs based on your company’s goals.

Warming your company culture for higher profits

Kittens together

Traditional wisdom says strength and confidence are necessary to lead. New research says is only half the story. Social psychology research, such as Andrea Abele’s work on warmth and connectedness, show how warmth and strength together elicit the most effective leadership. The book Compelling People‘s main theme is warmth and strength together is the perfect cocktail for excellence.

When meeting someone, how do you act? Do you go right into the primary topic of conversation, or do you first build rapport by sharing experiences? When presenting to a group, is the focus on the stats and numbers, or do you first try to make a connection with your audience? Seemingly filler chat has been shown to make a huge impact on whether people will listen. People need to know you are there for them and you understand them. By entering the in-group of your audience, they will consider you part of them and you are worth taking seriously. In persuasion, being apart of the in-group is more effective than showing credentials of expertise. Story telling is often all that is needed to create a human connection.

A cohesive mindset amongst staff influences the company’s bottom-line, because a connected staff drives innovation and a customer-focus mentality

To bind a company together, leaders must communicate and show warmth with their staff. At Recognize, we see employee recognition as one way to create that critical bond. By providing positive feedback to staff, leaders open themselves up. When leaders overtly recognize staff, they show they care and acknowledge the hard work being done. The result, staff stop looking out for themselves and start looking out for the group. A cohesive mindset amongst staff influences the company’s bottom-line, because a connected staff drives innovation and a customer-focus mentality. Research by Watson Wyatt in 2009 indicates top-level staff must connect with low-level staff in order for staff to be more engaged. One simple way to communicate in a positive way is to promote everyone’s best behavior via a recognition program.

Learn more about warmth and strength by reading Compelling people, the references below, and practicing warmth in your life. You’ll see an immediately difference in how people respond to you.

References
http://www.americanbusinessmag.com/2013/10/happy-bosses-plus-happy-employees-equal-more-profits/

https://enterprisersproject.com/sites/default/files/How%20to%20Balance%20Competence%20with%20Warmth.pdf

http://compellingpeople.com/

Employee Recognition Parties

Office party
Years ago I was fortunate to work at a great company called Pop. Pop had a recognition program that allowed individuals to show appreciation for coworkers with a message and a corporate value. The best part of the program was the monthly parties.

Over a hundred people would crowd around the meeting area on a Friday at 4:30pm. Beers and snacks were laid out to set a casual mood. One of the most charismatic staff members would read off a gamut of recognition stats, “The word ‘jerk’ was used…. zero times, while the word ‘awesome’ was mentioned 800 times!” Gift cards were handed out for sending the most recognition and for receiving the most recognition. This small token went a long way for Pop, and helped drive an engaged, innovative workplace.

Simple steps to throwing employee recognition parties

1. Involve everyone. If you’re a company of over 200 people, break the parties by department or team.
2. Buy snacks or something to enjoy. It doesn’t have to include alcohol.
3. Schedule the meeting for a Friday at 4:30pm.
4. Use Recognize to read off most popular recognitions. Search through the last month and find funny or interesting recognitions to share.
5. If you need any help gathering information that is beyond the boundaries of the company admin, contact us for help.
6. Randomly give away a $25-$100 gift card to someone who was recognized.
7. Give gift cards to the staff members who gave the most and received the most recognition.

Celebrate greatness at work on a monthly basis and enjoy the rewards of an engaged workforce.