Category Archives: company

16 Must-Answer Employee Engagement Questions for Your Staff

A pink pattern

When was the last time you or your HR initiated an employee engagement survey at your company? In Recognize, we provide a way to ask these questions when you start the program and six months later.

Employee Engagement Survey Statements

The following statements are answered on a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being most disagree and 5 being most agree.

  1. I feel connected to my employer.
  2. I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things.
  3. My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.
  4. Supervisors encourage me to be my best.
  5. I am rewarded for the quality of my efforts.
  6. I am valued by my supervisor.
  7. Overall, I am satisfied with my job.
  8. Overall, I am productive in getting the job done.
  9. The company clearly communicates its goals and strategies to me.
  10. I have a clear path for career advancement.
  11. My job requirements are clear.

Additional Employee Engagement Questions

  1. How long have you worked at your company? (Less than 3 months, Less than 6 months, 6 months – 1 year, 1-3 years, 3-5 years, More than 5 years)
  2. Do you feel that employees are recognized as individuals? (Yes, No)
  3. How motivated are you to see the company succeed? (Very motivated, Somewhat motivated, Not very motivated, Not at all motivated, Not sure)
  4. Would you advise a friend to apply for a job at your company? (Yes, No)
  5. Overall, how satisfied are you with your position at your company? (Very Dissatisfied, Dissatisfied, Neutral, Satisfied, Very Satisfied)

How Games Can Influence Your Company’s Productivity

How to influence employee productivity

Games have an important evolutionary aspect

There’s a reason why trivia night has become so popular at bars. It’s the same reason why Words with Friends and Farmville are frequently downloaded games. But games are not just a waste of time. Hidden underneath these common games lies a deeper evolutionary aspect we are just uncovering.

Jane McGonigal, a researcher at The Institute for the Future and a professional game designer, predicts that in the 21st century solutions to problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict and obesity will be found in games, and that we need to be playing games more than we already do.


McGonigal says that the amount of combined time in years humans spend playing games can only be compared to how long it took the first human being to walk up right.

“It turns out that by spending all this time playing games, we’re actually changing what we are capable of as human beings.”

“Evoke”, a social network game designed to empower people to think creatively about critical problems, is changing behavior for the better. It combines graphic novel stories, the same way many video games do, and has unique missions directly tied into looming issues we face today. The result, people learn to survive major global disasters through gameplay.

Why would games be the most effective way to get people to face things like hunger or drought?

As of right now, people are using games to escape from everyday stresses that range from personal to global.

“We feel that we are not as good in reality as we are in games. And I don’t just mean successful, I also mean good as in motivated to do something that matters.”

Hopefully every employee that works for you is passionate about the mission your company is on, but it never hurts to add more incentives. Since many games are social by nature, they weave a tight social fabric.

Recognize, a social employee recognition platform, is an enterprise SaaS platform with gamification mechanics built in. It harnesses team-building through the reward system and uses ‘leveling-up’ the way one does in a game. Bosses and managers can implement recognition of completed tasks both big and small to reward employees for a job well done.

“There are lots of different characters who are willing to trust you with a world-saving mission, right away, whenever you show up in one of these games. And then gamers receive so much positive feedback that they feel they can achieve more in online worlds than they can in real life. What this feedback triggers is a sense of urgent optimism.”

Gamers are notoriously focused and on-task for so many hours that they lose themselves in these worlds, and by understanding why the game is so enthralling may lead to a more focused and committed workplace.

When tasks through Recognize are completed, it builds trust and a positive feedback loop within a team. That has a great affect on everyone involved and it gives employees a tangible sense of accomplishment that perhaps they would normally only feel in a game.

How to influence employee productivity

There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’

How Games Saved a Civilization

McGonigal shares a story passed down to us by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus who says dice games were invented in the kingdom of Lydia during a sever famine. Tension amongst the people was high, so the king came up with a solution: They would only eat every other day. On the days they didn’t eat, they played dice games.

The people were so engaged in these games that they weren’t paying attention to the fact that they weren’t eating. They survived for 18 years like this.

The famine didn’t get any better after 18 years, so the king divided his kingdom in half and ordered one final game to be played. The winning half was sent on a journey, an epic mission if you will, to find a new land that could support the remaining half of their civilization.

How to influence employee productivity

Could this be the key to the Roman Civilization?

Scientists have since discovered that the Etruscans, the founders of the Roman Empire, share the same DNA as the ancient Lydians, suggesting that this story is true.

That means that one of the greatest civilizations in history was founded on games as a solution to what seemed like an immovable problem. Not a bad thing to model your own company after.

So, next time you catch Joe or Tina playing Farmville at work, why not give them a pat on the back and ask them if they want to play a game with you?



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.

Multiple Recipients in Employee Recognition

Why only recognize one person when you can recognize many people at the same time? Employee recognition should be free to send to as many people as possible. Isn’t that our goal after all? To allow everyone to be recognized in the easiest way possible? We are cooking up a number of ideas to help people recognize more easily. Recognize is getting better and better for our customers. Today we announce multiple recipients to a recognition.

A screenshot of Recognize's multiple recipient in the send recognition form.

Recognize the planet

With multiple recipients, managers and coworkers can make sure everyone receives the notice they deserve. Many managers have requested this feature and it is about time we launched it.

When you recognize multiple people, it lists all the people as recipients in the recognition cards and on the recognition show page.

Screenshot of recognition show page where multiple people are listed

No longer are people left out of employee recognition

Batch recognitions is the best way to make sure your employee recognition occurs across your professional social graph. Never feel like you missed someone again.

Multiple Recipient recognition card

Employee recognition for the masses

It is our goal to promote professional’s online reputations. To bring employee recognition to everyone, we added the ability for individuals to sign up.

Now, anyone can sign up for Recognize

Companies can still sign up and engage their staff with employee recognition. But individuals can sign up too and grow their reputation.

By default, your recognitions are public. Share your profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks. When you do this, Google can index your profile and when people search for you on Google, they will find positive recognitions attached to your name.

Recognition programs shouldn’t be only for employees

Most recognition programs focus on employees. We want to let anyone have a recognition program at their disposal, even if it isn’t tied to their company. Thus, we opened up recognition awards for everyone.

Problem with most employee recognition programs is they are not truly social. A lot of times we want to recognize people outside of our work environment. In fact, nearly half the people who sign up for Recognize attempt with their personal email, even though we state on the homepage that we only accept professional emails. By allowing personal emails we help a lot more people send and receive recognition awards.

Send recognition awards with anyone

With this new feature, it is our goal to now add authentication with Google Gmail. Soon all your contacts will be imported dynamically thanks to Google Gmail API. It will be very easy to send recognition to your colleagues.

Until then, you can use people’s email address to send recognition. Once in the system, you can find them with autocomplete.

Like LinkedIn, but in real-time

Edmundo Vindel's recognition
The problem with LinkedIn Endorsements is they show skills you’ve had in the past. LinkedIn Endorsements do not present skill progression. With Recognize’s employee recognition program, we allow individuals to be recognized for skills right now. This allows us to (eventually) show your skill progression over time.

Sign up today with your company email or your personal email to begin promoting your online professional reputation.

Recognition commenting

Another feature we released is commenting. Before, we used Yammer comments. We are thankful for Yammer to help us with commenting, but we needed our own system. Now you can comment on recognitions to increase the recognition award’s value. Anyone can comment on public recognitions, and when a recognition is private only the parties involved can comment.

Go back to your company’s most popular recognitions and write a comment. Create a conversation within your organization.

Recognize any employee at any company

We added a new feature this week to help professionals promote their business relationships. We now allow users to recognize anyone with a professional email address.

Beyond employee recognition

Sometimes you want to recognize or be recognized by people outside of your immediate email domain. You may work at a university that has different subdomains or work at a regional office of a national company. Both of these situations require the ability recognize people in other domain networks.

Along with being able to recognize any professional, user profiles are public. Much like LinkedIn, workers can now share their recognition profile with anyone to promote their abilities.

Employee recognition profile

We are excited to see the response from our customers. Cross company recognitions is a feature that has been requested a number of times from our users.

Cash rewards with employee recognition

With over half of employee recognition platforms use cash reward (about 62%), it is no wonder that money is on people’s mind when deciding an employee recognition system.

Point-based employee recognition

So far, Recognize has provided a point-based system. A video game-like environment is a softer approach to motivating recognition. However, money is far more important in the workplace. Workers want gifts for helping their company’s profits.

We see that at Recognize, and are looking into ways to providing monetary reward in recognitions. We are not yet ready to reveal how this will play out, but at the moment we see an attachment to recognitions that includes a valued reward.

Adding Bit Coin to employee recognition

Adding rewards to recognitions will continue to evolve at Recognize. We are considering Bit Coin for Recognize. Imagine a platform where you can deposit bit coins and attach bit coin gifts to professional recognitions. Users can later cash out the bit coins with a third party.

Recognize wants to steer clear of direct cash rewards. People are found to work harder for non-cash rewards, than for cash rewards. You can read the study here.

We hope people internalize the social currency of points and their recognition stats. A high recognition score shows a professional is liked and performs well. Nevertheless, adding a gift here and there can’t hurt.

Launched new homepage promoting employee recognition

We are excited to announce a new homepage that articulates our product in a long scrolling visual display of top features and key benefits.

Recognize's new homepage

Employee recognition is key to helping motivate workers. We needed to showcase the badges, the experience on mobile, the reporting page, the show recognition page, and more through a longer more visual homepage experience.

homepage panels

The homepage now shows the recognition cards and the reporting page. Plus it shows the recognition show page both at the top on mobile and down below on a Mac Air laptop.

Amy Margaret, of Amy Margaret Jewelry, is featured as an advocate for employee recognition.

In between the taller panels, the homepage provides facts about Recognize. It shows that recognitions can be edited and deleted, and that Recognize is a responsive web application.

I urge decision makers in organizations to implement employee recognition deep into its business culture. We hope our new homepage highlights our ability to help socialize and track employee recognition.

Recognize integrates with Yammer


We are very excited to announce our partnership with Yammer. Last night we deployed a new version of Recognize that integrates with Yammer. Now both Yammer and Recognize have added value through Recognize’s employee appreciation and Yammer’s workplace social feed. I have envisioned this since I started building Recognize.

Announcing Single Sign On with Yammer

Login with Yammer

The Recognize staff loves this new feature. We don’t have to enter our email and password anymore to login to Recognize. Just one click and we are in the Recognize Stream page.

Even if you are logged in normally, we let you know where you can take advantage of Yammer

Yammer users

When inviting users or sending a recognition, we have login buttons there for easy access to authenticate with Yammer.

Main events in Recognize are populated in Yammer’s recent activity

Recent Activity on Yammer

An update occurs in the Recent Activity when users are validated through +1, when commenting on a recognition, or when a recognition is sent.

Showing thanks has never been easier with our new autocomplete user list

Autocomplete user list

You can find and recognize anyone in your Yammer account. No need to invite anyone if everyone is already on Yammer. If you want to Recognize someone not on Yammer, simply enter their email alias.

Added contrast to the badge trigger button

Choose a badge button

The choose a badge button is now darker to be easier to see on all monitors. This will increase Recognize’s usability and improve the experience for all users.

Comment with Yammer on the Recognition Show page

Recognition show page

Recognize’s value has jumped with Yammer comments. Users can create a conversation about the best work in your company. Sometimes you just want to say, “You’re welcome.”

When comments are made, they show up in your Yammer feed.

Yammer feed

Invite users from Yammer

Invite with Yammer

We show a few users that haven’t signed up for Recognize yet. If you select their name and click “Send,” we will send them an invitation email.

If your company is using Yammer, go to our homepage and sign in. If your company doesn’t use Yammer, then go to their homepage to create a private social network for your business.

Post-mortem pitching to GE, Pepsi, & Home Depot

Pitching to household brands is a major opportunity for any new technology company. A deal with a big name can take a startup over the tipping point. I was lucky, I sit next to the Pop17 team at Runway. They asked me to pitch in their SXSW event, called BubbleTank. We bought plane tickets to Austin, and prepared a presentation.

I organized the pitch from what I learned at Launch Festival the previous week. In the first 30 seconds present who you are, what you are, and the analytics. Then relate to the audience, demonstrate the core feature of the app with a concrete example, and close with how the idea will grow.

Screen shot of twitter quote, 'Lessons from #launch2013 for pitching: 1. Show ways the idea will grow into a bigger idea. 2. Provide concrete examples. 3. Show analytics.'

I related to the audience, and showed the core pages of the app.

More granular, after I introduced Recognize and presented the stats, I asked everyone to remember when they were appreciated for their good work. I wanted the audience and the judges to relive how it feels to be motivated. I brought it full circle by asking them to imagine what it is like to have that kind of recognition on a daily basis via your mobile device and everyone in their company could see it.

At this point I transitioned and I jumped into the demo. I showed the stream page with all the recognitions for a company; we showed the recognition detail view and how it can be shared on major social networks.

Returning to the powerpoint, I showcased where we can go with social employee appreciation with two ideas. First, cross company recognitions, or the ability to recognize any employee at any company. But more importantly, I presented the idea of  public company recognition reports. I asked the audience and judges to imagine the ability to hand pick the very best content from their Recognize account. They could publicly show the best moments and all the successes of their company.

Public Company Recognition Report showcases a company’s best work

Public company recognition report

Finally, I closed quoting Forbes predicting 2013 as the year of social HR and social employee recognition.

Non-tech savvy staff

In summary, the response from Home Depot, GE, and Pepsi were concerns for security, non-tech savvy staff, and internal HR bureaucracy. While the audience gave a healthy applause, the judges looked stale.

The gentleman from GE responded with a comment, “A significant part of our workforce is not tech savvy. The usage of your app at GE would be lopsided” I didn’t have an opportunity respond to this comment, the woman from Pepsi added, “I echo his concern, with our large HR departments and our non-tech savvy staff, your challenge is adoption of your product.”

Enterprise SASS must pass the HR “Sniff Test.”

After all the pitching was over I spoke with the woman from Pepsi. “What advice can you offer us?” I asked her. She said, “I really like your app, but you need to partner with large HR company’s to pass the HR ‘sniff test’.” That was really good advice, and something one of my advisors recently said to me.

Integration is everything

That’s why integration is key. For any new startup integrating into app stores, integrating with any major Single Sign On (SSO), and adding partnership with large names is vital to startup success. That’s why Recognize is moving towards partnerships with all the major players. We are close to launching Yammer integration, and that’s just the beginning.

Understanding your judges when pitching

To step beyond integration concerns, why did the judges seem uncomfortable with Recognize? During the pitch the judges said nothing positive. No one said, “I really like the idea, but…” or “The design is very nice, but…” The way the judges responded seemed on the defensive. After we sat down one of the audience members came up to us, and said, “Don’t listen to those guys, your idea is great. They are only out to protect themselves and their brands.”

The reason we failed was because we didn’t understand the biggest brand’s concerns. I should have positioned Recognize as a way to protect brands. By using Recognize, we encourage only a specific kind of sharing. The user can’t say anything negative through our channel. Allow Recognize in your organization, and your corporate social media is filtered through doing good, not bad. Maybe that would have resulted in a different response. Too bad we can’t A/B test pitches.