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101 Top Employee Recognition Ideas

A feed of employee recognitions

The Recognize Team interviewed customers, researched strategies, surveyed the public, and used stories from our lives to produce 101 Top Employee Recognition Ideas. It was so important to us, we needed something more flexible than the blog to host it. So we put it on the main website.

To see the employee recognition ideas, go here.

Employee Nominations the Smart Way

A tree

We are staying true to the goal of using psychology principles instead of profit as our north star in Recognize’s product roadmap. We want your staff to be motivated intrinsically, and not just by monetary rewards. That’s why our nomination system doesn’t incorporate any cash value. Companies can choose to add monetary rewards for employees who are nominated or awarded, but that is for them to decide, not us.

How does Recognize employee nominations work?

The nomination system makes it really easy to democratically decide who is to be awarded for special mention. Staff can secretly vote on who deserves any award.

Examples:
+ Employee of the month
+ Employee of the year
+ Safety Award for construction companies
+ Innovation Award for consulting companies

Choosing a nomination badge

Choosing a nomination badge

Sending a nomination for employee of the month

It is a lot like sending a social recognition

The admins go into the Company Dashboard to see who has been voted the most times for a nomination and the reasons employees gave for that nomination. Since staff are voting, it is easy to see runner-ups to whomever you choose as the winner.

Viewing nominations in Admin Dashboard

Viewing employee of the year votes
Viewing reasons for nominations

Viewing reasons for nominations

To set up a nomination, it is as easy as creating a badge. Go into the Custom Badges and enable “nominations” on a badge. That’s it!

You should also change the sending limit. Typically you will want to allow someone to nominate once a quarter. So change it to once and a quarter. And make the points worth zero

Creating a nomination badge

Creating a nomination badge

You may want to also create a badge that is the award version of the nomination. When you decide on a winner and award them in the dashboard, you can send a recognition for that accomplishment only the CEO or an admin can send.

Creating custom roles

Creating custom roles

Now it will be easy to see who deserves recognition at your quarterly and yearly ceremonies. Admins and leaders will simply login to Recognize, see the nominations that occurred all year, and make decisions on who to mention and why. No more favoritism, no more last minute illogical decisions. Recognize is helping companies recognize and award their employees in ways grounded in science and not solely gift card profits.

Contact us to learn more

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.

Really?

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?

 

Sources:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world/transcript?language=en

www.urgentevoke.com

How to make a new homepage

A repost from Planet’s blog

Funny to think that Recognize’s first homepage was designed before the app existed. Martin Karasek did a great job designing our initial homepage. It focused on the sign up form and to visually represent the badges. Ten months later, it was time for a redesign.

In this post, I will try to provide advice as to how to launch a successful homepage redesign.

Start from scratch

We are often attached to our current design or our current code base. Designers will use current designs as base rates for future design. Programmers will comment out code to be used later. Detach from your old work and free your homepage to new possibilities. Delete commented out code and use your company’s current and future business strategy as your design base.

For Recognize, we now have a full product and marketing vernacular. Our old homepage didn’t dive deep enough into our product. It didn’t explain our business as a fully functional employee recognition platform. Here’s a screenshot of our old homepage.

Old homepage

When I started the new homepage, I literally deleted everything in our homepage CSS file and deleted all the HTML in the homepage partial. With a clean plate I was able to think clearly and produce something completely new.

Right at the top show a product

Let the world know your company is actively producing something of value. It can be anything you produce, such as a product, community, or service. For instance, if your company produces shoes, you can display a sponsored marathon at the top of the homepage. Showcasing a product or byproduct at the top allows the user to immediately connect your company with a tangible object.

People more likely to scroll than click

It isn’t easy convincing people to use your website. That’s why it is important to show the gist of your business above the fold, or generally the top 600px of the homepage. For content beyond the first 600px, don’t make users click to find it. Make your homepage long enough to explain everything important. Flickr’s homepage redesign is a good example of a nice scrolling experience.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.01.51 PM

A scrolling homepages tell a story

Write a story in a half dozen sentences, and use each sentence as a section on your homepage. Think of your homepage as an extension of your elevator pitch. For instance, “We build websites for socially responsible companies. We work with brands like Patagonia and Whole Foods. We are community-driven, recently we hosted a hackathon focused on environmentalism. Let us help your business translate its social responsibility into web experiences.” Each one of those sentences can be a complete section on your homepage. Use a graphic or a photograph to visually explain your point. You’ll find users will get a better understanding of your business.

Appeal to logic and to emotion

In your graphics and your copywriting, think of two groups of people: logical people and emotional people. Emotion-driven people are compelled by abstract marketing copywriting and strong imagery. Apple’s slogin “Think Different” is a great example of emotion-driven marketing speak. Whereas listing product specifications is more attractive to logic-driven people. You’ll hit a homerun if you can appeal to both.

For Recognize’s new homepage, the headlines are emotion-driven, such as “Track success” or “Motivate the workplace.” Then, we provide details for our product, such as “Edit and delete recognitions.” The facts help back up the headlines, and that ties your messaging together.

Learn more about different types of people according to Myers Briggs at Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator.

Show photographs of people

Pictures of real people can double homepage conversion. Learn more about that here. If you have customers who use your product, ask them permission to show their profile.

Recognize homepage showing people

It is 2013: think responsive layouts

If your homepage doesn’t respond to different screen widths and device sizes, then your homepage is outdated. Make sure your designer and developer build different versions of the homepage to display well on mobile, tablet, laptop, and large desktops.

  1. Check your analytics and determine the most used screen resolutions by your users.
  2. Make designs that work well with your most used resolutions.
  3. Use a responsive layout framework, such as Boostrap to easily manage mobile and tablet screen resolutions.
  4. Ensure you aren’t loading large images on mobile and tablet. Use the correct image sizes for your user’s screen dimensions.

Watch analytics

Watch your analytics, and see if you can increase your homepage conversion with a fresh new homepage. It is a fun game when your conversion rate goes up.

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.