Category Archives: Employee Recognition

What Millennials Want In a Company

Company leaders are showing a real concern for what is to come with the largest generation – millennials. Millennials want autonomy, they want things to matter, and they want to be mobile. This different mentality from previous generations has been a two-decade-long shift first from video games, then internet, and now mobile.

Millennials on the phone

1. Instant, Always-on, Global Information.

The millennial comedian Aziz Ansari gave a comparison to the millennial mindset in the context of gay marriage. He said, “Two dudes are kissing? I’m about to watch every movie ever, right now! They [millennials] don’t care at all.” Instant global information has made millennials see the world in a whole new light. They look past issues that are not important in the global scheme, because now with Twitter and Facebook they can connect on a deeper level with people all over the globe about any issue as soon as events unravel.

2. Mobile

An endlessly expanding encyclopedia is in your pocket. Every person you have ever known is a short search away. College students complete their studies from anywhere on ultralight laptops. Being anywhere and still connected is the new norm.

3. Instant Feedback

Pinball to Nintendo to Gameboy to mobile computers, instant feedback has gotten more omnipresent. Millennials expect results fast. Increased internet speeds are inflating millennials already hyperactive expectations.

A Blueprint for Companies Seeking to Attain and Retain Millennials

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” – Vicktor E. Frankl.

1. Autonomy and Idealism

By incorporating autonomy and causes, companies can reap the rewards from both a marketing standpoint and an employee’s lifetime value to the company. Companies with skunk groups for independent innovative projects receive both innovative ideas and prototypes, but also increase employees dedication to the company. Follow the startup incubator model by cycling through groups of people, or batches, in the skunk group. Then, many people can be a part of the skunk group generating more employee to company rapport.

To show your company cares, involve environmental or social initiatives. Give a percentage of profits to a charity, match employee donations to nonprofits, or create your own ice bucket challenge. Make a culture staff is proud to promote and show the company trusts its employees.

People looking at ipads around a desk collaborating

2. Mobile

Working from home can lead some to become complacent. The solution is to make working from home a privilege and not a right. If staff shows up for meetings on time, communicates effectively, and complete tasks on time, then they can work from home. Be transparent on what exactly has to happen to make working from home a reality. If done right, your staff can be producing quality work from a Mexican beach.

3. Instant and Transparent

Support communication tools that support working from anywhere. Give staff immediate feedback. Tools like Slack and Yammer for staff to communicate, and Recognize for employee recognition and rewards should be part of your overarching human resources and company communication strategy.

Companies must embrace with open arms a new way to operate. The industrial revolution is behind us and from the perspective of millennials, the world needs new modalities if we want to keep a healthy planet for the future.

I myself am a millennial. I founded Recognize after discovering the power of employee recognition at former employers. I want to help all companies have a simple employee recognition strategy. It makes work more like a game. When things are more like games, they are more fun and more profitable.

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

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.

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.

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.