Category Archives: Engagement

How to inspire your millennial employee

The Why, What and How to Inspire Your Millennial Employees

Workplaces are seeing generation tides, Millennials are a big part of the workforce now and with each new generation adapting to changes are necessary. Just how well is your company adapting to fit the Millennial generation into your workplace? Let’s look at the current statistics to help you evaluate your company’s current methods, how to adapt with Millennials and inspire them:

Only 40% of Millennials feel strongly connected to their company’s mission and 60% are open to a different job. Staggering 29% are engaged at work.

What these statistics show is insufficient workplace culture and current way of obtaining talented Millennials. It’s vital to understand who they are and what they want, they make up 38% of the U.S. workforce. Simply, desires and expectation are not being met today.

67% of Millennials will be engaged at work if they strongly agree the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important.

87% say development is important in a job. And if 29% of the Millennials are engaged at work, just what is missing in today’s workplace?

While Millennials are known as job-hopping generation. How do you inspire or keep your talented Millennial employee? There are few ways to hire, inspire, and keep your Millennial.

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Step 1 The hiring process:

Every recruiter or hiring manager will ask this interview question, “Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?”. Asking a Millennial this question is probably the hardest question they are going to answer. Millennial will jump ship if their employer lacks opportunities for them. Millennials are born as opportunity seekers, every hiring manager must set opportunities and help each millennial understand that opportunity.

Set expectations and lay out the opportunities before hiring a Millennial, and make sure to deliver those opportunities.

Provide staff with bi-annual milestones to reach long term goals. Remind them of where they are currently and help them develop to reach those opportunities. Millenials and Generation Z expect fast returns on investment. In the real world, that doesn’t happen often. Remind them of the steps they are taking to reach the mountain.

By setting those milestones, your staff will understand the tasks at hand and fulfill their goals. You can also celebrate each milestone achieved by using a recognition program to help them see and feel instant gratification and a sense of achievement.
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Step 2 Feedback is important, but how:

19% of Millennial say they receive routine feedback. Millennials want feedback but won’t ask for it. We need to discuss the importance of transparency and opportunities. Millennials won’t ask for feedback simply because they have high expectations and are overachievers. They are constantly sprinting for results and the current way for a company providing feedback is too long of a process, it’s not helpful and a waste of time. Your company can perform one on one feedback or with the whole group to help encourage each other to grow and be transparent with one another.

Unhappiness can still arise. When setting each milestone, you must ask for their evaluation, try to understand from their perspective and show them empathy. Communication with a Millennial is vital; otherwise, how do they know if they are doing a good job, or understand your perspective and or see themselves moving forward? While feedback is important, emphasize where they are currently and how you can help them get to the next level. Providing short and instant feedback is crucial is today’s landscape.

If your company is currently using the S.B.I (Situation, Behavior, Impact) model to provide your employee’s feedback, you are on the right track. This element of engagement and performance might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers. If your company does not have several opportunities for your employees, you can implement a Recognition and Rewards program with a company like Recognize.

Creating a nomination badge

Creating a nomination badge

Recognition programs are a way to reach out to Millennials. It provides instant recognition and gratification. They can comb through their level of achievements instead of printed awards and certification. Instead of communicating your feedback via words, why not create badges? Encourage feedback, think Twitter, likes, short and relevant actions for your Millennials. Personalize recognition campaigns by asking your Millennial employees to come up with badges and awards, which can provide a sense of ownership and help boost productivity. Be transparent and ask them for their opinions and ideas. Recognition can be display at your office with kiosk mode, where your employees can see their achievement. Encourage each other to participate, create friendly competition, and compliment your Millennials hard work.

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Step 3: Workplace Culture

Millennials are entrepreneurial. Maximizing these “intrepreneurs” who have a strong desire for achievement and who sets high standards and expectation for themselves and those around them. They will also look up to leadership for inspiration and motivation. Millennials want a manager whose ethical, fair, values transparency, and dependability. They want a boss who cares about their development and exercises their strength daily at work. It’s not just about 40+ hour work week and a consistent paycheck. It’s about how they can contribute and grow within the company.

How are you developing your employee’s skills? Are they learning or is it a mandatory checklist?  Truly engage with your Millennials, you must provide a better education and learning system that will challenge them. It’s about being relevant and being practical. How can they use what they’ve learned now and in the future?

To evaluate your company’s culture, here are four questions you should consider. This goes for all generation and from the book The Human Capital Edge, by Ira Kay wrote,

  • Is this a winning organization I can be proud of?
  • Can I maximize my performance on the job?
  • Are people treated well economically and inter personally?
  • Is the work itself fulfilling and enjoyable?

Helping Millennials understand these questions can help them visually see where they will be within those 2-5 years. What is your company’s goal for your Millennial employees? What recognition and rewards are you providing your current employees and how well is it being received? Create a winning culture environment that your employees can be proud of, and your company will acquire and retain talented Millennials. Your office will become a workplace where they feel inspired and motivated to stay and grow.

 

A Culture of Extraordinary

A star gazer with sights on the milky way

Lightweight steel corporations are the last to come to mind when thinking of exceptional companies. That’s not the case with Alcoa. They revolutionized the industry.

In 1987, Alcoa appointed Paul O’Neill as the new CEO. It was his decisions that led investors to advise shareholders to sell-off stock of the already tumbling Alcoa.

Years later one investor said looking back, “It was literally the worst piece of advice I gave in my entire career.”

Optimizing the workforce is just now starting to be a priority for companies. For the newly appointed CEO of Alcoa to say he was going to solve all of their problems through improving workplace safety, you can see why the investors were skeptical.

What O’Neill knew that most didn’t was that good habits spread to other new habits. He knew he had to transform Alcoa’s culture, and he would focus on one habit – workplace safety. If they can succeed at having zero workplace safety accidents, other positive effects will occur, such as an increase in productivity and less PTO days.

Keystone habits

Workplace safety at Alcoa is what is known as a keystone habit, or a habit that ripples and causes other habits to form. An example at the individual level, making one’s bed in the morning, causes us to be more productive. Every company has their own keystone habits that can be promoted for overall stronger employee engagement. When Alcoa started to promote workplace safety, what was once exceptional, such as cutting their incidents in half, soon became the norm.

When Paul O’Neill retired 13 years later, Alcoa’s net income was five times higher than when he started, because workplace safety habits spread to other good habits that helped the company grow their bottom line.

The cycle of exceptional behavior

Start a culture of exceptional behavior

Coincidently, Recognize is working with companies to improve workplace safety. They have identified specific behaviors that are causing workplace safety incidents. To fix this problem, Recognize is providing the platform to easily reenforce positive habits that prevent incidents. What are habits in your company that need to become the norm? Utilizing an employee recognition program with built-in behavior-changing mechanisms will help.

Observe habits

To determine the success of your new program, begin measuring against your already established KPIs in structured and unstructured data. Structured data is true/false binary survey questions or multiple choice, time on email, time on social networks, number of incidents, and other information that is organized. Unstructured data is email content, recognition content, phone call logs, and other types of freeform text.

Inside Recognize, we provide surveys to collect structured and unstructured feedback from your employees. This helps to determine the outcome of the behavior change program. Correlate this information with data you receive through other channels, such as safety incident records, to connect to tangible results.

Evolve the habits

This is where things get interesting. The effect of creating a culture around exceptional behaviors is they stop being exceptional and start being the norm. At which point, we evolve the behaviors your company is actively promoting towards being even more extraordinary.

By utilizing an employee recognition program that saves this data, company leaders can report on past behavior data even after specific behavioral encouragement is retired. This data helps company leaders look for trends in their human capital’s behavior and make hypotheses to further refine their workforce.

Psychology studies have shown that how we dress effects our performance. When participants are told to put on a lab coat verses a painters jacket, the participants wearing the lab coat performed better. This is symbolic of a behavioral-change framework where attitudes and mindsets are encouraged through direct habits and keystone habits. What is your company’s lab coat?

If you have any questions on how to incorporate these strategies into your company, contact us.

The story of Alcoa came from the book Habit.

Emerging Tech HR Trends in 2016

Get over hiring difficulties and talent development. As we enter 2016, we welcome a promising year of new HR trends with changing mindsets and increasing integration of technology. Here are the top 3 Human Resource predictions to watch for.

High Demand of Data and Analytics Tools

Big Data is an emerging trend and plays a vital role in gathering, processing and analyzing data, thereby being the lifeline of business lifecycles. Any new-age business wanting to stand out from the crowd needs to be at the top of their game as far as data analytics is considered. Business decisions are getting increasingly data-driven, and for a good reason. Data is what helps you plumb the depths of your workforce so you can strategize HR operations right from recruitment to meeting employee goals according to shifting trends. According to Julie Stich, Director of Research at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, “Employers are trying different things to see what works for them—a lot of it depends on company culture.”

Increased Focus on Employee Recognition

Experts believe that the key to increased productivity lies in employee recognition and engagement. In fact, it is directly linked to better performance, profitability and customer engagement—outcomes that businesses of all types are seeking. If your employees feel appreciated for their efforts, it is natural that they will actively contribute to your organization’s growth. If employee rewards are a part of your workplace culture, you can also do away with talent retention worries. If you’ve used Slack’s team-based messaging software or Yammer’s collaborative social environment for businesses, you already know what we’re talking about. “We’re seeing an evolution here; it’s becoming more about total employee well-being” says Stich. With platforms like Recognize on the rise, it is clear why employee recognition is on the HR’s radar this year.

 

Rise of Integrated Workforce Management Systems

Any organization dealing with over 50 full-time employees will be aware of the monthly requirement to report and track data, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. If paying penalties or spending hours collecting data from multiple systems is not an option, integrated human capital management solutions come into the picture. While we’re on the topic of data, it is worth mentioning the focus on prevention of data breaches in 2016. The digital era poses various threats such as hacking of employee and customer data and has a direct impact on the business community, so time for companies to pull up their socks for extensive data management and security!

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.

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.

Employee recognition points redesigned for stronger employee engagement

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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.

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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.

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/

Your app is a creek and users are water

A creek ran through my childhood property. Sometimes the movement of my creek would slow due to tiny mud slides and other miniature natural disasters. To allow the water to flow more freely, my friends and I shoveled clear mud, sticks, and rocks clearing the creek.

What I’ve learned about usability of websites/apps is that users are a lot like the water that flows through a creek, and the creek is the app. Through testing, analytics, and design improvements you will watch your users move faster and farther through your app, just like how we moved mud and rocks from the creek.

Here’s a simple non-data-driven way to quickly evaluate your site for blockage: Go through your web app and at each screen ask yourself, where is the obvious button to click or action to complete? If you don’t immediately know, then that page may be causing blockage in the user flow. Check to see if your analytics supports this hypothesis.

The general rule to avoid mud and rocks in your web app is to always have one or two primary actions per section, view, or page.

The primary action of some views is to scroll. In this case it is best to show a cropped content point at the bottom of the screen or browser. Without anything to do other than to see more, the user will innately scroll your website.

If you require three or more options, then suggest a primary path. You can highlight a section with a background color, brighter and bigger button, specific title, or horizontal rule. Essentially, make the primary action stand out through color, size, and positioning.

By following these few simple rules, you should see longer visit duration times and increased conversions. Just like my creek flowed fast and wide when we cleared the rocks, your users will move through your app at a higher velocity.