Category Archives: Human Resource

An employee retention strategy

An illustration showcasing 10 years with an employee

Recently on Quora I answered the question, What is a great employee retention strategy? Here’s my list of important topics to answer the question:

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Sexual harassment has dominated headlines in recent weeks, with the Harvey Weinstein exposé closely followed by revelations about Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. But workplace sexual harassment isn’t limited to Hollywood. Many companies in the tech industry have also made headlines for sexual harassment allegations in the past of couple years. Women have come forward to speak out about discrimination and harassment they experienced at companies such as Uber, Google, and Microsoft.

The ongoing problem of sexual harassment in tech

In early 2017, former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing the systemic sexism and sexual harassment she experienced during her one year with the company. Though she reported the incidents to HR, they were repeatedly brushed under the rug. In one case, after Fowler reported that she had been propositioned for sex by a member of upper management, she was told that Uber did not want to ruin the career of such a “high performer.”

When Fowler joined Uber in November 2015, over 25% percent of the company’s engineers were women. A year later, that number had dropped to just 3%. In the months following Fowler’s blog post, internal and external investigations into the toxic culture of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation have resulted in 20 firings and an exodus of executive talent.

Earlier this fall, Uber’s SVP of Engineering, Amit Singhal, was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Google the previous year. As reported by Recode, Singhal left Google in the wake of a sexual assault allegation. Singhal denied the claims, but Google found them “credible” and had been prepared to fire him before Singhal resigned.

The problem isn’t limited to Uber. Three female engineers have filed a lawsuit against Microsoft accusing the company of pervasive gender discrimination that they claim has cost women at Microsoft more than 500 promotions and between $100 million and $238 million in pay. If the case wins class-action status, the women will represent 8,630 peers worldwide.

Google is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for “systemic compensation disparities” between male and female employees that violate federal employment laws. Janet Herold, a representative for the Department of Labor, said in April, “The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry.”

Even in this industry assumes that such issues exist everywhere in tech, it’s just a matter of severity and getting caught. Indeed, it is hard to name a major company in Silicon Valley that hasn’t been accused of tolerating a culture of sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Many of the men that have made headlines for their inappropriate behavior have received consequences for their actions. They’ve been removed from power, their projects cancelled, and their reputations irrevocably tarnished.

That’s all well and good, but punishing past transgressions doesn’t do anything to prevent future incidents or change a working culture that permits incidents like these from not only happening but from going unreported – sometimes for decades. If we really want to make progress, we need to dedicate as much energy to advocating for women as we do to punishing men.

What qualifies as workplace sexual harassment?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Most of us probably feel confident that we would recognize and call out sexual harassment if we were to see it. But in many cases, harassment falls into grey areas that may not be explicitly outlined in sexual harassment training. Behavior that falls into grey areas is more likely to go unchallenged or unreported.

There are two broad categories of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Quid pro quo harassment: Employment decisions (such as promotions and raises) are made contingent on an employee’s acceptance of sexual advances or willingness to perform sexual favors.
  • Hostile work environment: The unwelcome conduct of supervisors, coworkers, or contractors that creates an intimidating or offensive working environment.

Behavior that can fall into these categories includes:

  • Sexual jokes
  • Suggestive comments
  • Discussion of sexual activities
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Commenting on physical attributes
  • Using innappropriate terminology
  • Sexual advances
  • Lewd body language

Sexual harassment includes both physical and nonphysical forms of harassment, and it is often the nonphysical forms that can become most pervasive in a toxic work environment.

Why do people tolerate unacceptable behavior at work?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Many of the women speaking out against Harvey Weinstein are doing so now after keeping their experiences private for years, or even decades. In discussions like those surrounding Weinstein, it’s acknowledged that victims of assault are often reluctant to come forward because they fear the consequences of speaking out against someone in power.

We may understand why women (or victims) keep quiet, but in most of these cases, the general response has been, “Everyone knew. It was an open secret, but no one said anything.”

So why don’t people who witness inappropriate workplace behavior intervene?

  1. They’re not sure what’s acceptable.

When a person is in a position of power, the prevailing assumption is that whatever they do must surely be allowed. Many of us are taught not to speak up to authority figures, even if we feel we know better.

  1. They don’t feel they have the power to speak up.

Standing up to a bully is intimidating, whether that bully is on the playground or wearing a suit and signing your paychecks. Some people don’t feel they have the courage to speak up or the strength to stand behind an allegation. They may also feel like their voice won’t make a difference.

  1. They fear retaliation.

Someone who witnesses harassment may be just as vulnerable to retaliation as the victim if they speak out. Fear of retaliation creates a toxic environment in which inappropriate behavior is permitted to continue while the majority of employees exist in discomfort and fear.

What can men do to prevent sexual harassment among colleagues?

What Men Can Do To Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment | Recognize

Everyone goes through sexual harassment training their first day on the job. Most of us understand intuitively what is and isn’t appropriate behavior toward colleagues. And yet unacceptable behavior is frequently tolerated or ignored. The responsibility falls on men to change cultures of harassment in the workplace.

Here’s what men can do to prevent workplace sexual harassment:

  • Pay more attention. It’s easier to look away from unacceptable behavior than it is to confront it, especially when the behavior falls into the grey area. We can close our ears to inappropriate remarks or pretend not to notice a wandering eye. Start paying more attention to the behavior of men in your office – and more importantly, to the body language of women on the receiving end. Learn to read their discomfort.
  • Hold your male colleagues accountable. Cultures of harassment form when men don’t hold each other accountable for their actions. If you overhear male coworkers speaking inappropriately to or about a female colleague, call them out. Make it known that you won’t tolerate hearing such language in the office. Harassers are more likely to respond to a third party challenging their behavior, especially if that person is another man.
  • Be an ally for your female colleagues. If a female colleague comes forward with an allegation of harassment or discrimination, believe her. Stand up for her to colleagues who dismiss or ridicule her claims. Protect her from retaliation.
  • Speak up when women can’t. Women often don’t feel safe reporting an incident of harassment. If you witness such an incident, take responsibility. Talk to your female colleague and ask her if she would be comfortable with you taking the issue to HR or a manager in her stead. Respect her wishes, but make it clear that you will support her.
  • Keep extensive notes. This is the most passive action you can take, but it’s still important and it’s better than doing nothing. If you witness an incident of harassment or discrimination, document it. Write down the date, time, details of what was said or done, who else was present, and where you were. Documentation from a third-party witness will corroborate any claim the victim files with HR or law enforcement.
  • Escalate the issue until it’s dealt with. The first person you should report an incident of harassment to is your manager. If they neglect to take action, bring the issue to HR. Unfortunately, as in the case of Susan Fowler, HR doesn’t always take the action it should. In that case, you can escalate the issue even further by going to a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (at the federal level) or the Fair Employment Practices Agency (at the state or local level).

Sexual harassment and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley and in workplaces across our nation will not go away on its own. It will require a fundamental shift in workplace culture to one of accountability, equality, and respect. The responsibility for that shift falls primarily on men. If one man at a time takes it upon himself to speak up for women and treat female colleagues as equals, norms will change and the tide will start to turn.

Hold yourself to a higher standard, and hold your male colleagues to one as well.


The State of People Analytics Infographic

People analytics graphic

9% of companies use predictive analytics or big data to analyze people trends

Sierra-Cedar 2014-12015 HR Systems Survey

3 types of analytics


192% increase in HR reporting employee engagement being very important between 2014-2015

Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work

60% of HR and business leaders do not have an adequate program to measure or improve employee engagement.

Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work

12% of HR and business leaders have a program to define and build company culture.

Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work

7% of HR rate themselves as excellent at measuring, driving, and improving employee engagement and retention.

Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work

75% cited talent analytics as an important issue, while
8% believe they are strong in this area.

Radical Group, April 2010

60-70% of company expenses are human capital costs

Jeff Higgins and Grant Cooperstein, Managing an Organization’s Biggest Cost: The Workforce

20% drop in employee engagement in first six months on job.

Infographic preview
Download the infographic

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)

14 Employee Recognition Tips and Trends of 2017

From forward-thinking companies from all over the world, this is what we see as trends, advice, and tips for employee recognition and employee rewards.

Automatic Employee Recognition

Don’t rely on a paper-based system any longer. Incorporate automatic recognition for anniversaries, email clients, and more.

Intrinsic Motivation as Employee Rewards

Dan Pink’s Ted Talk changed the way companies look at motivating knowledge workers. Look beyond monetary rewards in a program to maximize results. Try status, access, or powers as other forms of incentives.

Leadership Buy-In

Gallup poll found recognition from executives or management is far more significant than from peers. Encourage leadership to recognize staff for all-for-one mentality.

Start Small, Think Big

Start with a program people can wrap their heads around, while having vision for the future. This increases adoption at early stages, as well as keeping it fresh later on.

Accessible to Everyone

All levels and departments of the organization should have access to the employee recognition program.

Have a Result

Incorporate monthly awards, give special responsibilities, give to charity on staff’s behalf, or create a rewards catalog. Give staff a reason to keep recognizing.

Timely, On-the-Spot Employee Recognition

The more instant and on-the-spot a recognition, the more the impact. Psychology research from behaviorism and beyond back this best practice.

Easy to Access

Employee recognition needs to be visible and top of mind if it is to be adopted. Utilize TVs, mobile, print, and staff computers.

Easy to Use

Recognition shouldn’t take more than 1min to send and be one click away. Plus, keep the required fields in the recognition form to a minimum.

Employee Recognition Based on Values & Behaviors

Tie in company values to the recognition program to get the most out of it. Promote specific behaviors based on leadership vision.

Promote Exceptional Behaviors

Don’t recognize employees for tasks they should already be doing. Focus on exceptional behaviors. For example, getting in on time is not exceptional, but getting in early is exceptional.

Incorporate All Types of Employee Recognition

Recognition programs include anniversary and service recognition, above and beyond recognition, and peer to peer recognition. Use all three.

Have a Result

Incorporate monthly awards, give special responsibilities, give charity on staff’s behalf, or create a rewards catalog. Give staff a reason to keep recognizing.

Gain Insights

The recognition program should provide management, HR, and leadership insights into engagement in the program and people analytics.

Top Five Goals

According to World at Work survey 2015:

  1. Recognize years of service.
  2. Create/maintain a positive work environment.
  3. Create/maintain a culture of recognition.
  4. Motivate high performance.
  5. Reinforce desired behaviors.
Employee recognition and employee rewards best practices such as use technology, provide experiences as rewards.

Employee recognition and employee rewards best practices

Contact us for a high quality PDF of the Best Practices

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.


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.

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.


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!