Subliminal Logo Impact – What Does Your Team REALLY Think?

The Boston Globe recently posted a summary of research conducted by a group of psychologists into how brands can actually change behavior even when the act of purchasing something is removed from the equation entirely. Experiments exposed subjects to brand logos and then tested them on creativity or honesty. The Globe cites examples where those exposed (even subliminally) to the Apple logo were more creative than those exposed to IBM; and those exposed to the Disney Channel logo were more honest than those exposed to an E! Channel logo.

Does that make you stop and wonder what your company logo – even subliminally – is inspiring in your workforce?

A logo is so much more than a marketing concept or a pretty illustration – it embodies a company’s history and its perception in the public eye. A logo causes a visceral reaction that is tied more to emotion than logic.

I’ve blogged in the past about taking your company values off the engraved wall plaque and bringing them to life. It should be these values that come to mind when your employees see your logo.

At Globoforce, we work hard to instill a culture of appreciation throughout our offices and our team members. I hope that our logo inspires in them a sense of value in their work and a feeling of being appreciated for their efforts.

Common Mistake #6: An Imperialist Approach to Managing "Global" Programs

If your company is global, does your company behave in a truly global manner or is it imperialistic with decisions imposed from the country where your headquarters are located?

We have repeatedly heard from our clients about the pain of past “global” initiatives in the company, whether they were HR programs intended to inspire or software systems intended to simplify and streamline production. Nearly always the method has been deployment to the country of the headquarters location first with eventual roll-out to outlying divisions with little consideration given to local languages, cultural norms, or work processes.

This imperialist approach most certainly demoralizes and disengages employees in those outlying global locations. It’s hard not to feel that way when you are effectively treated as a second-class citizen of the company.

In a truly global company, all divisions in all areas of the world believe themselves to be equally valuable to delivering on the company’s stated mission. In this type of company, all employees perceive their contributions to be critical to meeting and exceeding customer needs, thereby growing the customer base and increasing the bottom line.

When choosing and deploying a global strategic recognition program, all of this must be kept in mind. International representatives must be on the selection committee to ensure that program execution – including reward options – are relevant and valuable in those international locations. Deployment of the program itself must happen globally – preferably in all locations and divisions – and in the local languages – at the same time. Any company who promises global, but then encourages a local-only initial deployment, cannot give you the world. At Globoforce, we deliver locally around the world every day.

This topic is also strongly related to your company’s culture and social architecture. What do you think your company’s culture is today? How would you describe it? Supportive or demoralizing? Appreciative or based on intimidation?

In my next several posts, I’ll be discussing companies’ social architectures, the cultures they foster, and how to actually manipulate your company culture into what you need to drive productivity, increase sales, and improve company morale.

Common Mistake #5: Limited Choice for Reward

What have you received for rewards in the past? We’ve heard horror stories of people receiving clocks in an Asian culture where that symbolizes death. We’ve heard about the reward recipient in a European county actually having to go to his local customs office, fill out numerous forms, and then pay custom duties out of his own pocket – just to get his “reward.” We’ve heard about grandfather clocks shipped from the US to multiple rewards recipients around the world, including Australia, costing the company more in shipping than the “reward” was actually worth. I’ve always wondered about that last one – did the reward recipients even want a grandfather clock? What if their interior design style was more modern?

Rewards programs that operate on such a one-size fits all philosophy miss the opportunity to reinforce a positive association with the company. Employees don’t feel rewarded with some trinket from an old-fashioned rewards merchandise catalog that they didn’t want or need. We’ve found that what employees really want is the reward of choice.

The reward of choice caters to the demographics of a worldwide workforce that spans four generations, all with different expectations and driving forces. Locally based choice goes a step further to ensure the reward will always be culturally appropriate and to the recipient’s taste while avoiding the varying cultural norms that simply cannot be known by every manager everywhere in the world.

Non-cash rewards in the form of gift cards to local high-value, lifestyle venues take rewards beyond compensation to trophy award status, giving the recipient guilt-free enjoyment of a high-end luxury item or entertainment event. These tangible symbols of achievement are lasting reminders of that achievement and are socially acceptable to show off, again reinforcing the value of the recognition program across the company.

What are your horror stories of past rewards received that you may have tossed into a desk drawer or shoved onto a closet shelf?

What’s your ideal reward? What would you prefer? A trinket that you may be able to choose from a catalog of limited selections? Or a chance to go shopping – or out to eat – or on an adventure – at your favorite store, restaurant or entertainment venue – anywhere in the world?

Common Mistake #4: Rewarded Actions Not Tied to Corporate Values

Can you recite your company values? More importantly, do you know what the correct application of those values in your workplace would look like? Do you understand what your senior management team is trying to get at with your corporate values?

If you’re a senior manager, do you feel like your teams fully understand your values? Do you believe the culture you are trying to instill through your values is actually permeating through to all employees, at all levels, in all locations?

We’ve found with the majority of our clients that values adoption and understanding at this level is not common. We – and our clients – have proven that a successful recognition program builds on a foundation of awards that are linked to the company values. In this system, anyone nominating someone for recognition must tie that behavior deserving of recognition to a company value. For example: “John really behaved with INTEGRITY when reporting that sticky situation with customer X.” or “Susan showed great DETERMINATION in meeting the project deadline in a very tough situation.” Then the recipient is also reminded of the values when opening the reward.

When all nominated activities are associated with a company value, the value system comes alive for all participants. Monthly dashboards then illustrate for managers the traction of each company value by region, division or department based on the amount of employees that have won awards for exhibiting each value. Targeted management intervention on low penetration values then becomes possible.

Do you see a benefit to your company in making your value system come alive this way?

Common Mistake #3: Recognition that targets only the elite

Do you believe that only the elite deserve recognition? Or that the sales team or professional services team are the only ones that should benefit from additional rewards for performance?

When only the top few receive infrequent high-value awards, it is difficult to affect the company culture. Best practice of some of the world’s largest and most complex companies shows that low-value awards for many results in much higher participation leading to a stronger impact on the company. Every recognition award acts as a marketing and communication moment, reinforcing core values to the workforce.

Our best practices have found that if the program is promoted so that 5% of the workforce is awarded each week, a critical mass will be achieved and the program will self-maintain. Top performing companies ensure that 80% of the global workforce will be touched by the program each year. What does this mean in a company? – Simply that a far greater percentage of employees feel valued for their efforts and become more engaged in their daily tasks.

We also strongly advocate peer-to-peer recognition as one of the most powerful methods for driving this penetration, program acceptance, employee engagement, and bottom line results. Empowering employees to thank their colleagues in a meaningful way – even a virtual pat on the back – can unite the workforce and drive increased return.

An August 2007 Gallup survey found that positive words activate regions of the brain related to reward, “creating an internal reward system that makes employees want to repeat behavior that the company needs, if doing the right thing earns them recognition.”

Are the majority – not the minority – getting recognized for doing the right thing in your organization? What do you think of this approach? Tell us about your experience in companies with elite-only recognition programs. Do you agree or disagree with that approach?

Common Mistake #2: No Clear Global Strategy

Harnessing the true power of Strategic Recognition in a modern Global 2000 or Fortune 500 company requires a global strategy that includes all recognition activity in the employee base worldwide.

Strategic Recognition is a central component in a Total Rewards portfolio and needs to be managed consistently in every country where the company has employees. There can be no discrepancies in the program country to country and the differences in cultures that exist in the company must be acknowledged. When rewarding employees who are deserving of equivalent rewards but live in multiple countries, the Standard of Living in each location must be considered and the reward value adjusted accordingly.

End rewards need to be relevant and with no inequity in the options and value of rewards from country to country. You certainly don’t want to reward one team member in one country with a reward that would buy a nice dinner for two, and give the same reward to another team member in another country where they could buy dinner for a week!

A global strategy also enables the development of a single brand and language around recognition. It creates clear visibility and audit-ability into the budget spend across the globe. This lets senior executives focus on a meaningful dashboard that provides true, clear, global insight into the company’s culture and social architecture across divisions and regions.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Nothing is as unfair as the equal treatment of unequals.” Are your low performers treated the same as your average performers? How about your high performers? Are they the only ones receiving any recognition? What do you think the right approach to recognition is?

Abusive Managers, Undervalued Staff, and a Formula for Increased Performance

I’m interrupting my ongoing posts on common mistakes in recognition to highlight a few recent blog posts from the HR experts in the US and the UK on motivating – and demotivating – teams.

Workforce Management
Editor-in-Chief John Hollon discusses verbal abuse as a workforce strategy. In the world of recognition, screaming at your employees won’t get you far – a topic I discuss in a recent white paper on designing your company’s social architecture. In it we explore how to determine what your company’s culture is today – a culture of intimidation such as that described in John Hollon’s blog post or a culture of appreciation.

It is the culture of appreciation that is sought by 72% of staff but only received by a quarter of employees according to recent research from White Water Strategies. The analysis also concludes that “acknowledging staff achievements properly has the equivalent perceived value of a 1% pay rise.” Read more in the Employee Benefits blog.

Further benefits of developing a culture of appreciation through regular informal feedback – “a 40% rise in employee performance and a 20% increase in discretionary effort” – are discussed in Chris Legge’s HR Zone blog. Chris also offers a formula for increasing performance: Performance = Ability + Motivation + Opportunity.

Are you in a motivating or demotivating work environment today? Either way, how do you think this environment is impacting your personal performance? What is your company culture today?

Check back tomorrow for a return to the discussion on common mistakes in recognition.

Common Mistake #1: No Executive Buy-In for Clearly Defined Goals

As with any strategic initiative, support from senior management is critical to the success and penetration of a culture of appreciation that is woven into the fabric of any company. In most market-leading companies, these strategic initiatives are managed using a process, metrics, measurements, incentives and accountability – except recognition.

Why do you think this is? Do you think leadership views recognition as “soft” and not measurable with hard metrics? Or do you think that they just don’t see the value in recognition overall and therefore don’t spend the time or effort to set up a strategic process around it?

At Globoforce, we believe this is a critical error. Recognition done right requires a strategic recognition program with full executive buy-in and support. Success requires a management methodology (such as Six Sigma’s DMAIC), clear targets for frequency and budget, meaningful measurement and reporting functionality, and managers that are held accountable for targeted award activity.

Setting clear goals is central to the management methodology and should include metrics such as the percentage of employees awarded, employee satisfaction scores (compared to a baseline established before program roll-out), the match of award distribution to the performance bell curve, and the frequency of awards.

Do you have a recognition program in place today? Do you have success metrics established? Do you have a firm budget and a frequency of rewards target? Do you have a baseline employee satisfaction score to measure against? What’s going on in your workplace today?

How to Realize the Results of Recognition

In working with some of the world’s largest and most complex companies, we’ve found that there are five key employee engagement practices. When these are fully understood by management and implemented across an entire organization, the social architecture of your company will change into one in which your employees feel validated, valuable and appreciated.

1. Know Your Workforce – Understand what motivates your employees culturally and psychologically, what satisfies and dissatisfies them. Set a benchmark of their current level of engagement to understand the extent of your “psychological contract” with your employees today.

2. Build Confidence in Your Leadership and Your Corporate Strategy – Invest in your managers to ensure they have the leadership skills necessary to buy into your company’s vision and values, communicate them in a relevant and compelling way, and consistently and authentically demonstrate the values in their own management style.

3. Inspire to Achieve Greatness – Appropriate and consistent recognition inspires the workforce to do more and do it better. Recognition done right can communicate a company’s strategy, vision and values while rewarding behaviors that reinforce them.

4. Communicate Often – Frequent program communication raises awareness, increases participation, boosts performance, and most importantly, helps develop a culture of appreciation.

5. Build a Culture of Appreciation – A strategic recognition program ensures everyone has the means, opportunity and reason to say “Thanks,” both formally and informally. This boosts your employees’ “psychic income,” not just their monetary income!

Do you know what your employees want and need? Do you know their level of engagement today? Are you confident that managers across the company can consistently deliver the same message, reinforce the company’s values, and demonstrate them daily? Do the majority of your employees even know what the company’s values are (without looking at the poster on the wall)? Do people in your organization thank each other for a job well done? Can they do so across geographic and language barriers? Do they even want to?

These are all critical questions. Tell me, what’s going on in your company today?

In my next several blog posts, I’ll discuss the common mistakes we’ve seen companies around the world make in trying to accomplish the above five critical tasks.

Globoforce Video Debuts on YouTube

We've posted an animated video clip on YouTube that we produced recently which explains - in the simplest of terms - the difference between a poorly executed employee recognition program and a properly executed one. It's a short clip (a little over two minutes), so have a look and let us know what you think. If you'd prefer, you can view the clip below. Enjoy!

The Recognition Glue

We’ve found that employee recognition done right – consistently and frequently – is the tipping point between “willing” employees who will only do what is required to get the job done and “engaged” employees who put extra effort into their work to improve efficiency and results.

What’s the value to your company of more engaged employees? Engaged employees feel more commitment to the organization. In a workplace reality where employees of the younger generations typically remain at a job for no more than 4-5 years, expecting lifetime loyalty is long a thing of the past. But while employees are with your firm – and to retain them far beyond four years – recognize their efforts in a way that shows the value of their effort and that you value them.

You’ll certainly reduce your recruiting and on-boarding costs. Gallup says that employees who feel they are recognized are also half as likely to leave their company as employees who do not feel recognized.

So how do you build that tipping point? How do you push your employees from “willing” to “engaged”? What are you doing today?

Let us know what you think. We’ll discuss in our next post what Globoforce has learned through best practices – how to realize the results of recognition in your organization.

A Question of Engagement

Lao Tse (Laozi) is credited with saying, “Fail to honor people and they will fail to honor you.” That is no less true in a 21st century global business environment than it was in 6th century BC China. But what does it mean to “honor” people in the workforce? And how will they then honor “you” – whether “you” is the company or “you” their peer?

In any situation where people are grouped together to achieve a purpose, individuals want to know they belong. In the workplace, employees want to know that they belong to a group that succeeds – a “winning team” as described in a recent industry report. Individually, employees need to know that they are making a valuable contribution to the team, the company, and its customers.

When we honor our employees in the workforce, we are acknowledging the value they bring. We are validating their importance to us, to the project, and to the company’s goals. We are helping them become more engaged in their daily tasks and in achieving the company’s mission. And as so many research studies have shown, increased employee engagement drives bottom-line results. (Towers Perrin is but one example with their statistic of a 15% improvement in levels of employee engagement correlating to a 2% improvement in operating margin.)

At Globoforce, we believe the most effective way to honor employees is through frequent and timely recognition that is tied to the company’s values. Effective recognition also is not limited to managers recognizing peers, but allows peers to recognize each other. Employee Appreciation Day was March 7. We think that is a backward approach to recognition. We believe Employee Appreciation Day should be every day!

For the next several posts, we will be starting a discussion on what works in recognition and what doesn’t. We’ll look at what foundation you need to put in place for successful strategic recognition. We’ll hash out common mistakes we’ve seen companies make in a failed bid to honor their employees.

We invite your comments. Tell us what you’ve seen in your company – what worked, what didn’t? What left you feeling honored? What left you demoralized? What do you wish your company would do to honor you? Blogs About Employee Appreciation Day, the web site of The Boston Globe, has posted a blog entry today about Employee Appreciation Day. Check it out!

Employee Appreciation Starts with One Day

I’d like to start today’s entry with a big “Thank You” to our Globoforce team throughout the world. It is our pleasure to be working with such a terrific team of talented, committed and “engaged” people. Our success is your success and we couldn’t be where we are today without you. Happy Employee Appreciation Day to all!

As I mentioned in my postings this week, it’s important to recognize your employees on this day and even more critical to establish ongoing employee recognition efforts that build a Culture of Appreciation within your organization. Creating a work environment where people are appreciated, know that their hard work makes a difference, and internalize the company’s success as their own will propel your organization to the next level. Your company will see less turnover, more satisfied employees focused on the big picture, and ultimately experience new levels of growth and profitability.

Studies prove that effective employee engagement programs are the next significant ROI opportunity that can deliver measurable results to your bottom line. A Watson Wyatt study of three million employees showed that companies with successful employee engagement programs enjoyed a 109% three-year median return to shareholders vs. a 52% return for the same period for those companies that did not (as quoted in Forbes magazine, 2004).

Unfortunately, studies also show that only one in seven employees is fully engaged at his/her workplace – and that one in four is actively disengaged. In our view, recognition is the “Tipping Point” that makes the vital difference between employees being “willing ones” or truly “engaged” ones. As our CEO Eric Mosley once said: “The day employees think they are not going to get any recognition for doing a good job or doing extra work – that is the day they stop doing that work.”

So, use this day to take the first step to build a new, energized culture within your organization – and convert Employee Appreciation Day into a year-round Culture of Appreciation across your organization!

Make a Pledge to Employee Engagement

Employee Appreciation Day is this Friday, March 7. We’re continuing our theme of how to build a satisfied and motivated workforce throughout the year. Today, we’d like to share our five keys to employee engagement. These keys can unlock the real potential of how an engaged and energized workforce can make an indelible imprint on an organization and its profitability.

The Five Keys to Employee Engagement:
1. Build a “Culture of Appreciation” Year-Round: Use Employee Appreciation Day to kickoff a new, year-round employee recognition effort or energize your existing one. By recognizing and rewarding employees throughout the year, it creates a culture of appreciation and a highly motivated workforce within your organization.
2. Create a “Recognition Moment” through Meaningful Rewards: Giving employees the generic company watch or one-size-fits-all “gift” is an uninspiring – and often meaningless – way to say thank you. Rather, award your employees by giving them a choice of meaningful, self-selected rewards such as gift cards, quality merchandise or travel vouchers. When employees redeem their award, it will create an important “recognition moment” – with impact.
3. Empower Everyone in the Process – From the Board Room to the Mail Room: Employee recognition should not reside solely on the shoulders of management. Every person in the organization should be empowered to acknowledge their peers and co-workers for a job well done. This enables frequent recognition and engages the entire staff – not just the top 10 percent – in the process.
4. Tie Rewards to the Bigger Picture for Bigger Results: Employee recognition should be directly linked to the company’s vision/mission. This aligns the entire workforce toward achieving critical company milestones.
5. Communicate, Again and Again: Frequent program communication raises awareness, increases participation, boosts performance, and most importantly, helps develop that important culture of appreciation.

For more information, see our white paper, “Recognition: The ‘Tipping Point’ in Building Employee Engagement.” And, remember, it’s not too late to recognize your employees; begin on Friday and make it a year-long celebration of hard work and productivity.