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?

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