Pixar * Company Culture as It Should Be

Matt Radel posted an excellent blog entry on Pixar’s culture that “creates an incredible work environment that keeps employees happy and fulfilled.” Pixar, the design house behind some of the most beloved recent animated films including WALL-E, Ratatouille, and Toy Story, focuses on engaging its people at all levels, and uniting them behind a common purpose – making great films.

As Matt said: “You can try to outspend the competition. Or you can try to outculture them. Create a place that makes employees feel special. A place that makes them feel like they’re part of a bigger whole. A place where they continually get to learn and evolve. A place where everyone actually likes each other.”

Exactly, Matt. People may join companies for tangibles like compensation. But they stay with companies with a culture that encourages them, fosters their unique talents, and engages them in their daily tasks.

Does your company approach a Pixar standard? What would you change about your company culture if you could?

Hidden Costs of Layoffs – and How to Avoid Them

Bnet’s Carlos Bergfeld recently posted on The Hidden Costs of Layoffs. Bergfeld clearly outlines five hidden costs in layoffs. Most interesting to me, however, is his finding that “the best types of workplaces often suffer the most.” Recent research from Simon Fraser University found, “Layoffs can be perceived as a violation of the psychological contract between an organization and its employees.” These workplaces can survive, though, by continuing their employee friendly practices.

Clients of ours have proven this to be true. When forced to conduct layoffs as a last resort, these companies continued to invest in their strategic employee recognition programs at the same level. This action clearly communicated to the employees that the company still valued them and their efforts highly. The recognition tool also became a medium for communicating the company’s key messages during these trying times.

Read more about using recognition strategically during an ailing economy.

Globoforce CEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist!

Our CEO, Eric Mosley, was recently profiled in the Irish Times as one of the finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. We are very proud of Eric and appreciate his innovation and thought leadership to build this company that has brought strategic recognition and rewards to millions of employees around the world.

Eric, as CEO, built a winning team at Globoforce, creating the first company to deliver a truly global employee recognition and rewards platform as an on-demand, web-based service for the world’s largest global companies. We take the old-school tactical incentives approach and turned it on its head. Instead of the costly, inefficient, and culturally imperialist method of shipping pre-selected merchandise worldwide, Globoforce offers an integrated, cost efficient, timely, locally delivered and culturally appropriate rewards and recognition solution.

Congratulations to Eric, our Globoforce team, and all of the other E&Y finalists on this tremendous achievement!

HR at Google: More Than Just Food and Dogs

This very interesting article in Workforce Management magazine notes Google is the only company that ranks in the top five on both of Fortune’s lists for America’s Most Admired Companies and the Best Companies to Work for.

“Well, sure!” many would say. “Look at all the free food they give you and you can bring your dog to work. The reality is actually something quite different. HR at Google is closely tied to management with the primary goal to achieve business objectives through just that “fun” work environment.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president of people operations, says: “If you stripped out all the dogs and cafes, the culture would remain. People are curious. If you respect their intelligence and explain what you are trying to do, they will be far more engaged and aligned with your business objectives than they would at any company where you simply tell them what to do.

I wholeheartedly agree. It is the culture you inspire that has the most lasting effect and impact on the bottom line. Usually, what your company is trying to do is clearly expressed in the stated vision, mission and values. Most employees couldn’t quote those values without reading it off the wall plaque however. Reinforcing those values and the company mission is a simple thing to do when you align them with strategic recognition.

When every employee behavior you recognize and reward is linked to a value you want demonstrated or to a major goal achieved that advances the company mission, then you begin to change the company culture to one of appreciation in which employees choose to give greater discretionary effort – the very definition of employee engagement.

Bock’s HR group also relies on analytics to measure everything they do. This is a critical component of any strategic initiative that is often lacking in HR programs. To derive the greatest benefit from strategic recognition, you must set clear objectives and measure outcomes.

What is your company culture? Would your neighbor in the next cube or office agree with your assessment?

Global Crossing Achieves Strategic Recognition

HR Director recently published “Cutting E.D.G.E. Workforces” – a discussion of Global Crossing’s implementation of strategic recognition. An expert:

“To create a culture of appreciation and employee engagement, companies are turning to employee recognition solution providers like Globoforce. Global Crossing is one company that is making strides in strategic employee recognition. Global Crossing, a leading global IP solutions provider, is focused on delivering a high-touch and personal connection with its customers regardless of where they are located in the world. The company is equally committed to its employees by fostering a culture of appreciation among its workforce by making a strong commitment to its employee engagement and recognition efforts.”

Global Crossing leadership understand fully the strategic impact recognition can have on employee engagement , and therefore on the bottom line.

I encourage you to read the article and compare your company’s commitment to recognition and engagement. Do you have “cutting edge” recognition in your workplace?

What If There Was No HR?

This blog entry made me laugh today. This humorous blog questions what would happen if all HR teams went on strike. A sampling:

“On the ground, employers were really beginning to feel the pinch as senior management attempted to cover the void left by their missing HR departments for yet another week. ‘We just have no idea which of the first-aid kits are fully stocked,’ confided a director of one major corporation. ‘And we are already more than a month late on our annual office chair audit. If things continue like this, who knows, I could lose half of my staff to repetitive strain injury. Or whatever it is they monitor.’”

“However a spokesman for the union was in defiant mood. ‘This is only the beginning’ he threatened. ‘Just wait until people realise that their holiday forms are not being signed off, or that performance appraisals haven’t been sent out. Employers will be crawling back to us on their knees soon enough.’”
While we all know HR plays a much more valuable role than this funny post indicates, research shows HR often does not have as much strategic involvement as it should. Globoforce just released last month a market research study on the importance of bridging the gap between the Finance and Human Resource functions. Our primary key finding was that Human Resources must take a more strategic role in the business. However, the study revealed that although 87 percent of respondents believe that HR should play a more strategic role than in the past, only 63 percent believe HR has the right amount of input in the company’s strategic direction.

Though we are far beyond the days when HR would not be missed as the McArthur blog posting suggests, we are certainly not where we should be with HR helping to strategically guide the direction of a company. With the vast research showing the tremendous shareholder return possible when employees are happy and engaged, the bottom line is suffering in companies that do not bring HR to the strategy table.

Does HR get invited to the strategy table in your company? Do you believe HR has more or less influence on strategy? Take a quick poll below.

Global Crossing's Strategic Recognition Success Makes the Cover!

Check out the cover story of the latest issue of HRO Europe! Engagement Worth Celebrating: Global Crossing Needed a Tailor-Made Recognition Program. Globoforce Was a Perfect Fit.

Global Crossing launched their global strategic employee recognition platform recently and are already seeing excellent results. This cover story digs deeply into Global Crossing’s experience with Strategic Recognition.

Bruce Colligan, vice president of human resources at Global Crossing, is quoted in the article, “Recognizing employees for their contributions to our strategic initiatives has proven its mettle. When people feel they’re valued, they become more motivated, and that drives better overall performance.”

And as Russ Banham, the reporter, concludes, “By fostering a ‘thank you’ culture in an organization, motivating employees to take pride in their work, and encouraging workers to recognize the service of their peers, recognition programs are differentiating companies from the competition. Senior executives may get the big bucks and much of the kudos, but it’s the rank and file that truly make a difference.”

So, what are you doing to recognize your “rank and file” and engage them in your company’s strategic initiatives?

Stevie Award Winners * Thank You Globoforce Team

I’m so proud of our employees and their achievements that have earned us not one, but TWO, International Stevie Awards in the 2008 International Business Awards competition. The International Business Awards are the only global, all-encompassing business awards program honoring great performances in business, and Globoforce won Stevies for “Best Multinational Company in Europe” and “Web Site Craft (Writing/Content).”

These awards attest to our uniqueness in the market as the only recognition company founded to meet the needs of global companies’ diverse workforces, built with a global employee base, and focused on providing meaningful, memorable and culturally relevant recognition and rewards to employees everywhere around the world.

These awards are also a testament to the hard work, imagination and determination of all our employees who are dedicated not only to our success as a company, but also to the success of all of our customers. I am truly privileged to have the opportunity to work with such a talented, innovative and – indeed – engaged group of people.

Congratulations Team – these wins are for us! And thank you to our many customers who have made us a Best Multinational Company!

Globoforce & Intuit Highlighted in Talent Management

The latest issues of Talent Management magazine published an article written by Globoforce CEO, Eric Mosley. The article, “Intuit Spotlights Strategic Importance of Global Employee Recognition,” discusses how Intuit, a financial software and service provider, replaced its poorly performing merchandise-catalog based employee incentives platform with our global strategic recognition program. Read the article here to learn how Intuit fostered its culture of appreciation that helped land Intuit at Number 1 on Fortune survey in the eight categories including people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, and quality of products/services.

Happy Employees = 1,000% Shareholder Return

Time magazine recently published an article, “How to Succeed? Make Employees Happy,” which included interviews with the highly successful CEOs of The Container Store (Kip Tindell) and Whole Foods (John Mackey). Both men discuss their epiphany that the 1990s philosophy of trying to please shareholders at all costs is faulty. Mackey says, “Simultaneously we hit upon the philosophy that I think will be dominant philosophy in business in the 21st century. It’s the principle that the purpose of business is not to maximize shareholder value.”

If the proposal is to tear down this foundational principle, what is to replace it? An emphasis on employees, says Tidwell. By focusing on all stakeholders, but the employee most of all, “There’s a harmonic effect that takes place. It not only provides a higher return – compensation for the employees, return for the shareholders, this crafting of a mutually beneficial relationship with the vendors – but it enriches the lives of those people.”

I’ve blogged before about the success that can be found by putting employees first. Now there seems to be quantifiable proof. Buried in an much longer transcript of the interview with Tindell and Mackey is a reference to a 2007 book: Firms of Endearment. The authors identified 28 firms that, by their standards of measurement, “are truly loved by all who come in contact with them - customers, employees, suppliers, environmentalists, the community, even governments! These companies pay their employees very well, provide great value to customers, and have thriving, profitable suppliers. They are also wonderful for investors, returning 1025% over the past 10 years, compared to only 122% for the S&P 500 and 316% for the companies profiled in the bestselling book Good to Great -- companies selected purely on the basis of their ability to deliver superior returns to investors.”

It’s hard to argue with numbers like that! And when taking care of employees can be as simple as saying “thank you” – frequently, sincerely, and in ways that are meaningful to the individual employee, companies cannot lose.

What firms are on your Firms of Endearment list? Does the company you work for make the list?

Recognition: A Powerful Tool at Performance Review

Companies still committed to tactical employee incentives programs or informal programs miss out on one of the top benefits of an online, structured, strategic recognition program – accountability.

I’ve heard throughout my career complaints from managers at all levels who hate doing performance reviews, finding the time in their busy schedules to recall a year’s worth of effort and comment effectively on it. A strategic recognition program gives managers one avenue of insight into an employee’s ongoing performance levels based on recognitions received. For example, trends can be identified such as the lack of recognitions received by one team member while all other members have received several or an employee receiving recognitions helping on projects not identified as priorities.

Employees also benefit from the recorded recognition, pats-on-the-back and other kudos tracked through the system at review time.

What about you? Do you have kudos to show at review time? What do you rely on to show accomplishments throughout the year?

Total Rewards: Pay Compensation vs. Recognition Rewards

In a June issue, Personnel Today published an article on total rewards and the relationship between pay and engagement. The article quoted economics professor Simon Burgess’s meta analysis of performance pay, which concluded: “Employees respond to cash incentives, often in sophisticated ways that may or may not benefit the organization.”

Cash, of course belongs in an employee’s Total Rewards package – but only in the proper category of cash compensation (salary). The goal of a total rewards package is to achieve the highest return on investment with the optimal mix of rewards. Recognition is a critical component of that package, but is often forgotten by staff at all levels who typically only see pay, benefits and perhaps equity reflected in their compensation statements.

Adding recognition to the mix of total rewards offers a significant opportunity to motivate and engage employees. However, the tools and mechanisms used for each of these reward components must be different as each caters to a different need. Since recognition programs meet a different need for psychological feeding than salary, the rewards should be in a non-cash form to more distinctly differentiate them in the minds of the employees. This also overcomes the challenges with cash uncovered by Professor Burgess.

Organizational behaviorist Fred Hertzberg also dedicated many years to studying these different needs, finding that salary, supervision and working conditions would only prevent people from being dissatisfied. Hertzberg identified only one tool – recognition – that could bring employees to the point of satisfaction because only recognition feeds our Psychic Income™ – our human need for social acceptance, increased self-esteem and self realization that can never be met through compensation.

When communicated regularly and appropriately employees begin to see the complete picture of the company’s investment in them and the value the employee has to the company. Most companies who follow this best practice to realize the value of reporting on individual recognition today accomplish this by adding an additional line item for recognition to employee pay statements.

Less Compensation for More Satisfaction

Workforce Management recently posted stats from Monster Worldwide (an online job search and resume site) on workers willing to forgo pay increase in favor of landing their dream job. Worldwide, 76% of employees said they would give up a pay raise for a dream job. The results were even higher in the U.S., Switzerland and Italy where 82% would forgo a raise. But Ireland reported the highest with 84%.

Clearly, employees are placing far greater emphasis on workplace satisfaction than compensation. Many factors play a role in employee satisfaction, but receiving recognition for performance and knowing the individual job contributes to overall company success are both key contributors.

Strategic recognition programs accomplish both by tying recognition to company goals and values. That way employees are recognized and rewarded for behaviors and actions that align with company values, advance the company’s mission, and contribute to strategic success.

Be Happy: Give Your Money Away

A March issue of Science magazine included an article titled “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness.” If the goal of strategic recognition programs is to promote the happiness of our employees, then according to validated scientific research we should also be giving our employees a way to give more to others.

A unique feature in the Globoforce recognition platform is the reward recipient’s ability to choose “Charity” as redemption option. As our consumer culture begins to be buried in “stuff,” we’re finding more and more people are choosing to give their rewards away. This triggers a double positive reaction in the employees mind – once for being recognized by the company for their exceptional efforts and then again by the altruistic action of giving that recognition to those more in need.

Giving employees the Reward of Choice should never be limited to more “stuff.” Give them the ability to choose a memorable reward that is meaningful to them – in ways many managers may not have considered.

Job Satisfaction & Retention Survey: The Importance of Recognition

Salary.com recently issued its 2007/2008 Employee Job Satisfaction and Retention Survey, finding that employers are out of touch with employee satisfaction levels and continue to underestimate employee job search activities. This is a costly disconnect as the survey also shows employee replacement costs due to turnover increased 40% from $15,000 in the 2006/2007 survey to $21,000.

Consistent with previous surveys, “insufficient recognition” once again was a top reason employees’ cited for leaving a job. Recognition was nearly equal in importance to both men and women with only one percentage point difference in their reporting.

It’s concerning to me that the reporting on the value of recognition does not seem to change year over year, but employers do not seem to be learning from it. This tells me companies are either not changing their recognition practices in any meaningful way or they are tackling the challenge through ineffective methods.

In the case of recognition, perception is reality – employees must believe they have been positively recognized for their efforts and then have some means of remembering that recognition for it to have lasting impact on job satisfaction and ultimately employee engagement.

Employers: do you feel you are recognizing your employees appropriately? Employees: do you agree?