Does Your Company Culture Hurt Productivity?

The airwaves have been rife with importance on company culture on employee productivity.

From Columnist Harvey Mackay (access requires subscription):
“In tough economic times, when companies need to re-evaluate raises and bonuses, a positive word can ease tensions and promote productivity. … A Personnel Today survey of 350 human resources professionals found that the greatest factor in workplace productivity is a positive environment in which employees feel appreciated. The survey reports that two-thirds of the respondents said they felt a lot more productive when they received recognition for their work, while the remainder said they felt a little more productive.”

From Radio World:
“Culture is not found within a single person or document, but rather it is the social air that we breathe. Everyone contributes to creating the corporate culture and everyone is influenced by it. Regardless of his power, a CEO cannot easily change an entrenched culture. … Logical and rational arguments are no match for the power of culture. Ignore culture at your own peril. … Culture strongly influences behavior because every decision is subject to some kind of reward and punishment.”

From Harvard Business School, 10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture:
• Leadership is critical in codifying and maintaining an organizational purpose, values, and vision. Leaders must set the example by living the elements of culture: values, behaviors, measures, and actions. Values are meaningless without the other elements.
• Like anything worthwhile, culture is something in which you invest. An organization's norms and values aren't formed through speeches but through actions and team learning. … At Baptist Health Care, for example, managers constantly reinforce the culture by recognizing those whose actions exemplify its values, its behaviors, and its standards.
• Employees at all levels in an organization notice and validate the elements of culture. …
• Cultures can sour. Among the reasons for this are … the failure of leaders to reinforce desired behaviors, the breakdown of consistent communication, and leaders who are overcome by their own sense of importance.

In this fearful time caused by the recession, what are you doing to take care of your culture? Are you continuing to recognize people’s efforts and letting them recognize their colleagues as well? Are you creating an environment in which they want to be productive? Are you – personally – living by example “the elements of culture: values, behaviors, measures and actions?”

These are some of my resolutions for 2009. I am committed to them because I believe it is the best path for me, for my team, and for my company and our customers to weather this recession well, gain competitive advantage today and dominate our industry when the upturn comes.

What about you? January is done. What are your resolutions regarding keeping your company’s culture strong? Are you keeping them? Tell us your resolutions in comments.

Are You Running in the Same Direction?

This story
hit the news this morning (be sure to click through to the video). I’m sure we all got a chuckle out of these two escaped inmates, handcuffed together and running for their freedom, stopped rather abruptly when they ran on opposite sides of a light pole.

The misadventure of these inmates is an excellent example of the need for teamwork under duress. In many companies, the psychological effects of this recession are causing the employees - out of fear, uncertainty and anger - to pull one way, while company leaders are trying to pull them in another towards ultimate company success. When all members of the team are not united in achieving the same goals, the results are similar - crashing failure.

Two simple lessons we can learn and apply in our business from this clip:

1) Slow down enough to communicate clearly – Everyone is frantically seeking the best way to deal with the recession and then implementing those plans. Unfortunately, in the rush to “just do something,” communication of goals and means to achieve them can be easily lost. If the two inmates had slowed down just enough to say, “Go LEFT!,” the outcome may have been different.

2) Proceed on the same path together – Once a direction is chosen, are you running at the same pace? To work effectively as team, all members need to be working as hard on a shared goal. Any laggards drag the rest of the team down with them. Be sure to encourage all team members, recognizing them for their efforts and contributions to ensure the success of the team – and the project – as a whole.

As you work your way through this recession, are you communicating clearly up and down the line? Are you clarifying with senior leadership precisely with is expected of you and your team? Are you then communicating that to your team in a way that helps adjust their goals and daily routines to achieve those ends? Tell us about it in comments.

Are You Wasting Your Investment in Recognition?

Globoforce just released the results of a survey (request download here) completed by 150 middle- and senior-level human resources, finance and procurement personnel about CEO perceptions of recognition programs as they relate to corporate objectives within their organizations, as well as the human resources reality of these programs.

The survey revealed a tremendous waste of resources as recognition programs fail to meet CEO needs and do not contribute to company strategy. Organizations still have a long way to go in aligning recognition programs with their company’s mission, values, strategic objectives and goals.

Key findings included:
• A clear majority of HR respondents (88 percent) believe their recognition programs
need improvement and that their CEO would agree.
• While an encouraging 58 percent of HR leaders believe their CEO would say their
recognition programs reinforce the strategy, values and appropriate behaviors of
the organization, an alarming 42 percent say their programs offer no strategic
benefit to their organizations, indicating a tremendous waste of resources and
misappropriated recognition dollars that have no effect on employee engagement and
• Overall, HR leaders (45 percent) feel their programs fall short in driving bottom-
line results. Why?
o A staggering 42 percent of all organizations surveyed are not measuring their
program’s results in any way, leaving CEOs in the dark on the effectiveness and
true value of their recognition programs and effectively wasting the money
o These recognition programs are not designed to deliver against CEO requirements
-- aligned with strategically relevant objectives and mission as well as the
company values.

One way these issues could be resolved is by giving HR a strong seat at the executive table. Workforce Management recently reported:
Many HR leaders report recent progress in increasing HR’s strategic role, often as the result of new management refocusing HR operations on more business and mission-critical activities. Additionally, the study found companies that recognize HR’s strategic importance also tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with the entire HR function, including non-strategic transactional activities.

EquaTerra Global Research managing director Stan Lepeak, who co-authored the study with executive director Lowell Williams and managing director Brad Everett, said that the sizable minority of companies that don’t recognize HR’s strategic potential are putting themselves at an increasingly serious disadvantage.

“I would think the need [for strategic HR] is exacerbated by the economy,” Lepeak said. “Organizations are in turmoil, some of them are on the edge of bankruptcy, executives are being pushed out. How do you recruit new talent when you’ve got a tarnished image, or keep from losing all your best people? How do you keep productivity up? You should be looking to HR to help address these problems, and to put in changes that can keep them from happening again in the future.”

One reason HR may be designing recognition initiatives that don’t meet CEO expectations is because they simply do not know those expectations because they aren’t invited to the table. HR needs to prove their worth, show the value of their initiatives in a way their CEO cares about, and take that seat.

What’s your take on your own recognition programs? Does your CEO approve? Are you gaining strategic advantage from your recognition efforts? Be sure to take our weekly poll.

Employee Engagement & Productivity in a Recession

I ended last week discussing Towers Perrin’s new book Closing the Engagement Gap – How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results. and reiterated the importance of remaining focused on increasing employee engagement during this recession.

Last month the Engage Group came out with quite interesting results from a survey of more than 23,500 company directors and employees. The research shows:
Effective engagement can demonstrably improve an organisation’s performance.

Most boardrooms see engagement as a key priority for the future and net investment in engagement is set to grow, even in the current economic environment.

Despite growing board support for engagement, most employees still feel disengaged from their organisation – board buy-in has not yet, according to employees, been translated into action.

Internal measurement lags behind external measures of performance – only 28% of board members claim to use robust internal measures of employee engagement.

These findings fascinate me. This “largest ever UK employee engagement survey” shows clearly show the value of engagement to company performance and the stated commitment of company directors to engagement efforts, yet little follow through on those commitments down to the employee level.

As Julie Gebaur, one of the author’s of the Towers Perrin book, recently said in the Closing the Engagement Gap Blog:
“When a company’s leaders and managers pull the right levers, employees respond with the willingness and ability to go the extra mile to help the company succeed. If the levers aren’t pulled, the potential for engagement lies dormant.”

The levers clearly are not being pulled in many UK organizations. One reason may be that there is little internal measurement of performance. Using the principles of programs such as Six Sigma, what gets measured gets done. For engagement initiatives to actually lead employees to give more discretionary effort – become more engaged – senior leaders need to do more than set engagement as a priority. They must also set the metrics for success in their own organizations.

What’s the level of commitment to engagement among your directors? What’s the reality among your employees? What are you doing to help “pull the levers?” Share your insights in comments.

"Closing the Engagement Gap” with Towers Perrin

Towers Perrin just released a new book: Closing the Engagement Gap – How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results.

I’ve heard more than a few stressed company leaders say in the last few months, “I don’t need to hear any more about employee engagement. I’m too focused on staying ahead of the curve in this recession.”

That’s a very short-sighted view. Getting your employees more fully engaged – willing to give additional discretionary effort to get the job done – is more critical now than ever. To rebuild productivity and win the war between good vs. bad morale companies in this psychological recession will prove to be a strong competitive advantage today and when the market turns.

Some of the insights Towers Perrin bring are particularly useful:
With virtually all businesses facing significant economic challenge today, pressure is mounting to reduce costs and improve financial results while maintaining or increasing productivity across the board. So how do leaders keep employees focused and productive in these uncertain times? … The answer lies in building and sustaining an "engaging" work environment that consistently inspires people to devote the time, skill and effort necessary to keep their organization delivering bottom-line results.

While the Eight [companies highlighted in the book for successful engagement] differ in many respects, they are united by their recognition that engagement is a way of life and operating style, not a program or "initiative du jour."

"We consistently found that organizations and managers get the best from employees when they do five things well: know them, grow them, inspire them, involve them and reward them," said [co-author Julie] Gebauer.

In addition to identifying best practices at some of the most engaging companies around the world, the book also calls out serious missteps leaders and managers should avoid.

"When considering the factors critical to profitability and success, particularly in the current economic climate, organizations often make employees the 'forgotten stakeholder.'" said [co-author Don] Lowman. "To capitalize effectively on the potential innovation and productivity of a workforce, organizations must put their employees under the same microscope and hold them in the same esteem as they do their customers. Leaders must take the time to learn what unlocks their employees' discretionary effort and desire to contribute."

Making recognition a “way of life” is simply another way of saying “creating a culture of appreciation” in which no one is forgotten and everyone has an equal chance to be recognized for their efforts and to recognize their colleagues as well.

What are you doing to increase employee engagement today? Are you allowing engagement, appreciation and recognition initiatives to be sidelined by short-sighted “cost cutting” or are you and your team ensuring your employees are willing to give the discretionary effort you need now more than ever? Tell us what’s going on in your world and how you’re managing it and be sure to take our weekly poll.

Variable Pay and Recognition

Ann Bares at the Compensation Force blog recently put her vote towards variable pay as the top reward strategy for 2009. Defining variable pay as incentive compensation, Ann says:
“I see incentives, when well-designed and well-implemented, as a form of partnership between employer and employee. If ever there was a time when all oars needed to be pulling in the same direction, it has to be now - so using incentives as a means of strengthening partnership seems like an idea whose time has more than arrived.

While I agree whole-heartedly with this sentiment in the sense that incentives include recognition and reward, I do take issue with some of the points in a scripted “charter” Ann also provides in the post on how to establish this partnership. In this charter Ann suggests refining the company goals to one to three objectives that are clearly communicated with all employees, measuring results based against targets for success for those goals, reminding each employee how “they can have an impact through the work they do,” and giving a cash award to employees if the targets are reached.

Ann had me cheering right up to that last part. I disagree a cash payout once targets are achieved as a whole is the best reward approach. As Ann said, every employee's effort impacts achievement of those individual goals. Similarly, every employee needs recognition for their efforts and validation that their work is appreciated — now more than ever.

To help employees deliver against targets through their own job functions, then those individual recognitions should be tied to a target achieved (or contributed to) with a specific message on how. This way employees begin to see how their individual efforts contribute to company success. This is by far the most positive and effective way of encouraging repetition of precisely those actions company leaders need from every employee to succeed in this recession.

Strategic recognition programs specifically can also chart those recognitions and reasons given to show which groups or individuals are contributing where and which areas may need more targeted intervention for the company to achieve the goals.

Do you see variable pay, pay for performance, recognition, or similar initiatives on the rise in your organization? What form are they taking? What’s the attitude toward such an approach? Share your thoughts in comments.

Getting Your HR House in Order for 2009

Joanna Higgins of the Bnet Sterling Performance blog recently published a post asking HR: Are You Ready for the Workplace of 2009?. It’s an interesting post offering five tips to help HR professionals adapt to the new workplace needs due to the recession. Three tips in particular can be addressed or assisted through strategic employee recognition:
Focus on productivity: Focus on your goal as HR professionals — to raise productivity by providing advice and training to help people become effective at work.”

Increasing (or even maintaining) productivity is a challenge in this economy as employees are consumed by fear, anger and resentment and are distracted by the rumor mill. Targeted productivity improvement in those areas specifically most needed by management is even more difficult. All employees need recognition for their efforts and validation that their work is appreciated — now more than ever. If those recognitions are tied to a company value demonstrated or strategic objective achieved, then employees begin to see how their individual efforts contribute to company success. This is by far the most positive and effective way of encouraging repetition of precisely those actions company leaders need from every employee to succeed in this recession.
Associate metrics with money: Your boss will want to see evidence that costs have gone down while revenue’s risen. That means understanding how to translate your financial reporting into a form that most directly translates into relevant financial facts. Another silver lining: HR can demonstrate the “hidden” costs of cutting the training budget too drastically.”

HR can also demonstrate the hidden costs of cutting recognition too drastically as well as show the value of recognition - if tracked and reported appropriately. Consolidating often disparate recognition programs into one can save global companies up to 50% of their current investment in recognition. Reporting on those savings alone is important. Taking the productivity discussion above one step farther, implemented correctly, a strategic recognition program can show executives what events or employee actions (and where in the organization these actions are occurring) are impacting productivity or other goals.
Plan for recovery: This, too, shall pass — and the company will need to keep an eye on the horizon in anticipation of an upturn in the economy. Keep building your image as an employer of choice, help managers cope with the fluctuations and focus on keeping your top talent.”

The smart companies are planning for the upturn now. Your best employees have long memories and they are paying attention to how you handle employee relations in this downturn. They may forgive you for necessary layoffs, but they may not forgive lack of appreciation for their extra effort after such actions. Make sure they know you value them and their efforts and the company culture itself is solid, positive, and appreciative -- even during this recession.

Are you focusing on productivity, proving the value of your programs with metrics associated with money, and planning for the recovery? What are your techniques? Share with the team in comments.

Gain Competitive Advantage with Strategic Recognition Now

By implementing a strategic employee recognition program during recessionary times, you position your company better than your competition right now by ensuring your people are in a positive mind-set. The opportunity to create a marked difference between good morale companies and bad morale companies is likely more pronounced now than it has been for decades.

Research firm Mercer recently released the results of a global survey of more than a thousand HR and finance professionals representing organizations with operations in more than 100 countries. In the Leading through Unprecedented Times report, Mercer Chief Markets Officer Patricia A. Milligan comments:
“Many multinational companies have been facing rising cost pressure throughout 2008 and in recent months have been managing compensation costs and workforce levels aggressively while working to keep employees engaged and productive. But our survey shows that—at least as a group—most of these companies have refrained from taking severe and broad-based steps. This is a balancing act. Discussions with our clients indicate that more dramatic actions are being considered by boards and senior management should the downturn become deeper or prolonged. It is also likely that companies learned important lessons in previous economic downturns about the importance of talent in creating competitive advantage, and so are reluctant to take actions that could hamper their recovery once the economy improves.”

I’ve seen this same opinion reported by Gallup, Towers Perrin, Watson Wyatt and others that companies know they need to retain their top talent during this recession to position themselves for success when the upturn comes. As I’ve said before, employees have long memories. Your best people will always have options. If you do not offer them a culture they want to be a part of – a culture of appreciation that shows how individual efforts support company objectives – they will leave. If not now, then when the economy turns.

Most of your top talent understand the need for some cutbacks and even layoffs due to the recession. It is how you treat your employees before, during and after those actions that will have the most impact on their attitudes now and in the future.

What are you doing to secure or improve your competitive advantage during the downturn? What steps are you taking to prepare for the upturn? Share your thoughts in comments.

Boost Morale and Productivity with Recognition

The effects of the psychological recession are as strong among employees and their efforts as the impact of economic recession is in the world markets. Workforce Management recently reported:

“Corporations are mistaken to think that employees who survive layoffs will “work harder out of gratitude,” according to a study by Leadership IQ. In fact, by their own admission, employees say their companies should expect less from them going forward. The Washington-based research company says nearly three-quarters of employees who held on to their jobs amid downsizing acknowledge that their individual productivity is declining, while nearly seven in 10 say their company’s product or service lines are in decline since the layoffs. The research is based on interviews with about 4,200 workers at roughly 320 companies that have enacted layoffs during the past six months. Other key findings:
• 87 percent are less likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.
• 64 percent say their colleagues’ productivity is declining as well.
• 81 percent claim customer service is falling.
• 77 percent “see more errors and mistakes being made.”
• 61 percent forecast “worse” prospects for their company’s future.

Coupled with an earlier Leadership IQ report, this paints a bleak picture for talent-hungry companies. It reveals that 47 percent of high-performing employees are actively seeking other jobs, compared with 18 percent of low performers and 25 percent of middle performers.”

As our CEO Eric Mosley recently commented in a CareerSmart Advisor newsletter article:
“In a recession, the first thing that gets hit is productivity. As people worry about the economy and the stability of their jobs, recognition programs can help alleviate some of that worry. During these tough economic times when financial perks are being cut from budgets, some employers are turning to recognition as a way in which to keep employees happy. Recognition is a low-cost way of getting that return. You’re filling a gap and boosting their feelings toward the company. Over the past three years, we’ve seen recognition grow as an important tool in HR, and in the past months, we’ve seen the rate increase even more.”

OnPoint Consulting has also recently recommended “dusting off recognition programs” saying, “Although many companies have recognition programs in place, they are often not being used effectively.

We’ve proven this at numerous clients who have saved up to 50% of their existing recognition program costs simply by consolidating multiple disparate programs into one and implementing efficient global administration. Globoforce’s strategic recognition programs take the buried and distributed budget of multiple legacy initiatives, consolidate it into a single global program, track it, and provide executives with reports on the value of the program across the corporation. Globoforce even offers a service to audit your established recognition programs to help you gain a full understanding of your current program spend, impact and level of governance.

As Rob Schmitter, global recognition leader at Nortel Networks, said in a recent webinar, “With Globoforce, we were able to more than double the number of employees receiving recognition for the same budget we were spending with our previous vendor.”

What are you doing to boost morale and productivity in your workplace? Be sure to take our weekly poll.

HR Needs to Rescue Employee Morale Urgently!

Due to the down economy, employee morale is at it lowest point, even among employees who have survived waves of layoffs. “Layoff survivor syndrome” (discussed in this recent article on and the resulting psychological recession among these employees are acute, causing feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and physical illness.

What is the impact on your organization?

Vicki Goodwin, a professor at the University of North Texas’ College of Business Administration, said in a recent Fort Worth Business Press article:
“Employees may even become ill from the stress and physical ailments that are related to stress. They are going to be more subject to injury, which people are when they are under a lot of stress, and all of that will potentially lead to absenteeism and can really impact the bottom line of an organization.”

The article confirms similar findings:
“A flurry of research after the economic downturn of the 1990s found that layoff survivors reported high levels of distrust and lower levels of motivation and engagement. Absenteeism went up, productivity went down.”

Long term impacts are also great. BlessingWhite President and CEO Christopher Rice recently commented:
“Many of the leaders I've spoken to in the last few months express concern about engagement levels in their organizations. They're right to be worried. They need employees to stay focused and productive despite taking on the ghost work of laid-off colleagues, paused pet projects, eliminated perks, ever-shifting priorities, and the distraction of the latest headlines or hourly market fluctuations. In addition, soft economies jeopardize the natural balance that may exist in better times. The worst employees will stay as disgruntled hostages and top talent may leave because they still have mobility.”

Facing absenteeism increases, productivity drops, and the loss of top talent to competitors, what can companies do during a recession with limited resources?

Globoforce’s strategic recognition programs provide an ideal tool help you focus on increasing employee engagement in their daily tasks. Rice suggests asking yourself:
"Where are your employees on the engagement spectrum? Do they know their three most important priorities out of all the items on their to-do list? Are they clear on how their work supports the organization's goals? Wherever possible, give them the information they need to succeed and the reassurance that what they do has meaning. … Values and culture provide a stabilizing force during uncertain times and create an environment that inspires long-term success. Don't abandon them now."

Our recognition programs directly feed these needs by showing employees who are recognized precisely what behavior or action of theirs was deserving of recognition and then linking that action to a company value demonstrated or organization goal achieved. This shows employees how their direct efforts impact company success – has meaning to the company.

Using the most positive method of reinforcement – praise – also helps establish your company culture as one of appreciation and not of fear, even during this tough economic environment. By continuing with or implementing a strategic recognition effort, you are clearly showing your employees you appreciate their efforts and care about their well-being. And you are simultaneously boosting morale and increasing productivity.

What effects of the recession are you seeing in your own workplace? How are you addressing the physical effects of economic stress on your employees? Share your ideas in comments.

Measuring What Matters in Recognition

In my last post, we discussed the proper metrics for measuring recognition program success – metrics that matter to the CEO. Personnel Today recently wrote on this topic of HR Metrics Help HR Prove Its Worth.
The focus needs to be on outcomes, rather than input. David Cumberbatch, director at business psychologist Xancam, says: "When it comes to evaluating the spend on HR initiatives, too many organisations focus on internal, HR-focused measures rather than on business outcomes. HR can be obsessed with costs and focus more on cost than return."

He believes that by demonstrating how investment in HR contributes to the bottom line and desired business outcomes, HR professionals are more likely to get support from managers across the organisation.

Regardless of the sector, metrics must be linked to the organisation's objectives, says Andreas Ghosh, lead officer of workplace strategy at the Public Sector People Manager's Association. "Many introduce measurement and it remains static, but to be successful these measures need to adapt over time to reflect the changing business objectives," he says.

By doing all this, HR can use metrics to show senior management how it adds value, which will become increasingly important as the recession bites. Millner believes identifying the top five issues senior managers are concerned about and finding ways to measure their success is fundamental. "It can be tricky, as HR departments might find out that their initiatives failed. But at the same time, it's the best way for HR to prove its value to senior management," he concludes.

What’s your list of top issues your senior managers are concerned about? For strategic recognition programs, our list is:

1. Percentage of employees awarded (Shows program reach and communication of values across the company.)

2. Geographic and demographic program penetration (Another view of program reach and communication across the organizations, including meaningful deployment into outlying areas from the company’s HQ.)

3. Match of award distribution to the performance bell curve (Shows success of motivation in reaching the “middle 70 percent”) – a critical component often ignored in traditional elitist recognition programs.)

4. Frequency of awards (Reveals adoption of a culture of appreciation across the organization)

5. Company values selected as award reasons parsed by division, region or country as appropriate (allows executives to determine what areas do not fully understand or demonstrate the values necessary for success so leaders can directly intervene with additional training or other measures)

Share your lists with the community in comments.

What the Board of Directors Wants from HR

In the last post we discussed what the CEO needs from HR as a partner at the executive table. Kris Dunn, author of the HR Capitalist blog and contributor to Workforce Management magazine, recently wrote an article in that magazine on What Your Personal Board of Directors Wants from HR.

Dunn’s personal board of directors consisted of a CEO, a CFO, a VP of marketing, a director of customer service, a general counsel and a VP of sales he had worked with in the past. Dunn asked all of them, “What should an HR manager/director/VP do within the business to gain your trust, be viewed as a valued partner and become a star on your team?”

Dunn’s personal board of directors offered ten tips. I’ll comment on just three of them, but I encourage you to read the entire article at the link above.
Be a cheerleader, but figure out the ROI of your rewards and recognition efforts. Your directors want you to lead the charge with rewards and recognition because they don’t have the time for it. However, they want more than a cheerleader. They want you to understand the ROI of the programs you have in place, which leads to constant tweaking of the programs based on effectiveness in driving cultural items like engagement.”

Do you know how to calculate the ROI of your reward and recognition efforts? Many companies we work with could only guess at the programs currently in place across the organization prior to Globoforce. We offer an audit of your current state, then help you assess your recognition needs to deploy a truly strategic global recognition program. Our latest white paper, Maximize the Return on Recognition in a Recession also offers additional insight into the ROI of doing recognition right by avoiding the traps of cash-based and merchandise-limited programs.
Have your own set of metrics, and do more with it than simply read from your slides in a monotone. Monotone was good for Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s bad for an HR pro. Your personal board of directors will think it’s cute if you have your own deck of metrics that you report on. The board members will look at you with respect if you can tie your metrics to their operating results in a way that makes sense. You’ll know you’ve arrived in this area if they talk to you proactively about what their departments can do to improve, based on the metrics you report.”

Do you know what metrics matter to your executives? They want to know how recognition drives performance and productivity, how well different divisions or groups understand the company values and help achieve company objectives. Are you able to report on that? By definition, strategic recognition programs require measurement and management similar to the Six Sigma DMAIC structure. Only by establishing metrics your executives care about can you convince them of the value of strategic recognition.
Help the organization drive performance. Your personal board of directors values a performance management system that enables the organization to establish customized goals and objectives for each unique role. When your directors’ departments get "stuck," they want you to be the expert in helping managers rate and deliver feedback to employees, which in turn drives the overall performance of the organization.”

Can your current rewards method take your company values off the plaque on the wall and instill them in the minds of every employee so they are recognized for the behaviors, attitudes and actions you need from them to achieve your company’s strategic objectives? Such values-based recognition drives precisely the sustained performance you need by motivating employees in the most positive way – by saying thank you.

What would your personal board of directions want from HR? Share your thoughts in comments.

What CEOs Need from HR

In preparing for the new year, chief executives and their HR leaders need to ensure they are on the same page. HR leadership is now – or should be – a prominent seat at the chief officer table, especially to help guide a company successfully through this recessionary economy. This week, I’ll be discussing what CEOs need from HR and how HR leaders can better fulfill those expectations. Join the conversation in comments.

To start the conversation, what do you think of Russell Reynolds Associates recent report on what CEOs want from HR: The Long View, How and Why CEOs Are Changing HR at the Top.

The research discusses why CEO expectations are changing and what they are doing to help HR meet them. The report cites two major factors driving HR to a seat at the table: demographic shifts and the importance of quality workers at the strategic and tactical levels. Of course, the economy adds a third critical factor with the governance, motivation and other issues that come with the downturn.
“Chief executives now are looking to their HR leaders to fully incorporate the strategic, financial and operational goals of the company in their endeavors, and to create and implement a strategic human capital plan ensuring that compensation, professional development, recruitment and retention are fully aligned with the company’s strategic objectives and goals. … In tandem with that broader business mindset, CEOs also are expecting their HR leaders to be more assertive. … Of course, these new demands are in addition to, rather than replacements for, the traditional skills and capabilities that have long been expected of HR executives, including expertise in executive and staff development, organizational design, recruiting, retention, compensation and benefits.”

Does this resonate in your organization? What about this statement from the research?
“CEOs recognize it is not merely a question of asking their HR leaders to rise to the challenge of new capabilities and responsibilities. If they want HR to deliver at a higher level, they have to create the environment that allows that to happen.”

Liz Ryan at BusinessWeek wrote an article on 6 Signs You Don’t Care about Workers with these as the top two:
1. The talent chief is a half-chief. - If the human resources leader in the organization isn't at the same level as the rest of the E-staff—whether that's executive vice-president, senior vice-president, or chief [whatever] officer - the "greatest asset" language is a lie. Why would a company that values talent demote its top people officer relative to the rest of its leadership staff? Talk is cheap. If your company values talent, it will bring on an HR exec with the experience and wherewithal to operate at the same level as the rest of the leadership roster.

2. HR is a finance function. - Years ago, when HR was called personnel, maybe it made sense to stick the function under accounting. After all, most of what happened in personnel had to do with payroll records, vacation days, and the like. Today, managing HR as a finance function says "We value people, all right. Those salaries and benefits suck cost right outta the bottom line." If your HR function is a sub-group of finance or of your general counsel's office, you've got some squaring up to do between your "greatest asset" talk and the way things actually run.

If you’re serious about driving the highest level of productivity out of individual employees to create a culture of high performance across the organization, then HR must be at the level of chief officer with their advice on employee needs, including recognition and motivation, appreciated, listened to, and acted upon.

What is the situation in your company? Is HR at the executive table, or still stuck at the kids’ table? Join the conversation in comments.

Establishing a Culture of Appreciation

What is your company culture? Not the culture you think you have or want to have – but the culture you really have. Multiple research reports and news articles are reporting company cultures turning to ones of fear, rumor mongering and resentment due to the faltering economy.

It is more important now than ever to establish a company culture that will drive the employee productivity and company performance levels to carry you through the recession and prepare you for a solid start out of the blocks when the economy turns. We at Globoforce advocate a culture of appreciation in which employees are recognized for their efforts and they also understand why those efforts are critical to the company achieving its strategic objectives.

Jason Corsello blogged about this topic at the Human Capitalist blog where he discussed the unique and highly successful culture Southwest Airlines has been able to establish. Southwest is certainly unique and I’ve blogged before about how their culture is a defining facet of their success.

Southwest co-founder Herb Kelleher has said: “You have to treat your employees like customers. When you treat them right, then they will treat your outside customers right. We honor our people constantly. They know that we value them as people, not just cogs in a machine.”

Customer service is paramount in today’s economic environment. This is exactly the point American Airlines – and numerous other foundering companies – fail to realize. Driving employee engagement by recognizing and rewarding employee efforts will always improve employee efforts on behalf of the customer. And happy customers increase your bottom line. It’s truly as simple as that – say “thank you” frequently, appropriately, and consistently to the people that matter the most – your employees.

Tell us about the company culture to currently have and perhaps the culture you would like to have in comments. If you’ve been a part of changing your company culture for the better, tell us how.