Leadership Needed * Project Security and Hope to Motivate

Thriving during this recession and positioning your organization to gain competitive advantage and market share when the upturn comes requires courageous and thoughtful leadership now. It is no secret that your people – their behavior, engagement and focus on delivering against your strategic objectives – are the lynchpin to this success. How are you encouraging them, supporting them and motivating them during this time of fear?

Gallup recently offered these suggestions for executives to keep managers and workers focused and engaged:
Security: Leaders can't entirely quell those fears. They can't control the economy or predict the future, so they can't assure workers that everything is fine and always will be. But they can promote a feeling of stability from day to day, and that creates a sense of security and engagement.

Hope: There certainly is reason for hope -- eventually the economy will improve. Employees just need to know how their company plans to survive during the downturn. They need to know what to focus on to help set it up to succeed.
In this Forbes article, leaders are encouraged to correct work environments that demotivate.
“I know of a large company that has an employee recognition program that involves publishing a list each year of employees who have been promoted to vice president. Only a few senior executives know the criteria for inclusion on the coveted list. The dozen employees with new VP job titles are, of course, pleased. But hundreds of others who feel they should have been recognized are displeased. They don't know why they were overlooked and why colleagues they may believe are of less value to the company were recognized. So the program benefits only a few and provokes uncertainty, frustration and a perception of disrespect in many.”
That’s not a recognition program. That’s a case study in demotivation. Foundational to a motivating work environment is a company culture of appreciation in which all employees know their work is noticed and valued -- by their peers and their managers.

What’s your work environment like? Demotivating and fearful or secure and hopeful? What are you doing to promote the environment you want? Tell me in comments.

Change Management Success Stories

In my last post, I discussed the five steps of how to effect and sustain positive behavior and culture change in an organization. As promised, today’s post shares the stories of just a few of our clients who have accomplished precisely this through Global Strategic Recognition programs.

Amgen “Bravo!”
Amgen needed a tool to keep the staff engaged and provide recognition in a timely manner, so the recognition reinforces that accomplishment and behavior. Before creating the program, Amgen thought hard about the behaviors it wanted Bravo! to reinforce. Bravo! is designed to create business outcomes that impact the company and improve people's lives. Recipients really have to be living the Amgen values.

Symantec “Applause”
Symantec defines the importance of recognition this way: “Employee loyalty drives customer loyalty, which drives revenue – making recognition a business proposition at Symantec.” Symantec created “Applause” to support company goals and values, immediately recognize desired behaviors, help individuals understand how they contribute to achievement, and eliminate a “culture of cultures.“ Symantec went from determining business requirements for the program to go-live globally in just three months, realizing a quantifiable culture change in just six months!

Biogen Idec “Applause”
Recognition is a vital part of the Biogen Idec culture of meritocracy, motivating people to deliver the same kind of desired results on an ongoing basis for colleagues, patients and shareholders. “Applause” program objectives include reinforcing and promoting behaviors that reflect company values and promoting and enhancing a common corporate culture across all employee populations. By bringing the company values to life, Biogen Ides is driving the employee behaviors needed to achieve strategic goals.

Need to hear more? Follow these links for Global Crossing and Intuit.

Effecting Positive Behavior and Culture Change

Continuing on the change management theme of my last post, how do you effect positive behavior and culture change in your organization?

Globoforce pioneered the concept of values-based recognition to manage this change process. This approach clearly shows employees how they demonstrate the company values in their daily efforts; how doing so benefits themselves, their teams, the company, and the customers; and how their efforts will be acknowledged and appreciated by both their peers and their managers.

This model for behavior change through values-based recognition follows five steps.

1) Establish a clear ambition to unify efforts, then build your recognition program around that ambition. We encourage Global Strategic Recognition, which rewards employees for reflecting the culture and desired behaviors that get needed results, and not just the result itself. More on this here.

2) Secure commitment from the top. The CEO must back the initiative and directly secure the commitment of his direct reports. Quantum Performance cites a 60% failure rate of corporate change initiatives that do not have the CEO and his direct reports strongly committed to the initiatives.

3) Create a sense of ownership. McKinsey’s model for behavior change illustrates that the “energy needed to drive change comes through a sense of ownership of the answer. When we choose for ourselves, we are more committed to the outcome.”

4) Monitor, measure and evaluate against these program goals and values-based behaviors. This acts as a “lagging indicator,” enabling leadership to intervene in low-performing areas with targeted training and development initiatives or other actions to reinforce desired values-based behavioral performance.

5) Offer the reward of choice. A final critical component to generating and sustaining excitement and engagement among participants is rewarding desired behaviors in a way that is personal, meaningful and culturally relevant for them.

Does this work in practice? Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL, seems to agree in this article from the Financial Times. This article in European CEO also supports these tenets for successful positive change. My next post will focus more specifically on how several companies followed these tenets to measure and effect culture change.

REMINDER: Best Practice Institute Webinar Tuesday, 23 June

Just a reminder to join me for my debut with the Best Practice Institute, a community of business leaders dedicated to pioneering and sharing best practices.

I will be sharing our proven tenets of Global Strategic Recognition that address best practices acquired from our work with some of the world’s largest and most diverse global organizations and how strategic recognition can drive employee engagement - especially in a recession.

Join me tomorrow, Tuesday, June 23, at 12 Noon Eastern Time for the live webinar by
clicking here and entering the following code into the field titled “Webinar Promotion”: DIBPI1 (be sure to enter this in all capital letters). You’ll receive further instructions after entering the code to access the live webinar.

I look forward to hearing your comments!

Measuring to Drive Change, Not Just Results

Are you stuck in a measurement loop, measuring for measurement’s sake with no real action or benefit tied to what you learn?

A few weeks ago, I posted about the difference between awareness and enforcement and what this means to actually changing behavior.

David Zinger, an authority on all things employee engagement, recently chaired the Second Annual Employee Engagement Conference in Barcelona. One of his eight lessons gleaned from the conference is on this concept of the value of measurement:
Question questions. Do we believe the answer to employee engagement is asking another question or a better question or should we call surveys into question? Yes, I know the importance of data and research but I see far too many surveys that result in bell curves and depleted precious resources that could heighten rather than just measure engagement.”
That gets to the heart of why I believe we are all pursuing employee recognition and engagement initiatives – to change the culture of our companies into one of appreciation in which all employees are focused on the strategic objectives and working to achieve them by performing their jobs in a way that demonstrates and reflects the company values.

So how do you achieve positive behavior and culture change in your organization? I will be addressing this topic in more detail in my next two posts, first describing our unique approach, then sharing the experience of several of our clients who have followed our method to achieve the desired culture change.

Interpreting Employee Engagement Results

Some recent research points to interesting effects of the recession on employee satisfaction and engagement.

A CIPD survey found employee satisfaction has risen among UK employees since 2006, but CIPD notes, “but this could be the employee opinion survey equivalent of a fixed grin.”

And HR consultancy Towers Perrin reported similar findings that the global engagement gap has not widened during the recession.

Clemson (U.S.) University psychology professor Thomas Britt found that “an engaged employee isn’t necessarily committed to the organization.” In fact, highly engaged (but not committed) employees are more likely to change jobs into an environment they feel is more supportive.

But if you dig a little deeper, CIPD also notes an increase in stressors on employees stating:
“Without action to tackle some of the stresses and strains that are clear in our survey, employers could find employee health and wellbeing deteriorating, and employee engagement tailing off at precisely the time they need all hands to the pump to survive the recession and thrive in the recovery."
Towers Perrin also shows:
“But the data also confirm a drop in employees’ understanding of their company’s goals and long-term direction, as well as in their positive perceptions of leadership’s overall effectiveness -- both of which could signal the beginning of a downturn in engagement levels as this year progresses.”
All of this tells me companies cannot become complacent if their own employee satisfaction or engagement surveys report steady levels as compared to last year. The stress and strain on employees are real. The need for clarity on company direction and personal priorities is only increasing. The need for support, appreciation and opportunities to grow are as valid today as ever.

Economic indicators are showing the upturn is near. Are you giving your employees the recognition and direction they need to remain committed to you and your organization when the upturn comes? If not, you may be throwing your greatest competitive advantage out the door precisely when you need it the most.

Best Practice Institute Invites Me to Present On-Line Learning Session * The Power of Global Strategic Recognition

The Best Practice Institute, a community of business leaders dedicated to pioneering and sharing best practices, has invited me to be part of their On-line Learning Session series next Tuesday, June 23, at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.

I plan to highlight our tried-and-true
five tenets of global strategic recognition, which address best practices acquired from our work with some of the world’s largest and most diverse global organizations, and how strategic recognition can drive employee engagement. Additionally, I’ll take some time to explain why strategic recognition is precisely the rescue package HR managers need right now to re-engage employees, galvanize them around key goals, and put the company on track to greater productivity.

To join me for the live webinar, click here and enter the following code into the field titled “Webinar Promotion”:
DIBPI1 (be sure to enter this in all capital letters). You’ll receive further instructions after entering the code and this will allow you to access the live webinar on Tuesday.

Hope you can join!

HR Executives Agree * Recognition Critical in a Recession

On Monday, I blogged about research showing the benefits of recognition to nearly every sector of the business. This article, which appeared in Workforce Management last month, brings that research into the real world in interviews with the HR chiefs at McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Caterpillar – service, consumer products manufacturing, and discrete manufacturing – a fairly reflective sampling of companies today. And all three agree on the importance of recognition today and to the success of their long-term talent strategy.

Cynthia McCague, Director of HR, Coca-Cola:

“Our CEO has a phrase that we’ve borrowed from the [Obama] administration: We believe that we can’t waste this crisis. If we do the right things in every market around the world, we’re going to come out with stronger market share and a healthier business at the end of this cycle. … We’ve been very purposeful about staying the course on our recognition programs. We did a program all over the world prior to the last Olympics where various people could be nominated for living the values of the company.”
Rich Floersch, Chief HR Officer, McDonald’s:
“Recognition programs, regardless of this economy, are so powerful in terms of building commitment, engagement and loyalty. Boy, it’d be a long time before we’d think about changing any of those.”
Sid Banwart, chief HR officer, Caterpillar:
“We believe very strongly that recognition is something that must continue. And it’s especially important at the local level in real time for something that is important to that team at that point in time. … The point is, recognition is not something you turn on and off because of the economic situation. It’s probably especially important in tough times.”
Yes, yes and yes! Wise company leaders must take this opportunity to ensure they are well positioned to drive their markets when the upturn comes. Recognition is a very powerful means to engage employees in your organization and your strategic objectives. Recognition is critical during tough times to boost morale, overcome fear and gain competitive advantage. I congratulate these industry leaders for their foresight and commitment to the fundamentals of creating a culture of appreciation in their organizations. Well done!

How would you answer this question posed by Workforce Management? “Should recognition programs go out the door because we’re trying to look like we’re all battening down the hatches?” Give me your answer in comments and be sure to take our poll.

Webinar REMINDER * Thurs, 18 June -- Employee Response to Recession Actions

Just a quick reminder of our upcoming webinar this Thursday, 18 June (11:30 a.m. Eastern/8:30am Pacific/4:30pm GMT).

In our latest market research, employees told us the impact layoffs, salary freezes and other actions due to the recession are having on their morale and productivity. We also asked HR managers what they perceived the impact of these measures to be on employees. The dichotomy in response is interesting, indeed!

I'll be reviewing the results of the study and discussing why this dichotomy between employee reality and HR perception exists as well as giving recommendations on how to overcome it.

Click here to register for this 45 minute webinar.

A significant portion of the webinar will be dedicated to Q&A. I would love to hear your feedback or any questions you would like me to address during the Q&A portion of the webinar. Just share your questions or thoughts in the comments section. Be sure to let me know what you're doing now to tackle this issue in your own workplace.

Registrants will receive a free copy of our latest white paper that summarizes our research, "Voice of the Employee: How to Overcome the Morale Crisis with Increased Communication and Recognition."

Do You Want Your Company to Succeed in this Recession? Start Recognizing Employees Now!

The Recognition Council recently issued a report, “The Time for Employee Recognition and Rewards Programs Is Now,” that summarizes well the reasoning for and benefits of recognition in a recession.
Evolving research tells us that:
• Employees who feel valued and trusted are more productive.
• High performing employees will leave companies if they do not feel valued.

By using definitive recognition and rewards programs, managers can expect:

• A visible way to measure employee performance.
• Clear identification and reinforcing messages about best practices by consistently rewarding behaviors that produce results.
• A way to quantify and track exemplary behaviors and best practices in activity reports.

At the same time, employees experience:

• A more rewarding culture that reinforces company standards and values so employees are motivated to incorporate them into their goals and performance and also encourages company loyalty.
• Established methods that make them feel valued and foster enterprise wide performance improvement.
• Peer-to-peer recognition that encourages and energizes teamwork and camaraderie.
The report goes into far greater detail on the importance of recognition and appreciation for retention, engagement, productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the report and tell me what you think of its findings in comments.

WorldatWork * Thank you to our customers for an excellent workshop!

I must admit, I greatly enjoyed my time at WorldatWork’s Total Rewards Conference in Seattle, Washington, last week. WorldatWork put on a very professional, well organized conference with nearly 2,000 attendees. Even the weather was beautiful and sunny the entire time.

I was so proud to be associated with a panel of our customers in our roundtable session on 21st Century Recognition (see the picture at right). Our workshop was standing room only, with many staying behind afterwards for quite awhile to ask more questions and continue the knowledge sharing. We obviously touched a nerve on the need to increase employee engagement, customer loyalty, productivity, and operating income, even during this recession, through strategic recognition that fosters lasting culture change.

In fact, this was a theme of the show. Many of the people I spoke with throughout the conference agreed a main theme was the importance of continuing to invest in recognition, even as other budgets are being cut. Even in our own workshop, the majority of attendees said their primary reason for attending the session was because “my company’s employee recognition program is uninspiring and outdated; I need some new ideas.”

Many thank-yous to our customers and my fellow presenters for an excellent job in sharing the success of their global strategic recognition programs to help session attendees find the inspiration they need.

* Jennifer R Lepird, CBP, Sr Compensation Business Partner, Intuit
* Scott Himelstein, CCP, Director Compensation, Discovery Communications Inc
* Rob Schmitter, former Global R&R Program Leader, Nortel
* Jennifer M Reimert, CCP, Sr Director Global HR Compensation, Symantec Corp
* Lisa Marie Taylor, Sr. Director of Global Compensation, Quintiles

WEBINAR * Employees Tell How to Boost Productivity & Morale

In this global recession, companies are facing layoffs, frozen salaries, and other benefit cuts. Do you know how your employees perceive and are reacting to these changes? How are you ensuring the employees “left behind” are motivated and inspired to do more with less?

Find out what employees told us and how this compares to HR assumptions.

Join me
on Thursday, June 18, at 11:30 a.m. Eastern/8:30am Pacific/4:30pm GMT. In this webinar, I will review the results of our recent market research study and offer recommendations for increasing employee morale and productivity during this recession.

Click here to register for this 45 minute webinar.

A significant portion of the webinar will be dedicated to Q&A. I would love to hear your feedback or any questions you would like me to address during the Q&A portion of the webinar. Just share your questions or thoughts in the comments section. Be sure to let me know what you're doing now to tackle this issue in your own workplace.

Registrants will receive a free copy of our latest white paper that summarizes our research, "Voice of the Employee: How to Overcome the Morale Crisis with Increased Communication and Recognition."

I look forward to sharing this with you next week.

Ask Derek * Invest in Appreciation to Prepare for the Upturn

I recently received this question from Vijender B. via the ‘Ask Derek’ section at the foot of this blog.
“How important is this for the company to have their employees motivated in terms of their work related issues and moral support? How important do you consider the employees’ issues are in this recession phase, specially in Ireland's economy, where people are being redundant because most of the global and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] have made up their mind that they do not need employees but employees need companies instead. Globoforce, as has been stated by your company officers, is in the ‘thank you’ business, do you think it is in this business because it’s the nature of the company and should other companies also perform this at some extent?”
Vijender questions the importance of employee morale issues in this recession, especially in an environment where “employees need companies.” I would argue your people are your most important competitive advantage – in any economy. Now more than ever you need to keep your team focused on performing against company goals, critically, with your company and not with your competitors. High caliber employees will always have options in the job market; many are till being actively recruited. I spoke to this just a few months ago, citing an AchieveGlobal study showing 23% of workers expect to leave their current positions – a shockingly high number considering many short-sighted managers think their employees will just sit tight out of recession fears.

As to being in the “thank you” business – that’s what we do. We are committed to telling and showing our employees how greatly we value them and their contributions through direct, frequent and timely appreciation of their efforts that help us succeed. Our business is helping companies foster a culture of appreciation in their organizations through Global Strategic Recognition programs built on best practices of executive leadership, global strategy, values-based recognition, opportunity for all to participate and rewards of choice.

As cited in my last post on our latest market research and similar results from Hay Group and WorldatWork showing 64% of companies plan to increase their focus on the motivational value of reward programs, organizations wishing to thrive in the recession and win when the upturn comes are continuing to invest in “thank you.”

And thank you, Vijender, for your questions and the opportunity to address them here in the Globoblog. I hope the answers are useful to many and others also take advantage of the “Ask Derek” section below. (Email subscribers, click through for the section.)

New Market Research * Overcome Morale Crisis with Recognition & Communication

In a survey of HR professionals and employees conducted by Globoforce, we found the recession and resulting actions by companies are negatively impacting employee morale:
* 70% of employees indicated that layoffs and the reduction or elimination of programs and benefits will have a negative short- or long-term impact on morale
* 55% of employees said these cuts will impact their productivity levels now and in the future.
* 89% of HR managers agreed that employee morale is being impacted
* 80% of HR managers said productivity will take a hit in the short or long-term.

But, surprisingly, employees still feel good will toward their employers:
* 45% of employees indicated these cuts have had ‘very little or no impact on their goodwill’
* Only 3% were ‘holding out until I can find another job.’

This dichotomy tells us that while people may be attempting to ‘grin and bear it,’ the reality is that beneath those smiles are fear and uncertainty, which create a distracted and disengaged workforce. Companies need to directly address this through efforts that facilitate communications between management and employees to calm fears, articulate company goals, values and direction, and re-energize employee morale and productivity.

Strategic recognition
is a cost-effective and high impact way to accomplish all of that. By communicating regularly and recognizing hard work that reflects your company goals and values, you can infuse life back into your talent base, lift employees out of this recessionary rut and inspire new levels of energy and enthusiasm.

The good news is 75% of HR managers indicate they are maintaining their recognition programs even while other areas are being cut, with an additional 5% planning to increase their budgets. Thanking employees for their continued commitment and for doing more with less will go a long way to make up for those losses. Recognition programs are a natural way to deliver that appreciation and sense of value.

You can download a copy of the full report, ‘Voice of the Employee: How to Overcome the Morale Crisis with Increased Communication and Recognition,’ which also includes best practices for nurturing goodwill and re-engaging employees in a recession.

Building a Culture of Appreciation? Avoid Negative Recognition.

Are you trying to foster a culture of appreciation in your workplace or organization? Foundational to such a culture is frequent, meaningful and personal recognition of effort. What’s the level of recognition in your organization?

To find out, ask people at all levels to recall the last time they were recognized at work. How long ago was it? Was it positive or negative recognition? Was it enjoyable? What did that recognition mean to them on a personal level? How did it impact or influence their future effort?

The answers will likely be surprising. We often don't realize that, sadly, many employees experience negative recognition far more often than positive recognition. Paul Hebert recently described this well on the Fistful of Talent blog:
“We manage talent by watching, measuring and documenting past behaviors and performance and then devise interventions to ‘fix’ any problems we uncover. No problems - no intervention. But this process has a major flaw. When you focus on the lower performing personnel (and let's face it - we all do) the top performers notice. When top performers see you spend all your time with the non-performers, the message is – ‘if I want time with management - I better screw something up.’ Management attention is a form of reward. Unconsciously, you are rewarding poor performance.”

Part of the solution, obviously, is to intentionally spend time with top performers and recognize them for their continuing solid performance. But don’t forget about your middle tier of employees – those that churn out the work every day, but perhaps do not stand out of the crowd. They also deserve recognition for their contributions. Without them and their contributions, the star performers likely wouldn’t be stars.

Think about your current or recent work environments? What was the most prevalent form of recognition – positive or negative? Be sure to take our weekly poll.

Trust * A Powerful (and Fun) Form of Recognition

In a recent post, I wrote about six different types of recognition – effort, skills and talents, the need for focus and direction, personal needs, the need to grow and develop, and the need to let of steam.

I asked blog readers to let me know if I’d left any recognition types off the list. Cindy Ventrice replied:
“I would add one more: recognize trustworthiness. Give people freedom and flexibility in how they accomplish goals. Trust that they will produce results. This speaks volumes to employees.”

I couldn’t agree more. Employees who are not micromanaged but trusted to get the job done usually will. And, more often than not, employees who are trusted will come up with innovative, creative (and perhaps more cost-effective) solutions than if an approach had been dictated to them.

Look at this example from Southwest Airlines, a company I’ve highlighted before for their highly successful approach in putting employees first so they will then care for the customers in a way that has made them so successful, they are the only U.S. airline to never conduct a layoff.

Obviously, this flight attendant has the trust of his superiors to communicate the flight safety instructions to his passengers. Because he has this trust, the attendant delivered the instructions in a way that had far more people listening and actively paying attention than I’ve seen on any flight I’ve been on in recent years.

What’s the level of trust in your organization? Join the conversation in comments.

World at Work -- Join Me Today!

Are you in Seattle at World at Work's Total Rewards Conference? If you are, I would be pleased to meet you. The easiest way to find me will be at the roundtable I’m hosting TODAY(workshop code: C26T4), called “21st Century Employee Recognition Knows No Boundaries.”

The roundtable is 3:30 – 4:45. Joining me will be experts from telecommunications, software, media, and pharmaceutical services, specifically:

* Jennifer R Lepird, CBP, Sr Compensation Business Partner, Intuit
* Scott Himelstein, CCP, Director Compensation, Discovery Communications Inc
* Rob Schmitter, Global R&R Program Leader, Nortel
* Jennifer M Reimert, CCP, Sr Director Global HR Compensation, Symantec Corp
* Lisa Marie Taylor, Sr. Director of Global Compensation, Quintiles

We will be discussing how strategic employee recognition programs help reinforce a culture of appreciation that knows no boundaries. The results are increased levels of employee engagement and customer loyalty, high productivity, higher sales and profits, and increased operating income and earnings per share. We will offer insight into how to budget for a global recognition program, using metrics to determine the program's effectiveness in specific geographic areas, achieving global culture change through recognition, and communicating the rollout to a dispersed workforce.

I hope to see you there! If you can't attend the session, Globoforce is hosting a break and you may be able to catch me on the show floor.

Use Your Company Values to Drive Business Success

I’m always on the look-out for CEOs who get the benefit of a Values-driven culture. Since the mid 1980s, company executives have invested billions in time, effort and money to develop mission statements and list the values they need employees at every level to demonstrate to achieve that mission.

However, very few actually do anything with those statements other than create a plaque to hang on the wall or include in their annual report. Then there is Ron Cain, chairman and CEO of TMSi Logistics. As he writes in this article, a values-driven company can better withstand tough economic times, reap bottom-line benefits and track the tangible results.
“The difference between companies that can weather an economic storm and those that cannot is a business model driven by values, rather than dollar signs. Values-driven organizations have been able to withstand the test of time, achieving success and maintaining resilience even when economic circumstances have made competitors throw in the towel.

“There are many reasons to implement a values-driven culture. Typically, values-driven organizations operate at a higher level of production, enjoy greater employee satisfaction, and have better employee retention. An employee that feels that his or her individual skills, values, and opinions are recognized and appreciated tends to be more productive and take greater joy in his or her work.

“Translating intangible values into tangible results for both the business and the community are critical indicators of a successful values-based culture. Although the developmental phase is important for determining the existing and desired values of an organization, implementation proves to be the only way that long-term benefits will be realized. Efficient results tracking methods and a plan for achieving the desired key performance indicators (KPIs) gives leaders and team members the ability to effectively measure improvements.”
We, of course, advocate using a strategic recognition program as a means of both positively reinforcing your company values relative to specific tasks and measuring the results. When done properly, you can use recognition as a scorecard to reveal areas lagging in their understanding and demonstration of company values, then target training and intervention directly to those areas.

Well done, TMSi Logistics and Ron Cain. What about your organization? Are you a truly values-driven organization? How is that demonstrated? Tell me in comments.