Category Archives: recognition

‘Compensation Is Not Appreciation’

According to “Mind the Workplace,” a new joint report by the Faas Foundation and Mental Health America, 71 percent of employees are thinking about—or actively looking— for new jobs.

That’s according to the report’s Workplace Health Survey of 17,000 employees across 19 industries in the U.S. The survey also found that the healthiest workplace industries are healthcare, financial Services and nonprofits, while the most unhealthy industries are manufacturing, retail and food and beverage.

The Workplace Health Survey findings also show that “only 21 percent of respondents felt that they were paid what they deserved, while 44 percent of respondents felt that skilled employees were not given recognition. Additionally, only 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents felt that they could rely on supervisor and colleague support, respectively.”

This perceived lack of support and recognition in the workplace, the report’s executive summary notes, contribute to higher levels of workplace stress and isolation, and are strongly correlated with job dissatisfaction. Survey respondents also reported high rates of absenteeism (33 percent) and work-family (81 percent), as well as increased mental health and behavioral problems (63 percent).”

The good news from the report, says Carmine Gallo, a contributor at Forbes who posted on the study’s results, is that “if leaders want to keep employees happy and loyal, there is a ‘low-cost’ option that ‘makes a significant impact.’ The ‘option’ is called praise. You’ve heard of it, but are you implementing it?”

According to the study, Gallo says, “Staff recognition and praise matters more than compensation, indicating that improving managements’ skills and ability to provide verbal and written support is more meaningful than increasing salaries . . . employees want to feel valued.”

Gallo goes on to cite behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s book, Payoff, in which the author “reveals the results of experiments which find that money matters far less to employees than either they or their bosses think.”

“When we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation,” writes Ariely. “Acknowledgement is a kind of human magic—a small human connection, a gift from one person to another that translates into a much larger, more meaningful outcome.”

Compensation is not the same as appreciation, Gallo concludes.

“Appreciation is an emotion, a feeling that your boss values your contribution. Those leaders who actively engage people’s positive emotions have companies that score better on almost all metrics: financial performance, employee engagement, retention and recruiting.”

Giving Workers a Reason to Stay

If you’re looking for more proof that recognition matters, check out this Friday morning the results of OfficeTeam’s latest survey.

Exactly two-thirds (66 percent) of the 750 workers surveyed said they’d likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated, up from 51 percent who responded that way in 2012. That’s certainly a pretty substantial jump over a five-year stretch. In contrast, just over half (54 percent) of 600 senior managers questioned believe it’s common for staff to quit due to lack of recognition.

Asked to share the best form of appreciation from a boss or colleague that they received, those questioned offered up some wide-ranging answers, including: a handwritten thank-you card from the chief operating officer; a new car; being named employee of the year; an all-expenses-paid trip to Jamaica; and a donation to a nonprofit in my name.

In a press release on the findings, OfficeTeam District President Brandi Britton noted  …

“All professionals like to be acknowledged for their contributions, and not just once or twice a year. While monetary rewards are always crowd-pleasers, companies don’t need to spend a lot to show appreciation to their workers. Regular praise and even tokens of gratitude can go a long way.”

Employees were also asked to share the strangest form of recognition they personally received at work—and their responses included a few dozzies, including a loaf of bread, a custom statuette of the recipient, edible flowers, an expired gift certificate, a $0.03 raise and socks.

Just a few things to consider—and not consider—as you plan for Administrative Professionals Week, which runs from April 23 to 29.

How to Ruin the Holidays: Employer Edition

It’s December 16th, which puts us right in the thick of the holiday season.

For employers, this time of year provides a chance to show gratitude to employees for the outstanding work they’ve done over the past 12 months.

Of course, the holidays and the attendant celebrations also offer plenty of opportunities for regrettable behavior. And we’re not just talking about the already obnoxious colleague whose ability to annoy and offend only increases with his cocktail intake.

Employers can do a pretty good job of dashing the holiday spirit too. Consider a recent survey of more than 1,200 Appreciation at Work e-newsletter subscribers, who were asked to share their worst work-related holiday experiences.

And share they did.

A more comprehensive list is available here, but we’ve summarized just a few of these holiday horror stories below …

We all know by now that performance reviews aren’t particularly fun for many workers. One company actually found a way to make them less enjoyable, unexpectedly turning a holiday staff lunch into a staff performance review for everyone present, with “comments made openly that should have been kept for a private conversation,” recalls a disgusted survey respondent.

A private conversation may have spared one overlooked employee from a few extremely uncomfortable evenings. A recovering alcoholic recounts a director who “thanks” workers each year by loading them onto a party bus for a mandatory night on the town. Despite the boss’s knowledge of this worker’s alcoholism, “I still need to drive around for five-plus hours and watch everyone get drunk,” says the employee. “This is supposed to make me feel appreciated. It is horrible!”

Another enterprise, meanwhile, should have maybe considered taking its holiday party on the road. With the firm’s on-site shindig in full swing, the electric company arrived to shut off the electricity for non-payment.

Speaking of bad timing, this organization picked an inopportune moment to let a handful of employees in on a little secret. “One year, we had a project ending the first week of January, which resulted in the layoff of 25 workers,” according to one worker. “We were required to keep the layoff confidential, and it made it very difficult to get into a celebratory mood with a looming layoff.”

And, finally, let’s hope the miserly leaders at this company have a Scrooge-like change of heart when it doles out end-of-year rewards in the future. “I was instructed to hand out to co-workers gift certificates redeemable only at our own retail stores,” notes an incredulous employee. “The amounts were based on number of years worked for the company: $5 for one to five years, $10 for six to 10 years and $20 for 11-plus years. All employees expressed disgust that the low dollar amounts were tantamount to a slap in the face.”

Some of these tales may strike you as obvious examples of insensitivity that employers could have easily avoided. Some may seem like well-intentioned, if not well-thought out, attempts at expressing appreciation that left some employees feeling uneasy, alienated or flat-out angry. But all of these anecdotes should serve as examples of what not to do in your effort to recognize your people as 2015 winds down.

Keep on (Food) Truckin’

Here in the Philadelphia area, we love our food trucks. Maybe it’s due to the large number of colleges and universities here (with their hordes of students and underpaid adjunct professors looking for a quick, cheap and tasty meal) — whatever the reason, Philly food trucks can offer you delights ranging from kebabs, Chinese food, falafel sandwiches and gyros to cupcakes, gourmet ice cream and water ices with flavors you’d never dreamed existed. food truckTheir popularity has spread well beyond the collegiate crowd: My town’s school district recently sponsored a food truck fair to help raise money for extra-curricular activities; the organizers were expecting about 1,000 people to show up — ultimately, more than double the number came, leading to hour-long lines at some of the more popular vendors.

So I’m not terribly surprised that the food-truck crowd is targeting a new demographic: office-park workers. A company called Roaming Hunger bills itself as a “hub” for organizing food truck events at companies. The company says it tracks 5,000 of the country’s “best and most popular food trucks” and that it has organized food-truck catering events for clients like Google, Nike, Geico and Ford Motor Co. Another vendor, Food Truck Caravan, also specializes in organizing these sort of events (their food-trucks vendors include ones with names like The Lobster Lady and Wok n Rolls). Then there’s Food Trucks 2 Go, which includes a “quote” from Orson Welles on its website: “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” (I’m not sure whether he really said that.)

Bottom line: If you’re looking to spice things up at your workplace, consider a food-truck event. I’m pretty sure you’ll have some happy employees.

Millennial Meltdown

stressed womanBy definition, employee burnout occurs when someone begins to feel emotionally and physically spent after doing a difficult and demanding job for a long time.

With that in mind, it seems to make sense that older employees—baby boomers bearing down on retirement age, Gen Xers now hitting their 40s and 50s—would be the most likely to feel worn down from work.

Doesn’t it?

Not necessarily, according to a recent survey, which actually finds millennial-age workers to be the most burned out of the bunch.

In a Monster poll of nearly 1,100 employed or unemployed job seekers, 81 percent of workers said they feel some sense of burnout in their jobs. Eighty-six percent of millennials report experiencing some level of burnout, compared to 76 percent of more experienced workers saying the same.

Of course, with some of their more seasoned colleagues moving into different positions or getting ready to settle into retirement, many Gen Y workers may find themselves bearing a larger load than ever before in their relatively young careers.

Looking through that lens, maybe it’s not so surprising that more members of Gen Y are feeling fried, according to Jeffrey Quinn, vice president of Monster’s global insights.

“It’s probable that millennials are expected to take on larger roles than their more experienced predecessors, and thus are feeling the pressure,” said Quinn, in a statement.

“That said, millennials are proving to be more open-minded than the more experienced workers when it comes to job locations and roles,” he said. “This flexibility will be advantageous to the millennial generation, allowing them to cast a wider net and find better success and satisfaction in their careers.”

HR and managers can play a part in helping Gen Y get a handle on their increased responsibilities, but should bear in mind that “millennials have a very different mindset from the older generations in the workforce,” says Jay Meschke, president of Leawood, Kan.-based CBIZ Human Capital Services.

“For example, millennials are eager to please, but they tend to require more feedback than other generations,” says Meschke. “Executives should communicate and provide [frequent] feedback that is timely and specific, and addresses performance issues, not intergenerational differences.

“It’s also important to create an emotional connection,” he adds, “through simple acts like highlighting internal promotions.”

It’s Not (Just) About the Money

rewardsFrom our neighbors to the north comes some insight into what employees really want when it comes to rewards and recognition. Spoiler alert: it’s not money.

Well, it’s not just money.

Ceridian Canada’s Pulse of Talent 2013 survey recently asked more than 800 employees from three generations—baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y—for their perceptions of job security, technology, performance reviews, job recognition and career satisfaction.

When discussing the rewards they would like to see their companies offer, the majority of respondents in each group said they would prefer non-monetary awards. Seventy-four percent of Generation Y employees indicated as much, with 65 percent of Gen Xers and 56 percent of boomers saying the same.

What specifically would they like to receive for a job well done?

Preferred non-monetary awards included:

• Free personal days off (37 percent)

• Free food/meals (20 percent)

• Event tickets (19 percent)

• Club memberships (17 percent)

• Technology resources (15 percent)

An iPad, the occasional comp day or tickets to the ballgame, however, may not be enough to hang on to your talent. Indeed, 29 percent of surveyed employees who said they expect a salary increase, bonus or promotion within the next year said they would look for other opportunities if they didn’t receive one. And, take special note if your workforce skews younger: That number jumped to 52 percent among Gen Y respondents.

Rewards and Recognition: Germany Edition

The norms of business shift when one sets foot on the European continent, but recent news reports on one German insurance company’s “party” for employees highlight just how differently Americans and Europeans may view the phrase “rewards and recognition.”

According to a post this morning on CNN’s Business 360 blog:

A unit of insurer Munich Re awarded high-performing agents with a 2007 party in Budapest with 20 prostitutes, according to a story to be published today in Handelsblatt, a leading German business newspaper.

According to a story preview published on the Handelsblatt website, about 100 guests gathered at the Gellert spa “and transformed the historic site into an open-air brothel.”

The company confirmed to Handelsblatt and other media the incident occurred, according to the blog post: 

The party was “a clear violation” of company policy, Alexander Becker, a spokesman for the Munich Re subsidiary Ergo Versicherungsgruppe told Bloomberg.

Two employees most responsible have since left the company after an unrelated restructuring,  Dow Jones Newswires reports. “We have to dig a bit deeper into details of that incident to see whether there are others still with us,” Becker told Dow Jones.

After reading the tawdry details, one hopes there is now a German version of Dave & Buster’s available for the next time Munich Re wishes to reward its employees.

Paper Says HR Should Learn Engagement Lessons from Marketing

I hope this recent executive briefing from the Madison Performance Group isn’t some kind of foreshadowing — a sign that HR might soon be shedding its viability and function, piece by piece, because of its inability to “keep up.”

According to the briefing, when it comes to building a more engaged workforce — and we all know how important that has become to HR leaders in an emerging recovery — some executives have suggested that the marketing department may be better qualified than HR. Yikes.

In a release about the paper, Mike Ryan, senior vice president of Madison, a recognition and consulting firm based in New York, says the C-suite “wants HR to do more than communicate processes and procedures.” On the contrary, “top executives want HR to own the internal employee customers,” he says.

“Marketing has evolved particularly fast in using digital media to deliver messages that are more efficient and impactful,” says Ryan, who wrote the briefing. “Precision marketing practices — that build personalized relationships with the brand — have helped marketing gain new respect and status within the organization for its ability to attract, retain and leverage profitable customers.”

And here’s the kicker: “Some business leaders wonder if marketing shouldn’t also be charged with building and maintaining the corporate connection with employees,” he writes in the briefing. This one is of special concern since much of the talk I’m hearing in HR circles today is of the need for the profession to evolve into more of a strategic catalyst — through communication and talent-management strategies — for the business conversation and translation between top managers and employees to be effectively executed. Hey, if marketing’s supposed to evolve into that space, where does that leave HR?

“So back to our question,” the paper reads: “Which discipline is best prepared to manage employee engagement? The answer is simple. No discipline within any organization is more committed to the development and optimization of its workforce than the HR team. But to be truly the best at generating emotional connections that drive long-term value and loyalty, HR will need to start acting, and executing, like marketing.”

I’m not sure the HR professionals I’ve met are really ready for this.