The Business Case For Employee Engagement

With employee engagement declining in North America, the next question to ask is the toll and cost this disturbing trend is having on business.  The bottom line, low employee engagement may be costing you $6k per employee.

Halogen Software recently shared this infographic outlining the “dollars and cents of employee engagement”.  What I really enjoyed is the excellent write-up and analysis provided by Dominique Jones of Halogen providing both context, 3rd party research and a set of solid assumptions.  Dominique is the VP of HR for Halogen and I look forward to reading more great posts from her.

In her analysis she shows how a company with 500 employees may be losing $3m dollars per year due to poor employee engagement.  That’s a lot of coin not falling to the bottom line, $6,000 per employee.

There is hope with 76% of employees showing improvements in engagement with intervention.  One of the easiest things a company can do to engage employees is to implement a peer-based recognition program.  We have seen rates of +90% voluntary employee participation in these programs that get the whole team fired up.

I highly recommend your check out Dominque’s post to understand the logic and numbers behind the picture below.

The Dollars and Sense of Employee Engagement



The 4 Pillars Of A Great Corporate Culture

Vungle's Honeybadger award on MeritShare

Vungle’s Honeybadger award on MeritShare

A well-established corporate culture plays a significant role in the betterment of a company or organization; this intuitive fact is backed by many social science studies on the subject. Author and Professor James L. Heskett suggest that culture makes up 20-30% of the difference in workplace performance when comparing a company with a sound culture against one without it.

Exactly what makes up a corporate culture? They are all very unique in their own way and often have different belief systems in place. When considering various successful companies and their culture, there are several elements of similarity. Here are some of components to think about in building a well-established culture condensed from the HBR article “Six Components Of A Great Culture” along with some of our own case studies and experiences.

1. Vision: An outstanding culture is built upon the foundation of a well-developed vision and mission statement that provides a purpose. This blueprint effectively guides and directs all employees’ decisions. Deeply rooted and well thought out core mission statement not only shapes the decisions of the employees, they can also positively influence the decisions and actions of other involved stakeholders such as suppliers, and customers. Some very effective vision statements are such as The Alzheimer’s Association stating “a world without Alzheimer’s,” or Oxfam stating “a just world without poverty.”

2. Values: The values of a company are the meat and potatoes of its culture. The values offer a mindset, disciplines, and guidelines needed to effectively execute the vision statement; for example, McKinsey & Company has a concise list of values for their employees that help set the standards for colleague treatment, professionalism, and client customer service. Google’s set of values are grounded around the notion, “Don’t be evil,” and “ten things we know to be true.” While many companies have very different methods of implanting company values, they are all practically based on clients, professionalism, and employees.  At the leading independent accounting firm Green Hasson Janks, collaboration is the foundation for their success.  The company reinforces this with peer-based recognition around values of mentorship, team work, and client advocacy.

3. Practices: Values are obviously ineffective unless they are implementing in the practices of a company. If a company conveys that people are their greatest asset, it is apparent that there actions should mirror such a statement, such as investing in their employees in ways that are noticeable to all. The company known as Wegman’s brand themselves with values such as “caring” and “respect,” offering prospects “a job they’ll love.” By actually following through with the relative practices of values, it ranks fifth by Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. There are some instances where organizational values “flat” the chain of command. During these cases, junior level employees should be included in the resolution discussion without any fear of repercussions whatsoever. Company values should be visible through review material, promotional policy, and deeply embedded into day-to-day operations.

4. Peer Based Recognition: the employee recognition software like we offer on MeritShare is a great way to reinforce and enhance company values. Vungle, a San Francisco based mobile advertising firm funded by Google Ventures, uses persistence as one their primary company values. They created a custom MeritShare award called “The Honey Badger” which enables employees to nominate each other; at the end of each month, founder Zain Jaffer chooses a winner. In complete satisfactions, he states “I love how our team interacts on MeritShare. Our Honey Badge award is a great reinforcement of our values and a fun talking piece to show new recruits our unique culture.”

The above isn’t a complete isn’t meant to be a complete list so please offer your tips and experiences for building a great culture in the comments section below.

Related Articles:

Build Your Culture By Living Your Values

Best Practices: Culture




Employee Recognition: What Employees Want The Most [Infographic]

Once again research shows that what employees want the most is recognition but employers think its about pay. Let’s keep it real simple:

It’s not about the money, it’s about the appreciation.

Mindflash published a great infographic on to illustrate this point. Let’s get to the bottom of this infographic now:

Employee Recognition Incentives












Here’s the full picture:

Workplace Incentives

Top 5 Corporate Culture Tips

I’m a big fan of discovering and sharing new ideas at Quora.  I regularly scan discussions from company culture to the most embarrassing moment in your life.  On the question, “What motivates someone to do their best, and how can a manager best motivate his team/employees?” I really appreciate the response from Dustin Finer whose deep experience includes: COO at Myspace, former head of various corporate functions (HR/ADMIN/LEGAL/etc.) at both public and private companies, and a former employment lawyer.   Here is Dustin’s response:

I answered this based on my own experiences.  I limited this answer to strictly morale and not, for instance, how to create or foster a high performing team.  Those are two different topics I believe.  For morale, the top 5 things for me have always been:

1.  People should leave work each day and each week feeling like they accomplished something.  That means making sure you have set clear goals which are clearly communicated.  Everyone on the team should know what the daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly objectives are.  Can you imagine playing a game of basketball without understanding the rules and what the ultimate goal of the game is?  It is very important for managers to make sure their teams understand what a win is at the end of every day.  If you and your team leave work at the end of the day and feel like you achieved a goal (that hopefully feeds into the larger company goals), you tend to feel like you contributed to the greater good and feel more fulfilled.  

2.  The manager should genuinely understand his/her people.   It makes a huge difference as a leader if you know (and genuinely care) about what is going on in your employees’ lives.  I am sure more than a few people will disagree, but from a morale perspective I think it really matters if your boss knows you have to leave early to watch your kid’s game, knows when your birthday is, etc.  It helps a manager better understand what someone may be going through on a given day or week.  It also helps if your employees feel that you genuinely care about their career and them as people. 

3. Show appreciation for when an individual or a team accomplish something important.  My experience is that this means more than compensation, perks and other benefits.  It is extremely important.   [We couldn’t agree more]

4.  Always be honest and straight-forward.  B.S.’ing or sugar coating only engenders mistrust and is not helpful or effective.

5.  As a leader of a team, ultimately the way you behave will be reflected in those that you manage.  So, walk the walk, dont just talk the talk.

HR Thought Leader: Stacey Carroll

I first met Stacey Carroll at a Trakstar webinar on HR’s role in building a performance-driven organization.   I’ve attended a lot webinar’s and her’s was one of the best.  She provided an energetic and organized approach anyone could follow.  She colored each point with fun and concrete examples.  Her experience as an HR executive at Nordstroms, Payscale, and Trendwest Resorts has armed her with many insights and stories.

She is active on social media and was named by HR Examiner’s as a Top 25 Online Influencers in Talent Management.   At MeritShare we have given her our HR Thought Leader award.

In addition to this award for Stacey,  we are pleased to announce she will be offering a free webinar “Like Me! Rewards & Engagement for Employees in the Social Era” on June 13th at 1:00-2:00pm EDT.   This session is pending approval for 1.0 HRCI re-certification credit.  Save your place now and register in one click here.

The webinar will discuss:
• The effects of employee recognition and regular feedback on engagement
• They types of employees recognition that work best including more modern trends
• Tips and Tricks for effective peer-based recognition and feedback
• 3 steps for implementing a successful employee engagement plan

You’ll leave this session understanding how to update your employee performance and recognition programs to be current with today’s trends and best practices.   Come join us and hear Stayce’s insights and offer your own as well.

Thank’s to David Martin for his support and including us in his excellent Trakstar webinar series.  You can also find Stacey at her website HR Experts on Call.


Improving Corporate Culture: Best Companies

With the recent news of employee engagement on a slight decline in North America,  it is a good time to look at who as doing company culture right. The website put together this infographic meets case study outlining the finer points of corporate culture from leaders Pixar, Patagonia, and Google.

At Pixar President Ed Catmill says in this in this video interview ”there is very high tolerance for eccentricity, very creative, and to the point where some are strange“.

Google covers things from birth to death in this quora discussion on the best Google perk.  Employee Paul Cowan says, “if a Googler dies, all their stock vests immediately, and on top of the (not atypical, I think?) life insurance payout, their surviving spouse continues to get half of the Googler’s salary for the next 10 years. And there’s an additional $1,000/month benefit for any of the Googler’s children”.

Finally, in an Inc interview with Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard says “Blurring the lines between work and play worked for us, because it was part of the core reasons we came to work every day“.

Corporate Culture Mindset
Image source:

Employee Engagement in North America Declines

According to a new study by AON, the economy in North America is improving while employee engagement levels in North America have declined to the lowest levels since 2008.  At the same time, the worldwide engagement showed modest improvement.

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Worldwide Employee Engagement Trends

Aon Hewitt’s Global Engagement Report, which analyzed employee engagement trends of more than 2,500 global organizations representing 3.8 million employees, found that employee engagement in North America decreased by one percentage point to 63 per cent in 2012.  What can employers do about this disturbing trend?  MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl shares this timely piece in today’s HR Buddy article: “5 Easy Way To Recognize Employees”.

Millennials At Work: Super Savers [Infographic]

I’m a baby boomer and I’m embarrassed by the debt we have left in the US for future generations to pay off.  Fortunately there is some hope with the new generation of workers who appear to be more fiscally responsible with their personal finances.

A new study out from Merrill Edge shows that Gen Y, defined by the study as those 18-34, is starting to save for retirement earlier than any other generation. This high savings rate reinforces data shared in the following infographic by Scarborough Research showing that 59% of Millennials are savers as opposed to spenders.

To me, the message is clear, if you want to attract Millennials you better make sure you have a good 401k program.