Your Questions About Employee Recognition…Answered LIVE!

Live Webcast

Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST

Course Description:

Join other business leaders and HR professionals in this highly interactive webcast.  Our panel of recognition experts will address questions submitted from the audience…LIVE.  Get the answers you need to make employee recognition work best in your business.   Find out what questions other HR Professionals and business leaders are asking, and get answers to the most frequently asked questions organizations are facing when it comes to recognizing their employees.   

Panel of Experts Includes:

  • Mike Byam, author of The WOW! Workplace and Managing Partner
  • Bill Bergstrom, National Recognition Manager
  • Alex Allion, Western United States Recognition Director

Join these three recognition experts from Terryberry, one of the world’s foremost recognition providers, as they discuss your questions on the topic of employee recognition.

Learn the cutting edge of employee recognition that actually boosts engagement, adds value to your organization’s bottom line, and ultimately aligns your employees with your organization’s mission and goals.

Who should attend:

  • Human Resources Professionals
  • Recognition Program Administrators
  • Managers
  • Anyone who makes award presentations
This webcast is free, but space is limited, so register today!

Innovation and Employee Retention

source: Futurestep

source: Futurestep


Innovation has long been cited as a driver of  long-term revenue and profit growth in organizations.  However, studies are now showing that there is also an increasing relationship between innovation and employee retention.

In a recent study published by talent solutions provider, Futurestep, the more than 4,000 skilled employee respondents seemed to be sending companies a very clear message: that innovation seen in strategies for recruitment, employee development and employee retention greatly impacts the employee relationship.

According to Futurestep CEO, Byrne Mulrooney, the study defined innovation as change, improvements and forward-thinking.  Employees were seen to be looking for innovation from the very first encounter with the organization during recruitment. Then they expected to continue seeing it in the organization’s employee development plan. And finally, it was equally important that they saw innovation in the company’s retention programs as well.

Of the respondents, only 36% thought that their current companies were innovative. And in another survey done on over 800 HR professionals, over 74% said that they believed their organizations could do more to foster innovation for them to attract and retain talent.

The demands on innovation may seem particularly high. But not taking this message to heart could have huge detrimental impacts to the total organization. In recruitment, innovation is more likely to create a successful impact on a potential recruit.  Even happy employees are not immune, with 55% saying they would consider leaving their satisfying jobs if they were approached with innovative recruitment methods.

In development, 44% of employees say that they will leave their jobs if they see no innovations in store of them.

And don’t forget that all human to organization contact points that perceive innovation has a bearing on the overall company brand.  Employees and recruits are possible consumers too. And they can advertise so much by the virtue of word of mouth. So an organization’s innovation or lack thereof, can give either a benefit or detriment, respectively, to your company’s total image as well.

For a slight counterpoint, see this post on the danger of employment branding.

You can download the full report from Futurestep here.

5 Ways to Become an Extraordinary Leader

Boss vs. Leader

Some people are born leaders. They always know the right things to say and what needs to be done to achieve their goals. Naturally influential, they easily attract the respect of their followers and colleagues, able to motivate others to work towards a greater objective. But how do they achieve this? And how can others, especially those just beginning to take on a leadership role, emulate their success?

If you feel that you have been unsuccessful in gaining the respect of your employees, have been failing at motivating them, or just simply could not charm your way out of a paper bag, here are 5 ways you can improve yourself as a leader.

1. Do

Do rather than dictate. Just because you are a CEO, a supervisor, or manager, does not automatically make you a leader. Telling everyone what to do and making demands while you sit behind your desk is less than inspirational. Being active and involved in a project, actually getting your hands dirty, will show your employees that you know what you’re doing and that you care about the project. Rather than micro-managing or attempting to control your employees, be one of them. Work alongside them. Just as with team sports, seeing your team captain out there taking hits and putting his heart in the game will inspire you to play harder. Be an example of what you want them to be.

2. Listen

A lot of the time, following your gut and listening to your instincts can be extremely effective. But other times, what you may think is the best solution might not be. Before you make an important decision, get the opinions of others and open your mind to other ideas. What is pressing them? What works for them? What issues are they seeing that you are not? Not only is listening helpful to getting a better handle on the bigger picture and recognizing the existence of other factors, but it also shows your employees that their input matters to you. It shows that you care, and that you are not just out for your own personal interest. Working as team is important, and you must remember that not only are you leading a team, but you are part of that team.

3. Recognize

One of the best ways to bolster productivity and earn the respect of your employees is by showing that you respect them and appreciate the work they are doing. Effective employee recognition begins with finding meaningful and creative ways to make someone feel like the work they are doing is valuable to the company. You don’t have to be their best friend. Just show that you care. Realize that your employees are people who are trying to earn a living and have everyday struggles just like you do. Say thanks, and mean it.

4. Be Positive & Stay Calm

All too often I have dealt with Debbie Downer managers. People who have taken on so much responsibility that they become nervous wrecks, stressing out over anything and everything and taking out their frustrations on their employees as a result. I understand that work can be intensely consuming and overwhelming. With all the fires that need extinguishing, it is easy to forget about the feelings of others. Take a moment to realize that negativity can quickly permeate a room. If you are expressing yourself in an unpleasant way, others around you will might end up feeling anxious too. They will also be less likely to want to be around you or seek your advice. If you want people to follow you, and want to follow you, make it a positive experience. Don’t stress the little things, make yourself dependable and accessible so that others will give you the support you need. That way, everyone wins.

5. Be Extraordinary

As a leader, you are supposed to stand out. The greatest leaders are not just any Average Joes, but people who appeal to a crowd because they offer a new, exciting perspective that people want to be a part of. They are so passionate that they want others to share in it. They are inspirational because they demonstrate confidence and offer something that’s real. People should feel that, under your guidance, they can accomplish anything they strive to accomplish. And they can, as long as you truly want to share your dreams of success with them. Engage them. If you are extraordinary and allow others to be extraordinary, then extraordinary things will most certainly happen.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur

Water Fights, Karaoke and Scrapbooks – 6 ways to make employees feel special on a budget.

Sunset High Five

Photo Courtesy of johnwiechecki on Flickr

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou, Author

Making others feel good is not just a nice thing to do, but it makes you feel good too. Showing your employees and coworkers that you appreciate them inspires motivation and improves morale and productivity within a company. Giving worthwhile recognition is not dependent on the amount of money you spend, recognition is about sincerely appreciating the hard work others do and really meaning it when you say “thank you”. You can’t put a price on memories.

Here are a few Low Cost Recognition Ideas, as well as a Recognition Playlist to get you inspired and spreading the love.

1.  Greet employees every morning, reinforcing the message “I’m glad you’re here.”  It may sound corny, but that’s okay – your job isn’t to win popularity contests, its to make your employees and coworkers feel special.

2. Organize a department-wide water-gun fight in the parking lot in their honor. It’s unusual, it’s fun, employees will remember it for a long time.  Super soakers for employees, tiny water guns for managers – think about it.

3. Let them park in your parking space for a week.  Often times, it’s the little things that make people feel special.  Don’t have a parking space? Buy them a weekly pass at a nearby garage.

4. Put together a scrapbook of memories for an employee who is celebrating a milestone anniversary. Give each person on the team a blank page to fill out with stories or pictures of their experiences with that employee. Then, after the public recognition moment, the individual has not only a treasured award from the company but something from their coworkers that captures their feelings.

5. Create a homemade fun award that is appropriate to what is being recognized. MeritShare provides a fun way to give out virtual awards to your employees and peers that can be humorous yet meaningful.  Customize an award to your company culture, make it fun for people to give and receive!

6. Gather co-workers to sing a light-hearted rendition of a song such as “You Light Up My Life,” “We Are the Champions,” etc.  We put together an employee recognition playlist for you.  If you do this, be sure to record it and put it on Youtube – then send us the link.  Seriously. 

Recognition Playlist:

Senior Executives Worst At Giving Recognition

In a recent study conducted by Globoforce and SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) shows  senior executives and human resources scoring the lowest marks for giving recognition.  This confirms our own data that shows that top-down recognition programs need to be reinforced with peer-driven recognition, giving every employee the power of appreciation.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.51.30 AM
The survey was based on 803 HR professional respondents from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership with the title of manager or above and from organizations with 500 or more employees.  The study was conducted March of 2013 and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly half of HR professionals indicated “employee engagement” as the No. 1 HR challenge their organization faces. Other common HR challenges included “succession planning” (39%), “culture management” (35%), and “employee retention/turnover” (33%).
  • An overwhelming number of organizations (94%) believe positive feedback (reinforcing behaviors or performances that should be repeated) has a greater impact on improving employee performance.

Nice work on this Globoforce and SHRM!  Here is the full presentation:

How Do You Recognize Your Employees: Infographic

Work.com/Salesforce just shared this stunning graphic on how to give recognition.   At the bottom they list 5 common recognition mistakes.  I would say the main and obvious one is not giving any recognition at all.  Let us know about any others in the comment section below.  

Looking for more tips on how to recognize employees effectively as well as other information on being a great leader in your organization? Subscribe to our Manager 2.0 Newsletter where we’ll bring you weekly updates on must-read articles from the web as well as best practices on leading your organization in the new era. Subscribe To Manager 2.0

Three Tips For Employee Recognition Success

Many customers look to us to help them craft a successful peer recognition program within their team or organization.  Research and experience has bubbled up a few key findings that we always try to share with new customers on our platform.  We hope you find the employee recognition tips below helpful in creating an active and effective culture of recognition within your workplace.

Tip #1 – Don’t Let Cash and Prizes Become a Demotivator

Recognition as motivation

Photo courtesy of walknboston

Customers, employees, executives and industry research have told us time and time again that prizes don’t motivate employees.  There is a growing body of research around monetary rewards in general as workplace motivators – the prevailing thought is that once a worker feels they are being compensated fairly for their work, its time to start focusing on other factors of motivators.  Recognition in the workplace from peers or managers can have a huge value to an individual, both emotionally and professionally.  Forbes contributor Meghan Biro states “Monetary rewards can skew this notion of value, linking it to cash when it should be linked to appreciation of extra effort and smarts.”


Tip #2 – Let Peers Drive The Bulk of Recognition

peer recognition

Photo Courtesy of Mr. Boombust

At MeritShare, we believe the value of recognition is the act and expression itself as well as the story that accompanies that recognition.  Recognition from a peer is often considered more treasured by the individual than recognition from a manager or executive as it isn’t viewed as an obligation.  Josh Bersin, principal at Bersin by Deloitte finds “Top-down recognition is often viewed as political and it rarely reaches the “quiet but critical high-performers” in the company…Peers know what you’re doing on a day to day basis, so when they “thank you” for your efforts the impact is much more meaningful.”  The additional upside is that peer-driven recognition can be more frequent.  A recent study on the U.S. workers found 32% of employee say they haven’t been recognized in the last three months.  With fewer managers in the workplace today and the growth of cross-functional teams, its challenging for people-managers to know what all of their employees are accomplishing on a consistent basis – peers are best suited to recognize each other and they can do so much more frequently.  One fantastic process we’ve seen is to let peers recognize each other for recognition and allow managers and executives to pick their favorites from the submissions and announce them at a company meeting or in a company newsletter.

Tip #3 – Don’t Forget to Recognize Upward

Thank your boss

Photo courtesy of bfishadow

It is lonely at the top, the American School Superintendent’s Association states “Often the decisions are difficult and unpopular, and the chief executive officer stands alone, sometimes without support and under attack from within and without the organization.”  When you’re thinking about recognition as a means to motivate and make your coworkers feel special, don’t forget to thank upward.  Let your manager know how important they are to your career development and employee satisfaction.  Let your executives know how much you value their leadership and willingness to make tough decisions. Meaningful recognition makes the recipient feel great – at all levels of the organization.

Simple Acts With Significant Results – The Power of Positive Praise

We’ll end our post with a simple message – say “Thank You” to those you work with.  Strive to do it at least once a week.  It takes just seconds.  Leading global researcher GFK’s research found that intent to leave a position within the next 12 months was 76% higher in those who fail to receive recognition from their manager.  Their research, which was focused on the UK goes on to state: ”UK employers are risking losing significant numbers of staff, in many cases because they’re not even taking the time to do something as simple as saying a formal thank you.”

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M

At MeritShare, we’re always looking for new ways to help managers recognize their employees in a timely and meaningful manner. One of the common requests we hear from customers is that they need the occasional reminder and inspiration to recognize their staff.  Managers today are busier than ever and employee recognition sometimes gets dropped to the end of the priority list. When you do have time to recognize, its sometimes a challenge to come up with a great reason on the spot.

Thank You in Sign Language

Photo courtesy of adihrespati on Flickr

Today we found a great online guide from Texas A&M’s HR department on Ideas for Low-Cost/No-Cost Employee Recognition.  We encourage you to check out the full list of 63 ideas on their website, but here are our ten favorite creative reasons to recognize your employees:

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M:

  1. Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.
  2. Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight.
  3. Have a recognition event/award created by a peer group that decides what they will give and why they will give it.
  4. If you have a department newsletter, publish a “kudos” column and ask for nominations throughout the department.
  5. Post a thank you note on an employee’s office door or cubicle.
  6. Publicly recognize the positive impact on operations of the solutions employees devise for problems.
  7. Recognize employees who actively serve the community.
  8. When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible in person or electronically.
  9. Give a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to employee work.
  10. Find ways to reward department-specific performance.

If you’re looking for solutions to help with administering the employee recognition program at your office, consider MeritShare. We specialize in converting offline recognition programs (bulletin boards, monthly newsletters and company meetings) to online recognition programs (recognition communities, social sharing of awards and real-time notifications and nominations). We have a free version that teams can try out with no obligation, and a premium version that offers full employee recognition and employee engagement analytics for organization executives and admins for very reasonable rates.

Top 5 Reasons You Need Peer-Based Recognition

Companies are looking for low-cost and creative employee recognition ideas and peer-recognition can be one of the most effective ways to thank employees and keep them engaged.  Here is why you need peer-recognition more than ever.

Power to the people!
The era of top-down management is changing.  Successful companies are empowering employees to make decisions and take action.  Yet in many companies employee recognition and awards are still determined at the top.  Relatively few companies provide peer-based recognition.  We define peer-based recognition as a program that allows employees to nominate, vote, award or thank a fellow co-worker in front of an audience or group.  We have interviewed over 40 executives at Fortune 500 companies, hyper-growth start-ups and industry leaders to get their best practices on building a successful company culture.  Based on this research and our analysis, here are the top 5 reasons you need peer-based recognition at your company:

1.   Recognize as a team to win as a team.  A very senior ad sales executive we interviewed encouraged his team to give praise to others in engineering, accounting and product.  As a frequent flyer he realized he couldn’t fire up the team on his own and enlisted his team to give praise and create strong inter-department relations.  He added, “having the extra set of eyes, ears, and hands really helped move our culture to the next level… I unleashed the beast of appreciation! “.  Giving more people the power to give praise helps build a culture of recognition.

2. Silent but deadly.   Many companies have quiet superstars who are always heads-down and delivering spectacular behind-the-scenes results.  ”Every where I have worked there has always been the strong silent type who didn’t make a lot of noise but always over-delivers”, said a very experienced account manager.   “It’s more important for me to see the right people get recognition, I depend on these superstars and wouldn’t want to lose them”.

3.  No more straight lines.    It is difficult for managers to always know who to recognize in highly matrixed organizations and cross-functional teams.   Peers can have a better sense of who is really over-performing and making significant contributions on a team.   The head of a design department mentioned that she had dispersed her team to sit with the cross-functional teams they worked on to create quicker and more responsive design support.  This took her out of some of the day to day interactions so she spent a lot of time getting feedback with the team leads.  She felt that peer-based recognition would help create a spirit of team work and help her keep in touch with how her direct reports were performing with their cross-functional teams.

4.  Act like a manager to become a manager.  Learning to recognize and appreciate work is an important leadership skill every manager needs to know.  Setting the right goals, communicating  recognition with the right words, ensuring fairness — are skills all employees can learn.  One senior leader said she was having challenges with getting her new managers to take the time and provide recognition.  She added “now I make sure employees demonstrate the right characteristics of being a great manager before being promoted”.  If you are looking for that promotion to manager, you are well-advised to apply recognition and appreciation techniques now.

5.  I feel good!.  Why not share the love throughout the organization and let everyone use the power of recognition to inspire greatness?  For some, giving is better than receiving.  The former head of recognition and engagement programs for AT&T said her peer-based recognition initiatives were the most effective programs she ran.  She beamed with pride and her face lit up when she talked about this successful employee-driven recognition program that included a trip to Hawaii and dinner with the Chief Executive Officer.

The next time you are at a company meeting, notice the rise in energy-level and goodwill when awards are presented.  Here’s the deal,  you don’t have to wait until the next meeting or a senior executive to recognize outstanding work, you have the power to do this today with peer-based recognition.

Ready to get started with peer-based recognition?  Try it for free today at MeritShare, we give everyone the power of appreciation.