The Best Employee Engagement Approaches

Employee engagement Approaches

The approach taken for employee engagement is constantly shifting, so what are the best tools to maximize employee engagement? Twenty years ago we might have been talking about giving away trophies, watches and other objects. Ten years ago we might have been talking about extra bonuses.

Well today, managers have digital tools at their disposal and they are changing the way employee engagement is approached. The key difference? It’s the software tools that keep measurement and flexibility at the forefront of employee engagement programs. According to recent Bersin & Associates research,

87% of employers rely on ineffective employee engagement systems

Don’t fall into that rut with these software-based fixes; get the most out of your efforts with these employee engagement approaches:

Incentives Can Be Tailored To What Employees Want

Gift cards allow employers to deliver meaningful employee rewards that will actually be used by employees. Employees can request certain brands and employers can use e-gift cards to deliver the reward directly to the emails and mobile phones of employees. The seamless delivery mitigates the risk of employees losing the reward or even forgetting it at home when they go to the store. Streamlining the reward process benefits both employee and employer. When an employee has access to well-equipped employee rewards, engagement goes up and voluntary turnover goes down by around 31%.

Constant Feedback Means Constant Improvement

Employees want feedback. They want it often and they want it honestly. At minimum, employees should have feedback once a week, and often will still seek it out more frequently. Using a software system to give employee feedback, and offer employees a channel to give feedback to their managers and to the organization streamlines a constant process, which allows for constant improvement in the company dynamic and makes the workplace a more cooperative, collaborative environment.

Looking for more information or ways to implement software based solutions in your employee engagement program? Check out the article, How Software Will Transform Employee Engagement, from in Forbes.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Annual Pay Raises Replaced by Better Benefits?

annual-pay-raises

Annual pay raises: something employees look forward to and sometimes count on. But has the annual pay raise gone the way of the anniversary lunch and the 10-year watch? In a post-recession economy, with a young workforce that is more focused on benefits and flexibility, organizations are taking a new approach to investing in their employees.

Employees are looking for less money and more alternative compensation. Benefits now make up 31.6% of employees’ total compensation, which according to government data is a figure on the rise.

35% of companies raising spend on employees benefits, while annual pay raises have increased by only 2%.

So what does this look like? It could mean that a junior employee who produces exceptional work on a project gets an extra day or two off, instead of finding a one-time bonus in their next paycheck. It could look like a company lowering annual raises and providing spot rewards, like $100 gift cards to give employees when they deserve them. The element of surprise and the trophy value provides greater ROI for the employer than the additional padding in paychecks.

The basis for these changes, aside from data proving that this is what employees want, is the rising millennial share of the workforce. Millennials are more focused on short-term flexibility, rather than long-term financial security. The post-recession mentality could be a peak into a permanent future for how employers give employees benefits.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Create Employee Loyalty: What Do They Want?

create employee loyalty

It’s often a conundrum for most employers to create employee loyalty within their company. Figuring out how to motivate employees, keep them happy and prevent them for looking for other employment is a major concern, especially given the diverse interest and priorities between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Where do you start? What would the budget look like, if there even is one? Maybe this will help. Towergate Insurance performed a recent study and created an infographic to try to answer the question,

“What do employees really want?”

Here are some of the responses to what they think would increase loyalty the most:

  • 40% of employees think it’s compensation
  • 36% think it’s a benefits package
  • 34% think it’s career advancement opportunities
  • 31% think it’s training and education

Surveys like this help employers target employee rewards to maximize employee loyalty throughout different times of the year and over their tenure with the company. Keep in mind that these results leave room for interpretation. Compensation can include bonuses and rewards, in addition to just a bi-monthly paycheck. Benefits packages could include a health and wellness program, not just coverage for health insurance.

Interpreting results that seem straight forward in a creative way can lead you to what employees really want in order for you to create employee loyalty and foster it for the long haul.

See the full infographic below and check out the animated version here.

Create employee Loyalty

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

3 Ways to Help Millennials in the Workplace

millennials-in-the-workplace

Millennials are an increasing portion of the workforce in America. But employers aren’t sure quite how to handle millennials in the workplace, and often times they can be misunderstood. They are often viewed as job hoppers (but it might just be because they have a constant fear of being let go), they are viewed as overconfident (but they’ve actually had more experience prior to graduation than any previous generation) and employers have a hard time helping them reach their full potential.
Fast Company has offers strategies to help millennials in the workplace in their article, How to Bridge the Gap Between Potential and Performance.
Here are my top three:

  1. Exude Mutual Relationship Value: Yes, millennials need to generate revenue and help the company meet goals, while they meet their own performance goals. However, if you want to motivate millennials to their full potential, show them that their employer and manager will invest in them if they invest themselves in work. This motivates better performance, higher efficiency and long-term employer loyalty. Pair this relationship value with hard results
  2. When Expectations Aren’t Met, Have the Tough Conversation: Employers should have high expectations of even their most junior employees. If employees aren’t meeting these expectations harsh feedback can and should be given to help get that employee on the right track. However, positioning that feedback is critical to a successful outcome for all parties. Especially with millennials who can be more sensitive to professional feedback, keep the conversation in context of high expectations. There is a lot expected of them, and they should know that as long as they “right their ship” they can adjust their performance to meet those expectations.
  3. Teach Soft Skills: Interpersonal skills are a dying art and professional practice. Millenials have grown up in an environment where they were often more focused on their GPA than their etiquette, trying to get ahead harder than doing so nicely. The importance of soft skills like eye contact, positivity, collaboration and honest communication in the workforce may be something you as a manager need to teach or tweak about a millennial in the workplace. However the ROI of making those small changes and mentoring your junior level peers pays off in dividends.

Millennials are a tough population but invest in them and they will invest right back in your business. They work hard and have the “right stuff,” it just may need to be finessed and trusted. Grooming young employees is mutually beneficial to both the employees and the mid-level management who are doing the grooming.


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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Build Customer Loyalty with Employee Satisfaction

build customer loyalty

Merchants are constantly trying to figure out how to build customer loyalty. In an age of digital price comparison where Amazon and Walmart usually win the day, businesses are constantly trying to devise lasting strategies to ensure that they develop real customer loyalty and keep consumers coming back again and again.

Few merchants realize customer loyalty often begins with employee satisfaction. When employees are satisfied at work and have a good relationship with their managers, they create the best experience possible for consumers, which in turn keeps consumers coming back.

Here are three tips for maintaining employee satisfaction to build customer loyalty.

  • Emphasize Loyalty Among Staff: Loyalty is contagious. Fostering a culture of loyalty among your employees- everyone from your front line customer service reps to your office manager, can make a huge different in your customers’ brand interaction experience.
  • Provide Consistently Great Service: This tip goes two ways. Obviously, you want to provide great service to your consumers. However, providing great service ensures your employees feel like they are on a winning team. It’s hard to maintain employee satisfaction (and customer loyalty) when you feel like your on a losing team. Great service leads to great wins for your staff and consumers.
  • Reach Out: Social media changed the way we interact with consumers. Customer loyalty now takes on a 24/7 digital presence. Make sure you reach out to customers to resolve issues through whichever medium they contact you in. Reaching out also applies to employees. Ensure a 360 feedback loop to maintain and grow employee satisfaction.

How is your company using employee satisfaction techniques to build customer loyalty?  Employee satisfaction not only helps with building customer loyalty, happy employees stay honest, express gratitude, and generally love their job.

Want more information on the relationship between customer loyalty and employee satisfaction? Check out this article from USA Today.


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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Employee Recognition Programs Reflect Company Values

Employee Recognition Programs

Last year at this time employers were stressed out about employee engagement. Now the focus is on employee retention and turnover.

The solution for both?

Employee recognition programs that reflect and embody company values. Standard employee recognition programs aren’t effective if they don’t reflect the communicated organizational values.

A new study from the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, compared employee recognition programs that are closely aligned to an organization’s company values, with employee recognition programs that are not, or could seem more “random” in distribution. Here are some of the critical results you need to know to ensure your employee recognition program’s success.

In value-based employee recognition programs, organizations observed:

  • Increased employee happiness: 86% vs. 70%
  • Added a human element to work: 85% vs. 70%
  • Improved peer-to-peer professional relationships: 84% vs. 66%
  • Helped reinforce corporate values in its employees: 88% vs. 42%

When employees can be recognized for exhibited behaviors that exemplify organizational values they are apt to take the values more seriously. One other key point for value-based employee recognition programs: peer-to-peer recognition. 74% of surveyed companies implemented a policy of peer-to-peer recognition at any and all levels. This is key because it allows good behavior to be called out and rewarded across the organization. Whether the office manager or a senior executive is encompassing company values, an employee recognition program should be enabled.

What are the best practices for your employee recognition programs?  The Young Entrepreneurs Council, which consists of some of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, contributed to these 8 Best Practices for Your Employee Recognition Programs.  One of the valuable tips: Don’t Overthink it!

“We created a really awesome, but elaborate point system, only to discover that it was too much for people to keep track of and actually deterred them from doing their job. The system that’s used to track employees for recognition is far less important than just having something in place to recognize those who have done well. People love to be recognized in front of their peers.”

— ANDERSON SCHOENROCK of ScanDigital

Do you have a value-based reward program? If so, do you allow peers to recognize each other across seniority levels? Tell us more about your value-based employee recognition programs in the comments.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

3 Tips for Gamification in the Workplace

gamification-in-the-workplace

As HR departments struggle to figure out how to motivate employees, integrating gamification in the workplace remains a popular option. Fast Company article, What the Future of Gamification in the Workplace Looks Likediscusses the importance of realizing that simple, one-size-fits-all solutions will not work.

“…205% increase in employee related performance metrics.”

The investment to build gamification infrastructure is expensive, often reaching into the millions of dollars range, and according to a new Gartner study,  80% of enterprise level gamification applications will fail to meet KPI’s due to poor design. However, when done right, organizations who successfully implement gamification programs into their work environment observe a 205% increase in employee related performance metrics.

So how can you make sure you implement gamification in the workplace successfully? Here are three tips:

  1. User Generated Content Ratings: Make sure employees can rate each other’s content contributions to the gamification platforms. This allows the organization to allow the most meaningful content to rise to the top, and less relevant content to sink out of relevance.
  2. Points, Leaderboards and Rewards: Implementing a points system, with a leaderboard and rewards is critical to a gamification program’s success. Bringing out employees’ competitive streaks allow employees to push eachother to be better together. It also creates clear, measurable metrics for which employees get rewards, and which ones will have to work harder next time.
  3. Strategy: Have a vision, success metrics and strategy for your gamification program. Without a strategy you can’t ensure your (rather large) investment will succeed.

If you already have your gamification program in place but are looking to take it another level, check out Entrepreneur article, Why You Should Supercharge Your Workplace With Gamification.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Time for Employee Recognition

employee-recognition
According to Incentive Magazine, the number one reason employers and managers give for not practicing employee recognition is time. They don’t have time, they can’t find the right time, it’s not effective if you do it too much or too little. There are a million reasons. But the reality is, employee recognition shouldn’t take a lot of time, and with some planning and scheduling employee recognition can extend the time employees remain loyal to their organization.

1). Timely Employee Recognition- If an employee does something worth recognizing, make sure you execute on employee recognition in a timely manner. If you wait too long the recognition becomes stale and ineffective. Ensure ROI and trophy value for rewards by recognizing employees as soon as possible.

2). Doesn’t Need to Take A Lot of Time- There’s a misconception in the market that employee recognition is time consuming. However, if you have a regular recognition program, and rewards on site, recognition only needs to take a few minutes. Whether it’s public or private employee recognition, it doesn’t need to be a time suck.

3). Deliberate Frequency- Make employee recognition programmatic. That way employee expectations around recognition and rewards are set and can be met and/or exceeded. From a time perspective, deliberate recognition builds recognition into your calendar, rather than being disruptive.

Making time for employee recognition will ensure ROI into any program that is approved and endorsed by management.

 


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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Employee Rewards They Really Want

employee-rewards

Ever wondered what employee rewards your staff really want? While you know they may appreciate the sentiment of the reward, and even find the rewards fun, have you ever wondered, if they could pick anything, what the general employee response would be? In a recent study done by The Voucher Shop these hard-to-come-by desires are revealed. Even though these are results from across the pond, there’s a lot to be gleaned applicable for American employees and households as well.

Here are the top categories employees want to see in rewards from their employers:

  • Food and grocery shopping vouchers (47.8%)
  • Department store vouchers (14.9%)
  • Holiday vouchers (12.4%)
  • Leisure or family day out vouchers (9.2%)
  • Eating out (8.7%)
  • Clothing vouchers (5.8%)
  • Do-it-yourself or home improvement voucher (0.8%)

These results reveal a lot about what employees want and need. Rewards should provide trophy value for employees and allow them to afford things they won’t necessarily deem a necessity. The fact that things like groceries, department stores and holiday rewards top this list shows the continued financial strain on working families.

On one hand, it’s great that added rewards can help fill gaps in employees’ financial needs but on the other hand, employers need to aim to balance giving rewards with the trophy value they aim to provide. In either case, this study sheds light on what employees really want in rewards and will help guide employers to providing rewards that will have the maximum impact on their workforce.


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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Why Employers Often Fail at Employee Recognition

employee recognitionA recent survey by OfficeTeam revealed that 89% of employers think they are doing a good job with employee recognition for outstanding efforts at work. That would be great, except only 70% of employees tend to agree with that statement. The divide between employee and employer opinions is significant. If employees don’t have confidence or agree that their employers are doing well recognizing their efforts, then employers get no return on what is often a significant investment.

There are many reasons why employers can fail at delivering employee recognition. Sometimes it’s a lack of effort, communication or application of a program. Here are three reasons we find most common- and how to overcome them.

  1. No Purpose: If your employee recognition program is too ad-hoc it can seem like there is no clear purpose or direction. Before handing out rewards or recognizing employees publicly, the leader/administrator of the program should be able to set out specific purposes and goals of the program. This will provide guidance and direction to keep the program focused and clearly laid out for employees.
  2. No Feedback: Every employee recognition program starts with “employee.” Don’t lose sight of that. Solicit feedback from employees on where, when, how and why they want to be recognized. Keep it meaningful not just for your management team but for the people you aim to acknowledge.
  3. No Learning: Great employers help their employees grow. Employee recognition should be about learning. Employees should be recognized for both learning and personal growth, just as much as working hard to further company goals.

A lot of factors can come into play when an employee recognition program isn’t successful. But the important thing is how companies and employers understand and meet those challenges in order to overcome them. Here are more examples and solutions in Incentive Magazine’s article, Top 10 Reasons Why Companies Fail at Employer Recognition.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.