3 Ways to Transform Employee Performance

Multi-Ethnic Group of People in a Meeting Looking Up

Employee performance should be a main focus for any management and HR team. If your employees succeed it is great for morale, continuity and productivity. High employee performance will yield higher profits for your business and greater success all around. Low performers not only drag themselves down but can really drag their whole team down with them.

Here are three ways to transform low performing employees to boost employee performance in your organization.

  1. Identify low performers: Know your staff. Identifying low performers shouldn’t be a humiliation ritual, it simply allows HR teams and management to understand who to focus their transformative efforts on. Some employees may need more coaching or a more structured path to success. Know who they are so you can single them out for help before it’s too late.
  2. Create Clear Expectations: Identify exactly what an employee’s weak spots are and what they (and you) can do to turn their performance around. If you are not specific in your requests employees are likely to get stressed about their sub-par performance rather than focus on how they can turn it around and do better.
  3. Adjust Your Incentive Program: Instead of creating an incentive and bonus structure where employees are rewarded no matter what, or are rewarded based on whole company goals, think about creating an incentive program designed around individual performance. Performance-linked bonuses are a great way to boost employee productivity, especially in relation to specific and clear deliverable expectations. Offering professional development opportunities and management recognition are also great ways to incent employees around specific individual performance while giving them an opportunity to improve.

Looking for more ideas? has you covered.

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 Kill Employee Motivation & How to Avoid Them

Employee Motivation

Employee motivation is the lifeblood of an organization- and particularly important this time of year while parts of the country are facing brutal temperatures, buried under several feet of snow or getting drenched with rain. So how do you keep employee motivation from freezing up with the rest of the country?

Here are three things that can kill employee motivation, and some important strategies to help overcome those pitfalls.

  1. Toxic People: Not everyone is going to be happy in every employment situation. If employees are constantly unhappy and projecting those negative vibes to fellow co-workers, your best options may be to let them go. Unhappy employees can “poison the well” for other impressionable employees and create an atmosphere of hostility that can impede your team’s level of engagement and productivity.
  2. Lack of Appreciation: When employees don’t feel appreciated they lose the fire in the belly that drives them forward to be the most productive and successful employees they can be. Using spot rewards like gift cards to encourage great behavior can be a budget-friendly appreciation tool.
  3. No Communication: Lack of communication between management and tactical employees can drag any workforce down. Ensure that your executive team clearly communications goals, objectives and priorities to the whole staff on a regular basis.


To learn about more pitfalls to employee motivation and how to combat them, head over to


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 Learning and Constructive Criticism

No one likes hearing they are wrong or that they have made a mistake. It can cause you to lose confidence or want to give up. This is the last feeling employers should want to instill in their employees but at the same time it’s their job to provide feedback, yes and on some occasions constructive criticism. So let’s focus on the key word here, constructive. Without clearly identifying what you are looking for and more importantly why you are looking for it, this term can quickly be lost and leave employees feeling bad about something they put time and energy into. While it may be difficult to navigate, here are some helpful recommendations.

  1. Give feedback at the moment something is happening: Engage employees in feedback on an ad-hoc basis. Don’t wait until review cycles to give feedback, positive or negative. If employees need to be corrected or commended, do it in a timely manner.
  2. Get employees back on the “bike”: Encourage employees to try new skills or make adjustments immediately. The way feedback should be ad-hoc, employee adjustments should be as well. This mitigates the risk of employees losing confidence due to negative feedback.
  3. Reinforce positive change and behavior: Reinforce positive change! Make sure employees feel recognized for their good work. Gift cards are one great way to accomplish some small monetary recognition.

For more information on improving employee learning check out this helpful article from Retail Customer Experience.

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.

CVS/pharmacy Sweetens Valentine’s Day

CVS/pharmacyLove is in the air, or it will be tomorrow. As we prepare for a holiday full of chocolates and roses, CVS/pharmacy has both classic and non-traditional gift options available. With everything from perfumes, photo cards, razors and male grooming equipment on sale, to bonuses for ExtraCare rewards members on certain purchases and purchasing thresholds, it’s easier than ever to make your special one feel special this Valentine’s Day.

While some may view the holiday as hokey and only meant for the love birds, Valentine’s Day can be used as a unique opportunity to show gratitude and appreciation for the employees in your office. Your support staff, your junior level employees, the people in the mail room (heck, even the person who delivers the mail!) are great people to thank on Valentine’s Day.

Simple “Thank You’s,” especially during these dark, cold winter months, can be a great morale boost. Thank you gifts don’t need to be big either. A $10 gift card to retailers like CVS/pharmacy can be a great way to say thanks without breaking the bank, especially with the variety of merchandise on sale. For healthier options that can support new year’s resolutions and employee’s healthy lifestyle the CVS Select® Gift Card can help with the temptation by limiting the merchandise the card can be redeemed for (so skip the chocolate when using this gift card!).

So who do you want or need to thank this Valentines Day? Think beyond the cupid interpretation and show “love” as gratitude to the people who make your business great!

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.

Inspire Teamwork & Engagement With These Video Clips


Kid President's 20 Things We Should Say More Often

Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often

Inspire Teamwork With Words Of Affirmation

Words of affirmation can be the most genuine incentive in the workplace. Play this short video clip in your next staff meeting or send it to a few coworkers.

In this video: Kid President highlights 20 things we should say more often. Some examples: “please,” “thank you,” “you can do it,” “I have barbeque sauce on my shirt too,” “my team is sometimes not the best team,” and “life is tough, but so are you.”



Pay It Forward Workplace Inspiration - Gift Card Partners

Are you ready to do the world a favor?

Pay It Forward In The Workplace 

A single genuine deed can infest your team with positivity. This clip will spark serious contemplation and desire to ‘pay it forward’ amongst your colleagues. It will open up thoughts like: What does my team expect from one another? What can I do for my company that is not something they can do by themselves? How can I pay it forward to my coworkers? or How can they pay it forward to one another?

To get started: Here is advice from Trevor McKinney played by Haley Joel Osment “Its hard, you can’t plan it. You have to watch people more – to sort of keep an eye on them – to protect them. They don’t always know what they need.”



Yeild Enormous Victory in the Workplace - Gift Card Partners

Remember the Titans – Inspiration

Harness Anger and Frustration to Yield Enormous Victory

Sometimes employee incentives come in a raw form. This clip from the movie Remember the Titans will slap you with a reminder to redirect negative energy when your team is down. It will motivate you to remind your coworkers of their power and show them that uncompromised dedication and can yield enormous victory.

In the beginning of this clip, Coach Herman Boone played by Denzel Washington compares his team to a 2 year old child when they ‘throw a fit’ on the field. “[Work] is about controlling that anger,” he says, “harnessing that aggression into a team effort – to achieve perfection. When you put that uniform on…you better come to work”



Teamwork Solves Tough Challenges - Gift Card Partners

Minions Change Light Bulb – Dispicable Me

Teamwork Solves Tough Challenges

These adorable little minions will add a bit of sunshine and happiness to your day. This short clip will remind everyone at your company that teamwork is COOL – and anyone who thinks otherwise (or makes fun) will be made a fool and turned into a big shiny light bulb. That’s some serious incentive right there; no one in his or her right mind would enjoy being put on display as a big shiny light bulb, right?

Employee Engagement Ideas to Implement Now

Do you need employee engagement ideas to start the New Year off right? 

Is your current employee engagement strategy working, or could it use a little tweaking?

Low employee engagement is not just a U.S. problem. According to Gallup’s 2014 study, only 13 % of employees worldwide are engaged at work. While the U.S. does have the highest employee engagement rating, the numbers are still troubling when looking at those who are disengaged. At the regional level, Northern America (the U.S. and Canada), has an employee engagement level of 29% but 54% of employees are considered Not Engaged, and 18% considered Actively Disengaged. Higher employee engagement increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and can decrease health care costs.  According to a 2013 report released by Gallup on the state of the American workplace, businesses are losing $450-$550 billion annually due to active disengagement.  Implementing some or all of the employee engagement ideas can help increase profits for your organization, all while having a happy, engaged workforce.

Here are a few employee engagement ideas:

  1. Encourage Employees to Speak Up!  –  Keeping an “open-door” policy is essential.  When people don’t feel as if they can speak up, they could be holding back valuable ideas and solutions that can help your organization grow.  When you have an open, safe space for employees to speak up, it’s more likely that your employees will bring great ideas to the table.
  2. Help Employees Get to Know Each Other Better – The bigger a company gets, the more of a chance there will be a disconnect and employees will go through their days without knowing their coworkers.  It’s important for employees to get to know each other in order to build camaraderie and have a better, and more comfortable, work environment.  A great way to create this kind of work atmosphere is by playing office games, or plan a happy hour at the end of the workweek (which is also a good way for employees to unwind in general).  Always allow the staff to interact both inside and outside of work in a worry-free and non-judgmental way.
  3. Be a Mentor – As a manager you can improve employee engagement by being a mentor for employees facing issues.  Offer your help even if it means you have to drop what you are doing for a while.  Helping someone that is struggling with his or her job or personally can go a long way.
  4. Reward Employees for a Job Well Done –  Pay close attention to the progress your employees are making; let them know why you are choosing to reward them.  But don’t reward any and all employees for no reason as this can actually hurt employee performance and they will grow to just expect rewards.
  5. Collaborate and Work Together – Collaboration can help improve ideas, cut down on time wasted and can improve employee engagement.  There are different types of social business software on the market that employees can work off of – this can be used as a tool for employees to branch out and work closely with their colleagues.

Click here for 44 more great employee engagement ideas from Axero Solutions!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

How To Boost Corporate Innovation


G R O W  Y O U RB U S I N E S S  W I T (1)

Surprisingly, we’ve found that fixed pay (salary) and individual performance pay have little affect on innovation, while variable group pay and indirect pay (employee benefits) have a much stronger impact.

In the most recent Human Resource Management Journal, the effects of innovation in the workplace is tested from 7 years of compiled data. The study reveals the declining effects of traditional incentives, such as a raise in salary, and shows the increasing importance of a complex employee motivation strategy to boost corporate innovation. “You can pay employees to innovate if you do it properly. But be aware that individual incentives really are not going to help,” says Bruce Curran, a co-author of the research, and a doctoral student at the University of Toronto.

With the rise of globalization, diversity in the workplace, and the e-business boom, jobs today require a substantial innovation component. Managers are faced with a new set of problems that challenge them to be more flexible and creative when nurturing employee innovation and ideas. A dynamic innovative culture employs freedom, humor, playfulness, trust and time to share ideas in the workplace. (click to tweet) 

The Human Resource Management Journal shows that group or team bonuses, profit-sharing plans and indirect pay, such as robust employee benefits, relates directly to higher creativity and better problem-solving at work. Rewarding teams may allow workers to take more short-term risks because their own pay isn’t necessarily on the line. “If you go down a blind alley, you aren’t going to be punished for that,” says Curran.

In other words, the results of this study suggest that encouraging and motivating employee innovation is possible, provided that you select the right compensation incentives.


Employee Engagement is About Staying Human

downloadEmployee engagement can be complicated, or it can be simple. A lot of organizations get caught up in metrics and ROI figures when ensuring their employees are engaged at work. However, it can be as simple as staying human.

Employees tend to disengage most when their companies get too corporate and lose their human side. Employees, above all else want to be treated like individuals, with respect and dignity, no matter what. Keeping companies human ensures that processes in place will deliver those basic principles to employees.

Engagement and specifically employee engagement is about not only being human but bringing humans together. Recognizing groups that work well as a team and recognizing individual strengths and weaknesses grow teams and bring people together, causing higher engagement levels.

Bringing people together is not only and engagement skill but a leadership skill. If you can bring your workforce together, you have the attention and respect of your staff and should reflect that back on them. Giving out spot rewards for exhibiting desired behavior or even exemplifying the team dynamic can be a great way to reinforce employee engagement and bringing a workforce together.

For more information on bringing teams together and employee engagement check out this article from 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.

5 Steps to a Successful Employee Wellness Program

An employee wellness program is a great way to boost employee health and increase the organization’s bottom line. Here are five key steps to make sure your employee wellness program is as successful as it can be through the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

  1. Develop a Plan: Write a strategic plan with specific tactics and goals. This will help your employees understand the program and it will keep your whole team on track to achieve specific goals.
  2. Get Executive Buy-In: Getting executives on board and participating in your program will create a culture of leadership by example. If executives and managers get involved, their teams will be more motivated to do the same.
  3.  Establish Wellness Champions: Think of wellness champions like team captains. They can be any level of seniority but they should be involved in planning activities that are incorporated in the wellness program. It can give junior employees leadership roles and a chance to lead their colleagues while building camaraderie across teams.
  4. Gather Data: Get feedback and take biometric renderings. This will show if the workforce is engaged in the wellness program, so you can then find out what adjustments need to be made to maximize success and to make sure your staff is actually getting healthier.
  5. Evaluate: Ongoing measurement and evaluation will be critical to making adjustments and improvements in your program. Remember that evaluation should be ongoing, not a one time event.

For more information on how to maximize the impact and success of your employee wellness program, check out this article from

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 Motivation with a Chainsaw

Since it’s halloween let’s talk about motivating employees with a chainsaw. Sounds terrifying and unprofessional. Sounds like it might be the plot of a horror movie, or that we are playing tricks on our readers. It’s actually neither. At digital marketing agency Sq1 the Red Chainsaw Award is given to the employee who not only goes “above and beyond” but who does it by cutting through the BS to do it.

So there you have it: employee motivation with a chainsaw. Blood and guts free. So here’s why you should think about coming up with your own version of a chainsaw award.

Recognition Is Important: Everyone wants it, and employees do weird things to get attention when they don’t get it. Actively giving recognition drives everyone to strive for it and motivates the people who get it to keep working harder to be recognized further.

Recognizing the Individual Members of the Team: Everyone at any company is working toward organization goals. However, it’s important to recognize the individuals who make the team whole. Sometimes teams achieve things, but don’t be afraid to recognize individual rock stars who deserve it.

Rewards are important too: Recognition is great. Whether public or private being told you’re doing a good job is great. But don’t forget to provide some kind of material reward, which gives a tangible component to positive reinforcement. Whether is a gift card to a popular retailer like Boston Market, The Limited or Crutchfield, or an afternoon off to start a weekend early, make sure you show your employees tangible appreciation.

For more information about employee motivation, with or without a chainsaw check out this article from The Next Web.


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.