Is Your Employee Recognition Strategy On Point?

Sponsored by Kudos

The idea of employee recognition seems as natural as breathing. Who wouldn’t want to recognize a job well done? But the truth is, effective workforce recognition doesn’t just naturally happen. That’s why it pays to invest in a thoughtful recognition strategy.

Why a Strong Recognition Strategy Matters

If you follow leading workplace management trends, you know the case for recognition is compelling. For example, according to recent Gallup research:

  • Employees who say recognition is important to their organization are nearly 4x more likely to feel strongly connected with their culture.
  • When employees receive great recognition, they’re 20x more likely to be engaged than those who aren’t effectively recognized.
  • Among employees with successful recognition programs, 72% say their performance is acknowledged, even on “little things.”

Clearly, employers can’t afford to leave employee recognition and engagement to chance — especially in today’s complex hybrid work environment. But what exactly does an effective recognition strategy look like? Join me as I dig deeper with an industry expert on this episode of #WorkTrends…

Meet Our Guest: Karim Punja

Karim Punja is the COO at Kudos. As a CFA charterholder with over 15 years of experience at multiple global tech companies, Karim has found his sweet spot at Kudos. That’s because it’s a dynamic HR tech venture where data-based decisions are made at the speed of change, and everyone at Kudos is focused on improving the world of work.

With his business acumen and first-hand understanding of tools that enhance the modern employee experience, Karim is an ideal source for advice on how to develop a successful employee recognition strategy.

To learn more, check these highlights from our discussion…

Building a Recognition Budget

Welcome, Karim. Let’s begin with funding. Recognition programs should be planned, funded, and measured, just like any other business initiative. But how do we build a budget for this?

Well, a typical benchmark for a platform-supported program is 1-3% of payroll or of an employee’s salary.

But this is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach. You also need to consider your organization’s culture and recognition strategy.

What’s the split between hourly and salaried workers? Are your teams mostly remote workers or deskless workers? Plus, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll want to use a recognition platform to supplement income through rewards.

In addition, you may already be doing things you can consolidate into a recognition and engagement platform. For example, do you offer spot bonuses? And how do you manage birthdays and milestones?

Why Management Involvement is Key

What other elements should a recognition strategy include?

One of the most critical keys to success is getting managers on board early as stakeholders who take ownership of system adoption and usage.

We know this from analyzing our own clients. When managers are highly engaged with our system, monthly participation among non-managers is 3x higher than groups where manager engagement is low.

How a Recognition Strategy Creates Value

How should HR professionals communicate the value of employee recognition to senior leaders and others?

Measurement is an important attribute, because it speaks to the core philosophy that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

With an employee recognition system, you can get measurable insights into employee wellbeing. And when you overlay that with engagement surveys, you can compare the data and see the impact of your culture over time.

I like to talk about the value of employee engagement metrics as a leading indicator of organizational health. Whereas surveys are more of a lagging indicator, because they provide a snapshot of sentiments that have led up to a particular point in time.

So, because a recognition and engagement platform provides real-time metrics and trends, it gives you a leading indicator of sentiment. This means you can use those actionable insights proactively, rather than reactively…


Learn More About How to Develop a Successful Recognition Strategy

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5 Ways to Improve Employee Experience With HR Tech

Sponsored by: Neocase

Did you know more than 160 million people are employed in the U.S.? Unfortunately, however, rising turnover is eroding workforce retention. In fact, 48% of hiring managers say turnover is higher this year – up from 44% in 2021. And the cost of replacing those people isn’t cheap. No wonder employers want to build a positive work culture that attracts and retains top talent. That’s why many are turning to HR technology to improve employee experience.

But here’s the catch: In recent years, the HR tech landscape has been bursting at the seams. This means choosing the best solution for your organization’s needs can be overwhelming. To overcome this obstacle, think first about how you want to improve employee experience, and work from those objectives to define your selection criteria.

HR Technology 101

To provide some context, let’s start with a brief overview of core HR systems. In most HR technology stacks you’ll find at least one of these systems as a foundation for all other people platforms, tools and applications:

1. HRIS Human Resource Information Systems

HRIS was developed to help organizations track and store employee data and records for essential administrative needs. As the HR function grew more complex, HRIS platforms added modules to support talent acquisition processes and recruitment operations, as well as employee information management and maintenance. 

2. HRMS – Human Resource Management Systems

Over time, HR became more deeply integrated with other functions, so HR tracking software had to meet these expanded business requirements. Now, HRMS/HRIS systems are used interchangeably to support operations such as payroll, time tracking and compliance management. 

3. HCM – Human Capital Management Systems

HCM supports a more expansive set of HR operations, including employee performance analysis, compensation planning and projection, workforce development and more.HCM covers all HR functions with a comprehensive solution that can be customized to support the entire employee lifecycle.

Why Employee Experience Matters

A strong employee experience is essential to attract top talent and keep people engaged with your work culture. As Gartner says, “Employee experience is the way employees internalize and interpret the interactions they have with their organization, as well as the context that underlies those interactions.”

But as many organizations have discovered, an exceptional employee experience isn’t easy to develop and maintain. In fact, according to Gartner, “Only 13% of employees are fully satisfied with their experience.

What’s at stake? A negative employee experience leads to low morale, poor work performance, and other issues that directly affect organizational culture and business results. On the other hand, a positive employee experience helps lift morale, productivity, efficiency, and work quality.

How HR Tech Can Improve Employee Experience

Clearly, creating the best employee experience possible leads to significant business benefits. So, to achieve the highest potential impact, consider these five priorities:

1. Automate Tasks and Streamline Workflows

Is anything worse than monotony? It is just as painful for your HR team as it is for others in your organization. Many manual HR tasks are excellent candidates for automation. Focus first on business processes that will free your HR team from tedious, time-consuming, redundant paperwork, and email communications.

Start by developing an employee journey map to better understand your current processes. Then look for bottlenecks, gaps, and disconnects. These issues are opportunities to streamline processes or speed response times.

Organizations often begin by mapping onboarding or offboarding processes. This ensures that an employee’s first and last impressions will align with company values and the employer brand.

2. Gather Employee Feedback

A silent employee can be a dangerous or at-risk employee – even if they don’t realize it. Many workers hesitate to speak up for a variety of reasons. Some fear punishment if they express negative opinions, while others think their input won’t be heard or appreciated.

If an employee doesn’t have a chance to share feedback or ideas, they could feel undervalued and unimportant. You can remedy this with HR technology specifically intended to improve communication.

Consider feedback tools that encourage employees to make their voices heard. Monthly surveys, quarterly outreach messages, and other kinds of digital communication can help build stronger connections and spark more useful conversations.

But that’s just the beginning. Once you receive input, you need to respond or implement changes. Otherwise, people could become more frustrated if you solicit input but don’t seem willing to act upon it.

3. Provide Self-Service Portals

One of the best ways HR technology improves employee experience is through self-service applications. Many platforms can help organizations build and deploy custom tools that help employees serve themselves at their convenience.

One of the best-known examples is a benefits portal. Many employers offer secure web-based destinations with all the information and tools people need to research, select and manage their particular benefits. This frees employees from having to manage the constant back-and-forth of emails or phone calls just to get basic benefits information or answer common questions.

This kind of solution increases efficiency, while giving employees more control. At the same time, portal analytics can help your HR team understand employee preferences and identify content and functionality that can better them.

4. Offer Anywhere, Anytime Access

Unfortunately, many employees feel totally disconnected from HR. Some need guidance and oversight, but HR teams and managers are stretched too thin to engage.

Integrated real-time HR communication tools can help you and your management team focus less on paperwork and more on people. Think of it as the digital equivalent of an office with an open door!

The benefits of integrated communications extend to employees, as well. This leads to a more closely-knit workplace culture that operates more efficiently and is better aligned with business priorities.

5. Design Intuitive Workflows

Demand for better, faster response started with customer service. But it has quickly spread to internal organizational functions, as well.

When we ask HR a question, we want the answer now. We also want to find answers ourselves, ideally with no more than one or two taps on a smartphone.

This aspect of HR technology requires decision-makers to put themselves in an employee’s shoes for a reality check. How easy is it to perform a task you want to accomplish? For example, if you’re a full-time manager using a self-service benefits portal, how intuitive is the path to information you need at the moment you need it? How much information do you have to dig through to find a useful answer?

This aspect of HR technology is central to the employee experience. Why? Because, if employees struggle to use a digital tool, they will also struggle to adopt that tool and succeed with it.

Final Thoughts

HR technology can play an important role when you want to improve employee experience. Whether you’re implementing a self-service portal to support job applicants, deploying an employee feedback tool or expanding business process automation to improve HR response times, your efforts can positively influence talent acquisition and retention. These 5 priorities can help your team focus on solutions that will make a strong impact.

#SHRM15: The Marcus Buckingham Interview

We sat around a plain round table in a non-descript room marked N215 in the Las Vegas Convention Center during the second day of the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition. We sat next to each other while three other team members listened in and caught up on work. About 20 minutes in, he used the word “doolally.”

“No one goes, ‘Oh that’s a crazy piece of HR doolally.’ Everyone goes, ‘Yeah, that.’ That’s real world.”

“What’s a doolally?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” he said. He smiled and shrugged.

“I like that. There you go.”

“Rubbish, I guess,” he added.

“That’s all right,” I said.

And it was all right. More than all right in fact, since I again was a SHRM blogger and had the opportunity to conduct an insightful and personable interview with the likes of Marcus Buckingham, Founder & Chairman of The Marcus Buckingham Company, renowned speaker and author of the business classic First, Break All the Rules and 20-year veteran of Gallup. Marcus was one of the inspiring keynotes at this year’s SHRM Conference.

His latest book, StandOut, reveals a new strengths assessment and productivity platform based on new research methodology – the StandOut Global Engagement Index – that shows how team leaders should perform to get the best from each member of their team, and the differences and similarities around the globe.

According to the TMBC press release, the Index leverages eight predictor statements from TMBC’s Engagement Pulse. The eight statement survey, which TMBC is making available for all teams globally to take at no cost, are the result of decades of research with a focus on reducing both measurement and psychometric error.

Based on responses of employees across the 13 countries included in the Index, the U.S. and China reported the highest percentage of “fully engaged” employees (19% each), while Argentina and Spain show the lowest occurrence of such employees (13% each). “Fully engaged” employees constitute those who strongly agree with the eight engagement-related statements posed in the Index.

Backing up from the HR doolally, we talked about workplace trends that are very important to both of us – employee engagement and empowering team leaders one individual contributor and data point at a time. Diverging from my standard article “storytelling,” I thought I’d share a few excerpts from my interview with Marcus. It’s the next best thing to being there (or being on the TalentCulture #TChat Show live at #SHRM15 of course).

KWG: What do global organizations today and what do they get right and wrong when it comes to employee engagement? It’s a big question, but are there any differences with smaller, localized organizations? Are there universals or is it all of the above?

MB: My first response would be, there are more interesting differences within countries than between countries – more variation within countries than between countries. When somebody says, the Google way, I’ll just use Google as an obvious example. Google’s culture is so different from Chic-fil-A’s. That’s such a bogus thing to say, because there’s so much range within Google. The range within Google is really interesting.

KWG: Dynamic too and continuously changing. Especially within those organizations.

MB: Yes, the thing that geeks me out too is that, although the strengths questions are the foundation [the new assessment and data platform from TMBC], I’m fascinated by the fact that the next brick or two on the engagement wall in countries are so different. Right now in France, they’ve been burning tires and cars of Uber drivers because the taxi drivers are up in arms that these Uber drivers are taking their business away from them. They’re blocking all the airports and they’re blocking all the train stations. The police are standing around and going, “Yeah, we’re not going to anything, because you know what? We sympathize with the taxi drivers.” You look at which question is the second most powerful drive for engagement in France. It’s the question, “My teammates have my back.” Engagement in France is defensive, instinctive, and you got my back.

Now you go to America, and it has the same pattern as China, which is interesting and different than in France. The second most powerful brick on engagement is not that my teammates got my back. In the U.S. and China it’s about “strength and service of mission, purpose, grand visions, and believing in a better future,” even though when you look at China and the U.S., they’re different in a million ways.

You begin to see patterns that are different country by country that are reflective, perhaps of the socio-political environment and economic environment that the countries find themselves in. These kinds of differences are interesting and quite curious.

KWG: They are. They have to be addressed locally as well.

MB: Completely. If you’re an American expat, coming in to run a company or a team, in a city in Scotland, then please don’t come in and go on about our mission statement. Whereas if you can talk to them about, “Look, our definition of quality is this and we are all into this definition of quality in this factory.” Now suddenly, now you have got everyone’s attention. I’m generalizing, but the patterns are there in the data, and the important distinctions in what drives engagement, country by country.

KWG: Now, what I’m going to say next is completely anecdotally, not based on any hard data at all that I’m familiar with, but I’ve always believed that the loyalty of the work that we love to do first, the type of work that we love to do. Then we’re loyal to those that we do it within and around and for, and then potentially the mothership as I call it.

MB: No, the data is actually clarifying on your point. People join the mothership and then they leave the work. They say, “Oh, I’m going to join Google. Oh, I’m going to join Goldman Sachs. I’m going to join Procter and Gamble.”

But how long you are going to stay and how productive you are while you’re there depends massively on what you end up within the job, the actual work that you’re doing actually fits the best of who you are. So much of that is mediated to the team leader. That’s why you leave the team leader. Because we think, “This guy doesn’t get this.” The way I can know that the leader doesn’t get it or me is because he or she has got me doing a ton of work that doesn’t fit.

You’re exactly right. I don’t think we talk about that nearly enough. That’s why we don’t have those frequent cadence check-ins, because that’s where it all happens. It’s hard to do, but that’s the right hard thing to solve.

KWG: Absolutely. Along those lines, change is very difficult. Especially for established organizations, business in general, people, for that matter. Change is a painful process for us. It can be a painfully pleasurable process, but either way, change management initiatives in organizations take a lot of influencers and stakeholders and executive ownership and letting the fire from the inside out.

What are you seeing? Especially with some of the organizations that you’re working with today that you referenced earlier, what’s the tipping point for them? What are the first steps that they take to get to that team leader mentality?

MB: How it’s begun is, on one level it’s the crushing glimpse of the obvious. When you walk in and you show them that one slide, the one that shows the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom. Every company has that slide. They’ve got range. When you walk in and you say it’s the team leader that makes the difference. No one goes, “Oh that’s a crazy piece of HR doolally.” Everyone goes, “Yeah, that.” That’s real world.

“No one goes, ‘Oh that’s a crazy piece of HR doolally.’ Everyone goes, ‘Yeah, that.’ That’s real world.”

“What’s a doolally?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” he said. He smiled and shrugged.

“I like that. There you go.”

“Rubbish, I guess,” he added.

“That’s all right,” I said.

We went on to discuss how HR processes and systems today aren’t designed to serve the team leader, that the internal people data is rubbish, completely removed from the real people doing the real work, and that our rating systems and engagement systems are like HR Kabuki, seemingly elaborate theater that’s over-dramatic and stylized. It was clear to me that the StandOut Global Engagement Index could be the answer.

After we wrapped the interview, I had asked him if he had kids, and when he said yes, he was kind enough to indulge me in taking a picture with Otter, the latest stuffed animal my girls picked out for me to take on my trip to SHRM, something they do for me every time I go on a business trip.

And there’s certainly no crazy piece of HR doolally in that.

Otter and Marcus