The Latest Incentive Industry Resources & News

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Psychology of Employee Engagement

What Role Does Recognition Play?

Employee Engagement Psychology

All company leaders want their employees to be engaged, but “engagement” means different things to different people. To some, that means throwing together ad hoc tactics that offer a gift card when they catch employees doing something right. To others, it means an annual team-building event or group dinner. What are the real factors that contribute to employee engagement? What is the psychology behind employee engagement?

Google “employee engagement” and you’ll get a Wikipedia definition along with many reference websites and companies that train executives in employee engagement programs, companies that help design employee engagement programs or that sell employee engagement surveys and engagement software and measurement tools. The one thing we know for sure: no two agencies agree on the degree to which U.S. employees are engaged (or not).

Regardless of the way in which you define engagement or the metric you use to measure it, it all comes down to people, relationships and meaningful interactions between your company leadership, your employees and your customers.

Why is recognition important?

As far back as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we know that recognition is meaningful to human beings. Since the original Hierarchy was introduced in 1943, amended versions have been offered as a way of adapting those needs to current ideology. The following pyramid adapts Maslow’s employee motivation theory specifically to employee engagement:

We see that employees remain disengaged until they feel that they play a part in the success of the overall organization (Belonging) and are recognized and rewarded for their contributions (Importance).

Because humans are social beings – and even though most communication is through their smart phone, Millennials are especially social – peer-to-peer recognition is increasingly meaningful. Of course it’s important to know that management recognizes your achievements and contributions for career progression; it’s also important that peers recognize and appreciate how your efforts contribute to their success.

The Role of Incentives, Rewards and Recognition in Employee Engagement

An effectively-designed incentive program or employee recognition initiative accomplishes more than simply improving employee morale. The benefits of performance improvement programs also include:

  • Helping to communicate company initiatives and goals
  • Letting employees know the behavior that is expected and rewarded
  • Ensuring that everyone is working toward the same outcomes
  • Establishing and reinforcing corporate culture
  • Lower turnover
  • Increased employee engagement

The link between structured employee recognition programs in performance engagement and the financial performance of a company is well documented. A happier workforce is more likely to be more highly engaged, stays with the company longer and will refer additional talent. It’s no coincidence that “feeling valued” appears on just about every list of things that are important to employees.

Managers as well as employees want to see the bigger picture and understand their role in the success of the organization. Organizations that provide on-going feedback are more transparent and have a more positive work environment where employees feel included and supported.

Meeting the Psychological Needs of Employees

According to a 2017 TinyPulse Survey, positive change starts with awareness and action. Creating a culture of recognition is just one strategy for employee engagement. These steps will meet the emotional and psychological needs of your workforce, while ensuring that company goals and objectives are also met:

  • Consistently measure how your employees feel about the work culture
  • Establish more team-building activities throughout the organization to build bridges between peers across all departments
  • Recognize employees for their efforts or go a step further and implement a peer-to-peer recognition program so no good deed goes unnoticed
  • Sit down with employees and work with them to map out career paths
  • Invest in both internal and external development opportunities to ensure professional growth
  • Hold regular 1:1 meetings with employees to provide valuable and timely feedback on their performance

For more information on effective employee recognition strategies, download our Employee Recognition Program Bible.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Employee Engagement Advice

5 Signs Your Employee Recognition Program is Getting Tired

5 Signs Your Employee Recognition Program is Getting Tired

Human Resource professionals continue to seek the Holy Grail that is employee engagement and company culture. Both are challenging to define and measure. Because human beings are involved, the target is constantly moving. Employee recognition contributes to increased engagement. If your employee reward and recognition program is not aligned with your employee engagement strategy, it might be time for a tune-up.

Here are 5 signs that your employee engagement program is getting tired:

1. It’s all about the “prize”.

Today’s employees are not motivated by pins, plaques and certificates that might be seen by their co-workers. In many cases, they’re not even working together in an office environment. An effective Employee Reward Program intentionally accommodates the work environment. The program process and experience should be as motivating for the employee as the reward.

2. The program is in print and/or online but is not mobile.

Consider these statistics: 80% of internet users have a smart phone and 34% of smart phone users ONLY read their email on their mobile device. Apps constitute 89% of mobile media time (with the other 11% on websites). If you do not have a mobile app for your Employee Reward Program or it is at least mobile responsive, it’s time for an update.

3. Management is recognizing-by-rote.

The Manager is not connecting the dots between the accomplishment and the recognition. It feels to employees as though management is rotating through the roster to recognize the next employee in line. For an Employee Motivation Program to be effective, the employee (and the manager!) must understand why they are being recognized and rewarded.

4. Your Employee Recognition Program stands alone in your department or division.

Employee recognition, reward and engagement programs all help to build and reinforce a positive employee culture. Integrating the program across the organization ensures consistency and allows you to communicate and reinforce company values.

5. You’re not rewarding employees immediately enough.

Gone are the days of rewarding employees for hanging around for 5 years. Today’s employers need staff performing at their highest levels. A professionally-designed Employee Recognition Program will clearly outline expectations and immediately reward employees for reaching objectives. Employee reward and recognition programs play a critical role in employee engagement strategies. Once you decide which behaviors contribute to improved performance, reward and recognition programs are the levers that help you achieve those changes.

Working with an experienced partner to help design a program that optimizes the current technology as well as the latest motivational theory will ensure that your Employee Recognition Program will provide the highest return on your investment.


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