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6 Tips for Creating Amazing Employee Recognition Programs

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, August 19, 2015


By Leen Sawalha, HR Consultant - AtmanCo


As HR professionals, we constantly talk about how to make our employees more productive, effective, efficient, and loyal. How do we increase our retention rate? How do we hire the best candidates? How can we better manage our employees?


It’s always me, me, ME! We tend to be a little selfish as organizations, only caring about ourselves. But what about those who make us so great? What about our greatest asset? What about our employees?


Your employees are the heart and soul of your organization, and are the building blocks to your success. Don’t you think it’s time to take a step back and thank them for making your organization what it is today? Isn’t it time to create the best employee recognition programs to show them your appreciation? I think it is! And I’m going to give you 6 tips to help you get started!


Tip #1 – Have clearly defined criteria

This is one of the simplest yet most important elements of any recognition program. All your employees want to be recognized for their performance (whether it seems like it or not), and they want to know what it would take to get that recognition.


Make sure the criteria are clear, precise, attainable, and directly relevant to their performance measures.


Tip #2  Be consistent with your organization’s values

There is nothing more confusing and discouraging to employees than having recognition programs that contradict, or are not directly related to the organization’s mission and values. After all, the mission and values of your company are what makes you who you are and what drives the organization forward every day.


If your mission and values are based on excellent customer service and caring, then you should do the same for your employees. Provide them with excellent customer service and show them you care by simply asking them what they want as part of your employee recognition programs!

If your values are based on the importance of personal development, then offer developmental opportunities. If your mission is innovation, then a standard “employee-of-the-month” award just won’t do; you’ll need to be more creative than that!


Tip #3 – Use these programs to encourage desired behaviors


This tip can be thought of as a combination of the previously two, but is still so important that it needed a heading of its own! Your employee recognition programs should always encourage desired behaviors, whether directly or indirectly.


How? By rewarding these desired behaviors! If you want your salespeople to make more money, then reward them with good compensation plans. If you want to encourage teamwork, then recognize team achievements and reward them with a fun, creative team activity.


Which leads me to my next tip.


Tip #4 – Deliver on your promise ...every time!

There’s nothing worse than a recognition plan that doesn’t actually recognize! If you’re asking your employees to display certain behaviors to advance your organization’s mission and goals, then you should always fulfill your end of the bargain.


Before you even administer employee recognition programs, determine how you’re going to identify those who deserve recognition and who would be the best person for the job.

Sure, recognition programs are an HR function, but it’s not the HR department who is around to evaluate employees’ work. So, make sure that managers and immediate supervisors understand the importance of recognition programs, and ensure that they have an active role in its success.


Tip #5 – Know your employees

Okay, so we now know the basic structure of good employee recognition programs, but now what? What should your recognition program look like?


We are all people, after all, and we all have different wants, desires, and motivating factors, and no one knows more about your employees than you do. So, if you were looking for a straight answer or examples of recognition programs, I’m afraid you’re going to get neither. But I will tell you how to get the information you seek!

Communication, communication, communication...

Communicate with your employees! Ask them what they want and how they would like to be recognized. Easy-peasy! Not only will this method allow you to get the answers you’re looking for, but it will also allow your employees to see that they’re cared for and that they matter. Now that’s what I call a win-win!

Employee assessments

We all know those quiet individuals who have a hard time communicating, or don’t feel comfortable directly asking for what they want. How are you going to know what they want if they won’t tell you?

One thing you certainly shouldn’t do in this situation is hound them for an answer! Don’t make them do something they aren’t comfortable with. After all, it might be those specific traits that make them such great employees.


Take another route and have them complete a psychometric test. Not only will the results allow you to understand what makes them who they are, but it will also shed light on their motivating factors and help you determine the best employee recognition programs for them (if you choose the right test, of course!)


Tip #6 – Get everyone involved!

A final little tip; get everyone involved. From the top, to the bottom, and from side-to-side, everyone should be involved in employee recognition programs. Not only does it give the program the credibility it deserves after all the hard work you put into it, but it will also ensure the program is solid and effective.


And there you have it; the basic building blocks to creating the best employee recognition programs. Recognizing your employees and rewarding their accomplishments is crucial for any organization’s success. Not only does it make your employees more engaged and motivated, but it can also lead to better performance and great working environments. Just make sure you have clearly defined criteria that are related to your organization’s mission and values, encourage desired behaviors, deliver on your promise, and give your employees what they want by getting to know them.


That’s all folks! Do you have any other tips to creating the best employee recognition programs? Do share in the comments below!


This article originally appeared on AtmanCo’s Business Happiness blog.


About the Author 

Leen Sawalha is an HR Consultant at AtmanCo, a company whose mission is to identify and develop talent based on their true potential for optimum organizational success. Her interest in the effects of motivation and behaviour on businesses has led her to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Human Resources Management.


Leen’s expertise lie in the integration of both disciplines to enhance the effectiveness of an organization’s workforce.

Tags:  AtmanCo  blog  employee  HR  Leen Sawalha  NCHRA  programs  recognition  retention  rewards  tips  workplace 

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How to Empower Your Employees & Provide Opportunities for Growth

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, August 12, 2015

By Susan Hunt Stevens - founder and CEO of WeSpire

Engaging employees has never been easy – especially in today’s always-connected world where it’s harder than ever to ensure employees are focused, empowered and engaged. But this isn’t an issue to be taken lightly. Much of the research and industry analysis being published today proves organizations that are able to successfully engage their workforce are higher-performing and more profitable. Beyond that, an engaged workforce can also drive increased shareholder value, productivity, innovation and bottom-line performance, all while reducing human resources costs related to hiring and retention.


As the workplace modernizes, employees expect and demand that their employers provide opportunities for empowerment and personal growth, leading to more fulfillment in and outside of the workplace. But if you’re like many of the organizations WeSpire works with, getting started on the pathway to employee engagement is often the hardest part. Here’s how you can take a page from the most successful organizations’ playbooks. These companies understand the increasingly important roles of purpose, positive impact and great managers in driving engagement:


1. Implement tools that improve the work experience.

As much as organizations would like to have engagement just “happen,” employees need tools, solutions, and programs that support their efforts in and outside the workplace, and that help transform one-time actions into committed habits for long-term positive impact. The options here are endless, but one that has worked particularly well with WeSpire clients are robust sustainability programs.

Solutions that promote recycling, composting, green commuting alternatives and more, as well as enable employees to track their actions and be rewarded or recognized for their efforts, positively drive employees’ workplace engagement, satisfaction and overall productivity. Ultimately, it’s critical not to underestimate the power of purpose and positive impact–employees who are able to get involved in activities that contribute to the greater good (whether that be connected to their company or outside communities) are often happier in their jobs and better contribute to their organizations’ bottom lines.

2. Make it social.

It’s no secret that people respond well to positive feedback and group learning. By encouraging employees to connect with each other through employee engagement platforms, they’ll be able to get advice, share ideas and support one another’s efforts. The power behind this is the network effect – or the idea that even small, individual actions can snowball to create an enormous cumulative impact that affects the company and the world.

Moreover, by introducing programs that encourage employee socialization, the greater the chance that organizations will achieve long-term positive impact. One example of this is manager interaction – which can enable managers to better connect with employees and create a two-way dialogue. Research indicates that employees with managers who communicate and care about them feel more engaged, so if you’re able to facilitate an environment where everyone can share thoughts and ideas, and managers can easily deliver frequent and regular recognition, employees are more likely to identify and appreciate the meaning in their work.

Another great example of the power of social interaction is when working toward a common goal. Think about this: if employees are being encouraged to wash their clothes in cold water (maybe as part of a sustainability effort) and can share those actions with other employees, the chances that this will become a repeat behavior increases. Regardless of how you adopt this at your organization, the social aspect of employee engagement is a key driver in improving relationships and satisfaction at work.

3. Don’t overlook individual passions.

Every organization is made up of intelligent, unique individuals, so it only makes sense that each employee is also going to have their own personal passions and interests. Work to tap into them. A great way to do this is by implementing a comprehensive volunteering program, which enables employees to participate and contribute to efforts that resonate with each of their personal goals. This could extend across everything from local park clean-ups to animal shelter visits to mentor programs for at-risk students.


These types of volunteer programs are also excellent catalysts for empowering employees to drive comprehensive, company-wide activities–such as yearly fundraisers benefiting local causes or more robust recycling efforts at company offices around the world. By giving employees the tools to take action on their passions, not only is there a greater chance that they’ll be more open to participating in new programs down the road, but they’ll have a more enhanced work experience and better add to the existing values of the organization.

To really empower employees and support personal growth, organizations need to invest in engagement programs that help individuals achieve more purpose at work and satisfaction in their relationships. While there’s no arguing that employee engagement programs will be different for each company, the most successful organizations, today and in the future, will be able to bridge the engagement gap by giving employees the resources they need to be more motivated, productive and empowered.


Originally posted in OpenView Labs.

About the Author

Susan Hunt Stevens is the founder and CEO of WeSpire, the employee engagement platform company that empowers forward-thinking global organizations to reach their greatest potential. WeSpire partners with Startup Institute to gain access to the talent in SI’s passionate alumni community.


Tags:  coaching  confidence  employee  empowerment  engagement  hiring  HR  human resources  leadership  NCHRA  recruiting  retention  workplace 

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Surprising Personality Traits of Great Hires

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Contibuted by Zuman - People Operations Resources

It isn’t a new idea for employers to believe their ideal hires would have certain personality traits that make them stand out from the pack. However, many companies try to court candidates with outdated personality quizzes. Clinging to a single vision of the perfect employee may cause you to overlook someone who would be a great fit for your organization.

Traditionally, many hiring tests have been based on the Big Five Personality Traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to new experiences. Perhaps unsurprisingly, agreeableness and conscientiousness are the most valued by employers. Hiring managers want to choose people who are friendly and considerate of others to cut down on workplace issues. But a recent study from the University of Minnesota published in the Perspectives in Psychological Science journal pointed out that great hires may not be those who are most at ease in an interview.

Do Personality Tests Indicate Job Success?
With the rise of online job applications, an increasing number of employers utilize personality tests during their initial employment screening. During the recession, businesses were less willing to take a chance on a new hire who many not work with the rest of the team. Managers couldn’t afford to risk hiring someone who was disagreeable because the costs of having to replace this person down the road were too high. While in some industries, personality assessments have given employers greater insight into the types of new hires who will succeed, some job industry experts argue that these tests have prevented young adults with less experience and the long-term unemployed from getting hired, according to the Wall Street Journal. Personality tests shouldn’t be used as the only sign of potential job performance.

Employers are taking longer to fill open positions, often holding out for their dream candidates. However, job churn has decreased over time, indicating that companies are making better choices based on the available data and improving their retention rates. Personality tests need to be relevant for your specific industry to be effective. In some cases, the right skills should win.

Although conventional hiring wisdom seems to suggest extroverts perform best in many workplaces, introverts may be a great fit as well. Because introverts are often believed to be quiet and reserved, hiring managers view them as low energy and don’t pursue their applications any further. However, introverts prefer quieter work environments, which can increase productivity. In terms of other personality types, TLNT said disagreeable people sometimes bring something new to the team. If these employees don’t like a certain idea, they aren’t afraid to point it out in a respectful way. This can help a team reach new levels of efficiency and encourage other members to think in new ways.

Great Hires Are More than Great Interviewees
Interviewing alone isn’t always the most reliable indication of how someone will perform on the job. Many candidates practice before interviews to rehearse the answers they feel potential employers will want to hear. On the other hand, if job candidates have the right skill set but aren’t the most personable, hiring managers should still consider them, TLNT suggested.

Ultimately, the right combination of personality traits depends on your industry and unique organization, but it doesn’t hurt to think outside of the box during recruitment. Different personality types can bring new energy to your business. However, recruiters need to update their approach to hiring to attract these candidates and be willing to overlook potential biases. When companies adopt a people operations mindset, they can put their data to more actionable use and make better hiring decisions.

About the Author
Zuman is the premium solution for HR, payroll, benefits administration delivering superior control, lower risk, and enhanced employee engagement for growing companies.




Tags:  employee  great  hires  hiring  HR  human resources  job  manager  NCHRA  personality  recruiting  success  traits  Zuman 

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Crisis Communication: Media Preparation is Key

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 30, 2015

By Karen Rodriguez - Exec.Comm

A PR crisis can hit at any time. A customer might have been harmed by your product or service, a disgruntled employee might post inflammatory comments about your organization on social media, or your firm may have some internal turmoil that made the headlines.

The lesson here is that crisis communication preparedness is key to an organization’s success in weathering any media storm. Your company’s public image is challenged when it’s linked with a crisis.


Reporters and the public want to know what happened and why. Whether you work alongside a public relations person or not, as a human resources leader, you should have a communication strategy in place that puts you and your company in the best possible light.

When developing your crisis communications plan, think about these five tips for handling media inquiries:

Remain accessible.

Don’t stonewall the press by refusing to take calls. A spokesperson should always be available for one-on-one interviews and to give updates as often as possible. Depending on the gravity of the situation, you may want to proactively call a press conference.

Avoid speculation.

Recognize that the press needs to gather information, evaluate what happened and speculate about causes. Your responsibility is to give a frank assessment of the situation and the facts as you know them. Don’t fall into the trap of responding to reporters’ speculations. If you do, you will be responding to fiction rather than offering facts and this puts you in defense mode. Instead of saying “no comment,” say something like “I don’t want to speculate on that.” This response shows that you are sticking to the facts.

Anticipate reporters’ questions.

Knowing the types of questions reporters tend to ask will put you at an advantage. During crisis events reporters typically want to know:

·         A complete description of the event

·         The number of people impacted

·         Possible cause

·         Who is responsible

·         The cost of damages

·         Mistakes and who made them

Speak simply.

Use language that your audience will understand. Using simple visuals or analogies is an effective way to clarify key points.

Deliver what you promise.

Get back to reporters with more information when you say you will. If you are unsure when that will be, do not commit to a specific time. Remember that you will build rapport and credibility with reporters if you are honest and straightforward.

Do you have other tips for preparing for crisis communications? Let me know in the comment section below!

About the Author

As the manager of the Exec.Comm brand, marketing and design efforts, Karen Rodriguez oversees the firm’s identity, touching all aspects of the brand (online presence and web site, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events). She joined Exec-Comm in 1999, and entered the partnership in 2009. Karen recently introduced the firm’s blog, The Chat, and launched the company's quarterly lunch and learn series: The Learning Exchange manages the company's open-enrollment seminars in New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a B.F.A. from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.



Tags:  communication  control  crisis  Exec-Comm  HR  human resources  image  Karen Rodriguez  media  NCHRA  plan  pr  public relations  strategy 

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7 Things You Need to Know Regarding Access to Employee or Applicant Social Media Accounts

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2015


By Kyung M. Lee - Bergeson, LLP

California law does not give employers unrestricted access to employee and job applicant social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).  Instead, California Labor Code Section 980 (“Section 980”) sets strict parameters on employers’ ability to obtain certain social media-related information from employees or job applicants.  Below is a list of seven things that employer hiring managers should know regarding their obligations (and some rights) in this area.

  1. Definition of “Social Media.”  Section 980 defines “social media” very broadly.  It “means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.”  (Cal. Labor Code Section 980(a) (italics added).)
  2. What an Employer May Not Do.  As an employer, except under limited exceptions for employees (discussed below), you may not require or request an employee or job applicant to (a) disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing social media; (b) access personal social media in your presence; or (c) divulge any “personal social media.”  (See id. at subsection (b).)
  3. What Is “Personal Social Media?”  Unfortunately, Section 980 does not define the term “personal.”  In light of this ambiguity, employers should err on the side of safety by treating an employee’s or job applicant’s social media as “personal” even if it appears to serve both personal and business-related purposes at the same time.  And, if use of social media is a part of an employee’s job responsibilities, then a written agreement or policy setting out which social media accounts are business-related may be advisable. 
  4. Investigations.  An employer may require an employee to “divulge personal social media reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations.”  However, you must use such social media “solely” for purposes of the investigation or a related proceeding and for no other purpose.  (Id. at subsection (c).)
  5. Employer-Issued Devices.  You may require or request an employee to disclose usernames and passwords for the purpose of accessing employer-issued devices (e.g., company laptops or iPhones).  (See id. at subsection (d) (italics added).)  This provision does not cover employee-owned devices that are used for work purposes under a Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) program.  Employers with BYOD programs should have a written agreement or policy that gives the employer the device access necessary to administer employer software or applications that are installed on an employee’s device as a condition for employee participation in the program.
  6. Retaliation.  You may not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or job applicant for failing to provide social media information to which you (as an employer) are not entitled.  (See id. at subsection (e).)
  7. Employee Claims.  Although Section 980 does not provide penalties or damages for violations by employers, an employee may bring a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy against his/her employer on the basis of a purported Section 980 violation.  Employees and job applicants may also use alleged violations of Section 980 as the basis for an action under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 and/or California Labor Code Section 2698 (the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004). 


About the Author

Kyung M. Lee is Senior Counsel at Bergeson, LLP in San Jose, where she focuses on employment litigation and counseling. Ms. Lee regularly contributes to the Bergeson, LLP Employment Law blog, which is available at










This blog post is for general informational purposes only and not to provide specific legal advice.  You understand and acknowledge that your review and accessing of this blog post do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Bergeson, LLP and any Bergeson, LLP attorney.  This blog post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tags:  access  account  applicants  employee  employment  HR  human resources  law  leadership  management  media  NCHRA  social 

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