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That seems to be a topic of discussion with almost every client we meet these days. We’ve spoken to several in the last couple months who relate case after case of disgruntled employees who leave and go to work elsewhere. So yes, retention is a problem and could even get worse.
Lately we’ve also seen more research focused on this very important question. One reason for employees leaving is always going to be money. But when an employee’s decision to stay or go comes down to a very small difference in pay, there are obviously other issues at play.
We doubt that it is surprising to anyone in the HR world that disengaged employees are more likely to leave a company for a pay raise than engaged employees. A recent Dale Carnegie survey confirmed this showing that 26% of engaged employees would leave their job for just a 5% pay raise vs. 46% of partially engaged employees and 69% of disengaged employees.
We all know that engagement does matter, and not just for retention. Engagement gives the employees the ability and willingness to contribute to the company’s success. Consider what Jim Harter, Gallup’s Chief Scientist had to say about the state of employee engagement.
“Over the past year, Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 150,000 workers–people in all states and industries–and discovered that a stunning number are miserable in their jobs. More specifically, only 30% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work. While Gallup encouragingly notes that there’s been a slight improvement to engagement since the Great Recession, it’s hard to cheer when you realize 52% of Americans admit to being disengaged in their jobs, and another 18% to being actively disengaged.”
To put that into perspective, what do you think would happen if the eleven players on a football team had the same attitudes and feelings about being engaged? Three would be playing their hearts out, five would be doing the slow walk back and forth to the huddle, and two would be dogging it on every play. I doubt if that team would get to too many championship games.
Importantly it’s not the disengaged you should be worried about; you can easily cut them during the season. It’s those that don’t have the energy and spirit to really get into the game. it’s the middle of the group that should concern you. They are the ones who can be swayed one way or the other. These are the ones who will help you build that championship team.
We’ve researched hundreds of employee recognition and incentive programs over the years. We often have prospective clients who say they have used employee recognition programs in the past and the programs just don’t seem to work for them. They say they get relatively little return for their investment and these programs are often the first budgets to be cut when economic times are bad. Frankly, in most cases executives are completely in the right to discontinue these programs.
In our research, we find many reasons why employee recognition systems don’t produce desired results. But, those reasons will typically fall into one of these three categories:
Let Your Employees Choose What They Want
Don’t use awards that you think they want, or what appeal to you, or what your award vendor says they want. Within reason, let your employees choose. Survey them and figure out what hits their hot button how they would like to be rewarded.
Let Your Employees Track Their Performance
Set the expectations of what you want them to do and then give honest measurement of how they are performing and then recognize those efforts. Make this information easily available to them so they can be reminded of what they’ve been told, and how far along they are in the process.
Keep Everyone Informed
Good communications is the heart and soul of any great employee recognition/incentive effort. Sharing performance in view of the measured values/objectives you have in the program is critical to continued success. Showing what individual employees are doing to receive recognition makes it easier to motivate more employees to do the same.
As mentioned, there are many reasons that employee recognition/incentive programs don’t produce the desired results. It goes without saying that the involvement of upper management in any of these efforts is critical. If they are going to be your cheerleaders and provide ongoing involvement and enthusiastic support, you probably shouldn’t even bother with the effort in the first place.
As reported in Incentive Magazine, research published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans shows that incorporating incentives into a wellness program was found to be a key reason why these programs are showing a high return on the investment….up to $3 for every dollar spent.
Many companies are now seeing a direct connection between wellness initiatives and the effect they can have on both employee health and health care plan cost savings. Companies that manage health risks stand to add a great deal of profit to the bottom line. But, to manage those costs you need to have the buy in and enthusiastic support of your employees. According to Wellsource, a leader in health risk assessments there are several things you can do to ramp up the participation, among them are:
- Make it social, people like to be part of something and enjoy the support of their peers.
- Have wellness leaders; find those employees in the organization that are health-minded and ask them to champion the effort.
- Invite significant others to participate, they become a valuable support group
- Offer incentives, they have shown to help achieve participation rates up to 80%
- Recognize accomplishments; anyone who has ever lost weight, quit smoking, maintained an exercise campaign will tell you that being recognized by their management and peers is very motivational.
There are a myriad of behaviors you can choose from to initiate your program that are easy to measure and reward. A few might include:
- Completing health screenings
- Completing healthcare questionnaire
- Getting the blood pressure checked
- Getting body mass or other health indicators checked
And once enrolled, use incentives to keep them enrolled and progressing on the path toward better health. There are many motivational incentives that you can use such s cash, discounts in premiums, gift cards, sports related merchandise or gym memberships. You are the best judge of what award will work best within your overall benefit system. When used properly, incentives are probably more important that communications in producing results.
For a wellness award that is very flexible to use, guarantees that your employees will receive the award they reall want, and is very cost effective, you may want to take a look at Award of Choice.
As 2012 draws to a close, we think it’s a good time to pull together some of the more interesting tidbits we read about this year regarding employee recognition. While rewarding and recognizing employees has been in the business world since the beginning of the 20th century, this year it seemed to have a life of its own.
From the perspective of the incentive and recognition award industry, employee recognition is the Holy Grail. Thousands of companies from the corner trophy and plaque store to the full service billion dollar incentive conglomerates are dependent on selling employee awards. The Incentive Research Foundation just this year estimates that gift cards used for recognition to be over $22 billion. All indications are that employee recognition does matter. Why else would companies spend this money in a down economy?
Other reasons why employee recognition does matter are:
- More than 60 percent of all U.S. companies took cost-cutting actions that involved some sort of reduction in force, oftentimes increasing the workloads of existing employees, freezing salary increases, and reducing bonuses. Recognition helps to relieve this workload stress.
- Gallup did a study that showed engaged employees are more productive, profitable and more customer-service-focused and more likely to stay on the job. Recognition helps to foster engagement.
- A Watson Wyatt study showed that companies with effective recognition programs realized a median return to shareholders about double what companies without recognition programs achieved.
- A Robert Half study, showed that 17 percent of good employees who quit their jobs did so because of lack of recognition
- According to Barbara Mitchell, a respected HR consultant,”recognition shows confidence in employees, and confident employees are more productive.”
- Recognition encourages innovation. It encourages employees to come up with better ways to do a task resulting in higher productivity, lower costs or both.
- Recognition is powerful because it answers a fundamental human need, the need to feel valued in what we do.
- In their book “12: The Elements of Great Managing,” Wagner and Harter drawing on ten million workplace interviews noted that variations in recognition and praise account for ten to twenty percent differences in productivity and revenue, as well as customer engagement.
Robert Cialdini, in his classic book ‘Influence’ noted that the principle of consistency means that when you show recognition of particular behaviors, you are encouraging more of the same in the future. So be sure to recognize what you want to encourage. An added bonus of focusing this way is that, due to the Law of Attraction, you are likely to find more behavior worthy of recognition.
Have a Happy 4th of July!
God Bless This Great Country of Ours!!