The Impact of Recognition on the Employee Experience

Companies recognize the impact of experience on growth and profitability and are changing the way they engage and support customers. They are placing a heavy focus on the individual – creating a more meaningful relationship. This is our experience as consumers and it is starting into the workforce. Today’s companies must prioritize the employee and invest in the right strategies and technology to support these efforts.

The employee experience directly impacts business results. Yet, the challenge that most companies face is they do not know where to start. Despite being a top priority, only 34% of companies have improved the employee experience in 2017 – a decline from over 60% of companies in 2016. Organizations can no longer afford a negative employee experience and they need to begin to rethink their initiatives- particularly recognition.

Aptitude Research Partners found that 42% of companies plan to invest in recognition in 2018. Companies that leverage the right strategies and technology to recognize and motivate their employees are more likely to improve the employee experience. Recognition is one of the most powerful tools available to organizations yet it is often overlooked. When employees feel recognized and empowered, they are more likely to contribute to organizational goals, achieve performance objectives, and stay with their employer.

Companies that want to make more strategic decisions around employee recognition and the technology they use should consider the following:

Invest in Social Recognition: Companies that invest in social recognition software are able to create a culture where managers and peers are consistently recognizing each other in a frequent and meaningful way.

Empower Managers:  Managers often lack the tools and resources they need to recognize their employees. By providing solutions that empower managers to recognize employees and hold them accountable will improve the overall employee experience.

Measure the Results: Recognition will not impact the overall employee experience unless organizations have a systematic way to measure recognition efforts and adjust their programs accordingly.

Keep It Simple: Recognition should not be complex. Both processes and technology should provide a simple experience where recognition is easy to execute, track, and manage.

Tomorrow I am presenting on a webinar with SHRM and Achievers to talk about the impact recognition has on the employee experience and the steps companies need to do to create a culture where employees are recognized in a meaningful way. I hope you can join us at 2pm EST tomorrow!


It Is a Good Time to Be in HR Technology

Last week was a big week with some major announcements about investment in HCM. First, Workday announced a $250 million venture fund with investments to go into early and growth stage providers focused on topics such as AI, blockchain, and machine learning. This announcement not only demonstrates Workday’s growing leadership in all things HCM but it also enables startups to develop better products and expand their customer base. Less obvious announcements from last week include Gartner’s decision to sell its talent assessment business (through the acquisition of CEB – which acquired SHL) to private equity firm, Exponent, for $400 million. Not to mention, investment raised by Joveo ($5 million), gr8people ($8 million), and ZipRecruiter ($50 million). Investors recognize the opportunity and the demand for better solutions to attract, engage, and retain talent. And, it is a good time to be in HR Technology.

Here are some of the areas where we see the most investment:

–          Recruitment Marketing: Interest in the recruitment marketing space has not died down. Investors recognize that recruiting is evolving the same way marketing evolved several years ago. They are looking at solutions that offer one platform for engaging, nurturing, and connecting with talent before they ever apply for a job. Research we did last year found that 1 in 3 companies are increasing their spend on solutions that handle everything before someone applies for a job.

–          AI: The topic of AI is pervasive in HCM. Yet, most companies are still confused by what AI is and how it can be used to solve talent management challenges. Companies are curious about the value of AI and what use cases they should consider. But with so many providers entering this space, it is challenging to know who to consider. Hopefully, some of the investment in AI will help to provide clarity around AI and differentiate some of these providers.

–          Blockchain: The topic of blockchain is everywhere and not just because of the buzz around Bitcoin. Essentially, blockchain is a database that is not stored in just one central location but is everywhere- making the data easier to maintain. Sourcecon published a great article recently, where it explains Blockchain in this way:  “Imagine a Google or Excel sheet you’ve shared with your recruiting team to track hiring activities. Your sheet updates automatically in real time, it’s asynchronous, and everyone has access to the ability to update it.”

–          Employee Recognition: At one time, an area where investors seemed to tread lightly, the employee recognition market has really taken off. Investors recognize that employee recognition is the key driver of employee engagement and are looking at solutions that enable social recognition, feedback, and peer-to-peer interaction.

We will continue to watch the investment in this space are we are excited for the opportunity it presents providers and practitioners. Our friend, George LaRocque, does an exceptional job of covering the investment in this space. We also recommend checking out his research and publications on this market.


Four Trends Impacting Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is something that feels right: motivating employees and encouraging positive behavior feels like something every organization should be doing. We know this. And for a long time, these “feelings” of corporate responsibility have driven the employee recognition market to reach $46 billion (as estimated by Josh Bersin in 2012). But, in 2017, is this enough? Or does employee recognition need to be tied to something bigger than a feeling of “right or wrong?”

For the first time, we are seeing a shift in how companies evaluate recognition software and measure results. Recognition is becoming less about employee satisfaction and adoption rates and more about business outcomes. I was at the Achievers Customer Experience event last week and business performance was a recurring theme. The CEO of Meijer Supermarkets – a company with 70,000 employees (mostly non-desk employees) – took the stage to talk about how employee recognition drives customers satisfaction. Companies like Meijer are actually looking at how consistent recognition drives retention, engagement, and productivity. This type of correlation is becoming the standard in an industry that was at one time considered HR “fluff.”

Fortunately, we are seeing an uptick in the investment in employee recognition providers and the number of startups entering this space. It is a market we are watching closely and a few themes definitely stand out:

  • Recognition is Not a Replacement for a Performance Management System: Some providers are complicating their messaging and seem to be going after performance management in a way that is confusing to their buyers and existing partners. Recognition is recognition. It has an established budget and the value is far greater than what a traditional performance management solution can offer.
  • Recognition Needs to Be Tied to Business Outcomes: Customers are asking for this and the providers that can show how recognition impacts retention, customer satisfaction, and productivity. Research Aptitude conducted earlier this year found that companies with a recognition program are two times more likely to improve the employee experience.
  • Recognition is a Communication Tool: It is no surprise that one of the greatest challenges companies face is communicating with their workforce. Ninety-six percent (96%) of companies we surveyed last year believe that communication is critical to achieving company goals. Social recognition technology provides a way for communication to be frequent, consistent, and meaningful.
  • Social Recognition is a Solution for HR Leaders: Recognition has historically been a priority for compensation and benefits practitioners. As the market matures and technology becomes smarter and more strategic, recognition is becoming a priority for HR Leaders.

We will be publishing some new research on employee recognition next month and will be looking at what differentiates providers and how companies are showing the ROI from their investments.


Employee Recognition: Thinking Beyond the Holidays

During the holiday season, most companies find some way to recognize their employees. This recognition may come from gift certificates, company parties, or extra vacation days. And while the intentions are genuine, showing appreciating only once a year does very little to boost morale, motivate employees, or improve engagement efforts.  We found that most companies are still fairly immature in their recognition efforts. According to our recent culture survey, managers lack the right tools and strategies.

  • 52% of leaders recognize employees
  • 44% of companies encourage peer recognition
  • 40% of managers are trained on recognition

Strategic recognition can have a dramatic impact on business results – helping companies improve retention, productivity and performance. In fact, companies with strategic recognition are three times more likely to have an engaged workforce and two times more likely to improve quality of hire. But in order for companies to mature in the way they appreciate employees, recognition needs to be Consistent, Frequent, and Meaningful.

Companies also need to have the right tools and technology in place. One in four organizations plan to invest in social recognition solutions over the next 12 months. The recognition technology market has evolved from a stand-alone module to a suite of solutions that align with performance and engagement. These solutions give hope to a market that is ready for change. Tomorrow during a webinar, I will sharing some of our recent research on recognition and providing some strategies for improving recognition and investing in the right provider. Please join me at 11am EST!


The Future of Work: A Wish List

At the start of Labor Day weekend, it seems appropriate to reflect on the realities and possibilities of work.  According to the Department of Labor:

“Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Our theme at Aptitude this week has been the future of work but maybe it’s time to take a step back and think about the past. How can we do a better job as employers of paying tribute to the contributions of our workers? A day off is great but why can’t this happen throughout the year on a more consistent basis? So, in the spirit of Labor Day and honoring the past, here is our wish list for the future of work.

–       Recognition: Seventy-five percent (75%) of companies have a formal recognition program according to research we conducted earlier this year. Yet, so few of these companies make sure that recognition is ingrained in the company culture or invest in the right technology to motivate their employees. Recognition, the art of saying “thank you”, needs to be a core part of the work environment.

–       Communication: When asked to identify the top priorities for recruiting and engaging talent, stronger employee communication was top of the list across all industries and company sizes. Today, success is defined by a company’s ability to align strategy and execution, and effective communication is critical to achieving this alignment. In fact, top performing companies are 3 times more likely to invest in communication than their peers.

–       Flexibility: Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it would let some work a 30 day work week. This decision gives employees the freedom to spend less time in the office. Employees want greater flexibility not only with the ability to work from home but around the employer/employee relationship. With the influx of contingent workers in the market, employers that provide greater flexibility will not only see an increase in employee morale and engagement but also, in productivity and performance.

In order to take a look at the future, maybe we need to start by taking a look at the past and getting back to basics. We will be covering these topics in our upcoming Culture Survey later this month. Stay tuned…