Archive for the 'employee retention' Category

Employee Recognition: Small Budget, Big Payback

I’ve been working on a program I’ll be giving in Santa Clara on March 19th. The topic is employee recognition in a down economy. I am finding that many organizations don’t realize that recogniton doesn’t have to suffer because budgets have been slashed. In fact recognition becomes even more critical as morale is battered from so many directions.

There are two main points I plan to clarify for participants.

1) Recognition Doesn’t Have to Cost a Dime

With all the press about extravagant events, I am finding that it is even more important to talk about the difference between rewards and recognition. Employee appreciation events are rewards. Bonuses and incentives are rewards. Even company logo t-shirts are rewards (although they are not always appreciated rewards).

Recognition is an act, not a thing. Recognition doesn’t cost anything. Sometimes recognition is accompanied by a reward, but most of the time it is a thank you, praise, a new challenge, being trusted to do the right thing, or simply working with someone who knows you and what you bring to the team.

2) The Returns Are Enormous

The payback for offering meaningful recognition, for creating programs that make people feel visible and valued, is a workforce that is resilient, motivated, and highly productive. There are statistics and ancedotes a plenty to prove the value of good recognition.

Small budget, big payback. What more could you want?


How to Keep Your Headcount When Others Are Losing Theirs

A study by the Academy of Management Journal on the correlation between layoff and voluntary turnover found that layoffs will ultimately affect your ability to retain your best workers. They found that more than five times as many workers left voluntarily than were laid off during any round of workforce reduction.

You probably aren’t in a position to influence whether or not layoffs happen. So what do you do?

1) Treat people with utmost respect when conducting layoffs. Don’t treat them like criminals.  Those that remain are watching you. Your behavior sends a powerful message about how employees are valued.

2) Work to maintain morale. Those that remain have survivor guilt. They are overworked. They are fearful of losing their jobs. Those are some powerful demotivators. To counteract these focus on setting clear goals, communicate expectations,  celebrate small successes, and most importantly, keep your focus on your people.

Employee Recognition Resolutions for 2009

The New Year is traditionally a time for making positive changes. Many people resolve to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat less.

If you are a manager, why not make a workplace New Year resolution this year? There are things you can do that will improve employee attitudes, enhance service, product quality, and safety. Small changes can create big results.

I am offering the same seven resolutions that I offered last year because they are simple and will produce positive results.

1) I will resolve to spend at least 15 minutes each day simply listening to what my employees have to say. I will learn, among other things, what interests them, how they like to be recognized, and how they would improve their job.

Managers spend so much time ‘telling’ they can forget the value of listening. When I’ve asked employees to tell me what their managers do that makes them feel valued, listening is always high on the list.

2) I will resolve to connect the individual’s contribution to the organization’s objectives.

Many employees see no connection between the work that they do and the work of the organization. It is difficult for employees to feel motivated when they don’t understand the importance of their roles.

As the manager, you can connect the dots between what the employee does and what the organization does. Think about the organization’s mission, vision, and goals and how that translates to your department. Then distill that down to the individual employee. Communicate the connection at every opportunity.

3) I will resolve to offer five times more praise than corrective feedback.

Gallup research shows that 5:1 is the ideal ratio for increasing engagement. This can seem like a lot of praise, especially if you have a mediocre performer.

To provide the optimum blend, think in terms of acknowledging milestones, incremental progress, strengths, and valued behaviors. Show appreciation for additional effort, sense of humor, attitude, and a willingness to speak up about concerns.

You can even offer a positive word when giving corrective feedback. End the conversation by expressing confidence in their ability to change.

4) I will resolve to take one employee to lunch every week.

If you have a very small team, once a month may work. Try to get to everyone at least once in the first six months. During lunch, let your guest talk about whatever he or she wishes. Whatever you do, don’t make the lunch into a performance review!

5) I will resolve to put up a recognition white board and use it to note accomplishments.

Place a big white board and some dry erase pens in the cafeteria or another area where people congregate. Write notes of praise and appreciation to the team and to individuals. Encourage people to use the board for peer recognition as well. Erase items after about a week so that the notes are fresh and interesting. This will keep people coming back to read what has been written. (Idea courtesy of the BC Lottery, BC Canada).

6) I will resolve to identify a learning opportunity for every employee.

This doesn’t mean you have to send everyone to a costly seminar. Consider cross-training, new responsibilities, or even self-study. One of the top reasons people stay with a manager and stay engaged is because they feel challenged. Opportunities to learn is a prime motivator.

Find a way for each person to learn and grow that will improve their skills and level of engagement.

7) I will resolve to greet every employee I encounter, making eye contact and smiling, no matter how rushed I feel.

Does this sound too simple to be effective? Remember that employees want to be recognized and that at its most basic that means seeing and acknowledging the person. This takes virtually no time, but if you aren’t in the habit of doing it, it can make all the difference in the world.

Fast and Simple

Each of these seven resolutions takes no more than, on average, fifteen minutes per day. I know, I know that’s fifteen minutes that you  don’t have to spare. However, if you find the time, take the time, make the time, employees will make you glad that you did.

Choose one and try it on for six months. I promise you will see changes that result in improved attitudes and productivity.

Need reminders to make the habit stick? Sign up for free weekly recognition tips!

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2007

Helping Your Organization Through Difficult Times with Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is critical to maintaining morale during difficult economic times. When employees feel valued your organization can not only survive, but often thrive during a downturn.
If you have read Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works you might remember the story of Remedy, the company that coped with economic hardship and parent company scandals, and managed to come through it with improved customer service, increased revenue, and steady employee morale.
To make this happen they needed a culture of recognition, and this leads us to some good news and some bad news.

Bad news: You can’t achieve this level of engagement with gift cards or an employee of the month award. Program development must be built on a rock solid foundation and adhere to the principles of meaningful recognition.
Good news: You can achieve an energized work environment without investing a lot of money. The key is getting real buy in for your recognition initiative, building skills, developing a solid plan, and creating a memorable communication campaign.
You can create a positive recognition culture!

Bad news: Private consulting on making effective culture change can be costly. Chances are good that you don’t have the budget right now to have an expert oversee a full-scale culture change. I know for many of my readers working for small businesses and nonprofits, this was never  an option.
Good news (and yes, a rare sales pitch) There is an alternative that your organization can afford. For only $299*, you and your colleagues can attend a weekly webinar series, six sessions in all, where you will learn the basics of designing and implementing a recognition initiative.
Group size is restricted to allow for plenty of interaction during the sessions. You will be able to ask questions of me and I will ask questions of you so that we can address the unique needs of your organization. To be able to offer this level of personal assistance I need to limit participation to 25 organizations (through conference room access you can have as many people within your organization participate in the webinars as you like).
This is a popular program and because I only run it once per year, you will want to register soon.
Tools, guides, and assessments. The webinar series includes lots of materials that will help you with your program.
You will receive:
Cost of Turnover Worksheets
Executive Commitment Checklist
Catalysts for Manager Commitment
Training Needs Assessment
A copy of Recognition Strategies that Work
24 Questions to Ask Before You Design
Implementation Tables
Sample Timeline to Rollout
Private consultation included: In addition to the six-hour course you will receive five assignments that will help you prepare your initiative. When you turn in the assessments and planning documents (one set per organization) I will review them and provide you with my analysis, in essence a private consultation on each of five topics.
When you complete the course your organization will also receive a half-hour private phone consultation that you can use anytime within the following six months.

If you have been considering a recognition program–
If you are concerned about hanging on to your top performers–
If you need maintain morale in spite of layoffs–
this isn’t an opportunity you can afford to pass up!

I hope you can join me.
Designing & Implementing Recognition Programs That Work
January 6-February 10, 2009. $299 *plus long-distance charges. This six-week web series covers everything from buy in to project planning. Part workshop, part private consultation, this is most cost-effective way to initiate a recognition program. Click here for more information

Starting Up a Service Awards Program – Employee Recognition

Q: We have recently started a Years of Service Program. Some employees are unhappy with the program because we are recognizing those who have been with the company for five and ten years. Those that reached five years service in previous years are not included. How do we start a program like this without upsetting long-time employees, some of which who have been with us since the beginning (fourteen years)?

A: The purpose of a service program is generally to demonstrate that long term service is valued. This means you need to initially recognize all long term service. regardless of the additional cost. If you don’t, you will cause ill will with the people you most need to honor.

To create a positive experience on startup you need to do four things:

1) Create a ‘from the start’ award that is very special. This will be an award that is never offered again. Give it to anyone who has been with the company since its inception.

2) For those that have been with the company more than 5 years, but not from the start, give them the appropriate 5 year increment award. For instance, for the person who has been there 8 years, the presentation would be of the 5 year award. In two years he or she would receive the 10 year award. During the presentation, management should acknowledge that the receipient has actually been there longer and that this is a retroactive award.

3) Put awards in place for lengthier service. I realize no one has reached the 15-, 20- or 25-year milestones yet, but they should be able to anticipate how they will be awarded.

4) Be sure that management gives the awards and prepares a meaningful presentation.

(for more on designing and implementing a program see this post)

All the best,


Top Place to Work

Thanks to Mark Harbeke of Winning Workplaces for bringing to my attention a new article in the Boston Globe that highlights what makes Winchester Hospital a top place to work. Some of the key points addressed in the article include:

  • Individualized recognition
  • Pride in quality service
  • Frequent department huddles to communicate important information
  • Quick response to employee concerns

None of what is mentioned is trend-setting, but then there are no exciting secret formulas to what works to engage and retain great workers.

It takes work and commitment and clearly Winchester Hospital has this.

Top Small Businesses 2008

Winning Workplace Small Business Conference

Winning Workplace Small Business Conference


Each year Winning Workplaces selects the top small businesses. The awards for 2008 will be announced in the Wall Street Journal on October 13.

The process for applying is similar to those of other “best” companies. Applying is a great way to learn more about your company and how you can improve. The 2009 process starts soon after 2008 winners are announced.

You can also improve by learning about the best practices of previous winners. Consider attending the Winning Workplaces conference in October.  Click here for more information.
If you have attended before, applied to be a “Top Small Business” or are a past recipient, tells us about it!
All the best,

My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.

Visit my website today!

Subscribe to feed

Subscribe to receive as Email