Archive for the 'employees' Category

Is Santa Engaged?

Watch this video of a department store Santa. Earlier this year, David Gray held this video up as proof that you can be productive without being engaged.

But is the Santa in this video really disengaged?

If you say yes, the mistake you are making is in thinking that engaged employees have to be upbeat cheerleaders. This guy liked his world-weary persona. He might not have considered himself engaged (in 1975 he would have been puzzled that we were even thinking about it).

Listen carefully to what he has to say and you will hear someone who knows exactly what result he needs to achieve, has the talent required to achieve it, and is proud of his result. That is engagement.

Here are a few things to look for in the video:

1) He mentions several times that he has been called the only authentic Santa in Chicago and how he gets to pick his hours.

2) As his costume is completed he says, now you are going to see something beautiful.

3)Then, as you watch him with the kids, his voice over says, “you see so much love…if I make kids happy…”

Yes Virginia, there is an engaged Santa Claus.


Is a Compliment as Good as a Raise?

Using MRI technology, the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Okazaki, Japan found that a compliment stimulates the same reward center in the brain as does cash.

In their research they did two experiments. In one, people played a gambling game and received automatic cash payouts. They were rewarded for achievement. There was no human interaction. In the second experiment they received evaluations, supposedly from strangers reviewing their videos and questionnaires.  In each case, in this second experiment, they were paid a compliment.

Their MRIs showed that in both experiments  the people felt they were receiving a reward.

This seems to help explain why recognition is so effective. I would love to see them test the effect of reading the compliment a few days later. I bet it would still trigger the reward center. I can’t think of a more cost-effective way to recognize people that offering a few written words of praise. It is the reward that keeps on giving!

If you want to read the full story visit ABC News.

Time Off Is Most Preferred Employee Recognition Spot Award

In my recent study  I found that the most popular low-cost award for recognition of work on a project or assignment is time off.

A full 56 percent chose time off over gift cards or certificates, electronics, or trophies/plaques for spot awards to recognize short term achievement.

The purpose of this study was to find generational differences in preferences. The difference in preference for time off was small. There was some variation according to age, however the majority of respondents in each age group listed time off as their number one choice.

In second place was gift cards and certificates, with 34 percent listing these are their first choice.

This is good news for companies struggling in these difficult economic times. Reward individual employees with tokens good for an hour or two to use at their discretion. Reward teams with an afternoon off to celebrate the completion of a project.

Just remember to express your heartfelt appreciation, because that is far more important than the award.

All the best,


P.S. Have you ever received time off as an reward? How was it presented? Was it meaningful to you?

Copyright Cindy Ventrice 2008

Pride as Employee Recognition

In Make Their Day  I talk about the recognition that is inherent in working for an organization that employees are proud of. It may be that the company produces a great product or performs a valuable service. It may be the organization is making a significant effort to become a “green” enterprise. It may be that the company is heavily involved in the community.

It is valuable recognition when people can say “I work for _____” with pride in their voices. Their affiliation provides recognition.

When the organization is a social service nonprofit, pride comes relatively easy. It is a little more difficult for a for-profit corporation. It requires an internal and external PR effort coupled with real work to create something employees can be proud of.

 Do you say “I work for _______” with pride? I would love to hear your story. Tell me about your organization. What do they do that creates this sense of pride? Lets provide some positive press for some terrific organizations!

Courage Goes Work

I speak and write about many issues that affect the workplace, all related to helping employees feel valued.  I hope you see many of the ideas or issues that I raise as a call to action. Sometimes the actions I ask you take are easy to implement, sometimes they take a little effort, other times what I ask you to do might require that you take a stance that makes you uncomfortable. 

Ask yourself, how comfortable do you feel doing the following?

  • Trust your employees to do the right thing.
  • Say “No” to the CEO who wants you to implement a recognition program to remedy bad management.
  • Allow occasional work from home days, even when it is against policy.
  • Be that one supervisor who recognizes his or her team, even when other supervisors have said there is no time.

Sometimes treating people respectfully takes courage. There are easier things to do than stand up or stand out.

It can take courage to offer encouragement.

There is a new book coming out on the topic of courage. I had the privilege of previewing and endorsing Courage Goes to Work by Bill Treasurer.

If you are looking to be more courageous at work, or would like to encourage your employees to be more courageous, check this book out. Berrett-Koehler is offering a substantial discount for pre-release orders (the book comes out in November). Just enter the promo code “courage.”

Meanwhile, I would love to hear your stories about courage in the workplace.

All the best,


Global Collaboration

Every week I send out around 3000 weekly tips on employee recognition and related topics. 

Every week dozens of people respond with their comments and ideas. Often I incorporate these ideas into my programs and articles. Sometimes I add them to the reader’s stories section of the web site. Other times, like this, the ideas seem best suited for this blog.

Before we get to the idea, let me share with you the weekly tip that inspired Dave Densley of Media Perfection:

Weekly Tip – Global Team Building

As many of our organizations go global it gets more difficult to build cohesive, responsive teams. Difficult, but not impossible. Here are a few strategies that others have used:

  • Schedule regular conference calls (audio is fine, video is better) for strategy sessions, best practices, brainstorming and even fun and games. Schedule them at different times of the day to share the inconvenience of disparate time zones.
  • Set up a closed Intranet for your team. Include a place to post kudos, requests, and notes of appreciation. Think of it as a virtual bulletin board. Also include profiles of each member. You can post a brief bio, areas of expertise, hobbies, current projects, etc.
  • Create an Instant Messenger group for your team. This way you will know when your colleagues around the world are online and available for a quick chat.There is no replacement for face time, but virtual time helps break down barriers.

Now onto Dave’s idea! He writes:

Hi Cindy,
My team has been working for several years trying to find the best technologies to help us connect regularly for conferencing.  Here are some of the best tools we’ve found.

Project Management Collaboration Tool.  Simplicity.  It is a clean, simple easy to use product that is useful for all involved.

Mac Video chat. Ease of use.  I’ve been involved in online conferencing over the last 5 years. Most have been a huge pain for both parties trying to use it.  Ichat just works and is not difficult to use or install.

Thanks Dave!

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Since so many organizations use employee surveys, it seems important to talk a bit about analyzing the results of those surveys

Employee surveys can be very helpful. 

  • When you know what is working, you can build upon your successes.
  • When you discover where problems exist, you will be able to take corrective action.
  • Keep in mind that, often, instead of providing answers, surveys just create more questions. Ask yourself what the results mean. For instance, if only 25 percent of employees believe they get appropriate recognition, why is that true? Did respondents understand the statement as it was intended? Can they tell you what would make recognition more appropriate? To find the answers, follow up with one-on-one interviews.

Never make assumptions about what the survey results mean.
Follow up until you have a complete understanding
of why respondents answered the way they did.
Otherwise, you’re likely to misinterpret the results.

Case Study
Consider one consulting firm’s satisfaction survey that included these three statements related to recognition.

(1) Teams are recognized for their contributions to improving how we work. Eighty-two percent responded favorably to this state­ment, a good response.

(2) Individuals are recognized for their contributions to improving how we work. Seventy-six percent responded favorably, still a pretty good rating.

(3) How satisfied are you with the recognition you get?  Only 56 percent responded favorably to this state­ment. This low response rate should have been a red flag for the firm.

The burning question should have been why are only 56 percent of respondents satisfied with the recognition they get? The people analyzing the consult­ing firm’s results assumed this question scored low because of a compensation and benefits issue. Their assumption may have been true, but because most employees don’t consider compensation and benefits to be recognition, it’s very likely that the firm’s assumption was wrong. Without follow-up conversations or a new survey to separate recognition from compensation and benefits, they will never know for sure.

Forty-four percent of their employees expected to be recognized more effectively. Unless this firm finds out why these employees are dissatisfied, they aren’t likely to improve the rating. If anything, people will become more dissatisfied because the survey raised their expectation for change and then change didn’t occur.

Remember, that surveys rarely provide answers. They create more questions, questions that require further exploration.

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!

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