Hailed as the world’s leading business strategist, award-winning expert witness, strategic consultant and professional speaker, Scott Steinberg is among today’s best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of “Think Like a Futurist;” “Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty;” and “Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth.” The president and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, his website is FuturistsSpeakers.com.
Surprise! As surveys of hundreds of the world’s most successful and innovative organizations show, having more time, money or staff isn’t the secret to getting ahead. Instead, as we discovered while researching our recent book “Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth,” the world’s most accomplished organizations strive to create leaders at every level, and constantly give people more opportunities to speak up, share their insights, and experiment with creative new solutions. In other words, they constantly strive to cultivate entrepreneurial thinking in workers, listen more closely to clients and customers, and find better ways to tap into the power of their people. But with employee incentivization every bit as important to driving forward growth and momentum as innovation, what’s the best way to let colleagues know their work is valued — and that they’re No. 1 in your book? And with so many great employee appreciation and recognition ideas to potentially draw upon when doing so, how can you determine which will most resonate with them? Here are five ways you can get workers excited and reengaged, and transform every individual at your organization into a potential change agent.
Sometimes, the simplest employee recognition ideas are the best. For example when one global IT and big data leader we consult with has a huge, hard business problem that it can’t seem to solve, it regularly posts innovation contests on its website and invites workers to contribute great ideas, give feedback to their peers and vote which concepts should be turned into real-world solutions. Similarly, when one of the industry’s largest global finance firms is looking to identify prospective candidates for promotion to leadership roles, even though they may be young and inexperienced on paper, or not have a background managing people, it holds hackathon (freestyle design) events at which employees from every department are invited to work together to come up with working product prototypes in just 48 hours. Still more clients hold regular breakfasts where senior leaders provide time to sit down and swap ideas with new hires; provide regular conferences, workshops and strategic retreats where colleagues spend time sharing ideas and learning from each other; and purposefully put employees through a rotation of job roles to help them network and gain new insights and skills. All of these employee recognition ideas help reinforce an important point: Our organization is listening to what you have to say, and every employee’s contributions matter. This kind of recognition can be even more powerful than financial incentives when it comes to promoting an organizational culture of greatness.
If you want to create more compelling job offers and attract and retain top performers by keeping your employees happier, it helps to analyze your ideal hires’ needs and customize benefits to each prospective candidate. For example, one major quick-service restaurant chain not only provides health insurance for employees who work 25 or more hours weekly to reward an older audience of part-time workers looking to supplement their retirement income, it also provides college tuition for many candidates, because an equally large segment of employees are college-bound individuals and 20-somethings.
Many leaders in other fields are also following suit, and shifting away from demanding that employees be chained to a desk during daytime hours to operating models which emphasize teleworking opportunities and flexible schedules to help attract and keep spirits high amongst workers, especially Gen Xers and baby boomers who may be working parents. Customizing the benefits of being a part of your organization can be one of today’s most effective employee appreciation ideas, and produce big wins when it comes to boosting worker satisfaction and morale.
Crowdsourcing creative contributions from your employees — e.g. inviting them to submit ideas and input en masse — can also be a powerful way to reinforce your appreciation for their skills. Whether asking workers to send you their best designs for new logos; inviting them to film videos for possible consideration in online advertisements; or requesting that they share their best stories for inclusion in eBooks, whitepapers and brochures, many engaging and dynamic ways exist to get your workforce involved. From photos to podcasts, slideshows to social network posts, these types of user-generated content programs can provide ready opportunities to spotlight key contributors and put a more human face on your organization as well. Not only do these types of programs feel more authentic and genuine for the effort, they also provide added chances to shine the spotlight where it’s rightfully deserved — on the everyday employees who make your organization the wonderful place to work it is — as well.
Ongoing learning and growth is the basic building block of a successful organization and a successful career today. So make a specific point to also help employees pick up in-demand training, experience and skills wherever possible as well. This is among the best employee appreciation ideas you can implement. Sometimes, this means setting budgets aside to invest in formal education, training or certification programs. But just as often, it can include simply providing workers with the access and time that they need to sit down with colleagues from different departments to discuss best practices, or to gain deeper insight into new areas of the business, new technologies and new growth markets. If you’re looking to start simple, remember: Efforts here can be as simple as springing for a pizza night that brings the marketing and software development teams together to learn more about how each other works, and share ideas for improvement. The key is to actively connect workers with resources and opportunities that can help them learn, grow and expand their skill set, and become more valuable on the job.
Most of tomorrow’s workforce — regardless of age or background — won’t measure success in terms of money, but rather their ability to accomplish goals and make a difference in their organization or community. They’ll also want to work for innovative organizations, and expect to run their own forward-thinking entrepreneurial ventures at some point. If you’re hoping to boost spirits and employee engagement, it helps to remember that you can do so by providing clear goals, an engaging variety of assignments to tackle and cultivating a go-getting attitude in your organization. Likewise, you’ll further want to provide more mentorship and ongoing feedback in the workplace, as well as more transparency, guidance and honest input about how the organization is evolving — and how they can personally contribute in ways that make a meaningful difference. And remember, it’s common these days for high-performing employees to come and go, as they seek to expand their horizons and take on new challenges and roles. If they choose to move on, stay supportive. Not only will doing so reinforce to others that you truly care about them. These selfsame individuals may very well may rejoin your team at a later date more experienced and capable for having done so. | AC&F |