Rewards & Recognition, Talent Management

Workforce Insights: Do You Treat Employees Like Olympic Athletes?

london-2012-olympic-events

What do the 2012 London Olympics and successful organizations have in common? The answer: talent, coaching and recognition.

Just like top employees, Olympic athletes are intrinsically motivated by their inherent need to perform and achieve. Even though the Olympics occur every four years, the athletes receive constant feedback along the way.

Fans recognize them and provide support, and they receive coaching from their team managers to verify positive progress. During the Olympics, the best athletes receive on-the-spot, meaningful and specific recognition and are rewarded with medals: an extrinsic motivator that publicly validates their talent to their peers and the world.

Think of your employees the same way we see athletes. Without ongoing communication, coaching and recognition your talent can’t improve, nor will they know to repeat the behaviors that are leading to success. Business is competitive and your employees are the competitive advantage.

Are employees your first customer?

According to Lloyd’s Risk Index 2011, that talent/skills shortage is the number two business risk facing global organizations today. The top risk is loss of customers, which is directly correlated to employees and their levels of engagement. Smart companies treat their employees as their first customer and provide a competitive employee experience because loyal employees create loyal customers.

According to Achievers Intelligence: Insight Into Today’s Workforce, a study revealing what employees want in the workplace in regards to recognition, there is a clear need to repair the employer and employee relationship, which can be attributed to disengagement. This can be accomplished by understanding the needs of the current workforce and which levers help create a more engaged workforce.

3 things you need to know about your workers

To retain top performers and have an engaged workforce in today’s economy, companies, these are the three things you need to know about your workforce:

1. Applying directly to the organization is the top method today’s employees use to seek new opportunities – and certainly the use of social media networks like LinkedIn and FaceBook make these direct connections easier than they used to be, especially for passive candidates.

Companies have an opportunity to elevate their corporate image and attract passive candidates. If they don’t know you, they won’t find you. A close second was referral by friends – particularly with the popularity of paying referral bonuses to employees for their introductions – gives a new meaning to “friends with benefits” and is also a strong tactic used by today’s employed job seekers.

2. Similar to athletes, employees need constant feedback to perform at their peak. Our survey found that only 24 percent of employees currently receive feedback on-the-spot, while 61 percent want it on- the-spot. Performance management systems that spit out rote annual feedback information do not align with the desire for immediate feedback.

Our research clearly shows that both CEOs and HR professionals understand that annual, process-driven performance feedback systems are not effective and not what employees want. Everyone is in agreement, so why do annual systems persist? They mainly continue because they are deeply embedded in managerial and organizational DNA.

Like annual salary increases, annual benefits open enrollment, annual budget setting, annual business planning, many employers operate on yearly planning cycles. It’s the way we’ve always done it. This data would support a re-thinking of an annual only approach to performance feedback – and the inclusion of more frequent and informal ways to recognize employee contributions.

3. More than a third of employee respondents disagree that they are receiving regular recognition. This creates an opportunity to evaluate your rewards and recognition programs with an eye towards strengthening the recognition component. Recognition is the best form of feedback, but only when it’s specific, timely and meaningful. You lose those elements when you provide recognition annually, semi-annually and even monthly. When positive behaviors are recognized, those behaviors are then repeated.

By establishing a strong employee value proposition to elevate your organization’s corporate image, you will attract the right talent. Once they are in the door, don’t stop there. Institute better systems of communication and deliver more informal as well as frequent types of recognition and feedback.

Just like athletes, your employees need constant coaching, feedback and recognition. You should be their biggest fan!

Read all the research from Achievers Intelligence: Insight into today’s workforce here.

Razor Suleman is founder and chief evangelist of Achievers (formerly I Love Rewards), a company that helps organizations reward and recognize brilliant employee performance. Achievers customizes it’s solution to our clients brand and culture and provides easy-to-use social technologies to create authentic moments of recognition that increase employee engagement, retain top talent and drive business success. Contact him at razor@achievers.com.