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Recognition in The Real World
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IFI Market Estimate Research Study

Posted By Steve Slagle, Thursday, August 4, 2016

The IFI research study was released in mid-July initially to the principal incentive trade media, IFI members and the trade associations.

To date, PPAI, IMA and the IRF have published the news and study on their websites and in electronic media. Incentive magazine published the release and plans more coverage; Premium Incentive Products magazine published the news release and plans an article for an upcoming issue; and Sales and Marketing Management magazine plans articles in two of its fall issues. Some of our industry colleagues have been contacted for interviews for those articles.

With the generous assistance of PPAI's Public Relations Manager, Kim Todora, the news release was transmitted to hundreds of general business, advertising, advertising analysts, communications, marketing, market research, public relations,and human resources media contacts the week of July 25. Hopefully we'll have some additional coverage from a number of those media outlets which reach the all important business community with our message.

Steve Slagle
3309 Three Iron Drive
Seneca, SC 29678

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Recognition Around the World

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Make Sure Your Recognition Efforts Don’t Get Lost in Translation

Pepsi can tell you a lot about the pitfalls of working around the world.

Back in the ‘60s, the global beverage giant took its highly successful “Come Alive! You’re in The Pepsi Generation” advertising campaign to the Chinese market.

The campaign was an absolute bust.

The reason – someone discovered Pepsi’s slogan translated to mean “Pepsi will make your dead ancestors come back from the grave.”

That’s a good lesson for any organization looking to expand operations elsewhere – including recognition leaders What works in North America may not have the same desired effect when used in other countries.

While the need to do your homework might night be earth shaking news, it’s how you approach that homework that’s important.

Two essential elements in connecting with global cultures.
Work with local leaders to answer two questions:

1. Why are we recognizing?
2. What local nuance is required to ensure it resonates in this particular culture?

What is universal is that we know employee engagement works to increase productivity, retain high performing employees and attract top candidates. We also know that recognition is the best way to drive employee engagement.

Working with local managers, leadership and HR, make sure your recognition program is “their” program, not just a program thrust upon them and it must be done a certain way. Programs should reflect the culture, needs and desires of the local employees. If not, employees may view it as an imposition and perhaps resent it as something that is strictly an “American” thing.

Regardless of culture, every individual wants to feel valued, and that their work is important to the success of the company. Employees need to understand that recognition drives results, and the recognition program is there to give employees the appreciation they desire.

If you need help making changes to an existing program being put in place in another country, or implementing a brand new program, the experts at RPI can help. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and how to create a culture of engagement in your company anywhere in the world.

To learn more about Recognition strategy, feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement. You can also become your company’s go-to expert on recognition by earning RPI’s Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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International Recognition: Bridging the Cultural Divide

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Working with International Leaders inside your company can help customize programs in other countries.

International recognition programs have grown incrementally as the world has become more connected than ever before. This growth into other countries and cultures has had a major impact on not only business strategy, but also strategies for recognition and employee engagement.

A Towers Perrin survey found that “recognition” serves as one of the top five drivers for attracting candidates in the UK (it tied tied for top spot across the EU). Recognition programs are also rapidly growing in Asia and Latin America. So, the need for employee engagement and recognition extends far beyond just North American companies.

Kathy Stark, current president of Recognition Professionals International, has seen recognition programs successfully expand to locations around the world. Stark has 39 years of experience within her own company. She spent 19 years in operations and management and another 20 years in Human Resources, where she has been a manager involved with employee programing and recognition strategy.

While there are some differences to consider internationally when developing and administrating programs that drive the business strategy globally for the company. Many of the challenges related to international recognition remain the same. “Globally the focus is on the highest levels of recognition areas and usually the most consistent across international and domestic boundaries,” she said.

“In a large company, the best practice is to look at the overall recognition strategy. Then you move down into local strategy, and give leadership at the local level more ability to manage day to day recognition in a way they would like to do and what their population would like within established guidelines.”

Recognition – Think global, act local.

The concepts of employee engagement, and how recognition drives engagement, are the same around the world. No matter where a program is implemented, managers and employees need to understand the reasons – and the individual need – for employee recognition and how to give it.

“It is important to make sure leaders understand, this is not just a nice thing to do – this drives performance and business results – and to make sure they understand how it does that,” Stark said. “A critical strategy for success is to have partners on the ground when new locations open, and to deploy people there to help them understand recognition overall, and the strategies and how to put that all into place.”

Equally important is to have a strategy for how to support all employees across the globe, as well as how to apply its recognition programs across an entire company. While the program is basically the same all over the world, local leaders help make it work for unique needs of different locations, to ensure the program resonates with people in that country or culture, and to make changes if necessary.

Lean on local contacts to market it the right way, administrate it in the right way and what are those cultural differences to account for,” she said. “When planning large formal events hosted by senior leadership always take into consideration what those cultural differences are when planning those events.”

RPI is a great source of information about how to create a culture of engagement in your company – anywhere in the world.

To learn more about Recognition strategy, you can start with RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards and feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of recognition and how to start a new program or adjust an existing one.

As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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The Need for Recognition is Universal

Posted By David Layman, Monday, July 25, 2016

Consider Cultural Differences for Employee Engagement and Recognition in Other Countries

Employee engagement is growing across the globe as more companies look to implement and grow recognition programs internationally.

According to Aon Hewitt’s 2016 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, the Asia Pacific region has shown the largest rate of improvement in employee engagement, with engagement rates in Europe, North America and Latin America growing modestly.

Companies are increasingly looking at ways to engage employees in international offices. At its core, recognition is the same everywhere in the world. All employees want and need to be appreciated and recognized. However, a recognition program that works in North America may not work perfectly in Europe or Asia without making some tweaks or changes based on cultural differences.

Roy Saunderson, Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions, is an expert at helping companies establish or assimilate their programs in other parts of the world. He has worked in eight European countries as well as in Asia.

Saunderson says too often we go in with a cookie cutter approach and say ‘this is the program we use here, so this is what we’re going to use’, instead of saying ‘this is the system we use, how can we tailor the programs to fit our division here in whatever country?’

“We need to learn to accept these differences and do a little cultural assimilation,” he said. “If people realize a program is a tool then they’ll design a program that is an effective tool for each country. But you have to be much more aware of the unique differences.”

For instance, he said, many Asian cultures have more of a collective, communal mindset. So for them, team recognition is more important than individual recognition. In fact, being set apart and publicly acknowledged individually can almost be seen as a negative.

Rewards vs. Recognition – Key Drivers Around the World

In some countries, employees are much more money-focused. Other cultures often view rewards as recognition – seeing the words as synonymous. By defining terms and differentiating between recognition and rewards, the concepts begin to resonate more.

“Often, they do not understand, appreciate or comprehend how Americans can get a trinket and be happy,” Saunderson said. “They absolutely can degrade that kind of recognition.”

“So when you start to share with them that money doesn’t have the same impact in all situations, they can start to understand. But it’s going against the cultural grain. When I tell people that positive feedback will outweigh any negative feedback, they start to get it. When you educate them on how to give feedback, they start to realize ‘that would be kind of nice to have.’”

In some countries, there is initially an aversion to recognition, Saunderson said, but using employee surveys he is able to point out that their employees want recognition and should be giving it to them.

“In some countries, the intangible doesn’t mean anything to them – money is the only thing that talks,” Saunderson said. “You have to be very mindful of cultural practices and norms, and be aware of monetary economic comparisons from one country to another. Then you have to start to look at the education required for how you appreciate people, how you give recognition the right way.”

Respecting Cultures – Finding Out the ‘Why’

Educating people in other countries about recognition is important, but at the same time it is crucial to respect cultural differences.

“You have to start off with the strategy as to the ‘why’ of recognition,” Saunderson said. “Education, listening and respect are so critical. You’ve got to talk to them one on one, do the focus groups. Once you understand their why, now you might be able to create a program or practices that address those concerns.”

There will still be some aspects of the culture you have to acknowledge and you have to be careful not to superimpose programs and say this is the ‘North American way’, he added.

Break it down to universal needs.

“It’s universal – everyone wants to be recognized. But respect is at the core of recognition and we need to respect the cultural differences. Knowing that our programs are a tool, not the end all be all – there will be times when we need to customize our programs to other cultures.

“We want people to feel valued. We want results to improve, and we want to improve engagement so that will address how productive people are and how engaged they are as far as giving discretionary effort,” Saunderson said. “But that’s only an outcome. We have to be careful how we are getting there. Don’t pretend our programs are going to be a universal approach.”

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Employee Recognition Around the World – Stamping Your Global Recognition Passport

Posted By David Layman, Friday, July 15, 2016

With technology advances in the past two decades the world has become more interconnected than ever before, with instant communication and seamless interaction breaking down barriers of thousands of miles (or kilometers for you metric system users).

As companies expand to other parts of the world, they are finding that employee recognition strategy is just as effective beyond the confines of their continent and despite cultural differences the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

According to WorldatWork’s Trends in Recognition 2013, just under half of surveyed organizations with employees outside of North America said their international employees participate in most or all of the same recognition programs as their North American counterparts.

While technology has brought enormous changes to the way companies do business across the world, what hasn’t changed – over time and across cultures – is an individual employee’s need to feel valued. The effectiveness of employee recognition in engaging employees is universal.

On paper, international employee engagement should be easy. However, culture and customs require careful planning and excellent communication in order to make recognition effective in other parts of the world.

Although the concepts, ideas and purpose behind recognition are generally the same, we can’t take a cookie cutter approach to international recognition programs. You can’t hammer a square peg into a round hole.

Listen. Learn. Educate. Be Flexible. The 4 Keys to Successful Recognition Around the World.

It is vital when exporting a recognition program that organizations take the time to listen, learn and communicate with employees, no matter where they sit, as well as being willing to change certain parts of the program based on where it’s being implemented.


Take the time to learn about employees’ needs and desires. An employee survey can offer important insights.


What are the customs, values, ideals and attitudes regarding how employees interact with their managers and their peers.


Not all cultures understand engagement and recognition in the same way. But everyone can agree on how engagement drives productivity, retention of high performing employees and recruitment of high quality candidates. Work with managers to give them an understanding of the principles behind employee recognition.

Be Flexible

Evaluate and be willing to make changes to your recognition program if pieces are not as effective as they could be.

Is your company opening a new office in Dubai, Mumbai or Shanghai? Looking for ways to engage international employees through a new recognition program, or to reinvigorate an exported program to fit better with an international office? RPI has resources to help you develop an effective recognition program to engage employees whether close or around the world.

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Social Recognition is a Necessity for Company Engagement

Posted By David Layman, Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Don’t let recognition technology leave you behind

Is your company keeping up with the latest trends in recognition? Well, if you’re not using social media to engage employees, you might as well also be using dial-up for your internet. Social recognition is vital for its efficiency and effectiveness in driving employee engagement, which in turn drives productivity and helps recruit and retain high performing employees.

Much in the same way as social media has completely changed the way companies market products and services, social recognition has become one of the primary tools for engaging employees. And just like social media, having a platform for social recognition is no longer just a “nice to have” option – it’s a necessity and an expectation for leading organizations to have a mechanism for social recognition.

Social Recognition Platforms Continuing to Improve and Becoming Standard

According to research company Gartner, by 2018 social recognition will be the norm in not just the largest, most forward-thinking organizations but also in most mid-sized companies.

Most leading companies are recognizing this need, which is driving the growth of online social recognition platforms that allow managers to give recognition quickly, efficiently and regularly. And, as importantly, employees can interact using peer-to-peer recognition.

Through social media, it is easier to make social recognition a part of the company culture. Many companies are now using online or software-based platforms that use the concepts of online social networking to increase recognition.

If your organization is not currently using social recognition, or is using an outdated system, it is time to start thinking about how to up your game in terms of social recognition.

Tying Social Recognition to Other Types of Programs

Many companies also use a number of other activities to help drive more social recognition. Using company celebrations, special events, gamification, team building activities, company-based community volunteer opportunities and other activities is a great way to increase use of social recognition by employees.

All of these activities help employee engagement, and it’s also a great way to keep remote employees engaged. The natural inclination is for employees to use the company intranet or social platform to interact with each other about these topics. The more you are able to engage employees in using your internal social platform, the more likely they are to return and offer recognition to peers. This keeps the cycle going.

RPI is Your Resource for Social Recognition Planning and Implementation

RPI is a great source of information about how to create a culture of engagement in your company. To learn more about Social Recognition strategy, you can start with RPI’s Best Practice Standards® and feel free to contact RPI with any additional questions. RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of social recognition and what types of platforms you can use or steps you can take to get started. As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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Recognition Success Story: RBC’s Social Recognition Program a Sound Investment

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

RBC Royal Bank has continued to find ways to be in the forefront of social recognition, and their efforts are paying dividends.

RBC uses a standard online, internet-based system for the company’s recognition efforts, making for a very successful recognition and engagement program for its more than 75,000 employees around the world.

"There’s no secret that using social engagement works, and that engagement ties to results. It has certainly been an amazing journey for us," said Steve Richardson, CRP, Manager, Recognition Programs for Royal Bank of Canada.

With employees being so busy with their daily tasks, Richardson said the social recognition platform they use allows managers and employees to give more frequent and timely recognition for a job well done, large or small.

“You need more frequency and things that will literally take seconds, whether it’s daily recognition or peer-to-peer recognition,” he said. “Our employees like the quickness of it. You can log in and give recognition in 20 to 30 seconds. They can leave the screen open on their computer and come in and quickly give recognition. They can get in and get out.”

According to a Gallup study, 49% of employees say they would leave their current position to move to a company that recognizes employees for their work. As expected, the more frequent the recognition, the more successful recognition programs will be.

Another key to the success of RBC’s program is that they regularly train managers on the importance of recognition, and how to do it. Having worked for years in the banking business, Richardson learned all about the particulars of that business, but no one trained him on the particulars of recognition. Now, he knows how important it is to train managers on how to do recognition.

“We spend a lot of time coaching our managers about what recognition is – the philosophy behind employee recognition – what you say to the employee and how that ties back to engagement, as well as what is meaningful recognition. What do they want to hear?”

And they are looking at ways to embellish their training and how they can get their social recognition tools into the hands of managers, as well as how they can use the data to manage people better and engage employees.

Richardson stressed the importance of manager participation, adding that once a manager “gets it” and ups their game in terms of recognition, more and more people begin using it.

While RBC’s social recognition does use a point-based reward program, Richardson added it’s not so much about getting “stuff”, like prizes and other items, necessarily.

“It’s about how that manager makes you feel – that you feel appreciated,” he said.

One of the challenges for RBC has been how to grow its recognition program as the company has expanded into other parts of the world. The company has grown from a small bank in Canada to countries around the world and they have had to take other languages and cultures into consideration.

“Social recognition is different depending on what part of the world you’re in,” he said. “But generally the notion of social recognition is sound everywhere. We speak to our local counterparts to see what we need to do – here’s what we want to do, now coach us on how to do it.”

One area he sees the company expanding is in using data to better gauge their investment in recognition.

“That’s the new frontier,” he said. “We are looking for more tools managers can use to be effective. We’ve been successful, we are very happy with our numbers. Now the next phase is tie in financial data to see how it relates back to our spend. Sometimes ROI is hard to answer. We’re definitely looking forward to that as the next chapter.”

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Explainer – Social Recognition

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why Social Recognition leads to a better organization.

Want to engage employees in your corporate culture.

Consider social recognition. Social Recognition is an outstanding tool for employee engagement. Greater employee engagement leads to increased productivity, better retention of high performing employees and a more profitable business.

Social Recognition works by creating an environment and providing tools for employees to interact with each other in a positive way, and for managers to give positive reinforcement to their team members. So, why is it important? Because it helps employees connect to their peers, their managers and to their company. It is not just important, it’s critical for employees to feel appreciated for their work. This type of connection directly affects their productivity, as well as their desire to perform at a higher level and to stay a part of the company for the long term.

Business owners or executives who are only looking at success in terms of dollars are doing so at their peril. Sure, the expectation and need of the employer is still for the employee to be productive. But it’s foolish to think “isn’t a paycheck enough?” The key is that employees want to know that they are appreciated for a job well done.

Happier = Productive.

Both studies and anecdotes confirm that people work for people they like. The old adage says “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” By the same logic, people leave managers they don’t like.

Studies have also shown that appreciation leads to greater productivity.

A 2007-2008 Global Workforce Study by Towers Perrin surveyed 90,000 employees in 18 countries on engagement. Comparing the survey results with the companies’ financial data, those organizations with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and a 28% increase in earnings per share over a 12-month period.

RPI Standards on Recognition.

If you are new to recognition, and to the recognition industry (wait, there’s an industry?), it might be a little overwhelming to figure out where to start.

RPI has set out a list of Best Practice Standards® that gives an overview for setting up a successful recognition program. At the top of the list is a standard for recognition strategy which relates directly to doing social recognition.

This first standard points out that a recognition program should have a Three Dimensional Approach, which includes Day-to-Day Recognition, Informal Recognition and Formal Recognition. Social recognition programs and platforms can be used in all three, but especially in performing Day-to-Day recognition, as it facilitates frequent and ongoing recognition with quick notes or posts from managers or peers for a job well done. These posts can be private or public and can have reward points attached to them.

These social recognition platforms are most effective with executive level buy-in. Encouragement from the CEO or C-Suite for managers and employees to consistently use the social recognition platform ensures greater participation across the company and greater success.

Social recognition is only one part of a successful company recognition program, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular parts, as well as one of the easiest to use and administer. To learn more about Social Recognition strategy, you can start with RPI's Best Practice Standards® and contact RPI with any additional questions.

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Social Recognition by the Numbers

Posted By David Layman, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Using Social Recognition Can Make a Positive Impact on your Organization

Hard statistics have shown that social recognition is a difference maker. These studies and real business practices should be convincing reasons why your organization needs to learn more and take action on the use of social recognition.

So, what is the impact of social recognition? And more importantly, what is the impact of failing to enact, support and participate in social recognition in your workplace?

Even if you said the impact is big – well, it’s bigger than that. But when you boil it down, the premise is fairly simple. People like to be appreciated and they like to be told so.

According to Lynn Learning Labs, 88 percent of employees surveyed cited lack of acknowledgement as their No. 1 issue at work. The survey doesn’t mention the other 12 percent, but it’s probably pretty high on their list as well.

This makes the case for the emotional side of why recognition works, but studies also back this up with numbers that affect your company’s bottom line. It is estimated that replacement of an employee leaving the company generally costs around six to nine months of that employee’s salary. You do the math from there – it can add up quickly. Many companies go to great lengths to save a dollar in expenses or add new business but fail to see the return they can realize on their investment in employee retention through an engagement program.

Organizations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes. (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012)

Make Social Recognition Work for your Organization

There’s nothing as powerful or that works as well to engage employees, and thereby decrease turnover rates, as social recognition.

The type of social recognition you use can vary from points-based incentives, peer-to-peer recognition, notes from managers or formal recognition at organization events. The key is to make it easy and make it frequent.

A 2012 study from SHRM and Globoforce showed that peer-to-peer recognition is over 35 percent more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition, while another study from McKinsey found that praise from managers was the top motivator, rating higher than noncash or financial incentives by roughly two-thirds of workers.

But not only does recognition lead to engaged employees, it is a great tool to use in recruiting the best candidates to work for your company.

A 2004 survey by Towers Perrin Recognition found that recognition was one of the top five drivers for attraction of candidates in the UK and was tied as the top attraction in the EU. According to SHRM, “Social recognition capitalizes on employees’ behavioral habits and new social technologies to give more people a voice in saying ‘thanks,’ adding an important tool to an organization’s rewards strategy.”

RPI offers a great forum for learning more about the effectiveness of social recognition and what types of platforms you can use or steps you can take to get started. As a member you have access to the best and brightest in the world of employee recognition and engagement, as well as the opportunity to become an expert yourself through the Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) certification.

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OSHA Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

Posted By RPI, Monday, May 16, 2016

In November 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") issued a revised draft of OSHA Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (the "Draft Guidelines"). On page 8 of the Draft Guidelines, it states in a note that, "Incentive programs for workers or managers that tie performance evaluations, compensation, or rewards to low injury and illness rates can discourage injury and illness reporting. Point systems that penalize workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, or other safety or health concerns have the same effect, as can mandatory drug testing after reporting injuries. Effective safety and health programs recognize positive safety and health activities, such as reporting hazardous conditions or suggesting safer work procedures."

Read more here.

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