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Recognition in The Real World
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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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The RPI Board Library

Posted By Jason Thomson, CRP, Instigator, Jigsaw, Monday, May 16, 2016

How do you set up, nurture and defend a “culture of recognition” within your organization? RPI’s Board of Directors recently shared the resources they use to do exactly that.


12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter

How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton

The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work, by Dr. Paul White

People Artistry at Work: The Ennoblement Imperative by Peter Hart and David Zinger

Return to Civility: A Speed of Laughter Project by John Sweeney

Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships by Ken Blanchard

Winning with a Culture of Recognition by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine

The Wow Workplace: How to build an employee recognition culture that engages your people and produces big results for your Organization by Mike Byam.


Employee Recognition Wasn't Built in a Day by Sarah Payne

Inspiring Others, Smarter Communication by Chris Loping

Why Free is Best: The Employee Recognition Paradox by Cindy Ventrice

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Formal Recognition Strategies Help Drive Company Purpose and Culture

Posted By Jennifer Corbett, CRP Account Manager, Maritz Motivation Solutions, Monday, May 16, 2016

Building a great culture should be simple. It can be effective when you engage employees in shaping it. When everyone is connected by their belief in the organization’s purpose, great things can happen. Service, growth, innovation and results will occur if your employee’s feel appreciated and recognized for their efforts.

There are some key strategies you can follow to incorporate engagement into your organization’s culture:

  1. Understand that you have a multi-generational workforce who have different goals and recognition preferences. Managers should seek to understand individual work styles and how people like to be recognized for accomplishments.
  2. Enable personal growth and work/life balance. Millennials have requested flexibility, but work/life balance is something enjoyed by everyone. Empower your teams to develop their personal and professional skills by embracing remote work schedules, encouraging team celebrations or sponsoring professional training.
  3. Develop employee strengths through a mentorship program. Start a reverse mentorship program in which each employee is both a mentor and a mentee (two relationships). This will provide additional perspective and will push your employees to gain an understanding or establish empathy for other company roles and goals. Collaboration, engagement and learning improve dramatically as a result.
  4. Invest in online platforms that promote community and collaboration where employees can quickly and easily share success. These online tools provide trackable methods of recognition which can publically be shared across the organization through newsfeeds, ebulletins or shared email notifications.

Executive Leadership Should Drive Engagement and It Should Be Celebrated
Engagement needs to be shared from the top down, and senior management should be communicating clear goals of the company. This can be shared with the organization by providing a short check list or list of accomplishments set for a specific time period. Communication is key and should be executed via an email campaign and management involvement. Managers should be meeting with key leadership to provide feedback and support from the field. And they should be sharing key learnings and requests back to their teams to establish trust and clarity.

Once goals are met along the way, celebrating the accomplishments are key to promote the behaviors that are required to meet and exceed the established goals. Team building events can also be arranged to center a group around a common purpose or project. HR Leaders should also be involved and understand their employees’ strengths and needs. Management teams need to structure plans and execute each step to position engagement related goals along with other business goals. This will demonstrate the importance of engaging employees and ensure focus is balanced between engagement and business accomplishments.

Research shows a clear connection between employee engagement and economic drivers like reduced operational costs, increased customer loyalty, and improved productivity. Leaders and managers genuinely want employees to be engaged and happy at work, and they should support the desire for purpose at work. Formalizing recognition strategies and promoting those strategies form the top down will ensure a positive work culture within your organization.

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Engaged Company Stock Index (ESCI)

Posted By Ira Ozer, CRP, CPIM with permission by Bruce Bolger, ED of the EEA, Monday, May 16, 2016

Research from virtually all of the employee engagement research companies, including Gallup, Hay Group, Sirota and others, indicates that a top cause of employee disengagement is that employees do not feel recognized for their work or above and beyond contributions to help their companies succeed.

Naturally, most recognition and engagement consultants, authors, trainers and agencies conclude from the research and from their experience, that having a “culture of recognition” with the proper platform and programs is essential to improving engagement. And to support this conclusion, RPI, the Recognition Professionals International Association, has created a curriculum and certification program based on the best practices of leading corporations with a culture of recognition. But there is a challenge – to convince the CEO of any company to make employee recognition a cornerstone of their corporate mission, vision and values and then prioritize it with day-to-day focus and time, while investing approx. $100 per employee per year to fund it – requires a proven Return-on-Investment (ROI). And although the research, experts, practical experience and even common sense indicates that recognizing employees for great work is beneficial for the company, it is still often considered a “soft” initiative impossible to conclusively prove…until now.

The Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA), an organization comprised of leading companies and associations across the spectrum of engagement, has worked with McBassi & Company, a human data analytics firm to create the “Engaged Company Stock Index” (ECSI). The ESCI tracks the long-term results of companies with high levels of customer, employee, and community engagement, known as “Good Companies,” determined by independent data sources as compared with S&P 500 companies in general and the results are amazing!

Since the ECSI started on October 1, 2012 until the most recent stock market results on March 31, 2016, “Good” companies outperformed S&P 500 companies in general by 21.3 percent.

According to Bruce Bolger, Founder and Executive Director of the EEA, The Good Company portfolio includes 43 companies with combined high scores as employers, sellers, and stewards of the community and environment. The composition of the portfolio is periodically updated (most recently on January 31st, 2016), based on new data from the Good Company Index. These Engaged Companies include:

Agilent Technologies
Applied Materials
Boston Scientific
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Campbell Soup
CenterPoint Energy
Cisco Systems
Cognizant Technical Solutions
Dominion Resources
DTE Energy
Eli Lilly
Estee Lauder
General Mills
Johnson & Johnson
L Brands
Marriott International
Principal Financial
Prudential Financial
Rockwell Automation
Southwest Airlines
Whole Foods Market

Consistent with other stock indices, the EEA Engaged Company Stock Index provides a cumulative score that can be easily compared over time with other indices. McBassi’s Engaged Company Index uses the metrics outlined in the book, Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era, which gives companies letter grades, with the best companies getting an A, and poor companies getting Ds and Fs. To study the impact on stock market performance, McBassi examined pairs of companies in the same industry in the Fortune 100 in which the companies’ Engaged Company grades differed by one or more full grade levels (for example, a grade of B versus a grade of C) over a two-year period.

Across the twelve pairs of companies that met this criterion, the stock price of the company with the higher grade outperformed that of its competitor with the lower grade by an average of 30.2 percentage points over the two-year period following the assignment of Engaged Company grades (an average annualized outperformance of over 14 percentage points).

Those companies with higher Engaged Company grades significantly outperformed in the first year and then further extended that outperformance in the second year. In addition, in 83 percent of the pairs (10 of 12), the higher-ranked company outperformed the other over the 24-month period.

For example, the stock value of IBM (Engaged Company grade of B+) increased by a cumulative 58.4 percent during the two-year period, compared to a decrease of 53.4 percent in Hewlett Packard (grade of C) over the same time, for a 111.8 percentage point outperformance for IBM. Similarly, Verizon (grade of C+) outperformed AT&T (grade of D+) by 21.7 percentage points during that period, 76.5 percent to 54.8 percent.

The Engaged Company Stock Index only tracks companies with high engagement, because there have been too many mergers, acquisitions, and other changes among the companies with low engagement scores to provide a predictive base of companies to track. Here is a link to all of the information:

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6 Reasons Every Organization Needs a Recognition Program

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Tuesday, April 12, 2016

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The RPI Board Library

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

We asked RPI Board members where they went for resources on recognition and engagement. Here’s what everyone should be reading:

Widgets – The 12 New Rules for Managing

Widgets – The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As if They’re Real People
Rodd Wagner
"Your people are not your greatest asset. They’re not yours and they’re not assets.”

Team of Teams – New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
General Stanley McChrystal
This link offers an intriguing review of the book that shows how to lead  n a world that craves engagement.

12: The Elements of Great Managing
Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter
What are the 12 elements that contribute to high performance? This book describes fascinating insight into the study.

1001 Ways to Energize Employees
Bob Nelson
The classic book describes ways to engage your employees.

Death by Meeting
Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni produces some of the best business writing around – this business "fable” is a standout on leadership.


Engagement Still Keeping HR Awake
Human Resource Executive

10 Essential Pillars of Employee Engagement Office Vibe


The Employee Engagement Network
David Zinger’s passionate community is considered to be one of the world’s very best resources for engagement.

Jon Gordon Blog A celebrated business author with great strategies for leadership and success.

Wylie Communications
Drive engagement with your writing – Wylie Communications has a number of excellent resources to improving your writing.

LinkedIn Employee Engagement Group


Service Award Enterprise Administrator

My Network:

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The Economics of Recognition

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Monday, March 7, 2016
Updated: Monday, March 14, 2016

What to consider with your program.

One of the challenges many companies encounter when either launching or refreshing an employee recognition program is justifying the costs to senior management. This can be tricky since many times, programs will not generate tangible ROI. However, when viewing things in a greater perspective, a well-run program has a dramatic impact on a company’s bottom line.

When it comes to an employee recognition programs there are two major objectives to consider. First, a program must drive and/or reinforce the behaviors a company has determined. This is vital to their overall success because it not only gives defined objectives to employees but also contributes to the company’s overall culture. Secondly, it’s crucial to create a culture that employees want to be a part of and share with others. How employees feel is a reflection on you and the company culture you’ve established. So, if we take each matter and view it in terms of ROI, the justification becomes abundantly easier to recognize.

According to the Workplace Research Foundation, highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. Additionally, the study noted, increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year, and that’s just the start of the ROI an engaged workforce can create. Let’s consider the ripple effect an engaged workforce creates a higher level of service, which creates higher customer satisfaction, which increases sales which ultimately leads to higher levels of profits.

Now, let’s consider the effect it has on retention. The number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. According to the Department of Labor, 22% of new hires will leave their job within 45 days of being hired, couple that with the average cost to replace an employee making $50,000/year is just under $10,000 and you can see how retention can have a dramatic influence on a company’s bottom line. Organizations with recognition programs, which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement, had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.

As you can see in the two examples above, the economics of a recognition program may not be something that fits into the cell of a spreadsheet. But, a well-run program featuring desirable rewards, should not only be self-liquidating but will ultimately have long-term effect on a company’s overall profitability and success.

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Behavioral Economics Leads to Better Ways to Motivate

Posted By Denise Hassenstab, Monday, March 7, 2016

Behavioral Economics Leads to Better Ways to Motivate Have you ever considered how to best motivate employee performance using recognition and reward? Perhaps you want to better engage and inspire employees. Dr. Scott Jeffrey has spent a lot of time researching these questions. He recently spent time with RPI sharing his knowledge and years of research at a webinar called, The Behavioral Economics of Incentives.

Behavioral economics combines economics and psychology into one field of study and tells us that we aren’t very good at predicting future outcomes. When we try to anticipate how people will react, we come to conclusions that are based on people thinking rationally. Predicting human behavior is far more complicated than that because people are not rational decision makers. We tend to use short cuts and other ways of thinking that make predicting behavior outcomes difficult. As humans, we like fairness and being altruistic, however, how we make a decision with those framed in our minds proves trying.

People may prefer one item over another – cash over a trip to Hawaii, for example – but that doesn’t mean that receiving money will motivate them to higher performance. Asking employees which one they prefer isn’t how organizations should make decisions on how to motivate employees to higher performance. If we ask employees which they prefer, money is their top choice. Research has shown that giving employees what they want isn’t necessarily going to motivate them to work harder and strive for better results.

Here are some of Dr. Jeffrey’s findings that he shared:

  • Verbal recognition holds no negative consequences. Keep at it!
  • When giving cash and non-cash awards, performance suffers after the incentive is removed. If we offer a pizza party for a certain result, for example, performance will decrease after the incentive is removed.
  • We can lessen this impact by giving people some, but not too many, choices. If selecting between a pizza party or cupcakes or a longer afternoon break, the outcome and lasting impact improves, but only slightly.
  • While not technically cash, gift cards are simply a convenient way to distribute cash. Recipients treat them like cash because they are used to purchase every day household goods like toilet paper and soap or fill up the gas tank instead of used to purchase luxury items.

Recognition has been shown to motivate and improve employee performance. When it comes to cash and non-cash awards (tangible items), we should consider how we reach our goal of motivating our workforce to greater performance. Given Dr. Jeffrey’s research, asking employees for their preferences may not be the best way to proceed. For greatest success, we must determine what to offer to help employees feel appreciated, but also to motivate them to increase their effort and achieve higher performance.

RPI Webinar Series (free with a professional membership)
RPI professional members can join us each month for our free webinar series (limited to the first 95 attendees).

March 17, 2016 | Proving the Value, Impact and ROI of Recognition Programs
April 21, 2016 | Banking on Success: How Mountain America Credit Union Made Implementing Look Easy
May 19, 2016 | The Importance of Making Recognition Part of Your Corporate Meeting Plans

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5 Tax Questions You Should be Asking About Your Recognition Program

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Monday, March 7, 2016

Tax time’s coming – is your recognition program ready?

Unless you’re an accountant, you’re not going to love this article.

But you’re definitely going to need it.

We're talking about recognition and taxes – a potential minefield of perspectives, insights and approaches. And while your legal and accounting team should be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to navigating the tax codes of your country, state, province of prefecture, it does help to educate yourself on the basics of the topic.

When you’re tax planning for the year ahead in your organization’s recognition program(s), you want to ask some critical questions:

Are you familiar with 274J?

If you’re in the United States, this section of tax code is an ideal place to start. If you’re in other countries, check your local tax code for more information.

Do you know the difference between taxation for different types of recognition?

Performance rewards, service rewards, health and safety rewards – the taxman may see these a little differently in terms of how you tax, gross up or manage.

Are you (currently) compliant?
This is the single biggest question you’ll ask. Tax codes shift year to year, administration to administration. Perform a compliance review – particularly if your program offers rewards that are branded with your organization’s logo.

Are you managing the experience for your employees?
There’s nothing worse than being presented a shiny new tablet for your great work – then getting socked with a tax bill for nearly half the value of the item. Create a process for the entire transaction that includes grossing up the product, then paying appropriate taxes on the value of the product...

Do your recipients understand what’s going on?
...and then communicating what’s happening to those who are receiving rewards. Grossing up and paying potential taxes appears on pay stubs. Create boilerplate communications to send to employees, so they’re clear about what’s happening. Otherwise, expect a confused phone call during the next pay period.

Want to learn more about taxation and your program? There’s some great information at

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How to Revitalize a Recognition Brand

Posted By Jason Thomson, Instigator, Jigsaw, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

15 years back, I was asked to fix a problem I didn’t know existed.

The agency I was supporting was tasked with pitching on the marketing communications for one of the most storied recognition programs in the country. We did our research. We did our due diligence. The overall approach looked good. Materials looks slick and professional. The messaging was on strategy. The overall experience of interacting with the brand seemed solid. Awareness of the program was an all time high. I kept telling my team "I'm not sure how we improve things here."

And that’s when the box of marketing communications materials arrived at the agency.

They looked great – until we placed all of them on the large boardroom table. It was then we realized that there were significant issues with the visual identit y. No one thing looked like another thing. Colours were all over the place. The logo had been altered. The language wasn’t unified.

We built a solution that focused on that aspect of the brand, and eventually, we won the pitch. Our competitors chose to focus on ways to promote the brand in fresh ways that didn’t address an actual problem.

Today, that unified visual and verbal identity helps set the program apart as one of the best in the world.

All of this is to say that if your recognition program is 3, 7, 15 years old, it may be worth it to look at the brand experience, and start asking questions to see if there’s anything you can do to improve it. Questions like:

What does my brand stand for?
How does our target audience perceive our brand?
How high is our brand’s awareness?
How high is our brand’s usage?
Why is/isn’t our brand succeeding?
Is the brand experience consistent?

The first step I make whenever I undertake a branding exercise is to ask questions that reveal the brand’s problem. Too often, I see organizations try to shake things up with a new logo, or a revised tagline – only to learn that none of those things addressed the real problem.

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