Frustration, Program Success, Getting in Sync, and more from Compensation Cafe

I realized today I have not shared with you my posts on Compensation Cafe in quite a while. I greatly enjoy the Cafe community and commentary encourage you to follow the conversation directly.

But in case you missed these posts:

3 Reasons Why Employees Are Frustrated & 3 Things You Can Do about It (14th December)

Frustration is a common theme I see everywhere I look today. In the workplace it seems to stem from three main sources:

  1. Employees sense more barriers to getting the work done, even as they are asked to do more with less.
  2. Companies sitting on loads of cash and not reinvesting that back into the workforce.
  3. Executive compensation and bonus structures that make no sense – not even to investors.

Click through to read more on the impact these points of frustration are having on employees (and consequently on their organizations) and my three common-sense solutions.

The 1 Thing You Must Do to Ensure Program Success (5th December)

Without executive support – a highly visible and actively involved CEO, preferably – any highly visible program (recognition and rewards, benefits, health and wellness, safety, etc.) will fail.

In this post I relate a story of just such a failure originally reported in HR Magazine and then give you the three steps to securing executive support and visible sponsorship:

  1. Build a strong business case for your program, showing the benefits in terms that matter to the C-Suite.
  2. Show executives the power of your program to change corporate culture and thereby your reputation in the market.
  3. Make it easy for executives to show their support.

Keeping Employees in Sync with Recognition (15th November)

This is my take on the murmuration viral video making the rounds of thousands of starlings moving in unison across the Irish sky over the River Shannon.

I looked at the science of murmuration that makes it possible for this level of movement without a single bird striking another and how that kind of synchronization in the workplace requires us to lift our heads out of our own work to notice and appreciate the important contributions and efforts of those around us.

Click through to check out the video and read my thoughts on how to achieve this workplace synchronization.

The Role of Financial vs. Non-Financial “Incentives” in Employee Motivation (5th November)

Lynn Blodgett, president and CEO of ACS, a Xerox company, explained in a New York Times “Corner Office” column the incentives lessons he learned as a child working on early computers (a key punch machine) in his mother’s home-based business. He learned it’s careful balance between financial incentives and highly personal motivations like having a sense of meaning and purpose in your work.

I related this to Mercer’s October 2011 What’s Working survey report, which found these “soft” factors are much stronger influencers of motivation and engagement. Click through for a chart from the report illustrating respect, work-life balance, meaningful work, leadership and team members are the most critical.

Competition Is Good, Except When It’s Not: The Difference between Incentives and Recognition (25th October)

In this post I answer one of questions I’m asked most frequently: “What’s the difference between incentives and recognition? Aren’t they the same thing?”

Incentives and recognition are two distinctly different mechanisms that can be used to boost employee productivity, but each has its proper place and time for use. Incentives in particular can cause unintended consequences if not thought through fully. Click through for a chart illustrating these differences as well as a story from the LA Times of incentives gone awry so terribly, employees refer to mechanism as the “electronic whip.”

Retention & Compensation: Keeping Them Is Cheaper than Finding Them (13th October)

True compensation and HR pros know there’s much more to retaining key employees (even in this tough job market), and compensation is one critical piece of that puzzle. I highlight research from Towers Watson and WorldatWork that showed retention is a growing challenge among employees who just can’t take it anymore, but a little recognition would go a long way in changing mindsets.

I also explain what all of this has to do with compensation, namely how much more budget you would have to increase the salary of key employees, invest in additional training opportunities for high potential employees, or simply hire more staff to relieve the burden on over-worked employees if you didn’t have to spend it replacing the ones you should have retained in the first place.


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