For many corporate employees, this is bonus season. In February, when year-end results are being finalized, the buzz builds. Will we make bonus, and by how much? In March, the anticipation is unmistakable.
Whether the news is good or bad, bonus season gives leaders a spotlight to connect individual performance and business results. While the architecture of bonus plans vary, most include a performance-related reward with a pay out when the company’s financial results and the individual’s performance meet set criteria. For example, when Apple missed sales and profit goals for 2016, Tim Cook saw a cut to his performance-based cash incentive. Don’t worry about Tim. Overall, he still did pretty well.
Whether the news is good or bad, the way you tell the story will impact employee engagement. Let’s look at communication strategies for both scenarios.
When the incentive target is achieved
Explain how it works. The only people who truly understand the bonus system work in Compensation. Prior to bonus announcement, send out a review of the bonus program with visual examples. Provide an online bonus calculator.
Celebrate. Good news should never be buried in an email. Create a brief video from the senior leadership team thanking employees for their contributions last year. An authentic thank you is always appreciated.
Set expectations for the current year. High performance cultures innovate, collaborate and continuously improve. Now is the time to be talking about 2017 stretch goals and aligning performance and priorities so bonuses are achieved in 2018. Create talking points for managers to cascade.
When the incentive target is missed
Explain how it works. See above. Talk through the plan structure. If thresholds were not achieved, clarify how that impacted pay outs. Remind employees that the bonus is just one component of a comprehensive rewards package and it’s performance-based. It’s extra pay for exceptional results.
Pre-announcement preparations. Prepare for this like you would for a customer or shareholder meeting. Compose key messages, draft FAQs and ensure managers are informed and prepared. Set up a channel for employee questions.
Hold town hall meetings. Where did the company fall short? Talk about it. Listen, answer questions, and discuss priorities and opportunities for 2017.
Proactive communications help connect the dots for team members. Businesses win when everyone knows, understands and lives the company’s values. Show them their contributions make a difference.
This time of year, a kind of holiday haze sets in. The breakroom counters are bursting with tins of holiday cookies and flavored popcorn. Employees are focusing on completing 2016 assignments (and scheduling holiday getaways).
December marks the fiscal year-end for many businesses. Help your employees successfully navigate through the many December deadlines with proactive communications that show you care about more than the bottom line. Here are five tried-and-true ways to do it.
1. Clarify year-end deadlines. Start your team meetings with a reminder or checklist of deadlines for invoice processing, Flexible Spending Accounts, finalize expense reports, and other year-end deliverables. This messaging should begin December 1 and continue through the month.
2. Communicate vacation benefits. Paid time off is treasured by employees. If your business has a “use it or lose it” vacation policy, remind team members so they can schedule time off before year-end. If your company allows vacation accrual, communicate the accrual limit. Ensure there are no surprises in January.
3. Come together through service. Studies show that volunteerism increases pride, commitment and employee engagement. Contact a local charity, food bank or civic association for ideas on how your team can get involved during the holidays.
4. Celebrate 2016 achievements. Create a top ten list of your team’s “Greatest Hits of 2016” or ask team members to talk about one thing that helped them be successful this year. Connect the dots to show how every role contributes to delivering performance and your company’s vision.
5. Say thank you. To make a connection that lasts, send a personal note of thanks. Low cost, big impact. Be sincere and make it personal by including a strength or a behavior the individual brings to the team.
One day last week I parked in front of a white, mid-sized car. Not brand new, not a luxury brand, just a car you might not notice. Except I did. Because it had long, black eyelashes on the headlights.
As it turns out, you can buy car eyelashes for less than $30. It’s an inexpensive way to share a little flair. If you’re looking, you’ll notice the countless ways drivers personalize their rides, from snazzy rims to monogramed window stickers.
The takeaway here is not the growth in auto accessory sales, but the ever-increasing desire for self-expression. Your business can harness that powerful trend by creating communications channels that encourage collaboration and involvement.
To be relevant, internal communications has to invite and ignite employees to share their opinions and personality. Once internal communications was top-down: we’ll tell you what you need to know. As internal communications evolved, communication improved with employee surveys, town halls and feedback sessions. Think about this: How often does anyone actually ask a question at a town hall session?
Involvement communications is a fancy term for connecting with individuals, not groups. It’s about creating ways for your colleagues to participate. Here are three excellent ways to start:
· Social media—Invite employees to share what they love about your company as brand ambassadors. Create a hashtag and use it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Share the guidelines on how to use it and promote it internally. Then watch how they share what they love about your business. You’ll be amazed how quickly it’s adopted. Want some good examples? Go to #AdobeLife, #LifeatIHG or #ToBeAPartner.
· Online forums–Create an online forum on your company’s intranet and solicit ideas for building engagement and productivity or saving money. Enterprise networks like Yammer, tibbr, or Chatter create a channel to collaborate, share insights and new ideas.
· Involvement events—Create events that let them share their passions. Chili cook-offs, photo contests, or service days are simple, inexpensive ways to bring teams together to build community. Ask for selfies and share the day through communication channels.
Want more ideas on how to bring your internal communications to life? Let’s connect: firstname.lastname@example.org
When looking for a job what considerations do you take into account? Compensation is a key factor. For some, a position with the right work/life balance is most important. One thing that you need to take into account when choosing a company is their work place culture. In my personal experience I’ve had jobs that I’ve enjoyed and others where I’ve dreaded coming to work each day. When I look back at why I enjoyed some jobs and disliked others it usually came down to their work place culture.
Recently the Atlanta Journal Constitution released their list of “Best Places to Work in Atlanta 2015.” Over 1,400 companies were nominated by their employees. The results were determined based on employee surveys. A number of common themes emerge among the companies that scored near the top. These companies invested in their employees not only in the form of compensation and benefits but also in their well-being. Employees at these companies felt respected, empowered, motivated, and appreciated by their employers.
“This makes perfect sense from a most basic human standpoint. People want to feel like they are a valuable part of something good,” said Jim Minnick, CEO and co-founder of the financial services firm eVestment. “It would be more surprising if the opposite were true.”
Tom Beaty, CEO and founder of the management consultant Insight Sourcing Group stated, “Everyone wants to be appreciated and feel like they matter. The loyalty of my team members is humbling and creates an obligation for me to ensure that they have a great experience, are able to continue to grow and learn.”
Some companies are so focused on performance and the bottom line that they forget to invest in their people. Employees at top scoring companies said they believe in their company because their leaders believe in them.
When you invest in your employees, they will see the benefits to their well-being, and your company will in turn see the benefits to its culture and performance.
Need to work on employee engagement in your business? Contact us and let’s get started.
The phrase, “employee engagement” tends to lose power each time someone hits it with a laser pointer in a conference room. But when it comes right down to it, employee engagement is about honoring, recognizing, and uplifting people. It’s about showing them they are valued and connected to something bigger than themselves that really matters. It’s about bringing the spark that makes them special, unique, and priceless into the workplace.
This month, make a resolution to take small steps that make a real difference in how employees feel about their jobs and how much of themselves they contribute in the workplace.
Here are three simple things you resolve to do this year to better engage employees:
Communicate regularly: Keeping employees in the loop about the company’s big picture and their role in it makes them feel valued and included, promotes a healthy attitude toward otherwise stressful changes, and helps ensure everyone is headed in the same direction. Whether you do it formally through newsletters, the company intranet, email blasts, text messages, or by just dropping by to talk, regular two-way communications create good will. Create a communications plan so those opportunities to share don’t slip through the cracks.
Create peer-to-peer recognition opportunities: Peer recognition may be more motivating because it comes from the people who know exactly what it takes to do the job well. It’s also more immediate and contextual than an annual or semi-annual review. Be sure to make peer recognition easy to do, frequent, and public and tie it to your company values.
Sponsor community service activities: Getting employees together to meet the needs of the world around you is a great way to strengthen relationships and make them feel good about working for a company whose concerns extend beyond its walls and its bottom line. Millennials in particular expect their work to connect them to something bigger than themselves.
This list is just a small sample of what you can do to make a big difference. Let us know what plans you have or what you have done in the past to increase employee engagement. And if you need expert help with an employee engagement plan, give us a shout. It’s what we do!