A Front-Line Manager's Recognition Tip Sheet

Happy 2019.

The New Year often inspires us to create resolutions for the year ahead and employee recognition should be at the top of employer’s lists. Keeping talent requires a culture of recognition throughout the organization and a properly implemented program.

Bruce Bolger writes “When managers fully understand the goals of the recognition effort and the positive experiences they can foster, leading the recognition effort can become one of the most fun parts of the job.”

Read his full article here:

Over the last few years, the recognition field has seen a significant shift from traditional length-of-service awards to programs that focus on supporting critical organizational goals -- quality service to internal or external customers, participation in volunteer initiatives, a willingness to go the extra mile, etc. In most cases, the success of these efforts depends upon the managers at the front lines. When managers fully understand the goals of the recognition effort and the positive experiences they can foster, leading the recognition effort can become one of the most fun parts of the job. Here’s a tip sheet to be shared with front-line managers on how to make your recognition program a way to not only achieve organizational goals, but create a better experience for all.

Start With the Basics

Studies show that employees who feel respected, appreciated and part of the community are more productive and less apt to go looking for jobs at other companies. It is well known that many employees quit because of an immediate supervisor, not because of the company. By showing your employees that their work is valued and appreciated, you’ll give them a sense of ownership, improve morale and enhance their loyalty to your organization. Savvy managers actively engage with their employees on an ongoing basis to make sure they understand their job goals, the values of the organization and how each employee can make a difference. Employees should be regularly reminded of these goals, values and how they can contribute, as well as how they will be measured and recognized for performance. This starts with making sure you have a full understanding of your organization’s goals, culture, desired behaviors and the recognition, training and communications programs to support them so that you can take full advantage of the resources your organization provides you to engage employees.

Continually Reinforce Goals and Values

Team members cannot perform at their best unless they first understand the organization’s goals, which might include a commitment to superior customer service, continuous innovation, or inclusiveness. Don’t make employees guess—every employee should know the organization’s goals, organizational values and the role they individually can play. Take advantage of team meetings or employee newsletters to regularly reinforce the key messages and the goals of the recognition effort, and share quick stories or encourage team members to tell stories that help people visualize the actions that lead to success. Make recognition meaningful. Don’t go overboard by praising everyday basics such as showing up for work on time or keeping a clean desk. Instead, sincerely thank and recognize team members for their specific contributions to your company’s goals and values. Make recognition a regular part of your job. Be sincere when recognizing employees. They’ll know in an instant if you’re doing it out of duty or it’s less than heartfelt. Never mix criticism—however mild—with recognition. Even the most innocuous advice about how to improve will spoil the positive impact.

Understand the Distinction Between Group and Individual Recognition

You should recognize employees for both their individual and group contributions. And remember, not everyone likes public praise. Get to know your employees and tailor your recognition style based on each person’s preferences. For example, a shy person may prefer a quiet one-on-one form of recognition. When recognizing a group, make sure to acknowledge each person’s contribution. Be inclusive—recognize everyone who does something meaningful that supports the company’s values or goals through their actions. Never play favorites—if you publicly recognize someone who doesn’t deserve it, you’ll devalue the whole process.

Planned and Spontaneous Recognition

Formal recognition events can take place monthly, yearly, or almost any time. They’re great ways to celebrate achievements, but try to recognize employees whenever it is merited. In general, praise employees as soon as possible after an accomplishment. When someone has acted or performed in an way exemplary of your organization’s values or goals, personally thank them and be specific. For instance, explain that “You handled that customer problem exceptionally well because…” Take advantage of your company’s recognition system, if it has one, to nominate or directly recognize your employees. If you’re in a position to approve nominations for recognition, be sure to process the nomination right away to maximize the immediacy. Take advantage of any opportunity offered by the company to produce a certificate or other tangible recognition of employee performance delivered in a way that will make the employee feel comfortable. Never do anything to embarrass an employee, even if it’s well-intentioned. Conferring recognition is rarely an appropriate time for any type of pleasantry that could undermine the positive impact.

Take Advantage of Internal Communications

If your organization has a print or online newsletter or social recognition wall, an article or post saluting an employee’s achievement is another effective way to show appreciation in a way that helps communicate and reinforce values and goals to everyone. How you recognize individuals can be inspiring to their colleagues as well. Keep in mind that the personal touch, sincerely delivered whenever warranted, is key to keeping your team members feeling valued, motivated and excited about doing the best they can at their jobs each and every day. Studies show that front-line managers can make or break the employee experience.

Bruce Bolger is President of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance at TheEEA.org, Publisher of ESM at EnterpriseEngagement.org, and Co-author of Enterprise Engagement: The Roadmap.

OSHA Reverses Policy on Drug Testing, Incentive Programs

OSHA reverses policy on drug testing,incentive programs: Agency says most programs okay

Posted October 15, 2018

OSHA has changed course in its view of employers’ post-incident drug testing programs and injury rate-based incentive programs. In a Memorandum to Regional Administrators and State Designees published October 11, the Agency now says most of these types of programs do not run afoul of the anti-retaliation provisions of the injury and illness recordkeeping regulation at §1904.35(b)(1)(iv).

This is a huge shift in policy guidance from that published when the Agency issued the final rule in May 2016 requiring employers to electronically submit injury and illness records. As part of that rulemaking, OSHA added a provision that employers not have any barriers for employees to report injuries or illnesses. The rule also said that employers could not discriminate or punish employees for being injured.

While the rule itself didn’t address drug testing or incentive programs, policy guidance published along with it indicated that most post-incident drug testing programs would be in violation. The same thing was said about incentive programs that were tied to injury rates.

But now, OSHA says that many employers who implement safety incentive programs and/or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health. In addition, the Agency says evidence that the employer consistently enforces legitimate work rules (whether or not an injury or illness is reported) would demonstrate that the employer is serious about creating a culture of safety, not just the appearance of reducing rates. Thus, action taken under a safety incentive program or post-incident drug
testing policy would only violate §1904.35(b)(1)(iv) if the employer took the action to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health.

In the new policy, OSHA says that incentive programs can be an important tool to promote workplace safety and health. One type of incentive program rewards workers for reporting near-misses or hazards, and encourages involvement in a safety and health management system. “Positive action taken under this type of program,” the Agency says, “is always permissible under §1904.35(b)(1)(iv).”

OSHA describes another type of incentive program that is rate-based and focuses on reducing the number of reported injuries and illnesses. These programs typically reward employees with a prize or bonus at the end of an injury-free month or evaluate managers based on their work unit’s lack of injuries. The Agency says these rate-based incentive programs are also permissible under §1904.35(b)(1)(iv) “as long as they are not implemented in a manner that discourages reporting.”

So, if an employer takes a negative action against an employee under a rate-based incentive program, such as withholding a prize or bonus because of a reported injury, OSHA would not cite the employer under §1904.35(b)(1)(iv)as long as the employer has implemented adequate precautions to ensure that employees feel free to report an injury or illness.

What would be an “adequate precaution”?

OSHA says that a statement that employees are encouraged to report and will not face retaliation for reporting may not, by itself, be adequate to ensure that employees actually feel free to report, particularly when the consequence for reporting will be a lost opportunity to receive a substantial
reward. However, an employer could avoid any inadvertent deterrent effects of a rate-based incentive program by taking positive steps to create a workplace culture that emphasizes safety, not just rates. For example, the Agency says that any inadvertent deterrent effect of a rate-based incentive program on employee reporting would likely be counterbalanced if the employer also implements elements such as:

* An incentive program that rewards employees for identifying unsafe conditions in the workplace;
* A training program for all employees to reinforce reporting rights and responsibilities and emphasizes the employer’s non-retaliation policy;
* A mechanism for accurately evaluating employees’ willingness to report injuries and illnesses.

In addition, OSHA says that most instances of workplace drug testing are permissible under §1904.35(b)(1)(iv). Examples of permissible drug testing include:

* Random drug testing.
* Drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness.
* Drug testing under a state workers’ compensation law.
* Drug testing under other federal law, such as a U.S.
Department of Transportation rule.
* Drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees. If the employer chooses to use drug testing to investigate the incident, the employer should test all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, not just employees who reported injuries.

This article was written by Travis Rhoden of J. J. Keller &

Survey Says: How to Craft Employee Engagement Surveys that Get Results

Feedback is vital to us all and there are countless ways to obtain it these days. Whether you utilize an online survey or simply an old fashioned paper one the key is to ask the right questions. This article by Forbes spells out the guidelines for creating an effective survey that will help you get the feedback you need to keep your employees engaged and your business moving in the right direction.



Attracting and retaining top talent is the #1 challenge faced by organizations today.

fingers rawpixel-648566-unsplash (1).jpg

One of the best strategies to succeed in the competition for high performing employees is to become an employer of choice with a positive internal as well as public perception.  A current trend in working toward this goal is to beef up on the benefits.  Successful organizations are paying attention to the difference in preferences between the generations in the workplace.  Younger employees are looking for flexibility in their work hours and work location, opportunities to improve their skills, frequent feedback and validation and a value of work/life balance.  Improvements in these areas should be celebrated within the company and promoted externally. 

“By committing to a common purpose and engaging all employees, companies plant seeds of pride and ownership.  Offer visibility to employees who will carry the corporate torch. A workforce of engaged ambassadors empowers every branding program with credibility and grassroots recognition.”

Read more: