Since 1995, the first Friday of March has been designated Employee Appreciation Day! Why not go the extra mile today for those who go the extra mile (or more) for your business? Here are some ideas:

  • Treat your employees to lunch
  • Take your team out for happy hour (it's Friday, after all)
  • Let them take off early - with pay
  • Hire a massage therapist, chef or yoga instructor to come into the office
  • Leave flowers, candy or a personal note on your employees’ desks
  • Sports and movie tickets and other entertainment rewards are always appreciated

Recognition is a powerful motivator, and it will mean a lot to your staff if you do something nice to thank them for all their hard work.

Who knows? Maybe they'll actually remember Boss's Day this year!

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Your Monthly Check-Up: Incentivizing your Employees’ Healthy Lifestyles

A hot topic this year within both the incentive realm and the wellness realm has been the rise of obesity in America and the growing importance for health initiatives in the workplace. Incentive Magazine covers this topic in its November/December issue in an article titled “To Your Health” by senior editor Andrea Doyle. The main crux of the article focuses on wellness initiatives being not only good for your employees, but good for your bottom line by lowering insurance premiums.

Doyle’s article starts out by saying that, while most Americans are well aware of what it takes to be healthy, many are not willing to put forth the effort toward maintaining their health. She cites a study called “F is in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012,” which states, “By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion in the US, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.” This also translates to exorbitant medical costs spent on treating issues that are entirely preventable.

To combat this – and in direct response to employees spending more and more time in the office and generally sedentary – companies are offering wellness incentives to help raise awareness and offer motivation for choosing habits that have huge payoffs but are often very challenging to stick with, especially during holiday season and other times of year.

One such company noted in the article is Hallmark Business Connections, which offers 13 weeks of weight loss classes to employees. If an employee attends 12 of the 13 classes, the company pays for the program, according to Jennifer Patel, who leads Hallmark’s health and wellness team.

“A colleague lost almost 50 pounds as a result of participating in this program, and it has changed her life,” Patel says. “It’s also proof that if you provide opportunities and incentives for your employees to make behavior changes, amazing things can happen.”

Doyle points to another company in her article, FC USA, which has its own full-time wellness guru in Susan Levy Malandra – whose official title is Healthwise Coordinator for the company. While hiring a full-time health coordinator may be out of reach for many companies, the programs Malandra uses to motivate her colleagues are not.

Malandra, who has 20 years of teaching group fitness classes under her belt, uses pedometers, contests and organized runs to help motivate her FC USA colleagues. She also travels around the country and meets with all US-based employees for “Bio Age” consultations, which tests a variety of physical, nutritional and lifestyle factors to determine the employees overall well-being, or Bio Age.

Malandra notes that follow-up is key to success and she regularly checks in on employees’ progress and writes a monthly newsletter that includes healthy lifestyle tips and recipes. And as an incentive to stay on track or meet goals, FC USA offers trips, merchandise, raffles and cash rewards to its employees for maintaining their healthy lifestyles.

Implementing a wellness initiative at your company isn’t hard, but it does take time, creativity and the interest of your employees. The first steps are always the hardest, but if you can find ways to motivate your employees and incentivize their progress and goals, you’ll be that much closer to increased productivity and decreased medical costs. Plus, you’ll be setting up your employees for a lifetime of wellness, and there is truly nothing more important than your health!

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Recognizing the Pulse of Your Office

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Administrative Professionals Day®, a noteworthy day within the workplace that began in 1952 as Professional Secretaries Day, according to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Over the course of the last six decades, the role of the administrative assistant has grown and evolved to adapt with changing times, technology and tasks within the office setting. This particular job title has grown from the sometimes-negatively-connotated “secretary” into an indispensable role that no office can efficiently run without. As such, the theme of this year’s Administrative Professionals Week is “Admins, the pulse of the office.”

Here are some fun stats about Administrative Professionals Day according to the IAAP web site:

  • Today, Administrative Professionals Week is one of the largest workplace observances outside of employee birthdays and major holidays.
  • In the year 2000, IAAP announced a name change for Professional Secretaries Week and Professional Secretaries Day. The names were changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of today’s administrative workforce.
  • There are more than 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, and 8.9 million people working in various administrative support roles.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. “This is all well and good, but what can I do to show my appreciation for the administrative professionals in my office?” Great question. According to IAAP members, administrative professionals prefer recognition in the form of opportunities for growth and learning. Some examples are:

  • Tuition reimbursement to attend college classes and work toward a degree
  • Membership and participation in professional organizations
  • Reimbursement for online training programs in technology, administrative and management skills
  • Registration for appropriate conferences, seminars and continuing education workshops
  • Attainment of professional certification. IAAP’s Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) or Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) programs are widely recognized standards of excellence

Remember, Administrative Professionals Week is always the last week of April, so be sure to mark your calendar for future years! Read more about Administrative Professionals Day here.

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Motivation Across the Nations

Hinda’s own Marlene Johnson was interviewed recently for the article “Motivation Overseas” in the January/February issue of Premiere Incentive Products (PIP). Writer Deborah L. Vence talks with Johnson and two other industry experts about the implications of offering your company’s recognition programs at its non-US-based branches. The most important factors to consider here are technology and cultural awareness.

“The most efficient way to operate a global incentive program with a technology platform that translates globally, but is personalized at the local level,” Johnson explains. “By that I mean the platform is offered in the local language, supported by local currencies [and] awards are locally relevant and distributed at the local level.”

The article states that some of the best practices to use when establishing a global incentive program include developing a clearly defined, concise strategy for global recognition, offering opportunities for employees at all levels to be able to participate, and listening to what your employees need and want, perhaps inviting them to join in on the strategizing discussion.

With regard to the reward itself, the article states that one of the biggest challenges includes consideration of language, geography and cultural differences. Also, be sure that the reward is structured into your company’s long-term program of recognition and isn’t just a one-time opportunity.

One of the most important things to remember during the process of developing your global program is the cultural and/or ethnic implications that will surely come into play. “There are considerations to be taken in every corner of the world,” Johnson says. “Some award choices may not be appropriate for certain marketplaces, etc. Understanding those nuances is critical for the successful deployment and continued success of a global incentive program.”

Additionally, different cultures respond to recognition differently, according to the article. Language can be an issue, as most employees would want to receive recognition in their own language. Making sure that each employee understands the parameters of the program and choosing the most appropriate award choices are two important considerations that need to be taken within your global recognition program.

The bottom line is that global recognition should be fun and engaging for employees at every level of your company, and should be integrated into your company’s overall culture of recognition. Being aware and sensitive to technological differences and cultural/ethnic values and protocol is essential and should not be a roadblock for your successful program implementation. Your strategizing sessions are also a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the important people in your company and their values and lifestyles!

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Non-Cash is the Wave of the Future! (But You Don’t Have to Take Our Word for it.)

Is it time to add more non-cash to your rewards portfolio? This is the question posed in the January/February 2012 issue of Premium Incentive Products (PIP). And the answer, in a nutshell, is “Yes.” But this is not news. What is news is that, while the topic of non-cash incentives has been hot throughout the incentives industry, big-name thought leaders such as McKinsey, Deloitte, The Harvard Business Review and PricewaterhouseCoopers are now weighing in on how non-cash incentives play into the total rewards mix.

According to the PIP article, the benefits of offering non-cash incentives to your employees are multi-fold – for the employee as well as the company. With regard to the company, non-cash offers more affordable ways for employers to reward or acknowledge employees without breaking the bank, or “do more with less,” essentially.

Regarding the employee, a non-cash incentive holds trophy value that plain-old cash does not. Furthermore, the article points to a report published by McKinsey, which states that “non-cash motivators – including praise from immediate managers – can be more effective than the three highest-rated financial incentives: cash bonuses, increased base pay and stock options.”

This is interesting as it shows that, while necessary, money is not the only motivator when it comes to work. Cash alone is basically enough to ensure that the work gets done, but praise, engagement and other non-cash incentives satisfy the employee’s need to connect, learn and feel part of something that a bi-weekly paycheck does not afford.

Cash is always going to be at the forefront of the compensation discussion. It’s the first thing that’s discussed during the hiring process and represents the initial pact between employer and employee. It’s what the employee expects every payday and what ensures his or her bills get paid. This is what motivates us to get hired somewhere in the first place. But what motivates employees beyond that? What does the employee really want to get from the job? According to Deloitte, they want “rewarding work, meaningful relationships, freedom, flexibility and acknowledgement.”

These are things that money just cannot buy.

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Visualizing Employee Motivation

Sometimes, it's easiest to learn a concept through visualization. Take employee motivation for example. There isn't a solid, clear-cut definition of it out there. Often times, it involves trial-and-error practices and personalization in order to be successful. But, to aid in our understanding, IncBlot has created the following infographic. It explains the theory and ideas behind motivation, the motivation equation in the workforce, action steps, questions to consider and useful statistics.

Some notable takeaways:

  • 30% of executives say that motivating their employees is their toughest job
  • "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Zigler
  • Action Step: Ask a team member what non-monetary rewards they might find motivational.
  • The average American employee wastes 2 hours and 5 minutes of an 8 hour day

As an employer, how do you motivate your employees? As an employee, what motivates you to work? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Diversify Your Incentive Plan

Any good financial advisor will tell you that diversifying your portfolio is the best way to maximize your return. The same can be said with employee incentives. Hiring managers and HR professionals need more than one way to recognize and reward employees for a job well done. In addition to base salary and insurance benefits, employees seek incentives and perks when choosing where their loyalties lie. recently published an article on their blog outlining the eight best employee incentive programs. They, like us, believe that a diversified approach is best to maintain and recruit top talent. Their list is featured below. (See article for detailed descriptions).

  1. Flexible hours and/or telecommuting
  2. Health and wellness programs
  3. Points programs
  4. Separate group and individual incentives
  5. PTO, paid holidays and relaxation
  6. Production-based bonuses
  7. Social and networking events
  8. Tuition reimbursement and learning opportunity

Employees are not all motivated by the same factors. Thus, by utilizing a diversified set of incentives, more employees are motivated. Do you agree? What would you add to this list? Would you remove any items?

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