Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Employee Health and Wellness Without Overstepping

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Carrots and sticks are a relatively old tactic in employee health and wellness programs. They are tried and true because they work. Carrots tend to prove to work better than sticks, but whether you choose to reward improved behavior and program engagement or provide (usually financial) disincentives for a lack of participation, these detractors and rewards work well to boost participation and results from employee healthy and wellness programs.

However, in analyzing effective tactics for employee health and wellness programs, we often overlook the most basic component of an employee health and wellness program. To be frank, it can feel intrusive for employees to have employers involved in their healthcare. Especially when dealing with sensitive topics like high cholesterol and weight loss, it can be intrusive for some employees to have employers involved, even if they are providing health care and insurance.

In a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 62% of employees felt it was inappropriate for employers to require workers to pay more for their health insurance premiums if they don’t participate in wellness programs.

Additionally 74% said companies shouldn’t charge higher premiums if employees don’t achieve predetermined health goals. These two statistics bring employers back to basics and really require organizations to evaluate how they approach employee health and wellness programs. Will carrots or sticks work best for your company? Should employee health and wellness be a (strong) suggestion or a requirement for affordable coverage? Read more from the Wall Street Journal.

An Acronym for Employee Success

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Successful Business People Showing Thumbs Up.Employee success is more likely to occur and has greater impact when it’s shared by a team. Humans are social beings and we work better in groups. The word along the side is not subliminal messaging…it’s meant to grab your attention.

Tell employees when they are on the right track. Open communication is key and it should go both ways, make   feedback a 360 degree process.

Everyone’s opinion matters. Gather opinions and ideas from all levels of your team. Experience doesn’t always mean innovative thinking.

Always reward success. No matter if it’s an exceptional job on an individual project or a long career full of exceptional service, giving even small rewards like gift cards can be highly effective in evoking repeat behavior.

Mix it up! Make sure employee working groups change. The more diverse working environments become, the more kinds of success employees get to experience. Cross-team collaboration is also a great team building expercise.

For more information on employee success and how to promote it through team building check out Derek Irvine’s “Recognize This!” blog.



Give Employee Creativity a Chance

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Giving employees a creative outlet is a great way to allow organic growth and development to become part of your company culture. In addition, employee creativity can also create healthy competition, and lead to greater harmony in the workplace.

How you ask? Well, it’s simple, if employees have the opportunity for a little healthy competition they will find more creative and efficient ways to do their jobs, while earning newfound respect for their colleagues. Here are four C’s to employee creativity (in no particular order).

  • Control- Control the environment. Provide parameters for both employee creativity and friendly competition. Keep employees creative but within the organization goals and culture you seek to create.
  • Collaborate- Teams should be cross department and help employees meet colleagues they may have not met otherwise. Cross team collaboration brings colleagues closer together and highlights everyone’s strongest skills.
  • Compete- A little competition can bring out the passionate, engaged and motivated side of employees. But make sure to keep it light and friendly to ensure the competition can end positive, allowing creativity to flourish and new teams to develop.
  • Create- This is the best part. When employees are put in new situations and forced to think differently creativity thrives, outside-the-box thinking happens, and people just may surprise themselves.

Still not convinced that employee creativity has it’s own set of unique advantages? Check out this article from

Creating a Company of Disruptors

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Disruptors may not be what you think of when you think of what you want to make your organization into. However, the guiding and defining behavior characteristics of disruptors can lead to unprecedented innovation, improved productivity and a positive and fulfilled workforce. Motivating employees through three main traits can create a win-win for both employees and employers.

Disagreement can be seen as a negative trait. It creates conflict and can drag out meetings and the making of decisions. However, disagreement can also lead employees to find the best way to complete a task or to challenge the status quo to improve processes. While too many disagreements can be combative, creating a culture where employees can feel free to disagree can create long term organizational improvements.

Reframing problems help solve small issues that have a big impact. The key to reframing problems, according to Malcolm Gladwell, is to see the full picture. Don’t try to fix one piece of a broken process, but try to see the whole process in another way. Giving employees time to brainstorm and problem solve allows for creative thinking that gives employees the chance to make a lasting impact on the organization and gives them a mental break from their day-to-day responsibilities.

Removing constraints is key to allowing innovation to take place. Employees should never be afraid to voice opinions or ideas. Employees should feel like their opinion is valued and that their disruption would almost always be positively received in the organization.

Malcolm Gladwell is a leader in the field and is a disruptor in his own right. His endorsement of a disruptor culture is significant. For more information on how to create a culture of disruption in your organization check out


The Right Employee Rewards for the Right Time

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Employee rewards should be differentiated by the employers goal in giving the reward. If your giving a reward for a job well done in an “everyday instance” the reward should be different than exhibiting exemplary community behavior, which should be different than a reward given for long term growth. Here are three situations and how to differentiate employee rewards for each.

  • Everyday excellence. These should be small spot rewards that give employees a material “pat on the back.” Small rewards, like a friday afternoon off or a small denomination gift card  to a popular retailer like The Limited, The Children’s Place or Catherine’s are a fixed (and low) cost way to encourage positive employee behavior.
  • Model citizenship. Employees should be rewarded, or at least recognized for giving back to the community or otherwise exemplifying model behavior on behalf of the organization. If an employees donates their time or financial resources to a specific cause as an agent of your organization, matching their donation is a great way to promote such behavior and create a real sense of community at work.
  • Continued growth. Growing a young workforce is often a challenge. Keeping young employees engaged and thriving, while growing their skill sets can be tough. However, using professional development as a reward for doing well at their current job is an investment in a workforce that primarily benefits the employee, making them more valuable in the long term.

There is a reward for every occasion and the more appropriate the reward for the occasion, the more effective the reward. For more ideas head over to

3 Tips to Improve Your Employee Wellness Program

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Employee wellness programs are a great way to create a culture of fitness while controlling healthcare costs. Employee wellness programs make employees healthier, more productive, and generally happier. It can be as simple as endorphins. For employers, wellness programs help build organizational culture, peer-to-peer relationships and a grateful, healthy staff.

Here are three areas to focus on to help build your employee wellness program into your organization.

  1. According to Information Week, 5-10% of your workforce is spending 70-80% of your healthcare budget. Focus on that 10%. Targeting their demographic and lifestyle with your wellness program will allow you to tailor the program to a smaller section of your workforce to have the largest financial impact.
  2. Create a third party liaison to provide advice, guidance, and boundaries to the program. Whether it’s a healthcare professional who can monitor employee progress while indicating employer implications, or someone on staff who can also remain impartial to both points of view.  Every program needs boundaries and someone who can advocate for both employers and employees.
  3. When engaging participants in your employee wellness programs, set employee expectations appropriately. Communication is key and ensuring employees know what the goals of the program are and what key milestones they will be expected to reach is key to any program’s success.

Employee wellness programs can be a powerful tool when they are at peak effectiveness. Ensure your employee wellness program is on track today.

Women and Employee Loyalty

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Photo credit: HuffPost’s Blog Post, The Price Tag for Employee Loyalty

Women put employers in a unique position as far as employee loyalty is concerned. Women show trends of too much loyalty to their employers. As a result, their pay scales end up lower, their benefits packages end up in unconventional proportions and they can end up unsatisfied and even bringing ultimatums to their employers.

Here are three pieces of women’s loyalty to pay close attention to in order to ensure fair compensation and full employee loyalty and satisfaction.

  1. Money, plain and simple: Average annual salary increases sit around 2.9%, while new employee raises could lift an employee’s salary 10-20%. If a long time employee threatens to leave because they have another offer from another company, chances are you’re at least going to have to meet them in the middle in order to keep them. Don’t discount the time and financial investment it could take to replace them and train a new member of the team. Employee loyalty should be valued, and that value should be reflected financially.
  2. Benefits: While different benefits can reward different behaviors (salary for a proficient job, stock options for long tenure, bonuses and rewards for individual project performance), ensuring that benefits are balanced with financial components is critical.
  3. Long term appreciation: Don’t forget that it can take $20-30,000 to train a new employee and months to get someone fully on board. Having someone on the team to provide peer leadership and deep knowledge of the company and its 360 degree landscape can be one the most valuable organizational element there is.

Women tend to stay at organizations longer and this can be advantageous for both parties. Keep your female employees happy and they will continue to do good work and become even better team leaders for it. For more information on women’s employee loyalty check out this article from the Huffington Post.

Employee Financial Health Programs On The Rise

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Working on and measuring savingsWe have talked a lot about employee health and wellness programs on this blog in the past, but according to a recent USA Today article, there is a new type of employee health program gaining popularity among employers. Employee financial health is a new priority for employers and it is having a real impact on employee productivity. The main premise for employee financial education is that if there is no financial stress in employees’ lives, they can be at the peak of productivity. Three main goals for employee financial health initiatives are:

  1. Minimal financial stress
  2. A strong foundation, including minimal to no debt, a savings account and learning to live below their means.
  3. A financial plan that helps set and meet future goals.

For employers, they should work to clear their employees minds of all appropriate distraction. Financial literacy is not something taught in schools and often not something learned in adulthood. Providing a learning center for employees to learn how to be financially responsible there will be long-term loyalty and stress reduced to the point of higher productivity.

Recognized as one the Incentive Industry’s Best Suppliers

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

incentive-platinum-partner-award-2014-for-webReaders of INCENTIVE have recognized GiftCard Partners for excellence as an incentive industry supplier through an online voting process that took place February through April 2014. When the results were tallied GiftCard Partners was named one of the winners of Incentive Magazine’s Platinum Partner Award.

The industry’s most qualified corporate decision-makers marked their selections for the best gift card and merchandise suppliers in their field … the people, products and services that helped them most in motivating their employees and customers over the past year.

The incentive industry winners were selected based on the following criteria: motivational appeal of the product line, customer service and speed of fulfillment, degree of promotional support and customization opportunities.

“We are delighted to be recognized by Incentive Magazine for excellence as an industry supplier,” said Deborah Merkin and Edward Shulkin, co-CEOs, GiftCard Partners. “Our achievements are driven by our dedication to our people, clients and their success. We also appreciate being able to share our expertise within the payments industry and beyond.”

A complete list of winners appeared in INCENTIVE’s July/August 2014 issue and is featured on INCENTIVE’s website:

Read the entire press release here.

Innovating Employee Rewards Programs

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

loyalty-pano_20169Employee rewards are an important part of any HR strategy. However, monetary bonuses can get a bit stale and employees will look for new ways to be rewarded for a job well done. The more innovative your employee rewards program is, the more effective it can be.

Here are three ways to reward employees in new and innovative ways.

  • Peer-to-Peer Rewards- Allowing co-workers to give rewards for behavior that progresses the team to a common goal builds camaraderie and boosts productivity.
  • Experiential Rewards- Giving employees memorable experiences often lasts longer than a monetary bonus. If sending employees on vacation isn’t in the cards for your organizations budget, give employees extra vacation time to create their own experiences.
  • Failure Rewards- Great ideas don’t always mean success. But they do provide valuable learning and are a great way to promote innovative thinking. Giving small spot rewards like small denomination gift cards to popular retails like AutoZone, Crutchfield or The Limited for those great ideas will keep morale up even with failure. Making sure your team knows it’s okay to fail is an important part of leading an organization towards success.

See how changing your attitudes towards employee rewards can change your employees’ satisfaction and productivity. For more innovative ways to provide rewards to your employees check out this article from