The Best Way To Improve Employee Performance For B2B Companies

December 27th, 2016 by

The customer experience is vital to the success of your business. Motivating your workforce affects how your employees interact with your customers and clients. It’s common knowledge, but how effective are your motivational efforts?

“Okay, team: if we get through this order by 5pm, we’re going out for pizza lunch tomorrow. My treat!”

Sound familiar? Additional vacation, incentive programs, performance bonuses — there are infinite possibilities for rewarding your entire team for a job well done. But a new study conducted as a joint effort by researchers at the University of Iowa, Texas Christian University and Tsinghua University, found that rewarding the entire team is maybe not the best way to go about improving employee performance.

Instead, the study finds that recognizing one individual above others has spillover effects on the entire team production. Bradley Kirkman, co-author of a paper on the study says, “our findings are based on laboratory and field experiments in China, and those findings tell us that recognizing individual team members can supercharge team performance.”

Amplify Your Team’s Performance

What does an amplified team performance mean for your business? According to Irving Frydman, chief branding officer and principal of public relations and marketing firm B2B Marketing Insights, a corporate culture built on trust and strong leadership is the foundation of employee engagement. “Employees not only want to feel valued, which I believe is more important than recognition,” he says, “but desire feelings of accomplishment. When individuals enjoy their job and place of work, they become natural ambassadors for an organization.”

As a B2B enterprise, your employees are on the face of your business. The employee representative of your organization can mean the difference between a positive or a negative experience for your customer. It’s therefore highly important that your team is as engaged in your business as possible.

Effective employee motivation has additional benefits in the age of social media. B2Bs cannot afford to overlook the fact that their employees use social media, and use it to speak about their work experience. A happy, motivated, productive employee is far more likely to speak positively about your company than one that is dissatisfied.

Frydman explains, “We begin with traditional word-of-mouth to family and friends, but the magic really happens when message amplification takes place on social media. Savvy organizations recognize their employees can be one of their most trusted marketing vehicles and should encourage them to be on LinkedIn and present themselves professionally.  Encourage likes, shares, and comments of posted content and go a step further by sending pre-scripted status updates to help facilitate sharing.”

Nor can B2Bs afford to overlook the fact that current and potential customers are also using social media to research companies they want to work with. In a previous article, How your B2B company can benefit from a corporate social responsibility program, Baka Communications CEO John Marion argued that, “Companies want companies that have a great reputation.” If your employees are engaged, your clients are more likely to see a positive reflection of your business on social media.

Brand Ambassadors

This really drives home the fact that your employees are your brand ambassadors. Irving Frydman concludes, “When employees live the brand they become your beacon – a light which delivers on the brand promise, helping ensure each customer interaction is a positive one.  Not only is service quality improved, but you increase the likelihood of having customers for life. Think of the value that brings to your organization.”

The study conducted by Kirkman and his fellow researchers is called “Recognizing ‘Me’ Benefits ‘We’: Investigating the Positive Spillover Effects of Formal Individual Recognition in Teams.” Finally, there is research to prove that a little healthy competition is a good thing.

Are You Overdue In Updating Your Employee Recognition Program?

December 19th, 2016 by

Recognition and reward programs have an inclination to get on autopilot, with a few star employees and top sales people praised by management the same time every year as crystal trophies collect on a handful of desks. But as a new breed of employee enters the workforce—one the values recognition and rewards for a job well done—companies are starting to turning to these programs as a way to keep their entire staff motivated, satisfied, and productive.
Designing an Employee Recognition Program Where Everyone Wins

The first step in redesigning our recognition program was to look at our mission of creating meaningful connections, and our values of being an owner and helping others. Using those established principles, we created a recognition and reward program, the Outstanding Employee Awards, which served to recognize our staff. This program also brought them closer together through the peer-to-peer nomination style while shedding light on the behaviors of our most successful employees. The results were outstanding. We had almost 600 submissions from across our company and an engagement rate that more than doubled our goal. And not only did the winners feel great, but their peer nominators felt heard and involved as well.

Here are some ways that you can use your company’s culture to establish a robust program to recognize and reward your employees and involve everyone, not just an exclusive few “usual suspects”:

Support peer-to-peer recognition. Employees are the ones that see the day-to-day accomplishments and success of their peers — especially those who are behind the scenes and might not have lots of public exposure. It not only inspires more collaboration and connection among employees, but colleague recognition can make a larger impact than manager recognition (not to mention it’s 35% more likely to have a financial impact than manager recognition).

Involve a community aspect. Millennials want more than just a job that pays the bills. Instead, they are looking for purpose and expect the companies they work for to give back to the community in one way or another. Including a volunteer day is an easy way to make employees feel good about themselves and their company.

Connect them with leadership. In large, global companies, employees can feel pretty disconnected from the executive team. A chance to spend some time with them outside of the office can go a long way to making an employee feel special.

Give them a break. In this digital era, workers tend to work around the clock, even on what should be a stress-free vacation. This can lead to serious work fatigue, so encourage them to shut down the laptops, stay off their emails for a few days, and get some R&R.

Look past cliché team activities. Bringing your employees together for a day of fun is a great way to connect them, especially if your company believes that real innovation comes from collaboration. Encourage group or team activities that they wouldn’t usually do, but be sure to look past the ‘team building’ trust falls and look to a unique experience that bring them closer together. And you may just uncover some hidden talents and skills that could be valuable to the whole company.

Above all, stay true to your culture. Before your company launches into a recognition and reward program thinking that it’s the way to reboot unmotivated employees, it’s important to keep in mind how a program like this would fit into your own company’s culture.

6 Ways To Reward Employees During The Holiday Season When You’re On A Budget

December 12th, 2016 by

Even if you’re on a budget, you can still do something meaningful for your employees to spread holiday cheer and show how much you value their support.

A few thoughtful acts can remind employees what they mean to your business, and in turn, you’ll be rewarded with a happier team that’s excited to build positive relationships with your customers.

Here are six simple ideas to reward employees during the holiday season: 

Share your smarts.

Teach your team members a new skill or trick of the trade. Get creative — if you own a retail store, consider holding a gift wrapping party where you help employees hone their wrapping skills. Restaurant owners may want to teach their staff how to create the perfect holiday cocktail.

Your employees will learn to do something they couldn’t do before, and you are building their confidence and capability.  Investing in your employees is something you should be doing all year round, but the holidays offer a great opportunity to have some fun with it!

Make music.

The music you decide to play at your business affects how you, your team, and your customers feel. What if you let your team members choose the music and try it out for an hour, or even for a whole day? Allowing them express themselves and take control over something will affect their mood and sense of belonging.

You can even create a playlist with all of your team members’ favorite songs. That way everyone has a chance to hear their song of choice!

Re-gift with flair.

Let’s face it, during the holidays most of us are recipients of well-meaning gifts that don’t really work for us. Rather than going out and buying more stuff that might end up in someone’s re-gifting pile, organize a gathering where everyone brings that perfect gift to exchange in Yankee Swap style. It’s good for the planet, good for morale, and easy on the wallet.

Pen a quick note.

That’s right, using a pen and a piece of paper. In our digital age, handwritten notes show a different level of caring. Craft a simple message that acknowledges something particular someone did that made an impact.

Then, tuck the message where they will undoubtedly discover it, like the sleeve of their coat or under their windshield wiper. Taking a few moments to write down your appreciation can do wonders in making people feel noticed and appreciated.

Give an hour.

Assume the goodwill that results when you enable a team member to pick an hour (honoring your “blackout periods”) where they can take off and take care of something important to them. Not everyone is at liberty to offer time off (with or without pay), but challenge yourself to acknowledge a slow period, or be prepared step in for your hardworking employees.

Time is precious — time is a gift. Think how much it would mean to you if someone said: “This hour’s just for you. Spend it however you want.”

Welcome feedback.

Honestly, what shows more that you care than wanting to hear from your employees and fostering their input? Asking thoughtful questions and listening deeply, without interruption, is an astounding act of generosity. Ensure that your team members’ voices are heard, that you’re working to support them, and you understand what’s important to them.

  • Here are some potential questions to get you started:
  • What is your favorite part of this job?
  • What’s one thing about this job that you think could be better?
  • What could I be doing better to support you?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • What are you favorite things to do outside of work?
  • If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
  • You don’t need to break the bank to give something valuable.
  • Whether you offer a holiday bonus or not this year, you need to make the time to reward your employees.
  • Hopefully, these ideas provided some inspiration — try to imagine what matters most to your staff and try to make it happen!
  • Your gifts will come back to you in the form of happier staff and customers in the New Year.

And don’t neglect to thank your customers and supporters this time of year, as well! Sending your mailing list a holiday email will strengthen your business relationships and remind your subscribers how important they are to your success.

Written By: Sue LaChance

How To Incentivize Your Employees To Become Better-Trained

December 6th, 2016 by

We are all well aware by now that an increasingly global, and thus more competitive, economy demands a very skilled workforce. But, especially for small and medium-sized companies with smaller training budgets, keeping up can be hard or impossible.

The reassuring news is that motivating workers to stay up to date might be easier, and less costly than you might believe. A new study found that employees who were given a small reward up front, and asked to commit to taking just two classes, ended up taking six times more courses than their peers who received no such incentives.

It turns out that the key is not in the dollar amount employees are offered, but in how it’s explained to them. Teck-Hua Ho, a professor at the Haas B-school at Berkeley, and Catherine Yeung of the National University of Singapore studied 4,000 people whose employers wanted them to take a series of training courses.

One group was offered a one-time cash incentive of 60 dollars as compensation for attending two classes, each of which cost 30 dollars, within four months. Then, researchers asked each employee to sign a non-binding agreement that they would show up for specific training sessions. The second group was told that the 60 dollars’ payment was a reward, not a reimbursement, for signing up for two courses within four months. Workers in this group were not obliged to commit to anything in writing.

The results were, the study notes, “extraordinary.” Over nine-and-a-half months, during which no further payments were offered, the employees who were told the 60 dollars was a reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, and who committed to two specific courses up front, finished six times more training courses than the group who thought the initial 60 dollars was a reward and who committed to nothing.

Why did the first group complete so much more training, even though they had to pay for most of the classes themselves? “We believe subjects who had two ‘free’ courses at the beginning, and who were asked to indicate their future plans, were prompted to adopt a more long-term mindset toward their careers,” says Ho. “So they were more likely to invest in training,” long after any more reimbursements were offered.

The study notes that the research was based in part on the upfront incentives some corporate wellness programs use to encourage people to exercise more or lose weight. Once employees start those efforts and experience some success, they often get motivated from within and just want to keep going. The study suggests that — once people realize that it can make them more promotable, and more marketable — learning new skills is likely to have the same effect.
Written by Anne Fisher

Want better-trained employees? Try this

The Different Types Of Incentives You Can Offer Employees

November 29th, 2016 by

Incentives and rewards in the workplace have benefits for both employers and staff. When recognized for fantastic performance and productivity, workers have increased morale, job satisfaction, and involvement in organizational functions. As a result, employers experience greater efficiency and an increase in productivity and sales. Through workplace incentives and rewards, employers and employees enjoy a positive and productive work environment.


Financial incentives reward workers for productivity and performance through money. These incentives include employee stock options, paid time off, profit sharing plans, bonuses, and cash awards. Additional monetary incentives include annual or semi-annual bonuses, such as mid-year and end-of-year rewards. These incentives encourage friendly competition between associates when linked to job performance. Financial rewards motivate employees to produce optimally.


Non-monetary incentives reward employee performance through job perks and opportunities. These rewards include flexible work hours, training opportunities, and the ability to work independently. The rewards and incentives are valuable to an employee because they allow workers to learn new skills and pursue advancement opportunities. For example, a recent graduate may view an excellent training program within an organization as more valuable than a higher base salary because they feel that the learning opportunity will benefit their career in the long term.

Employee Recognition

Employees who receive recognition for their work accomplishments tend to have increased morale and positive workplace attitudes. Employee recognition is an incentive employers often use to offer feedback and encouragement to employees. Employee recognition rewards may include verbal praise, public announcements for a job well done, and award ceremonies. Workplace recognition awards frequently occur such as at the end of the day, week or at the conclusion of the sales month.

Employee Assistance

Many employers offer rewards and incentives through employee assistance programs. These programs help workers maintain a work-life balance by supporting workers’ physical and mental well-being. For example, many programs provide counseling services to help cope with stress, family issues, and substance abuse. Employee assistance programs also offer discounts to join fitness centers to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. Some programs help working parents find daycare and other activities for their children. The purpose of these programs is to support workers with their home responsibilities so they can remain focused on their jobs while they are at work. Small businesses can contract with an employee assistance firm to provide the services that workers need.
Written by Sherrie Scott

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