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Generation Z is here—and organizations that don’t understand what this generation craves at work may find it difficult to attract or retain them. As highlighted in this article from Forbes, leaders need to realize that the wants and needs of employees are changing—especially as it regards frequency of feedback.  Check out the chart below to see what’s important to each group, and some of the key differences between millennials and Generation Z.

This February you were either cheering or lamenting while the Philadelphia Eagles repeatedly charged down the field, landing first down after first down, scoring touchdowns, and ultimately, winning the Super Bowl championship.

Well, whether you’re a sports fan or not, you can use this same concept of first downs, touchdowns, and championships when thinking about strategic recognition in your organization.

First Downs

At work, first downs happen every day—they’re the daily effort people exert to drive success (for themselves, their team, or their organization). Sometimes this means doing their job well and setting the standard. Sometimes it means going above and beyond the job requirement. And, in some cases, a first down can mean an action that has a big impact on the customer experience or on a specific business result. All three levels of effort are worthy of recognition. Taking the time to provide a little recognition that acknowledges employees’ day-to-day effort can be just what is needed to help inspire them to press on. Here are a few examples of first downs:

 Helping out others

Learning something new

Sharing knowledge and expertise

Providing great service to customers

Solving a problem

First downs are critical for fulfilling employees’ day-to-day cravings for Respect, Purpose, and Relationship, which keeps them motivated and committed to accomplishing touchdowns and championships.


In football, touchdowns are a key result that occur throughout the game as a result of achieving first downs. At work, touchdowns are when you recognize results that come about from the cumulative daily effort employees put forth. Touchdowns at work could be results big or small, including:

 Having a project success

Achieving a goal

Accomplishing something as a team

Improving a process

Coming up with an innovative idea


Finally, we have championships. In football, the ultimate championship is the Super Bowl, which happens once a year. At work, championships are nowhere near as frequent as the effort level of first downs or the key results of touchdowns, but when they do happen, it often pays to make a big deal about it. Championships include major accomplishments and/or milestones that occur through a lot of first downs (daily effort) and touchdowns (personal or team results), for example:

Sales, revenue, or profitability goals

Productivity or cost-saving goals

Customer acquisition goals

 Career milestones

 Team milestones

Here’s a handy chart about what to recognize people for in regard to daily effort level (first downs), key personal or team results (touchdowns), or major goals/milestones (championships).

First downs, touchdowns and championships

As a leader and manager of people, investing a few minutes each week to stop and recognize a success (acknowledge a first down, touchdown, or championship) shows employees you respect them and the work they are doing. This not only builds trust and strengthens your relationship, is also helps employees feel less stress and become more motivated and committed—more engaged.

As appeared on (HR.com)

by Gregg Lederman – CEO, Brand Integrity

It sounds simple enough. Create a set of values that define your company culture, communicate those values to all employees, and encourage them to incorporate them into their work. But CEOs of today’s leading companies know they didn’t get there by only talking about their company’s core values, they got there by actually living them.

So, how does a company ‘live’ its values?

It’s not about creating a set of core values that define who you are as a company and putting them in a gilded frame on the wall for everyone to see. We make it our business at Brand Integrity to help companies take their values off the wall and get employees—from the janitor to the CEO—to live them in their daily work lives. It starts with a basic human truth: people who feel valued and appreciated will work harder, and the end result will be loyalty to the company.

After all, as British-American author Simon Sinek wisely notes, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” That concept is evident in today’s global workforce. Every company has laudable values—things like integrity, ownership, honesty, and innovation—but according to a recent Gallup survey, few organizations are able to bring those values to life. Only 27 percent of US employees believe in their company values according to the survey, while just 23 percent say they apply their company values on the job.

This isn’t the case for HumanGood, one of the country’s leading nonprofit providers of senior living communities. John Cochrane, CEO of the Pleasanton, CA-based company, recognized early on in his tenure the critical role employee engagement and company culture play in the overall customer experience.

How did they do it? It all starts with the CEO. In the case of HumanGood, Cochrane truly understood the connection between employee recognition and positive reinforcement to company values. Cochrane and senior leaders at the company consistently leverage an employee recognition platform to highlight and reward staff for exhibiting behaviors that reinforce company values. By citing specific examples in meetings, the word trickles down and soon becomes the topic of water cooler conversation.

Case in point: During a family meeting to discuss concerns, Christine, a HumanGood team member, discovered that a couple in her community was approaching a milestone wedding anniversary. Christine and her team arranged an intimate anniversary dinner for the couple, creating a memorable experience for the whole family. Comments on the platform were overwhelmingly positive. “This is HumanGood in action! I love being part of a team that creates such special moments.”

This is just one example of the many stories Cochrane and other leaders write about on the platform, describing the impact it has on the business. Everyone reads it, colleagues affirm it by making positive comments, and it has the potential to become a company legend. The stories are told in one-minute reminders to all employees, and every meeting starts with a similar story about an employee who lives out the company values. It’s about consistently connecting exhibited behaviors and stories to company values. Over time, those stories multiply, and employees  think to themselves, “I can do that!” It starts as a grassroots movement within the company that grows over time, and soon becomes the company culture. It’s the kind of action by employees that helps to increase resident/customer satisfaction and can lead to more referrals, higher occupancy, and better financial results.

But HumanGood takes it a step further. In an industry plagued by turnover, they start the process early by first recruiting and hiring people who believe in their company values. During initial interviews, they ask potential employees questions related to the company values and listen for specific examples of how they demonstrated those values in a previous job. New employees go through extensive values training during the onboarding process. The company taps into that early motivation to recognize and reward behaviors that reinforce company values from the very beginning.

The results have been remarkable.

HumanGood experienced a 27 percent decrease in nursing turnover in the first six months of employment and a 36 percent drop in total nursing turnover from 2014–16. In dining services, the numbers are even higher: a 48 percent decrease in total turnover from 2014–16, and a 51 percent drop in the first six months of employment. Overall, company profits grew by $4 million, transforming the work environment and ultimately, the experience for residents who live there (and, by extension, their families too).

In the end, it’s about making employees feel appreciated. Happy employees share their love for the company with the customer, and for the companies that get it right, the customer becomes a company champion.

Click Here to view the PDF

Recognition, when done strategically and consistently, has been proven to be an important driver for creating a work environment where employees can become more engaged, helping the company achieve the business results it’s committed to. Who wouldn’t want that?

The challenge is that even when managers and employees understand the value of recognition as a strategic management tool, doing it doesn’t always come naturally. Recognizing employees for doing their job well and for going above and beyond is not a habit that’s easy to adopt; however, reminders and creativity are a great way to drive consistency.

Try out some of the best practices below to see what works for you!

1. Pay it forward: One client we have initiated a campaign encouraging employees to write a recognition for someone when they receive one themselves.  Suggested messaging: “You know how good it feels when you get recognized? Next time that happens, pay it forward! Recognize someone else for demonstrating our values in action!”

2. Implement five-minute recognition breaks: Think “stretch breaks” but for recognition!  Take five minutes sometime within the week (Wednesday mornings, Friday at noon, etc.) to either recognize someone in the platform or comment on a recognition.  Schedule it on everyone’s calendar so it’s there as a reminder.

3. Tie it to a value and REMIND: Call out a Value of the Month each month, right on the homepage.  At the start of each month, remind employees what the value is and encourage them to look for examples of that value in action and recognize their peers for it in the platform.

4. Make your platform engaging: Update the platform regularly with pictures, videos, announcements/updates and stats. Keep it fresh by calling out that month’s birthdays, anniversaries, events, and achievements and encourage everyone to upload a profile image – you can even do a monthly or quarterly theme (an image of your favorite thing about winter or your pet!).

5. Download the app! At the end of a meeting, have everyone take a few minutes to download the Brand Integrity app, giving them the quickest access to the platform and allowing them to post and comment on recognition right from their phone.  Managers can also approve recognition posts via the app.

6. Set up a scavenger hunt: Create a list of items in the platform to look for (a specific person’s profile picture, a recognition post tied to a specific value, how many comments someone has made, etc.) and offer up a gift card or a few extra hours of PTO to the first person to find all the right answers. This is a great way to get people in and navigating around the site to learn where to find information and statistics.

7. Share stories in meetings (One Minute Reminder): Simply pull up the Activity Feed via the app and start a meeting reading a post from the site.

8. Put certificates on display: Print certificates from the platform for your group weekly or monthly and post in a place where others can see them – a kitchen, break-room, bulletin board, or even a conference room.  Rotate them weekly or monthly so the most recent stories are always on display.

9. Start a monthly recognition lunch: At the end of each month, bring in pizza or lunch for everyone that either wrote or received a recognition post that month. It’s a great way to build relationships within the team and across departments.

10. Focus on a specific behavior: Is there a behavior in your set of values that you know your team could get better at?  Make that behavior the focus for the month and recognize employees who work to improve it.  Post all recognition certificates related to that behavior in a visible place as a reminder to the team on what you’re working on improving.

Brand Integrity has added the ability to capture customer-based recognition and share it within its employee engagement platform. The new feature provides insights into what customers appreciate most and reinforces positive employee behavior.

In addition to boosting employee morale, customer-based recognition can benefit organizations in a variety of ways. From a Human Resources standpoint, it serves to identify the behaviors consistent with the experience an organization aims to deliver to its customers. This in turn helps employees learn and repeat such behaviors, and helps hiring managers pinpoint the kind of employees they should be recruiting in the first place.

The new feature is also particularly important for employees such as desk-less and remote workers, some of whom primarily interact with customers rather than other employees. As employee engagement continues to be a major topic of interest to companies, the Harvard Business Review contends that simple acts of recognition are the easiest way to boost morale. Customer-based recognition helps employees feel more connected to the work they’re doing, as they witness first-hand the impact they have on the customer experience.

“We have always integrated our employee and customer (patient) recognition programs and it’s been critical to have positive input from both,” says Jackie Beckerman, Chief Patient Experience Officer and Director of the Strong Commitment at the University of Rochester Medical Center, a longtime Brand Integrity client who uses the feature. “The customer-based recognition component of the program has been a huge indicator for us in terms of the link between positive feedback and palpable culture change.”

Customer-based recognition activity is integrated into the platform’s reporting dashboard, tracking not only the number of customers who have submitted recognitions, but also the amount of recognitions made by customers each month. This data helps organizations to operationalize their culture and measure how their employees are living it, and how it’s rippling out to impact their customers, and ultimately, business results.

Click here to request more information!

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