Friday, December 6, 2013

Top 5 HR Process Ripe for the Social Enterprise

Recently the team at Monster invited Todd Horton from the KangoGift team to lead a webinar on the "Top 5 HR Processes Ripe for the Social Enterprise". 

We want to thank everyone at Monster for the chance to participate in their on-going thought leadership series and encourage you to check out their events. 

For this talk, Todd shared some ideas on what areas of HR are well suited to social organizations. There is a lot of buzz around social these days, but generally everyone agrees that as we enter into a period of real time communication at work, many HR tasks are adapting to this new way of work.

A copy of the presentation is embedded below and if you have the time, a full recording is available. 

Top HR Processes Ripe for a Social Enterprise from KangoGift

Here is the presentation summary. 

It’s pretty clear by now that the way people work is changing with the rise of the social enterprise. Forrester predicts organizations will spend in excess of $5B on social tools by 2016 and HR is eager to tap into this workplace transformation by focusing on areas most conducive to social interactions.
In this session, Todd Horton will highlight the top 5 HR processes well suited for a social enterprise. Based on recent research and a study of what has worked (and what hasn’t) for early adopters, Todd will share how companies are making employee centered tasks more timely, data rich, and effective.
The session will begin with a framework HR can use when thinking of implementing social technology and include a discussion around
1. Converting traditional HR processes from infrequent tasks to on-going conversations.
2. Capturing and reporting on timely data to create a smarter workforce
3. Tapping into a spirit of “getting things done” with simple tools.
The session will offer examples of how HR leaders have implemented programs to capture the benefits of these new breed of tools. Areas covered will include recruiting, employee feedback, performance reviews, on-boarding, and knowledge management.
The session will close with metrics and model dashboards organizations are using to measure the impact of a social HR strategy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NECINA Keynote: The Workplace in 2020

This past Saturday members of the New England Chinese Information and Networking Association (NECINA) invited Todd from the Kango team to keynote their annual conference. 

This year's theme was global e-commerce and Todd was asked to share an international HR perspective on what the people-side of the future workplace may look like. The presentation is embedded below and accessible on Slideshare and on KangoGift

The main takeaway of the talk was to highlight four people-centered trends that are shaping the way we manage companies, teams, and our personal careers. 

1. Global Mindset 
It is becoming increasingly important for us to seamlessly work with colleagues across the globe and have the cultural IQ to make real connections with the people we collaborate in order to advance a company's mission. 

Samsung is a leader in this area not only with a well-respected global talent attraction and development program, but also programs to help a global workforce understand each other. 

2. "Instant-ness"
There is little doubt that employees are communicating and collaborating in near real-time. As part of this shift, people almost expect instant access to people and information. 

Technology is helping facilitate this trend and people are learning how to operate in an instant workplace where employee feedback, coaching, and answers are expected in a timely way. 

The French company Atos is taking a lead with their mission to end the use of email. They are promoting other forms of communication to keep employees connected and sharing ideas efficiently. 

3. Location free 
The physical work space of the future is changing with companies like JetBlue encouraging people to work anywhere and anytime. Another example is IBM with their focus on creating innovation centers around the world where employees can visit to work and collaborate in order to maintain flexibility. 

4. Why am I here?
Companies are always competing for talent and the companies of the future are clarifying what they offer to the most attractive employees. In addition to career flexibility and growth, a company's social mission and impact outside of profit is increasingly being asked by prospective candidates. 

It was fun and lively talk and we'd like to give a huge thanks to the NECINA team for bringing together a great group of people interested in hearing an HR keynote on a Saturday morning. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Social HR and IBM Connections

We recently shared that we integrated KangoGift's employee recognition capabilities with IBM Connections. We may have to put Kango in a blue suit! 

More seriously, this was a great opportunity for us to work with companies looking to use Connections for more HR focused activities. 

Building on this announcement we'd like to highlight a few ways companies can think about transforming traditional HR processes into more social activities. 

IBM has a stated goal of developing a "Smarter Workforce" and we believe HR tools built into social platforms can transform many HR "tasks" from annual or semi-annual events to on-going conversations that are part of the way people work today. 

The benefits are many and include more structured and timely data along with new ways to report on the pulse of the workforce.

We've embedded a few of our thoughts on this trend and you can download it from KangoGift.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Thoughts on Gallup's Findings that 70% of US Workers Are Disengaged

This week Gallup released their annual State of the American Workplace Report and found that 70% of US employees are disengaged at work. It's definitely worth a read if you have the time. 

For companies this means the economy is losing out on $450B of economic opportunity due to lack of engagement by their most valuable asset - people.

For employees this means that 7 out of 10 of us are not that happy getting out of bed in the morning and thinking about the day ahead at the office. 

What's fascinating is that the results haven't changed much in the 12 years Gallup has been conducting the report. Despite knowing that employee engagement and well being are clear drivers of profitability, productivity, and retention, companies have been challenged to change their cultures.

Does this mean companies are ignoring these insights or are they trying hard to increase engagement and failing? We believe it's the latter and are surprised companies find it so difficult. 

One of the main takeaways from the report is a reaffirmation of something many of us already know. People leave jobs because of their managers. Not to pick on managers too much, but they do have the highest level of influence over an employee's engagement level at work.

“Gallup has found that managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers who are engaged nationwide.“

While we aren't going to offer a silver bullet to the disengagement issue in a blog post, we can at least highlight the top three things companies can start doing right away to help their managers be more effective. 

1. Encourage more communication - Coach managers to develop employee strengths by focusing on timely feedback. 

Employee engagement goes beyond a focus on opportunities for advancement and an understanding of expectations. While each generation has different needs, manager who communicate with team members on all aspects of an employee's well-being tend to foster a culture of engagement. 

2. Work even harder at aligning the workforce to company values - Only 41% of employees feel they understand what their company stands for and what makes its brand different than competitors. 

When organizations successfully engage their customers and their employees, they experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes. If employees know the values they become brand ambassadors

3. Ask Employees - Gallup offers a well-tested survey of the key questions that drive engagement. Page 19 summarizes them well. 

As a parting thought, we believe strongly in the power of a thank you and regular reinforcement of each team member's contributions. Sometimes public praise is necessary and other times a private moment is the best way to tell a colleague good job. Sounds simple, but it seems like we aren't doing enough of it. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting Social with IBM Connections

Our goal of making it easy to celebrate great work the moment it happens took a huge step forward this week. 

We are thrilled to announce that we integrated our social recognition platform with IBM ConnectionsIDC has named Connections the #1 Worldwide Market Leader in Social Software four years in a row.

What this means aside from KangoGift being named a "Ready for Social Business" Partner is that organizations can easily turn on an employee recognition solution that captures, amplifies, and measures the workforce without much effort.

Now from Connections, if a colleague went above and beyond on a project, you can say thank you, include real gift like dinner at Macaroni Grill, share the praise with your network, and add a positive data point to the colleague's performance dashboard. 

We know from working with large organizations, that employees crave a way to give timely praise and reinforce great work. And the ability to attach a small gift strengthens the impact. And with this integration, companies don't have to implement a stand alone recognition platform. 

As companies embrace smarter workforce strategies, we are proud to bring our approach of capturing timely performance data and using that information to assess engagement, high performing employees, and uncover those ripe for a promotion. Maybe someday our recognition data will feed into IBM's Watson to help HR departments manage teams. 

We made a video highlighting how it all works or feel to check out our site to learn more

Thank you to everyone on the IBM team for embracing social HR and for working closely with us to bring our recognition product to companies.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Two Most Important Words

The title of this post comes from a recent article by Robert Eckert, the former CEO of Mattel, who suggested the two most powerful words in the workplace are - Thank You. 

Those familiar with KangoGift know that we strongly believe in the power of thank you and don't think it's said often enough at work. For us this is strange given how simple it is to take a moment to show appreciation to a colleague, peer, manager, or team member.

A lot of research on employee engagement, corporate culture, and high performing teams suggests that timely and public praise can reap expected and surprising benefits. Yet, while many companies cite employee engagement as a core area of opportunity, HR teams struggle with fostering a thank you culture. 

While there may not be a magical solution, Eckert's five tips on recognition are effective, simple, and come from a CEO who helped bring Mattel into Fortune's Great Places to Work list

  • Set aside time every week to acknowledge people’s good work.
  • Handwrite thank-you notes whenever you can. The personal touch matters in the digital age.
  • Punish in private; praise in public. Make the public praise timely and specific.
  • Remember to cc people’s supervisors. “Don’t tell me. Tell my boss.”
  • Foster a culture of gratitude. It’s a game changer for sustainably better performance.

We bolded the point about sharing the praise with a person's boss since this is one of the most common ways we've seen organizations adopt KangoGift. The ability to add a data point to an employee's on-going recognition statement and broadcast it to colleagues and a manager taps into the ROI of social tools. 

Managers we work with find it helpful to have a dashboard of who on their teams has been recognized and can offer unique insight into the contributions of the employees. It's common for us to hear, "I didn't know a member of my team helped the other department with a time sensitive project." 

These types of insights work wonders because it helps the employee shine at review time and the manager feels more informed about how their teams are working toward the goals of the organization.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Using the Science of Teamwork to Engage Employees

A recent Harvard Business Review article caught our attention for the way researchers at MIT sought to link a team's effectiveness to the way team members communicated. 

Alex "Sandy" Pentland head of MIT's Human Dynamics Lab noticed, "How we communicate turns out to be the most important predictor of team success, and as important as all other factors combined, including intelligence, personality, skill, and content of discussions. The old adage that it's not what you say, but how you say it, turns out to be mathematically correct."

This prompted us to think more deeply about the "how you say it" part of Pentland's comments. Given our focus on helping companies reward great work in timely ways, we wanted to share three broad trends we have seen which tap right into the HBR findings of how people are communicating at work.

1. Communicate Frequently 
Employee engagement is raised when feedback is delivered frequently and in a targeted way. While this sounds obvious, many organizations haven't equipped managers and employees with ways to deliver informal, frequent praise. 

Increasing the frequency in which your employees communicate can lead to interesting outcomes. 

One example is the effectiveness of the formal employee evaluation. The value of the formal review has declined over time and feels like an administrative obligation more than a chance to develop an employee in many organizations. The reason is that it no longer feels timely.  

These days employees are looking for ways to have on-going conversations around their work and how they can be developed. We call it the "real-time assessment" of how an employee is performing and developing to her goals. 

These conversations can happen with managers, peers, or cross functional team members. The important part is that feedback is given frequently. 

2. Communicate Openly 
IBM’s 2012 CEO Survey revealed that 57% of CEO’s identified social business as a top priority. Helping your employees collaborate, give feedback, and reward great work is becoming a social activity that has a direct business benefit. 

The ROI of open communication through the HR lens can be measured in employee retention, engagement, and productivity. 

Having the chance to amplify great work across teams and in a public way helps companies communicate their values in ways that were not available until recently. 

3. Big HR Data is Here 
In the same IBM survey, more than 73% of respondents indicated they are making significant investments to draw insights into data. 

While this isn't a "how" to communicate insight, we believe organizations that use structured ways to capture the informal communication that occurs among teams can be used to better understand the workforce. Consider this more of a "how to" so that organizations can mine the workplace data generated from these conversations. 

A traditional pat on the back, captured in a formal recognition system can create real time performance reviews of employees and their contributions. 

While technology is just a tool, making these tools natural extensions of how employees want to communicate leads to valuable insight from the analytics that are possible. 

Companies are becoming more social in the ways employees give feedback, share insight, and reward great work are changing. Helping your employees manage how they communicate can lead to developing a great and engaging culture. 

As the tools and ways we interact with our colleagues changes rapidly, Pentland's remarks may extend beyond teams to entire organizations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bringing Instant Recognition Global

Over the past few months, we've had the pleasure of working with a few large multinational companies to think about ways they can make employee recognition more timely and effective for their global employees.

We are pleased to share that managers across France, Germany, Canada, and the Czech Republic are now using KangoGift to give recognition in a culturally relevant way. 

This is a huge step forward for us and we are grateful to the companies who helped us ensure our approach of making it easy to say thanks is compatible with employees across cultures and locations. 

The common theme in all of our conversations has been how can multinational companies deliver a social recognition program that is measurable, visible, and meaningful to employees everywhere. 

One simple yet important insight we tackled is that some cultures prefer private one-on-one feedback while others prefer to deliver recognition to a group or team rather than single a person out. And another theme was how public to make the recognition. Not everyone wants to be in the spotlight on internal news feeds or even on social media.

These important insights led us to adapt KangoGift to support a global audience and enable colleagues to reinforce the recognition with a reward from local brands. 

The benefit for companies continues to be the chance to have more timely insight into who, when, and why employees are being recognized across a common platform.

With this new global approach the focus continues to be on making it easy for a colleague anywhere to deliver praise and tie recognition to a company's values. 

The good news is that all companies are getting more social, connected, and looking for ways to extend their corporate cultures to all employees. The ability to bring together timely feedback and recognition is one item that's top of mind for companies we work with and we love the chance to go global.

As one example, we are thrilled to be working with RETIS France which is a network of innovation hubs across France helping to nurture emerging companies. They are a perfect partner for KangoGift and it's been great to learn how a French audience responds to our newer form of recognition. 

Global recognition is a vast topic, however by focusing on the employee and making it easy to deliver culturally relevant praise, we are seeing a tremendous desire to bring employees together.

International is core to how we are thinking about employee recognition and we are working on more exciting innovations to help companies deliver a common way to capture those pat on the back moments.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Who's Right Marissa Mayer or Richard Branson?

Recently people are revisiting the question of whether or not employees need to be in the same office to be engaged, productive, and thoughtful contributors to an organization's goals. 

We figured it's a good time to give the KangoGift perspective. 

For us, people are asking the wrong question. Virgin has a very strong corporate culture with many remote workers. Zappos on the other hand is one of the preeminent benchmarks of a strong culture where employees work under the same roof. Most companies fall someplace in the middle. Who's right? 

The real question is how can your organization foster a culture that embraces communication, feedback, and celebrating the small wins? 

To use a sports metaphor, by focusing on the small things, all of those singles and doubles keep people aligned to achieve the big goals. Just communicating a big goal with no reinforcement and guidance on the journey can lead to disappointment. 

We define the small things by looking at what employees want. Recent data from Towers Watson found only 12% of people say they receive frequent recognition and 7% believe their company is excellent at appreciating great work. When pushed, employees cite that they would like appreciation or feedback every seven days. All of this suggests a focus on the small wins can drive your teams. 

To be fair, it's hard to beat a colleague walking over to my desk patting me on the back and telling the people around me how appreciated I am. However, these days the walk to the next cube may not be possible. Instead various social and mobile tools can create the pat on the back experience and amplify great work throughout the organization. 

Of course, we think about recognition a lot and are big believers in using mobile and social recognition as a productive way to give feedback and praise. Offering people an easy and structured way to give timely praise leads to more conversations, more visibility for great work, and ultimately employees who value their work. 

Overall, Tony Hsieh, Marissa Mayer, and Richard Branson can teach us a thing or two about creating great corporate cultures. We all just need to figure out to take the best of each to create a culture that works for your organization.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Webinar on 1/24 with - Top 5 Ways Companies use Social Media for Recognition

Happy New Year! We are excited to announce that Todd will be leading a webinar along with on January 24, 2013. The topic will be ways companies are using social tools for employee recognition. 

We are huge fans of celebrating the small wins at work with a simple thank you and were tickled with agreed to do a session on how recognition is becoming more instant and amplified with the rise of the social enterprise. 

We hope you can join us and feel free to share some ideas you'd like to see covered. 

You can register here and a full description is listed below. 

Today only 5% of companies have embraced social media as a way to facilitate employee collaboration and recognition. Why is this? Do companies fear losing control, are there a lack of tools to standardize social interactions at work, or are employees just not ready? 

In this session, Todd Horton Founder/CEO of KangoGift will present new research into the adoption of social tools and discuss the top 5 ways companies are starting to use social media for employee recognition. 

Topics covered will include ways social media can be used as an informal way to recognize employees and the opportunities presented by these new tools. The session will look at best practices companies are using with internal social tools along with tactics to tap into the power of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. 

As teams look for more instant ways to communicate, collaboration and recognition present the most pressing opportunities. Join us as we look at how social can be used to align and engage your workforce. 

Attendees of this session will gain a framework for thinking about how to utilize social tools, the benefit of reaching a younger workforce, how mobile is part of the solution, and metrics for measuring success.

As more employees use their mobile devices for work, the smartphone offers a tremendous opportunity to facilitate real-time collaboration and feedback among colleagues. This mobile connected workforce seeks to not just receive information, but contribute to HR processes like performance reviews, feedback, project management, and recognition. 

This session will close with ways mobile workforces are embracing the consumerization of the social workplace.