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Performance Management Conferences – Spring 2013 Recap

WAW, Avatar, and EEA shows look at big data challenges, new engagement strategies and rewards

Spring 2013 was characterized by so many performance management conferences, but so little time. Marketing Innovators had representatives at all of them and brought back some key take aways.

WAW Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition

Heidi Spychalski

The speed and impact of technology and the slowed economy are being felt across the industry. Significant influences are:

  • Big data opens a window on talent, but presents challenges.
  • Volume. How to get a handle on all the information that’s out there.
  • Variety. How to capture and integrate data from numerous sources.
  • Veracity. Is the source reputable and is the information accurate?

Social media is great for employee recognition and feedback but demands immediate response. Characterized as “employee feedback in turbo time,” implementing workplace social media can require policy changes and a new way of thinking about engagement.

With the growth of telecommuting and the challenge of keeping employees engaged when they’re not at their desks, HR is embracing mobile.It’s possible that mobile will eventually replace desktop apps. Because it speeds business, cycle and response times, mobile is increasingly seen as a driver of ROI.

Gamification is growing, especially in wellness programs, where teams with common goals, and leaderboards showing progress are elements of games. Yet when discussions turn to bringing gamification online, companies still get nervous—even though gamification simply encompasses what they are already doing.

The recession’s impact on merit raises is changing the traditional employee review. These days, employee reviews are moving from a rating model to a narrative model. The focus now is on job engagement, career development, and education. The goal is to use other ways to show employees they are valued.

2013 Employee Engagement Conference, hosted by Avatar Solutions

Rick Blabolil

Recruiting, engaging and retaining top talent were the driving themes here. Thought leaders from a range of industries—healthcare, technology, consulting—offered their perspectives.

Forming emotional bonds are critical to employee engagement, but can only happen in an environment of trust. Employers are obligated to create and honor that trust. Organizations can create enormous value when those bonds are in place, and employees want to be part of that value. But this can only happen in an environment where trust exists between employer and employee.

Inclusiveness and diversitycan drive business results. Emerging markets, globalization and an increasingly diverse workforce are game changers. At the workplace average but diverse groups will outperform the homogenous, high-performing segment. Overall, diversity has been shown to positively affect the bottom line. Example: one percentage point (equal to about $250 million) of a company’s 7.4 % revenue growth was attributed to “new products inspired by diversity efforts.”  Mentoring is necessary to make a strategy of diversity and inclusiveness happen, especially when mentors include senior level employees. Moreover, employees want mentors and lack of mentors was an area of concern.

Putting staff opinions to work is a top employee engagement strategy for a major Midwest health system. An employee survey revealed that “thank you” and other forms of recognition were very important, especially to young employees (18-25 years old) and new experiences, not just new titles, were valued. Putting those opinion to work required an energetic and enthusiastic cheerleader who will lead the charge.

Storytelling, where employees are encouraged to create a narrative of their place in the organization,is another trend. A fast-paced technology company uses story telling as a tool to maximize engagement and even used it as a theme in its annual reports, linking the company’s story of its future to the story of its past.

EEA Rewards and Recognition Expo and Conference

Nancy Reuscher

Participating as a hosted buyer, Nancy was able to meet with 25 vendors of products and services that MI could source from its gift center. She also came back with insights on trends that say a lot about what rewards employees currently value.

Recognition technology continues to hold sway as a top rewards pick but a twist on this is the rise of “retro” items. Example: well-priced instant film cameras that produce on-the-spot snapshots—and a fun item maybe for on-the-spot recognition. The cameras range from lollipop-colored “minis” to professional looking models with more features.

Staycations are still going strong, and gift options reflect it. Small items for backyard fun are popular, savory selections for home dining have boosted the popularity of unique olive oils and made artisanal” part of the gift center vocabulary.  

The event experience retains its high-value spot in incentive programs. Look for gift center options that include, for example, an event that includes fittings for luxury headphones, or other easily individualized accessories. Whether at a golf outing, in a hospitality suite, or poolside, the event experience makes a lasting impression.