Author Archives for dancrosstaw

About dancrosstaw

Dan Cross is particularly passionate about two things - basketball and human resources. Unfortunately, Dan was never drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) so he embraced a career in Human Resources instead. Driven by data, Dan challenges conventional HR and People practices through the use of analytics, human-centered design, and agile methodologies. An advocate for disability employment, Dan coaches for Special Olympics and regularly volunteers as a vocational rehabilitation specialist. When he’s not in the office, on a plane/train, or on the court – he’s most likely on Twitter (@CrossOverHR).

What Does Culture Have To Do With It? Everything!

What's culture have to do with it? Everything! Check out to find out more.

Over the past several weeks, I have taken a close look at three key components needed for successful employee engagement. Today, I will be highlighting the third, and in my opinion, most essential component – culture. The general belief is that a strong corporate culture is the direct result of high employee engagement. While this is true, building an environment of engaged, motivated employees is easier said than done.

Culture is not a standalone function. As I noted in my previous posts, it is heavily impacted by accountability, benefits and other workplace influences. Therefore, organizations must make it a priority to put in place a solid structure that can build and support an environment that fosters employee happiness and facilitates trusting, collaborative relationships between colleagues.

Here are 3 culture hacks that can help create an organizational culture that supports and sustains employee engagement:

  • Recognize wins: A successful rewards and/or recognition program must become an integral part of a company’s culture, rather than just a tool used by a select few leaders and HR professionals. There are excellent examples of peer-to-peer recognition programs and other types of group rewards that can help drive critical elements of positive culture such as teamwork, collaboration and creativity. Learn more about rewarding and retaining your employees through TicketsatWork Corporate Rewards & Incentives.
  • Celebrate failures: It is easy to reward successful events, but we also need to recognize unsuccessful ones. To be clear, we shouldn’t celebrate every failure – I’m looking at you, compliance miscues or code of conduct breaches. This hack, on the other hand, revolves around the celebration of ideas that were particularly innovative or challenged the status quo. Sometimes, however, these failed ideas might have been a bit too audacious or were just not feasible at the time. The organization can learn from these types of failures to make future initiatives better or they can be tabled for a launch down the road when the time is right. Creating a culture of innovation and positive risk-taking is the only way an organization is able to move forward and stay ahead of the curve.
  • Build trust by having fun: An open and transparent line of communication between employees and management will help establish trust at work. It will also help create a collaborative environment that, in turn, can produce improved problem solving and facilitate new or strengthened professional relationships. When it comes to having fun, simply scheduling a happy hour every other week or stuffing a ping pong table into a meeting room does not automatically mean your employees will enjoy themselves or build effective teamwork. Rather, you simply need to allow flexibility in the day so that organic fun can occur and a culture of engagement can be established.

What are some of the ways your company builds a culture of engagement? Let us know using the hashtag #FunAtWork on Twitter or get started today with Corporate Rewards and Incentives!

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3 Must Have Benefits Guaranteed to Engage Employees

Discover the 3 benefits guaranteed to engage employees at Tickets at Work!

Last week, I wrote an article that featured 4 tips employers should implement to increase accountability within their organization as part of a series of articles highlighting the ABCs of employee engagement.

Today, I am focusing on the second critical component for successful employee engagement – benefits.

The difference between a mediocre or phenomenal benefits package can be a make or break factor when it comes time for a strong candidate to accept a job offer from you or another organization.

Have you ever tried to build a house without a solid foundation? Neither have I (and not only because I would definitely drive a nail through my thumb if I attempted to operate a power tool.)

Therefore, it is important to build a benefits package that meets the following criteria:

  1. Supports an employee’s basic, personal and professional needs.
  2. Remains competitive, current and aligns with an organization’s mission.
  3. Covers both the individual employee and their family members.
  4. Engages, motivates and offers employees a sense of commitment to the organization.

3 foundational benefits that establish a comprehensive benefits program:

  1. Health and well-being (medical/dental/vision insurance, life insurance, fitness center memberships, flexible spending plans, personal trainers, etc.)
  2. Financial and professional empowerment (equity, profit sharing, 401K, retirement, educational assistance, training courses, guest speaker, seminars, etc.)
  3. Work-life balance (vacation, personal days, maternity leave, sick days, flexible work arrangements, etc.).

If implemented correctly, the utilization of these benefits will enable employees to experience less stress concerning the day-to-day rigors of life or paramount life events – giving them the opportunity to be more focused and engaged at work.

As you can see, a full-scale benefits program can become very complex, very quickly. Rather than simply throwing an array of options at employees, I encourage business leaders and HR professionals to make it a priority to learn about the benefits that are most important to their team and present them in a clear way.

This can be done through the utilization of data, feedback surveys, focus groups or simply one-on-one conversations around the water cooler. Understanding what benefits or rewards have the most meaningful impact, and constantly reevaluating what providers offer, is essential in keeping a benefits program current and engaging.

Lastly, a critical supplement to any benefits plan is an effective reward or recognition program. Offering monetary (gift cards, travel, movie tickets, dinner certificates, etc.) or experiential (learning & development opportunities, dinner with the CEO, certificates, plaques etc.) rewards, layered on top of the foundational benefits, can begin to uncover and support the deeper motivations of the workforce.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by TicketsatWork revealed that employees enrolled in a recognition program are 40 percent more engaged than those who are not. Employees of all ages, but particularly millennials, are seeking jobs that offer them experiences that are in line with their hobbies, interests, passions and that allow them to create that ideal ratio of work-life balance. Companies who do this tend to have happier, more engaged employees who are vested in the company and its mission.

What type of benefits or recognition program does your company offer? Let us know using the hashtag #FunAtWork.

Check in next week to read more about the final component of successful employee engagement – CULTURE.

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4 Must Know Tips to Increase Accountability offers insight on how to increase accountability and the benefits it has on employee engagement. Photo: Reward Getaway/Flickr CC

I recently published a post that overviewed the ABCs of Employee Engagement – accountability, benefits and culture.

Let us take a closer look at accountability and the benefits it can have on employee engagement.

As most HR professionals know, accountability directly correlates with an organization’s overall success, and is a key driver of employee engagement. If employees hold themselves and others accountable towards the fulfillment of a shared mission, they will feel more engaged in the work they do each day. In turn, they will also feel better connected with the organization and one another.

For accountability to be realized and sustained, here are some simple, effective tips for success:

  1. Start at the top. Executives, people managers and human resources professionals are leaders within their respective organizations. Employees will look to this group as the business influencers that craft and enforce workplace strategies, rules and systems. As such, it is important for these leaders to “walk the talk,” and hold themselves accountable to the same high standards they expect of everyone else. Leaders must also work to create opportunities to recognize employees and inspire teams and individuals to take on more responsibility, while guiding them to achieve impactful results.
  2. Set goals. Establishing appropriate expectations helps to set goals that drive performance and engagement alike. A well thought-out employee recognition program – whether its focused on wellness, peer-to-peer recognition, achievements, company milestones or any other initiative, is a great way to motivate and engage employees while keeping them accountable to meet or exceed business goals. Performance feedback through recognition reinforces a job well done and makes an employee feel good about their work, especially employees who have only been with the company a short time and need that encouragement
  3. Be consistent. We have touched on the why and the how, but what about the when? Accountability must transform beyond simply being a buzzword mentioned only once or twice a year during the annual performance cycle. It should be incorporated into an organization’s daily business operations, and become a critical element of the company’s reward and recognition programs. Moreover, recognition programs must consistently and fairly reward employees for achieving a goal or exceeding expectations. If done effectively, true employee engagement will not be far behind.
  4. Keep it fun! This is one of the most important elements for accountability and increased engagement. Creative, personal recognition experiences such as lunch with an executive, tickets to a show or a friendly sales competition between groups with a meaningful reward for the winner are the key to success. Recognition programs should focus on the positive – success and achievement – rather than emphasizing disciplinary action for a lack of accountability.

Next week, get ready to hear more about our second critical component of employee engagement – BENEFITS.

Learn more on how to reward and retain your employees through TicketsatWork Corporate Rewards and Incentives. 

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The ABCs of Employee Engagement


I recently had the opportunity to explore the benefits of employee recognition through a study designed by EBG’s Corporate Programs Division, which includes TicketsatWork, Plum Benefits and Working Advantage.

The survey unveiled that 94 percent of employers believe that employee recognition programs are an effective tool for engaging employees and two thirds of employers place high priority on rewarding, which indicated to me that recognition programs truly affect an organization’s bottom line.

HR professionals also noted “making employees feel valued” (90 percent), “creating a positive work environment” (81 percent) and “increasing employee happiness” (73 percent) as the top three goals of their recognition programs.

Is anyone else starting to see a pattern here? Through recognition programs, HR professionals aim to increase employee engagement and productivity by fostering a positive, happy work environment that makes their employees feel valued and appreciated.


While some companies have mastered the art of employee engagement, many others find the process daunting or believe their programs have room for improvement (65 percent to be exact.)

No matter where your company falls on that spectrum, it is important to remember that recognition programs – similar to any other business objective – need a strategic plan with set goals in order to have long-term success.

In a series of posts, I am going to focus on three key components of a successful recognition program – accountability, benefits and culture.

Accountability – Managers, executives, and HR professionals need to hold their employees and themselves accountable in order to reach YOY business goals. They must seek to inspire and challenge employees to take on more responsibility, while guiding them to achieve success. By creating a work environment that focuses on empowerment versus entitlement, employees will not only become more engaged in their work but also with one another and the organization. Incorporating an element of accountability within a recognition program is the first step to success – it helps to set goals and boosts morale through performance feedback.

Benefits – In order to become a loyal, vested member of an organization, employees need to feel that their personal and professional goals are being met.  This is why a robust benefits program is vital, particularly benefits that support a practical and sustainable work-life balance. Beyond the actual benefits, business leaders and HR professionals should make it a priority to learn about the benefits that are most important to their employees. Understanding what benefits or rewards have the most meaningful impact, and constantly reevaluating what providers offer is essential in keeping a recognition program current and engaging.

Culture – Many people believe a strong corporate culture is as an outcome of high employee engagement. However, engagement simply cannot exist without a culture that supports employee happiness and facilitates social relationships. I argue that a culture of engagement must have an intentional strategy that allows for organic growth and personal connections. A successful recognition program will become an integral part of a company’s culture, rather than just being a means to an end.

Be on the watch for next week’s post, which will dive deeper into the first key component of building an effective recognition program – ACCOUNTABILITY.

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