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).

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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HR Professional Dives into the Benefits of Employee Recognition

Our company distributed a survey among thousands of HR professionals to discover the impact employee recognition programs have on employees and workplace culture. Read on to see what seasoned HR pro Dan Cross has to say about the results:  

Entertainment Benefits Group Corporate Programs Division is excited to share that it has officially launched its new Reward Management Solution for employers

As I glanced at the data, the first number that stood out to me was 94 percent. I was not surprised to see that HR professionals almost universally believe employee recognition programs help to engage, motivate, recruit, and retain employees. I was more shocked at the 6 percent of my professional peers who don’t feel that these programs accomplish those goals and/or don’t offer a program to employees. I was also taken back by the 65 percent of employers who feel that their recognition programs have room for improvement. Which led me to ask, why? So, I turned back to the survey for more answers.


In my experience, employee recognition programs are one of the best tools for employee engagement. In fact, the survey 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 perfect 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. Continue reading

Why is Employee Recognition a Business Game Changer?

Entertainment Benefits Group Corporate Programs Division is excited to share that it has officially launched its new Reward Management Solution for employers

(Illustration: Carolyn Curtis)

The landscape of employee recognition has changed drastically over the past decade. Gone are the days when a competitive 401K package and annual bonuses were enough to keep employees satisfied. Now, more than ever, employees want to be recognized in a meaningful way by employers and are in search of “non-cash” rewards or experiences that they can emotionally connect with and share with others. Interestingly enough, three quarters of all U.S. businesses leverage non-cash rewards and recognition to motivate and engage their workforce at some level, spending over $77 billion annually.[1]

Entertainment Benefits Group Corporate Programs Division is excited to share that it has officially launched its new Reward Management Solution for employers

With the rise of corporate spend in the travel and experience rewards market, our Corporate Programs Division – TicketsatWork, Plum Benefits and Working Advantage – set out to discover how employee recognition programs truly impact businesses.

Distributing a survey among our corporate clients, responses were collected from 2,120 human resource professionals across 38 industries ranging from small businesses to large corporations. The survey results produced unique insights on the value, purpose and pain points of employee recognition programs.

We created an infographic to shed light on why these programs have become increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes and industries.

Before we delve deeper into the survey results, our Corporate Programs Division is excited to share that it has officially launched a new Reward Management Solution for employers. The web-based tool will provide employers with a complete solution to manage their existing or anticipated employee recognition programs, and just in time for the holidays.

Key benefits of the program include:

1) Easy-to-use and intuitive web-based system. Set up, manage and customize all aspects of your recognition programs online, and schedule automated delivery for multiple reward types.

2) Choice. Employees will have access to redeem rewards for gift cards from over 200 retail brands including apparel, restaurants, electronics and spas, as well as thousands of travel and entertainment products – including deals at over 225,000 hotels – not available to the general public.

3) Service. A dedicated account executive will be assigned to work with employers to develop a program that best fits the needs of each company. Moreover, access to a direct customer service line will be available for assistance or troubleshooting

4) Cost Effective. No setup fees and no delivery charges, which is different from many other reward and incentive programs that include substantial fees. Additional customization options are also available.

To gain authentic feedback on the survey data, our team asked a seasoned human resource professional to offer expert opinion on employee recognition. Read here. Contributor: Dan Cross (@CrossoverHR)

[1] Van Dyke, Melissa. (2016, Jan. 22) IRF 2016 Trends in Incentive Travel, Rewards, and Recognition. Retrieved from

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