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A man holding a card that reads "EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH"

How to Create an Effective Employee Recognition Program

How to Create an Effective Employee Recognition Program 1024 512 Sprockets

Employee recognition is directly tied to staff engagement, productivity, and retention. When employees understand that their work is appreciation it deepens their connection with the company. To create an effective employee recognition program you must first establish guidelines for the program. Read on to learn the best practices for creating an employee recognition program.

 

1. Make Everyone Eligible

One basic is to create a recognition program where all employees are able to be recognized. For example, a manufacturing company shouldn’t only have recognition categories that office staff are eligible for and not front-line staff. If you create specific categories, make one for each aspect of the company. But, best practices are to create recognition categories that are applicable to everyone. An example of this would be “Employee with Innovative Idea”. This could be applied to an assembly worker who thought of a time-saving strategy or marketing person who thought of a new channel to use. 

 

2. Define Recognition Categories

Once you are aware that your categories should be available to everyone, it’s time to define them. You’ll want to create categories that are easily repeatable each month. Common recognition categories include “Above and Beyond”, “Outstanding Leadership”, “Innovative Idea”, “Process Improvement”, “Amazing Teamwork”, and “Helping Hand”. 

 

3. Set Standards

After you have created the recognition categories, set standards for each one. It’s important to have a sentence or two for each of your categories so those who nominate have clear guidelines. Setting standards also makes it clear to the winner of which action they took that got them recognized as an employee. This later translates into more work of a high caliber, teamwork, and a sense of pride. 

Let’s use “Process Improvement” as an example. The standards for this category could be the following, “The Process Improvement award goes to someone who is always looking for ways to improve business, has identified an area in the business that could be improved and enacted a new strategy to follow through.” 

4. Announce Program & Encourage Participation

The final step for creating an effective employee recognition program is to announce it! We recommend launching your new employee recognition program during a team/company meeting, followed by an email. The email should detail the award categories, the descriptions of each category, and the directions for submissions. 

During this introductory phase you should also include how “winners” will be chosen. Options include choosing to recognize everyone who was submitted, leadership team choosing from submissions, or randomly selecting the winner from submissions. 

To encourage participation, try outlining realistic incentives for your business to give those who win the awards. These prizes may be gift cards, cash, PTO, company branded items, or simply a certificate. Some companies even offer a kickback to the person who nominated. An example of this is $50 to the person who was nominated and $10 to the person who submitted their good act.

Overall, in order to create an effective employee recognition program you must first start with a solid foundation. Taking the time to establish how you can incorporate all employees and their different duties in the award categories is important. In order for it to be effective you must start with clearly defined guidelines for submissions so that people understand which behaviors are noticed. Lastly, a recognition program is only as good as the participation. Taking the time to let people know and get them involved is crucial to your new program being a success. In time, you may experience better engaged employees and improved productivity.

5 Cringeworthy HR Stories You Won’t Believe

5 Cringeworthy HR Stories You Won’t Believe Sprockets

Below are 5 cringeworthy HR experiences only HR and Hiring Managers will believe. They are bizarre, haunting, and will leave your palms sweaty and heart racing.

If you have your own please put it in the comments!

The Shoe-less Supernatural

I was once representing a candidate for a pretty important biotech job. The day of the interview came and the hiring manager called me with feedback: ‘Mr. X was very qualified and we like him, but he took his shoes and socks off while I interviewed him.’ Yikes! When I called the candidate to discuss this odd behavior, he invoked the famous ‘Costanza’ defense: ‘Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? If I had known that was frowned upon…’

 

Red Light, Green Light

I was interviewing mechanical engineers for a junior position. Typically we ask candidates why they are looking for a new position. A common reason for people to quit is a lengthy commute. One particular candidate informed me that his current commute was too long. “How long?” I asked. He responded, “There are 37 traffic lights between my home and the office. Then continues, “there are only 15 between my home and your office, so that is much better.”

The other hiring manager and I laughed our heads off after he left and called him back with a job offer that afternoon. He’s a great engineer too.

 

The Motherly Witch

Back when I was HR Manager for a market research firm, one of the most awkward interviews was with my candidate and his mother.

This 19-year-old who apparently had previous work experience in customer service brought his mother into the interview with him. I politely questioned his mother as to the reasoning for her joining in on the interview and I was told, “I’m just making sure this is the right company for him and making sure you’re asking fair questions.”

Then, I decided to just roll with it (why not, this is the most interesting thing I’ve had all week) so I asked my first question.. she answered for him. I politely explained that the interviews I conduct are with the candidate only unless special accommodations are required. I was told, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Finally, I thanked them both for coming out and explained that the position requires problem-solving and critical thinking on an individual level. Unless I am hiring the both of them under one salary working together as a “full-time equivalent”, this wouldn’t work. I was then told I would be sued…

 

The Bust

I used to manage a Blockbuster and after one particularly awful interview, I walked a candidate out towards the parking lot and the alarm went off. It turned out he stuffed three DVDs in his suit jacket before being called back to the office.

He did not get the job. Or Mama Mia, Fool’s Gold, or High School Musical 3 for that matter.

 

American Psycho

An applicant showed up late for an interview wearing a long trench coat with his hair slicked back in a ponytail. As the interview progressed, he answered the recruiting manager’s questions, sipped on his Starbucks coffee, and tilted the chair on the back legs. When asked the question, “Why should I hire you?” he responded by taking a sip, leaning way back, running his hand along the side of his hair, and saying, “Because I’m so good looking.”

 

The Repulsive Receptionist

A recruiting manager hired a receptionist who during her employment used the ER as her primary care physician and ran an escort service on the side.

 

Source: Reddit


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Our assessment discovers the shared characteristics of your best people and uses that information to predict a new hire’s likelihood to succeed in a position before they’re hired.

Tom Brady

How Tom Brady Started Sprockets

How Tom Brady Started Sprockets 1278 680 Sprockets

As Super Bowl LIII nears, Tom Brady (again) makes headlines. This time for willing his Patriots to another AFC Championship win and outdueling rising star Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. It took Brady a full 60 minutes plus, but he’s back in the Super Bowl for the 9th time in his career. That’s more appearances for Brady than any NFL franchise.

To be clear, All-Time Super Bowl Appearances:

Tom Brady: 9

Steelers: 8

Cowboys: 8

Broncos: 8

49ers: 6

Packers:5

Brady, like him or not, is clearly in a league of his own.

So How Did Tom Brady Inspire Sprockets?

Sprockets was started as a recruiting tool for professional sports teams!

After watching a documentary about Tom Brady being selected 199th in the draft, our Founder researched hundreds of existing metrics that would explain how 32 NFL teams with all the resources in the world (salary cap $155 million per year) could pass on the greatest athlete of all time… 6 times. Five (#6 pending) Super Bowls later, NFL scouts credit Brady’s success to nebulous and overused sports terms like “heart”, “grit”, and a “winner’s mentality”.

Using those phrases only contribute to the problem as they require subjective and biased opinion. If they were useful, the best players in the league would also be picked first.

So how did Tom, four-time Super Bowl MVP, Brady fall to the 6th round? With the right predictive data could someone have foreseen his dominance?

The following four questions lived on our whiteboard for 10 months:

  • What makes an athlete great?

  • Why aren’t the most physically superior athletes the most successful?

  • Can we identify an athlete with the “x-factor”?

  • Can we identify which athletes will fail?

So, we went to work developing technology that could effectively measure an individual’s mental makeup, determine the shared characteristics of the best athletes in the world, and create predictive algorithms to help teams with prospecting.

In two short years, college and professional sports teams that used our software doubled (from 31% to 63%) their win percentage. The Denver Outlaws, as an example, just won the Major League Lacrosse Championship. Congrats, team!

Sports-Selection Tool to Hiring?

As we started to scale, we engaged with a few really smart human resource professionals at big companies… and the results were better than expected. We always had confidence that the technology would work in sports, but the case studies in “the business world” far exceeded our wildest expectations.

  • Sprockets reduced the turnover of our customers.

  • Sprockets accurately predicted the success rate of 94% of the employees observed.

  • Sprockets cost 250X less than competitors in the space.

  • Every company that we worked with saw an increase in sales, employees, and engagement.

  • Sprockets helped companies that previously could not use assessment technology.

Whether you are searching for the next greatest QB of all time, a CEO, or a cashier, Sprockets provides you with all the data you need to build your best team.

Two coworkers with good employee engagement

Quick Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

Quick Ways to Increase Employee Engagement 1464 968 Sprockets

Employee engagement has a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. From employee retention to increased productivity, taking the time to increase engagement is worth it.

Steps to Implement

1. Walk the walk and talk the talk

Leadership needs to lead by example. According to an article by entrepreneur.com, companies where leaders model the desired behaviors employees are 55 percent more engaged. Additionally, 53 percent more focused and more likely to stay at the company.

2. Be transparent

Leadership transparency has a direct correlation with employee engagement and happiness. Sharing sensitive information with employees gives them a sense of deeper investment in the company. This can help create a more cooperative team atmosphere, as opposed to an “us versus management” office feel. Make it theirs, share, and let them in on goals and wins and watch them take the reins.

3. Give your employees freedom

Allow employees to adjust their work schedules to what works for them. Or, consider allowing them to work from outside the office. Trust your employees to get work done. Whether they work from home or even if they set their own hours, freedom and trust are important. Workers with flexible hours and locations are statistically proven to be more productive and happier, thus engaged.

Bonus! Get to know each other outside of the office. Open up to your employees, have fun together, be authentic.


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Sprockets decreases the number of screening interviews you conduct, allows you to conduct unlimited assessments for only $99/month, and reduces turnover through increased employee engagement.

Meet the Sprockets CEO

Meet the Sprockets CEO Sprockets

Jump in and get to know Sprockets’ Founder and CEO, AJ Richichi, and how he got started in HR Tech.

AJ Richichi, the CEO of SprocketsWhat tabs are open on your computer right now?

Gmail, Twitter, Stack Overflow, ESPN, and GDrive.

What was your first job?

I grew up in a really small town in Upstate NY. When I was in 6th grade, I annoyed my much cooler older brother until he agreed to let me be his “music manager” (whatever that meant). We released a three-song CD called “Summer Crush” and donated all proceeds to cancer research. He later attended Berkeley and is now a professional musician. It’s amazing that he made it despite my influence!

Why HR tech? Why not another discipline?

Great question. It’s really simple: I love business, I love people, and I love tech. Sprockets has given me an opportunity to build technology that helps businesses find awesome people. I’ve spent the last three years learning about the challenges of HR executives learning about benefits, compliance, recruiting, onboarding, culture, safety, compliance, interviewing, and so much more. When do y’all sleep?! I have tremendous respect for people in HR. They are tasked with the company’s most important responsibilities with very little tech or tools. My hope is that Sprockets can take the weight off their shoulders and enable them to make awesome personnel decisions.

What’s your favorite event in Charleston?

That’s easy… Charleston Fashion Week. It’s so far out of my comfort zone, but the entrepreneur in me loves watching the designers, bloggers, and models fulfilling their dreams on their biggest stage. If you go, find the mastermind behind JoJo Rings. Her name is Jordan Richichi. I’ll be somewhere in the corner holding her stuff!

What is your advice to those who want to start a business?

Use your chips wisely. Social capital is very valuable for any technology start-up, but it is also very limited. When we first landed in Charleston, and then expanded to Greenville, we placed an emphasis on “observation” before “saturation”. For nearly a year we attended events without name tags, built strong relationships exclusively with customers that we hand-selected, and actively rejected any and all media (social, blog, PR). This gave us additional time to develop our technology, pick the right markets and customers, grow our team, gain mentors, and learn more about the competition. Far too often startups burn capital, both monetary and social, by prematurely sponsoring events, throwing parties, and jumping into markets they don’t fully understand. I’ve made this mistake on previous projects.

What’s your favorite event in Greenville?

I have a real emotional connection with DisruptHR Greenville. When I first came to South Carolina, I wanted desperately to have a positive impact on the community. It’s one thing to start a business– it’s an entirely different animal to host a global conference. With a lot of Redbull and amazing support from mentors, sponsors, speakers, and community leaders, we were able to pull off two successful events in twelve months. My experience with DisruptHR speaks to Greenville’s collaborative culture. Here I was, a 23-year-old Yankee, given an opportunity to try something new. Thank you so much to everyone who made it possible!

What are you doing when you’re not working?

I love watching sports, whether I’m checking out a five-star recruit at a Fort Dorchester football game, heading up to Greenville to watch my nephew in little league soccer, or chanting to Sandstorm at William’s Brice. My wife and I hope to see a new SEC stadium every year. This season we’re heading to the Swamp!

Do you want to give any shoutouts?

Yes! Everyone go to www.charlestonopensource.com and become a digital ambassador! They are a people-powered movement bringing together developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and tech leaders to share all the amazing things happening in Charleston.


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Our assessment discovers the shared characteristics of your best people and uses that information to predict a new hire’s likelihood to succeed in a position before they’re hired.

Start predicting employee success with a free account today! No credit card required.

7 Inspiring Quotes from HR Leaders

7 Inspiring Quotes from HR Leaders Sprockets

Here are 7 quotes from the top HR leaders to get you through the week. What quote inspires you to be a better, innovative HR leader?

HR leaders in a meeting
The Walt Disney Company

“The reason we can move faster today is because we were so deliberate in the beginning.”

– Jayne Parker, Chief Human Resources Officer, The Walt Disney Company

 

Chick-fil-A

“If you select the right person again and again, the collection of the character, competency, and chemistry of those people would develop and strengthen the culture over time.”

– Dee Ann Turner, VP of Corporate Talent, Chick-fil-A

 

American Express

“Really focus on what you do well, and get into roles where you exhibit that. As you become senior, your roles are built on top of your performance.”

Jennifer Christie, Chief Diversity Officer, American Express

 

Facebook

“People in jobs that play up their talents and let them do work they enjoy are more engaged and perform better than people in roles that don’t play to their strengths.”

– Lori Goler, Head of Human Resources, Facebook

 

Warby Parker

“Let it be known what you’re passionate about. That trickles over to the work you do today, but it can also trickle over to the opportunities for tomorrow, and that may not even look like what you’re doing today.”

– Susan Lee VP of People, Warby Parker

 

Lyft

“Today, technical skills are a given. So it’s really all about the culture fit.”

Ron Storn, Vice President of People, Lyft

DocuSign

“Knowing your customer is critical, but we need to know our future or current employees just as much.”

– Peter Navin, CMO of People, DocuSign

 

Stay inspired and add your favorites in the comments below!


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Our assessment discovers the shared characteristics of your best people and uses that information to predict a new hire’s likelihood to succeed in a position before they’re hired.

The interface of Slack, a free HR tool

5 Free HR Tools

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HR is difficult, but technology can make it easier. These tools weren’t necessarily designed for HR leaders or professionals in mind, but they can help your department.

What tools did we miss? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

1. Slack

Slack is a communication tool that will replace emails, phone calls, and text messages at your company. You can chat with other employees privately, create a group for your internal department, and/or send announcements to your entire workforce… all on one platform. You’ll also be able to host phone/video calls as well as seamlessly share files.

2. Hunter

Hunter is a service that searches the internet for valid email addresses. Simply place the company URL into their search engine and you’ll be able to find the correct email format and, more often than not, the individual’s email address. Whether you’re looking for your local SHRM President or a developer that dazzled at the last Startup Weekend, Hunter will help you make the first contact.

3. Hubspot

Hubspot is a platform that historically markets to sales departments. If you’re willing to get crafty, however, it can be a create tool for you! One feature sticks out: tracking emails. With Hubspot, you can track emails to see if, when, and how many times your messages are opened by the recipient. You’ll be able to tell if someone is opening your emails and ignoring you, or if they genuinely have not opened them. Spend less time wondering and more time executing!

4. NeverBounce

When you send too many unsolicited emails to candidates/recruits, you run the risk of being reported. NeverBounce is a great tool that you can use to stay out of “Spam”. It cleans your emails to make sure they are valid, not going to bounce, and not catchall.

5. Google Hangout

Video conferencing should be easy, but it seems that every company uses a different interface that requires another download or program. Google Hangout is free, easy to use (just send a link to meeting attendees), and does not require any special programs. And, as an added bonus, a Google Hangout link is automatically created whenever you create a meeting on Google Calendar. You can show your face, turn off the cameras, or screen-share.


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Our assessment discovers the shared characteristics of your best people and uses that information to predict a new hires likelihood to succeed in a position before they’re hired.

Sprockets decreases the number of screening interviews you conduct, allows you to conduct candidate assessments for 50 cents per person, and reduces turnover through increased employee engagement.

Start predicting employee success with a free account today! No credit card required.

A man and woman talking about predictive hiring facts

10 Surprising Hiring Facts

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Human resource professionals have an incredibly difficult job. In addition to managing benefits, culture, safety, compliance, lawsuits, career pathing, and succession planning, they are also responsible for hiring the right people. When do you find time to sleep?! Hiring managers are forced to make the company’s most important decisions with very little time or technology. That’s why we started Sprockets. We wanted to give companies the tools to make better hiring decisions than ever.

Check out these hiring facts.

  • US companies spend $420 billion on hiring every year.

  • There are over 6 million open jobs in the U.S.

  • There are over 50 million people actively looking for a job.

  • 46% of all new hires fail in the United States; 31% in the first 30 days.

  • Only 19% of new hires will meet the expectations of the hiring manager.

  • A corporate job description attracts, on average, 250 applicants.

  • The average time spent on a resume is 6 seconds, but 33% of hiring managers say that they know within the first 30 seconds if they are going to hire a person.

  • 65% of hiring managers say “the way a candidate walks through the door” is a major influence in the hiring process.

  • 70% said that “wearing trendy clothes” is a major reason for rejection.

  • 26% said that “a poor handshake” is a major reason for rejection.

What hiring facts surprised you most? Let us know in the comments!


Sprockets helps companies hire more top-performing people. Our assessment discovers the shared characteristics of your best people and sees that information to predict a new hire’s likelihood to succeed in a position before they’re hired.

Plus, check out why creating a positive candidate experience is important.

How to Create an Effective Employee Onboarding Plan

How to Create an Effective Employee Onboarding Plan 150 150 Sprockets

For many organizations, first-day orientation and employee onboarding are not given nearly enough attention. Orientation is compared to the first day of college classes – syllabus day. When we consider long-term engagement and overall impact, orientation is crucial. Forking over a pile of paperwork and lecturing on a company’s history for an hour just doesn’t cut it.

The Importance of Day One

Engaging and retaining employees is crucial to the health of growing organizations. Benefits of effective employee onboarding include increased retention rates, reduced ramp-up time for the employee, and higher potential for an engaged employee over the course of their tenure.

Research from SquareSpace links an effective onboarding program to reduced turnover and increased retention. In one study, employees were 60% more likely to remain with the organization for more than three years when there was a structured onboarding program. In another study, 15% of respondents decided to leave their current position simply due to an ineffective or no onboarding process. Simply put, people want you to include information during their hiring and first days and months that will help them succeed in the position and company.

An employee’s first day is critical to their productivity. According to Kat Cole, “new employees make their decision to stay within the first 20 to 40 hours on the job.” It’s a first impression and it can be extremely positive or extremely negative. Especially in the tight labor market of today, chances are they may have a better option waiting in the wings.

In fields ranging from food service to finance, recruiters and hiring managers are reporting a surge in professionals “abruptly cutting off contact and turning silent — the type of behavior more often associated with online dating than office life,” says Chip Cutter of The Wall Street Journal. This “ghosting” of employers is forcing companies to rethink how they operate and remember that recruiting doesn’t stop at the door.

How to Create an Effective Onboarding Plan:

If your organization does not have an effective new hire program in place, it may seem daunting to start now – but fear not!

First, look to your peers. Employ a committee, ranging from HR professionals to key stakeholders in the business. You want brand ambassadors who represent the company culture – people who enjoy their work and who will be able to provide genuine advice and coaching to new hires.

A good way to figure out what is important to incoming employees is with predictive hiring systems, like Sprockets. Sprockets’ system offers insights into what traits the candidate has and what they value. 

Once you’ve identified and engaged your internal employee onboarding team, ask questions.

Ensure you’re covering the logistics of the day and beyond with an employee onboarding checklist.
  • When will onboarding start?
  • How long will it last (30-day, 60-day, and 90-day onboarding are most common)?
Answer questions concerned with the intended impact.
  • What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of their first day?
  • What are the unique and important characteristics that contribute to your organization’s culture, morale, and productivity?
  • If any negative aspects come to mind, what does your team need to do to counteract those and shift the culture and the mindsets of current employees?
Finally, create a measurement for success.

It’s important to develop a program that will be effective, efficient, and manageable.

  • How often will you check in with new hires?
  • Will you utilize surveys, or do you plan to meet with team members face to face?
  • What does feedback and data collection look like for your organization and for your workload?

Toxic environments are easy to sniff out, especially with the heightened senses of the newly hired. Onboarding needs to be real and tailored to your organization to work. Don’t paint an unrealistic picture of what a day in life will be like. They will perceive HR and management as being either dishonest or delusional or both.

So, remember, be real and execute employee onboarding with intention. The efforts you put into recruiting and hiring do not stop when the offer is accepted. Good human resource management is a process that requires constant care and consistent reevaluation to succeed. Not to mention, it’s an anxiety-inducing day. A fun, casual environment goes a long way when making a first impression!