Q&A: Part 4: Building Better Engagement

Danny Speros, Director of People Ops, Zenefits
Aug 26, 2021

Employee recognition is one of the most critical factors of employee engagement, but over half of employees say their manager doesn’t provide enough praise for a job well done.

In this episode of POPS!, Zenefits VP of People Ops Danny Speros explains why recognition is vital to employee engagement, and how to recognize good work in a way that reinforces positive behavior across the organization. 

After you listen:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

On this episode, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:37-01:36] Why recognition is crucial to employee engagement
  • [01:36-02:25] How to build recognition into your culture
  • [02:25-04:13] The importance of personal, sincere positive feedback and praise

POPS Star Bio

Danny comes from a family of entrepreneurs and spent 8 years running the family construction business including HR, Sales, Operations and Accounting. He understands the joys and challenges of building a business and learned a lot about how to avoid some common pitfalls. This context fuels his passion for working with other small businesses at Zenefits. Today, Danny taps more than 20 years of People Ops and small business leadership in his role as VP of People Ops at Zenefits. This makes him a great guest expert for the podcast, so you’ll hear from him often.  And you might just catch an occasional cameo from his young daughter in the background.


Danny: How can I build better employee engagement? 

Didi: Welcome to Pop’s the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people operations, but the new world of work handle by answering one question at a time. Today, to help us answer your question. Here’s Danny Speros, VP of people ops at Zenefits.

Danny: This is part four of a four-part series. I’ve done on employee engagement. Today. We’re going to talk about employee recognition. Employee recognition at 72% is the single most important factor in contribution to employee engaged.

Yet 60% of employees say their managers don’t provide frequent enough praise for good work. And 53% say their work has never recognized at all recognition, both rewards people for doing well, but also reinforces for that person and everybody else around them. What good really looks. Given the reinforcement aspect of recognition, it’s important to recognize the right things.

It’s all too easy to praise someone for heroic last minute efforts. But what about that person that always does solid work without needing to use those last minute heroics? You know, the people that keep the trains running on time, who always get their work in on time and are always taking care of their customers.

It’s important to recognize that kind of behavior. So the first step is to look at what types of behaviors you want to reinforce. Once you’ve got that, there’s all kinds of ways to recognize people from public praise in team meetings, or maybe even at company all hands for some of the bigger things.

From a monetary standpoint, you can even do rewards or gift cards, cash awards, things along those lines, or even big price. And then also you can give people things that sort of stick with them. So whether it’s like a plaque or a core value award, or different kinds of things, and sometimes even like your annual sales performance awards, or company performance awards that include a trip or something like that, those are certainly some of the big things that people think about when they think about recognition.

But let’s go back to that stat. 60% of people say their manager doesn’t provide enough praise for good work. They’re not talking about all of those big awards or thinking that every single employee deserves a trip around the world. What they’re really looking for is personal, sincere one-on-one sharing of feedback.

When you’re doing that, it’s important to just be specific on what was good. Let the person know the impact of their good work, how that impacted their customers, their teammates, the product quality, the bottom line. Et cetera. And the most important thing that you can say when you’re having a conversation like that with somebody is just, thank you.

Let them know that they’re appreciated that their work is appreciated and what that really means to you as a manager. And if you’re watching this as a people, operations, professional, helping your managers understand that these conversations are some of the most important ones to be having on a regular basis.

Great. You don’t want to thank people or praise people for every single little thing they do. But when they’re doing good work, it’s important to recognize them from time to time. These kinds of one-on-one recognitions are. Quite possibly the easiest thing to do. They’re definitely the least expensive thing to do sadly.

And as the statistics say, they’re often the most overlooked. So changing the expectations and behaviors around this can really, really make the difference in recognizing your employees and making them feel. appreciated and recognized and recognition is the final piece of that glue that holds people together for engagement.

And it’s a great way to keep your team engaged and keep them looking forward to the,

Didi: do you have a question for our record? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]


Previous Episodes

Build Your People, Build the World

Ryan Patel, Ryan Patel, Global Business Executive
Apr 14, 2021
Can a small business have global influence? On this episode of PIVOT, host Didi D’Errico sits down with global business executive and sought-after expert Ryan Patel to talk about how small businesses can change the world, one employee at a time.

Zero to Sixty–Automate your HR in sixty days

Tom Houghton, Vice President at Bearded Builders
Sep 15, 2021
When Tom Houghton joined Bearded Builders, their HR practices were just a single, underused filing cabinet. In this episode of PIVOT, he shares how they transformed their entire HR process in sixty days and the lessons he learned along the way.

Q&A: Part 2: What do I need to do to hire and onboard remotely?

Danny Speros, Director of People Ops, Zenefits
Feb 23, 2021
It's easy for remote workers to feel removed from your business. This is a bigger issue when they are new and may in fact never "meet" their colleagues in person. In this second-part of our remote work series, we look at ideas on how to ensure better inclusion in your hiring and onboarding practices.

About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

Oh, and you know what they say about all work and no play? We tossed in a little levity to keep it real. Lessons, answers, and humor: everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Best-in-class remote teams will use best-in-class technology.

Zenefits mobile HR platform makes it easier to communicate with staff, onboarding new hires, pay employees, and manage any HR task from any home office.