Program Best Practices

How Avēsis builds a culture of ‘thank you’ with recognition rewards

Providing holistic benefits and support, particularly during economic downturns, goes a long way towards cultivating trust with employees, says Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker survey

The study on the impact of personalization on employee financial health found that having dedicated support from their workplace is an essential element that contributes to their overall sense of wellbeing.

Employees are looking to employers for more personalized support in every arena. And recognition and appreciation are crucial ingredients in supporting this and the whole employee. 

Leading health insurance administrator Avēsis models this holistic approach to employee wellbeing with a recognition program that engages and celebrates their team members across core employee experience touchpoints.

The two most important outcomes for Avēsis when searching for a better way to recognize and reward employees: to improve morale and to keep valuable employees. “Blueboard was the exact unicorn employee recognition program that we needed to kick-start our efforts,” says Allison Ellison, CHRO at Avēsis. 

From annual wellbeing gifts, to spot recognition of individual and team impact rewards, to work anniversaries, here’s how Avēsis partners with Blueboard to facilitate a healthy, high-performing culture that centers appreciation.

An internet browser window screenshot of a person on a ropes course, part of a company's recognition program Blueboard experience rewards landing page.
The Avēsis recognition program landing page, created with Blueboard’s awesome Implementation team, serves as a program info hub and socializes how Blueboard experience rewards work.

Creating a consistent culture of appreciation to boost employee engagement and retention.

Before partnering with Blueboard, employee recognition at Avesis was left up to each team manager to design and implement their own version of a program. Because there was little oversight of these activities, the overall impact was diminished with too many different ideas to effectively implement, report on, and share with the rest of the company. Plus, if a manager left, that recognition program left with them.

In late 2021, Cressey & Company LP became a strategic partner to accelerate Avesis’ growth. Part of Cressey’s strategic investment was focused on creating a healthy, high-performing culture, and the first step was bringing in a new CEO, Sean Slovenski, and new executive leadership team including CHRO Allison Ellison. Allison’s experience in complex organizational transformations taught her that employees must be prioritized, recognized, and celebrated especially during times of immense change

To engage employees with consistency, the People team wanted to consolidate all of the ad hoc recognition efforts into one solution that every team could rally around.

Learn more about how Avēsis recognizes employees with Blueboard rewards.

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Meaningful, personalized recognition for every employee.

Employee recognition and appreciation at Avēsis needed to have an immediate impact and be something people would remember and positively associate with their time at the company. The team wanted to give employees rewards they could choose and enjoy on their own time, outside of work, in the ways that are most meaningful to them

Avēsis now recognizes employees with Blueboard rewards through three main programs:

1. Anniversary Awards for employees’ years of service. 

This program sends automated rewards for every year of service to thank employees for their dedication, recognizing work anniversary milestones from year one to 15. Rewards are scheduled in advance to be sent via the Blueboard platform according to hire date information from an HRIS integration—so running the program is as simple as approving a monthly list.

Grouped by years-of service categories, Anniversary Award recipients get to choose from a curated menu of experiences at each tenure level. 

A photo and feedback from an Avēsis Anniversary Award recipient, Donna W., on their Blueboard “Staycation” experience.

2. Impact Recognition Awards

This manager-driven program empowers People leaders to say ‘thank you’ for going above and beyond. Managers nominate people and send out rewards on the spot to “shining stars,” as Alexander McKneely, Associate Experience and HR Communications at Avēsis, calls them. These impact recognition awards acknowledge a specific accomplishment (such as when a new account closes or an important initiative concludes). 

The good news is celebrated on the company’s internal communication channel, where managers share details about the impact and speak to what they did as a way to “make them feel special.”

3. Employee Wellbeing Gifts

Twice a year, the Avēsis People team marks a new season with wellbeing awards. 

“One of Avesis’ mantras is, 'We see you, and we dare you to be different’, “ says Alexander and wellbeing rewards are a way to showcase that company value. 

To kick off a new year, Avesis reward recipients are given the opportunity to start a new year with a moment of self care and wellbeing. The program is about “showing up for employees with a new year’s celebration,” so they go into the next year with great spirits, and a focus on them. 

A color photograph of two people on horses on a sunny day against a blue sky.
Derrick G. and a friend enjoy the “Horseback Riding” experience, a Blueboard reward from their employer Avēsis' Wellbeing Gifts recognition program.

Celebrating employees with a company culture centered on recognition and appreciation. 

Avēsis employees feel valued and appreciated by receiving Blueboard rewards, and it has become the new “virtual water cooler” topic of discussion.

And Blueboard rewards are a key way to unite the company’s hybrid workplace.  

"Blueboard has been instrumental in helping us cultivate a healthy, high-performing culture at Avesis especially given that we are a remote organization.” – Allison Ellison, CHRO, Avēsis

In addition to showing support on their LinkedIn page for health equity, local community engagement, and causes like autism awareness, Avesis spotlights their recognition program in dedicated LinkedIn posts. From the CEO to Alexander himself, there’s no shortage of congratulatory comments and well wishes from Avesis colleagues—a testament to the impact of their recognition efforts on their company culture (and emphasizing that employee recognition is a team sport!).

“Blueboard has helped us shape how we say thank you to people,” says Alexander McKneely, Associate Experience and HR Communications at Avēsis who’s been coined ‘the great appreciator’. “Before, we were not having consistent conversations about appreciation. Developing our recognition program with Blueboard built a culture of ‘thank you’ here.”

For more insights into how Avēsis creates a high-performing company culture with recognition, get the full case study.

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