71% of HR leaders are making the shift to a hybrid workplace this year, are you? There are a variety of factors to consider when planning this transition, with employee wellbeing, inclusivity, and choice ranking most top of mind. Your challenge: existing, pre-pandemic people programs won’t always translate. But your opportunity? This is your time to reprioritize the most valuable programs to meet your employees’ needs and to reimagine them in a way that will win in a hybrid environment.
I recently had the opportunity to share the below ~20-minute session on the priority role that employee recognition plays in your hybrid workplace strategy. I'll cover how recognition and rewards programs can positively support your core focus areas (wellbeing, inclusivity, and choice), and share some of my favorite program examples and best practices from Blueboard’s own roster of awesome clients.
How recognition can support employee wellbeing.
1. Take a collective exhale:
A collective exhale is something that you can offer to everyone - a signal of company-wide appreciation, or a perk. It's the concept of shared time off. While we're seeing signs of progress with the vaccine rollout, we're still on the path to emotional recovery. It's important to encourage employees to self regulate - we should be good at this, we're adults, right? But the pandemic threw us off.
It's now the responsibilities of companies to nudge their employees to take care of themselves. Do this through a collective exhale - a company-wide day off, or a choice of mental health days. Call them mental health day. Or like Box, use “Fresh Air” days. We recently took a collective mental health day at Blueboard and it meant employees weren’t distracted by the noise of the workday - we were all on the same page.
2. Incentives to inspire a healthy step forward:
Building on need for employers to play a bigger role in supporting wellbeing and encouraging healthy habits, one way to inspire wellbeing is through gamification. We partner with Castlight Health who offers a user-friendly app to track progress and celebrate wins for personal goals. Participating employees get points for completing step challenges, taking a tobacco free pledge, no work on weekends, etc. As employees earn points, they can redeem Blueboard rewards that contribute to a healthy lifestyle (kayaking trips, yoga memberships, watercolor painting lessons, and more - see a bigger sample here on our Experiences page).
3. Rewards that support work/life happiness:
Next, it's making sure the rewards themselves are supporting happiness and fulfillment outside of work. And that’s what we live for at Blueboard.
We offer a menu of hand-curated experiential rewards that are available across the globe, that help people live a healthy and happy lifestyle outside of work. From rewards that support mental health, that help us get the creative juices flowing, or that build connection with friends and family. Rewards that get us away from our screens and into the world to separate from the pressures of life and the workplace.
Client Spotlight: ImmunoGen's Energy Renewal by Blueboard
Each quarter, ImmunoGen sends every employee an Energy Renewal opportunity (a Blueboard Ivory reward) and encourages them to choose a Blueboard experience that helps them invest in that quarter’s featured energy quadrant (for example, Q1 2021 was dedicated to mental energy).
Since launching in March 2021, the program has become a major driver of engagement across ImmunoGen’s remote world. Employees can't wait to redeem their Blueboard rewards, as measured by a best-in-class, 96% reward activation rate within the first 30 days of launch.
How recognition can foster inclusivity.
1. The performance bar has changed, and so should your expectations:
A lot has changed with the pandemic, and it might be that certain employee’s or team’s performance bars needs to be reassessed. Are there new behaviors to evaluate? Are there new benchmarks for success? Work with team leaders to evaluate their KPIs and what will ultimately have the greatest impact on your business.
2. Remove unconscious bias:
As you’re setting new performance bars, it’s also important to reset personal standards for what great work looks like. And this is where we arrive at unconscious bias. As we migrate to a hybrid work environment, it’s natural for managers to prefer employees who they work with side by side, in the same office. Those relationships are just deeper, and more personal, naturally.
But in a hybrid workplace, leaders will need to avoid unconscious bias to ensure all employees’ accomplishments are reviewed on even playing field. Work with your managers to have healthy conversations around unconscious bias, and decide what steps you can take as an organization to remove this from your performance and recognition cycles. Need some external support from experts to host these conversations? We've loved working with our friends at ReadySet.
3. Recognize culture champions with Company Values Awards:
When it comes to recognition, programs need to be inclusive - meaning that the qualifiers for participation are equally available to each and every employee. An inclusive recognition program that we’re seeing more and more interest in as teams shift to remote or hybrid work environments is Company Values Awards.
How exactly do company values awards work? Typically companies run either quarterly or annual values awards programs. To ensure these aren’t just a popularity contest, thoughtful nominations are collected either company-wide, or within your leadership & executive teams.
Once winners are decided, it’s time to celebrate! Companies often announce company values awards winners across wide-reaching forums (like during a company all-hands, retreats or holiday parties), and reinforce winner achievements through digital forums like a company intranet, newsletters, or other community channels.
Consider how employees can show up and live your values, and craft nomination programs to celebrate these culture champions each quarter, or at end of year.
Client Spotlight: How The Trade Desk recognizes culture champions
Our client The Trade Desk launched a spot recognition program during the pandemic to recognize new behaviors and actions that were helping support a positive company culture. Employees who hosted yoga classes, spoke on PRIDE panels, or offered virtual hair cut tutorials were rewarded with Blueboard Ivory rewards.
Now, TTD has expanded this program to celebrate employees living their company values to continue keeping these top of mind while the team is temporarily remote.
How recognition can support flexibility and choice.
1. Employee recognition is personalized:
When we talk about flexibility and choice, it comes down to knowing the individual employee and creating reward options that appeal to a wide, diverse group of people. But how is that possible when we shift to remote or hybrid work, and become more detached from our team’s personal preferences?
First, your recognition efforts need to be personalized to how the employee likes to receive recognition and praise. Encourage managers to host these conversations with their direct reports, or add questions around recognition preferences to your new hire onboarding survey. Does the employee like public shout outs, or 1:1 thank yous? Do they want you to celebrate their birthday, or would that make them cringe?
Beyond learning about the employee’s motivators, understanding their “language of appreciation”, as coined by Dr. Paul White, will help employees feel more authentically seen and valued for their contributions.
2. Rewards that are no longer one size fits all:
Second, the rewards themselves need to offer the power of choice. Because we’re all juggling unique responsibilities and have unique passions and interests, a one size fits all approach is no longer an option. It’s important to offer a wide variety of reward types that meet employees where they are, today. But how can you achieve that at scale?
At Blueboard we understand and support that your employees all want to do different things. They don’t all drink coffee. Or they might not want to go skydiving. We let employees choose the reward most meaningful to them (not to everyone else). They get to choose the reward that brings them happiness today.
And the best outcome from rewards that speak to the recipient’s individual passions and interests? Stories! Recipients are eager to share their experiences as well as thank their company personally for giving them the opportunity to go on a Blueboard adventure. Imagine being able to give something to someone that they never would have invested in without your help?
If recognition is a priority for your team as we prepare for the transition to hybrid work, we'd love to connect. Reach out and request a demo from our team, and we'll look forward to building a powerful recognition program together.