Program Best Practices

Sharing Tips for Making Your Recognition Program Truly Buzz-worthy

You’ve built it, but will they come?

Of all the factors propelling an employee recognition program to success, socialization, adoption and marketability can often make or break the rollout of a new employee rewards program. In order to generate excitement and anticipation among employees, a company-wide employee recognition program must be visible to team members and lend itself to storytelling and sharing.

When thinking about marketing your team’s form of employee recognition, there are two main opportunities to boost visibility of your employee rewards. The first occurs during the initial launch of the new employee rewards program. Rollout announcements and resources will generate energy and excitement amongst employees, motivating them to work harder to earn an employee reward.

While this first marketing opportunity creates anticipation and enthusiasm, it isn’t sustainable for creating long-term visibility. As soon as your rollout completes, you’ll need to plan for the second phase for employee recognition socialization: publicizing employee recognition’s impact. This equates to how we capture and publicize the quantitative and qualitative impact of the employee recognition program -- visual proof of how employees redeemed their employee rewards (qualitative), and whether or not the reward impacted their feelings towards their company or their motivation to work harder (quantitative).

It’s increasingly common for companies to overlook the second, post-launch opportunity to market their employee recognition program at scale. In terms of visibility, their employee rewards programs began and ended with the initial company-wide launch. Why? Employees had no designated channel in which to share their recognition stories, or incentive for doing so.

We’ve helped a number of companies create exciting ways to extend the value of their employee recognition efforts, cementing them into office life to foster a culture of appreciation. Read on for our favorite ways to internally market your employee recognition program, to build ongoing excitement and adoption long after your program launch:

1. Promote a shared, branded social media hashtag

Social media networks are powerful marketing tools -- when an employee shares their employee reward online, word of their employee reward travels outside your internal community and into the news feeds of their hundreds of engaged personal connections. Your employee builds a more positive employer brand by showing how your company invests in positive employee behavior.

As we’ve learned through our partnership with Glaukos, encouraging employees to share their experiential employee rewards on social media has been a key component of their employee recognition program’s success. Glaukos created a home on Instagram dedicated to sharing employee reward photos, administered by their HR team. To add a fun, branded twist, they imagined “Flat Tom” -- various illustrations of Glaukos’ CEO Tom Burns themed after the popular Flat Stanley Project of our youth.

Employees are encouraged to bring Flat Tom on their Blueboard adventures, and photos are displayed on the @FlatTomsAdventure Instagram profile. The feed now boasts over 300 photos, with Flat Tom making a cameo during local excursions, events and vacations, and even at the hospital to welcome an employee’s newborn baby.

Flat Tom welcoming Baby Dax into the world!

Public social channels like @FlatTomsAdventure or branded hashtags designated for employees to share their employee reward experiences motivate employees to upload snapshots of their rewards and share content not only internally with other employees, but also externally, with all of their friends and family members across social media.

“Seeing and hearing what others are able to do with their Blueboard rewards is really exciting - I’m hoping for that 15-year award and traveling to Iceland. I’m hanging in there, I want that award! It has motivated a lot of people, imagining a long career here and experiencing what the program can offer.” - Kristine Velasco, Product Development Engineer at Glaukos

2. Make time for Employee Recognition Stories at your company-wide meetings

Great Place to Work shares that most important driver of great work is simply to be recognized. 37% of respondents chose “Recognize Me”, even ahead of more lucrative tactics like promotions, training, or increased pay. Instead of having to create another tactic or forum, why not inject positive employee recognition moments into your existing company-wide meetings?

When thinking of exciting ways to announce their new Blueboard spot employee recognition program, one Blueboard customer invited a top employee to try the “13,000 ft. Jump” tandem skydiving experience. The employee was able to take home a video, which was cut into the perfect sizzle reel, and revealed at the company’s quarterly all-hands meeting to help launch their program.

This event helped to capture the attention of many employees at once, and capitalized on the water-cooler moments following the meeting as employees made their way back to their desks and continued chatting over lunch. And because the event was supported by the Executive team, the program gained credibility and ongoing adoption (because culture stems from the top).

Post-launch, experiential employee rewards create the opportunity to carve out time during company meetings for a recognition spotlight, sharing recent photos or videos of employees going out and about on their employee reward experiences. Sharing content from a recent glassblowing class, performance at an improv comedy night, or family trip to Alaska carry way more weight than any purchase on Amazon. These moments not only recognize those who performed at a higher level, but also inspire and motivate their peers to demonstrate these employee reward-worthy behaviors in the future.

3. Create a dedicated Slack channel for sharing employee recognition media in real-time

If you use Slack as much as we do at Blueboard, then you know that it’s an integral center of communication that employees utilize throughout the day. Take advantage of shared community spaces that are already baked into your employee workflow (like Slack, HipChat, Campfire, etc.) and start a dedicated channel for sharing Blueboard or other employee recognition experiences in real-time. Our client Maximum Games has done exactly this, with fantastic results.

"At Maximum Games, we created a dedicated channel on Slack to capture photos and videos from employees as they went out and about on their Blueboard reward experiences. It's been a great way to build buzz around the program, and build community as people get inspired from the variety of catalog choices (whether sharing photos of trying cupping massage, indoor skydiving, and more). It’s been a great way for employees to bond through our recognition efforts." - Emily Shepherd, Program Admin at Maximum Games

Dedicate a portion of your online communication space to employee rewards, and encourage team members to upload pictures and videos of their employee recognition experiences. It will become a space of ongoing fun and motivation, as employees get to know each other in a new way and can more casually celebrate each other’s achievements. Here's how Blueboard brings our employee rewards and general #Blueboarding spirit to life on Slack:

#Blueboarding Recognition Channel on Slack

4. Set up a physical appreciation board in your office space

If a digital sharing space doesn’t seem like the right fit for your company culture, try setting up a physical appreciation board in your office, where people can print out photos from their employee reward experiences and pin them on a bulletin board. Having a tangible representation of your employee recognition program in your workplace will boost visibility of how your company is recognizing employees. Plus, the board makes for great office decor, and employees will have fun adding their personal touch to the workspace. Check out this great example of a gratitude wall at Glaukos HQ, in a public space outside their lunchroom:

Employee Recognition and Gratitude Wall Outside Glaukos Cafe

One final note on employee recognition

If you’re currently recognizing employees with gift cards or cash bonuses, it might be difficult for employees to express their employee reward experiences. Employee experiential rewards (such as a cooking class, spa day, music lesson, or skydiving experience) are infinitely more suited to storytelling and curation of photo/video content -- key components of ensuring that your recognition is visible and marketable. Rewarding employees with Blueboard experiences will gift them a reward that is much more memorable, personal, shareable, and impactful than cash or gift cards.

If you’re interested in learning more about experiential employee rewards, feel free to get in touch with us by signing up for a short demo. We’d also love to hear from you in the comments section below. What is your company doing to market their recognition program internally? Have you noticed any results?

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