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Tips & tricks from a seasoned HR pro: Build an employee recognition program that boosts culture and retention

As an HR leader, it can be tough to figure out which people initiatives to prioritize, especially in the current economic climate. Right now, you need to be able to do more with less: build and maintain company culture, create a best-in-class employee experience, and retain your top performers and attract great talent.

One critical tool in your toolbelt? An intentional employee rewards and recognition strategy. In a candid conversation, Blueboard Co-founder and President, Kevin Yip, sat down with Vice President of Human Resources at MANSCAPED, Amy Rumbin to dig into how Amy and her team use recognition and experiential rewards to:

  • Celebrate high employee performance and promote values-aligned behaviors,
  • Nurture a workplace culture of connection, contribution, and collaboration, and
  • Increase employee retention, employee morale, and build a next-level employer brand

Read on for Amy’s tricks of the trade and snag some of her team’s best practices to build a culture of recognition and performance at your own organization. Prefer to watch? Access the full conversation below:

Q: Can you share a little about your role at MANSCAPED and how employee recognition fits in?

Amy Rumbin: I'm the Vice President of Human Resources at a company called MANSCAPED. For those of you who may not be familiar with MANSCAPED, we’re a leading men's grooming company—we have a premium product collection, including beard, body, hair care, and really we are there to introduce and elevate a whole new self care routine for men.

I started with the company just over three and a half years ago, literally two weeks before COVID. I came in as the first HR representative—ready to roll, add on to the team—and two weeks later, we were all going home. It was a very exciting time to join, to say the least. Beyond the traditional “HR function”, I was also hired to organize the team to scale effectively. Looking back at our rapid evolution, I can say we successfully navigated the ebbs and flows of COVID and remote work during a time of rapid company growth, including increasing our headcount by over 250%.

Amy credits the company’s intentional employee recognition program and partnership with Blueboard in helping the company maintain their connected company culture throughout the pandemic.

Amy: Early on in my time at MANSCAPED, I could see that my experience and understanding of the value of employee recognition programs gained throughout my career would definitely benefit our team here. I first came across Blueboard during my time at a company called National Funding, and we've since brought it on at MANSCAPED.

Q: What’s a workplace experience that formed your view of employee recognition?

Kevin: Whenever we talk about recognition, one thread amongst almost every single employee is that they have their own personal experience of feeling recognized or not feeling recognized. For me, it was not feeling recognized, which gave me and one of my best friends the idea to start this company. When you think about being an employee at a lot of different companies over the years, what sticks out to you as being your recognition experience that informed your view of the importance of recognition?

If you thought employees didn't remember recognition misses, this single tiktok video has over 2,000 comments of employees sharing their bad recognition experiences.

Amy: That's a really good question. You had a negative experience. I actually had quite the opposite.

When I first started my career, one of the first companies that I worked for that I really grew up in was called WAXIE. They were a well-established company and, when I joined, they had something called the Employee of the Quarter award and it was really popular. So I sort of just walked into an already established program that people loved—and yes, I did win a few times.

But when I left WAXIE, the next company I went to didn't have anything in place in terms of recognition. That was a stark realization that, oh my gosh, I was really spoiled. I went from having this really established program to needing to build something from scratch.

And [the tough thing is] it's not one size fits all—it's a really unique situation where we needed to talk about the right thing for our company. You don't necessarily want to pull what's right for one company into another. But past learnings can be a good starting point. And building something new was a welcome challenge.

Q: How do you think about creating a vision for your employee recognition program?

Kevin: When we talk to customers, folks generally have a vision for a recognition program, whether it's creating a revamped model of their existing program or building one from scratch. That could look like a very specific program from their last company. Or it could be more of a feeling they're trying to invoke. I'm curious how you think about a vision for employee recognition?

Amy: It can be a tough question to answer because I think it's so unique to every company. When you think about demographics, lifestyles, where folks live, key milestones, there's so many things that go into what would fit and what would be important to the employees.

I would never be so egotistical to walk into a company and say I know exactly what this solution is. Because I don't know the people. I don't know the talent. I don't know what's important to folks.

So when we talk about a vision, I think, before you even get to that stuff, it's more about gathering feedback, you know, surveying your company and saying, what do you all want? And then from there, you can definitely create a vision, and that's exactly how we did it [at MANSCAPED].

Q: What prompted you to build a recognition and rewards program at MANSCAPED?

Kevin: Let’s talk about your program at MANSCAPED. First, what prompted you to start thinking about building a recognition program?

Amy: Well, first of all, we didn't have one. There was this beautiful white space to create something that would resonate with our employees.

Our people are the core of our culture. We have this incredible community. We have this ability to stay connected. When the pandemic hit, we had to consider how we could continue to foster this unique culture as we shifted to the remote workforce, and then as our team also grew outside of San Diego.

We wanted to implement a program that would enable us to recognize our employees’ hard work, on a regular consistent basis—because I think consistency is key—and also one that would allow the opportunity for folks to connect with each other in ways that they normally wouldn't.

And the most important thing I think was that the program was personalized. So it was meaningful to our employees and linked to our internal company values. Which, by the way, were actually developed by our employees.

Related reading: How to build a core company values awards program your people will love.

Q: What stood out to you about the idea of rewarding employees with experiences versus other things like cash or merchandise?

Kevin: We went through a similar journey at Blueboard with our own people during the pandemic. It was very much an in-person culture and things changed quickly. We started hiring everywhere, which is great to get that new access to talent, but it meant as a company we were flexing a new muscle, asking: how do you maintain connection and culture remotely, asynchronously. I think that's something that companies are getting much better at now, but I think we'll continue to develop because we're really just scratching the surface—there is no playbook.

You talked about consistency and giving visibility to folks and teams across the company who are promoting your company values. As a Blueboard customer, what stood out about the idea of giving somebody an experience instead of other forms of recognition like cash, gift cards, or merch?

Amy: We love the fact that, with Blueboard, our employees get to choose how they wish to be celebrated; it really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. And as part of that, we’re allowing our employees to have the opportunity to create memories not just for themselves, but also with their loved ones should they choose.

Darrah C. from MANSCAPED earned a trip to Disneyland with their Blueboard award and shared: "We had the best day ever being kids again, thank you!"

And that’s something that we believed was much more valuable than just a lump sum of cash or gift cards, which are wonderful, but [it’s something else to have] the opportunity to go to Disneyland with your loved one. To learn how to kayak, learn how to surf, go to an amazing restaurant experience, things like that.

There's also no doubt that the workforce is changing. You have several generations represented and HR leaders need to be able to attract and retain our diverse community of talent. And these types of experiential recognition programs are a really unique benefit. It's not just a trophy or, you know, some cash you get to take home. This is something that is built into your memory.

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Q: Can you delve into the nuts and bolts of your recognition program at MANSCAPED and how you track success?

Kevin: I think the idea of a memory someone can connect to their employee experience, as well as what they’ve done to receive the reward—their achievement—can be really powerful. My next question gets into the nuts and bolts of the program: How are you tracking success? What are some factors you’re thinking through and how are you building out the program to make sure that people are using it, that people are excited, and ultimately that it’s having an impact on employee engagement and performance?

Amy: So, I’ll save the success factors for last. First, I’ll describe our program in case people are interested in how we run it and then we can talk about the success factors.

How MANSCAPED structures their Spotlight Awards: A values and performance-based nomination program.

When we first talked about creating the program, we knew we wanted to encourage participation all around—peer recognition, departmentally, cross functionally, etcetera. We call our program the MANSCAPED Spotlight Awards. It allows any employee to nominate and recognize their colleagues for their outstanding work, excellence, etc. And everyone who’s awarded receives a Blueboard experience, so that's one of the components of the program. But they also get an additional day off work.

Winners are recognized during a bi-monthly, company-wide meeting. And of course, on our social media platforms—if you follow me on LinkedIn, you may have seen that we just recently had an award ceremony just a couple weeks ago.

In terms of the meeting, we break it down into three components: Two of them are at every meeting. We highlight our leadership and we highlight our individual contributors. We wanted to keep them separate. So the MANSCAPED Legendary Leader award is actually awarded to one of our people leaders and it's a person that exemplifies one or more of our “leadership pillars”.

At MANSCAPED, we have five leadership pillars:

  1. Unite, never divide
  2. Lead with empathy
  3. Take ownership
  4. Be humble
  5. Be nimble

These pillars are very important to us and are something that our leaders strive to live every day. When someone submits a nomination for the Legendary Leader award, we ask them to give us a distinct example of how this leader is emulating one or more of those pillars. On the other side, we have our Exemplary Employee Award, and this is actually awarded to three individual contributors who exemplify one or more of our core values. At MANSCAPED, we have seven core values: Accountable, Authentic, Collaborative, Fun, Humble, Inclusive, and Innovative.

At the end of the year, we have our Iconic Influencer Award. We’ve only had one so far and it’s already become highly coveted. But this is awarded to any MANSCAPED employee who lives and breathes our core values, leadership pillars, these folks represent it all.

At MANSCAPED, employees submit nominations for these awards through our HR system. You could use SurveyMonkey or whatever works for you, but for us, once they’re submitted, they're anonymized. We really do that so that the committee doesn't actually know who is being nominated, they simply get to see examples of how the nominee emulates these pillars or these core values, and then make a decision from there.

And we do have a spotlight committee that I sit on with our CEO and our President. So, the three of us meet and we go through the data, but the finalists are all recognized by their leaders. We actually have their leaders come on camera and talk about each of each of the nominees so they get that recognition as well, that verbal recognition in front of the company, even just for being nominated. Then, during that meeting, the winners are announced and the whole company gets to see.

You did ask about [tracking] success and this is the tough part because, at MANSCAPED, it's not [totally] scientific. We do run eNPS surveys. We seek feedback all the time, but in reality, the success is measured by the incredibly positive feedback that we receive about the meeting and the program.

It's a really popular event. And we consistently see a continued increase in nominations. We've noticed over the course of the last several years that more and more people are putting in their nominations for their team members and their leaders, and it's literally overwhelming every cycle to see how much thought goes into it. So it's tough to just come out with a chart or a graph on success, but what you see is how people are receiving it, how they're reacting to it, and then seeing all the shares on social media is just really gratifying.

Q: Digging in deeper, can you share why MANSCAPED decided to do awards for both individual contributors and leaders?

Kevin: The words that come to mind in terms of your program and how you've designed and executed it are very thoughtful and intentional. I actually had a couple questions come up just as you were talking in detail about the program. The first: Can you talk a little bit about why you all decided to have both a leader award and an individual contributor award?

For background, most programs we see with our clients are focused on individual contributors.

As leaders, there’s the notion of servant leadership—you’re not leading to seek a reward—and for me, personally, that’s one of the pillars of how I think about what a leader should be. But as a leader and as a human, it does feel really good when you're recognized, when your team's doing well, you’re called out and acknowledged for your contributions. And I would love to hear why you decided to build out a leadership program in addition to the IC program.

Amy: I’ve had a very similar experience in other companies that I've worked at, where programs are very focused on our individual contributors, which is absolutely right. But our leaders at MANSCAPED are really responsible for driving our core values and we have very high standards for our leaders. And if they are emulating our core values, if they are emulating our pillars, that actually has such a positive impact on the rest of the organization. If you have the honor, and I mean honor, to actually influence and lead a team, you're probably pretty awesome. And I think it's really important that there's recognition for that. We still, as leaders, need that reinforcement that we're doing a good job. And so I would hate to carve out something just for one part of the population. I think it has to be inclusive and that’s how we went about creating that part of the program.

Kevin: You know, one of the things that you’re doing that other companies could learn from is showcasing what it looks like to be a strong individual contributor and a strong leader. When you're new in an IC role, you may know your day-to-day responsibilities but you may not know what great looks like at the company. At MANSCAPED, every other month, folks are getting recognized for their contributions at an IC level and people can see what great is because it's being recognized.

On the leadership side, a lot of people might say that the best ICs should become managers but I don't know if it's always the case. And I think what you all are doing is setting a precedent of hey, if you wanna be a leader and if this is your desired career trajectory, in addition to being good at your job, this is what it means to be a great leader here. And people can start emulating that before they are even leaders.

I think of recognition as one of the most organic ways to amplify what you care about as an organization. And so I love seeing this, and I love this design.

Amy: Absolutely, I agree with that. Some folks that are so impactful have so much influence as an individual contributor so, on the other side of the coin, you don't want to discourage folks from staying in a career path that suits them or make people think that management or leadership is the only way to be recognized and promoted. That's something that I would encourage anyone who's building a recognition program to do—look at both paths with equal importance.

Q: Can you explain why you decided to anonymize the nominations for your program?

Kevin: I’d also like to explore why you make sure nominations are anonymized. Why was that so important to you?

Amy: We actually do the same thing when we get candidate submissions. We have the same practice on our talent acquisition team—and it’s to try to avoid any bias. We are humans. We are biased. So if somebody’s nominated who the committee already knows and is familiar with—and there are certainly people that, you know, myself, our CEO, and our President know better than others—there is this unconscious bias that could invade our voting process. The anonymization strips that away.

Right now, anonymizing is a manual process. We have an exceptional coordinator who goes through and she scrubs all the data for us. Then, nominations are numbered so that she can keep them in order and know who they are. But it really is helpful in simply, looking at the nomination, looking at the actual purpose behind the nomination and then evaluating it from there.

On the other hand, when we are socializing the program to our people, we want to make sure that folks understand how important it is to be thorough in their nomination, to give specific examples. We list out the core values and the leadership pillars so that people can make a selection with care and explain why they are nominating this individual.

Kevin: That tees up my next question on training. When you rolled this out as a new program, how did you make sure that folks nominating understand what you’re looking for and how to write a nomination. We've gone through, you know, for us. We also have a nomination program at Blueboard and we go through different trainings and reminders so folks know how to nominate someone and give them the best shot.

Amy: We integrate it in our onboarding as well. So when new employees come on, the HR team actually talks through the Spotlight Awards: How it works, the technical aspects of it, how cool it is (because we really feel like it is cool). It’s introduced as something to look forward to. And then after each Spotlight Award celebration, our Senior HR Coordinator and meeting host, Samantha, always reminds people about the importance of the thoroughness of the nomination.

Like I said, we do the nominations through our system Paylocity. And so even in the instructions through Paylocity, it's very clear about being thorough. It's just redundancy in what's important, you know, what has the greatest impact and then, of course, being consistent in the messaging.

Q: As a relatively young company, can you talk through how you came up with MANSCAPED’s core company values and how you use recognition to reinforce those values?

Kevin: MANSCAPED is a relatively young company and prior to the recognition program being created, you went through an exercise of creating the values, creating the leadership principles. Could you walk through your thinking behind that process and how you envisioned the recognition program as a next step?

Amy: The core values did come first.

Historically, MANSCAPED has been this marketing machine. From a consumer branding perspective, you know, we've been doing pretty well. We're very well-recognized, and we actually do have core values as it lends itself to the external, to our consumers, how we should behave for our consumers.

After I started, we spent some time really thinking about our internal branding. We had a ton of people to hire. We were growing very rapidly. Everybody knew us as a brand, but not as an employer. So it was really important to us that we were able to extract from our employees: What makes us so special? When you talk about us, how do you talk about us?

From an HR perspective, we could’ve said we're the experts, we're gonna make up some core values, and run with them. But because we want to be inclusive, because we love to be collaborative, we thought, you know what? Let the people speak. Like, we need our employees to tell us what's important to them. And it was incredible.

We did a whole survey. We asked people to list out core values and it sort of turned into a word map. And then from there, we zeroed in on the top nominations and we pushed out a secondary survey so that we could all agree that these were our top seven. (Seven because we felt like the top values were all really important.)

And so that's how we developed our values. And now we find they’re just part of our vernacular. People talk about our core values. I don't know that we're going around listing them all the time, but it's certainly something that is integrated in daily conversation. It's something that if it's missing, then people will highlight it. If we're doing really well in one, people will highlight it.

And I think just having that inclusion, saying, hey, we need everybody to agree on this. That's what makes it sticky. And it really is a representation of who we are.

Kevin: I love that. One CEO I really respect in the HR tech community—the CEO at Culture Amp—he always said, hey, you don't kind of define your values, you uncover them. And I think that process of getting answers and getting feedback and input from employees, you definitely went about it in the uncovering kind of method.

Q: Have you noticed any trends in certain teams nominating their teammates more than others? How do you navigate that?

Kevin: One question that came up from the audience, and something on my mind as well: From program launch till now, have you noticed a trend in certain teams being recognized more or nominating more, maybe folks that are a little more cross-collaborative than others? What have those trends been and how do you make sure you're giving [equal] opportunity to folks who might be less visible.

Amy: That’s a great question. One thing I didn't mention earlier is that when we get the nominations, we do get to see the individual who nominates the employee and the part of the organization that they are from. I think, initially, we absolutely noticed that there was a larger percentage of people from specific teams. What's been really interesting over the course of the years, though, is seeing the increase in cross-functional nominees.

In a remote world, we all know it's very challenging to give exposure to folks that you normally wouldn't have day to day contact with. We do have a lot of collaborative teams internally, but one thing that we're really conscientious of [is giving the company cross-functional exposure]. It’s part of how we run the all-hands meetings during the year.

We have an all-hands meeting twice monthly and we invite different parts of the organization to present. As an example, we had one today and it was our direct to consumer organization. This means folks that wouldn't normally have an opportunity to be in front of the camera, who wouldn't normally have an opportunity to to reach out to the entire organization, are invited to come and speak about their upcoming projects, maybe a success story, what it is that they do. It's really an intentional action to pull folks out of their remote office per se and speak to their part of the business.

And it's been very successful. That's something that we implemented pretty much right after the COVID shutdown because we needed a way to gather. We couldn’t physically get together. Of course, there have been several iterations, but I think it's working. I think our recipe’s finally top notch.

Q: How do you amplify and market your employee recognition program internally?

Kevin: My next question is about socialization. After people have gone through the nomination process and winners are getting their rewards, they're at this all hands…could you talk about how you amplify and market the program internally. Maybe talk to me a little bit about the ceremony. I would love to hear about that because I know you all do a great job of that.

Related reading: The 5 As of experiential employee recognition: How to amplify recognition program impact.

Amy: My gosh. I have to give credit to Samantha Sperlich, our Senior HR Coordinator—she runs the day-to-day program. She also MCs the company all-hands. So first and foremost have somebody with a lot of energy and an amazing spirit run your celebration meeting.

The meeting itself is something that we as an organization really look forward to. And it's not just to unveil the nominees and the winners, but we also get to hear about how each nominee has impacted the business. Then, we get to hear about the background, why they were nominated, the very specific examples of the nomination, that is really special.

People really enjoy hearing [these stories]. When the winners are unveiled, it can actually get pretty emotional.

I always keep a box of Kleenex right next to my screen because it is so motivating for folks to hear that maybe something they didn't even consider that special motivated somebody to nominate them. And as we know, especially being on a webinar like this, work and home life are so much more blended for so many of us. Being a part of a positive meeting like that is definitely something we share: We talk about it on social media but also in the home.

So that's all just organic socialization, just because of what the program is.

But we do love marketing. So we also encourage employees to share their experiences, their photos—we have a Teams channel where people will share, they'll share on LinkedIn, they'll share on their other social media channels. It's a really wonderful thing when the core of what the program is sort of promotes itself.

Kevin: I love that. The core force behind recognition is that you want to say thank you. You want to make the person feel special. And as much as you can structure that in and figure out how to do it programmatically—that's so important when creating something from scratch. How do we make people feel special? How do we make people feel really appreciated?

Amy: Oh! I want to just pop in because there may be some folks that are working at organizations where you have a bunch of introverts and the thought of being on camera to accept an award—they'd rather be anywhere else.

Related reading: Understanding the 5 languages of employee appreciation.

Understanding recognition preferences is a part of our program. Once we have our top nominees, we inform the employees and the leaders that have been nominated so that number one, they can prepare. So they're not caught off guard. We’ve found that people don't necessarily enjoy that.

Number two, they get to choose, if they win, whether they’re going to be on camera or if we accept the award on their behalf. And we have a handful of folks who won’t want to be on camera—it's a different environment, you know, you got a bunch of people staring at you from a screen. That seems to help as well. Again, we're trying to be very unique to our population and to consider different types of personalities, and I think that’s also critical to the success of the program.

Kevin: Once again, super intentional. Recognition preferences are really important. And like you said, some folks would cringe at the idea of public recognition. And you don’t always see organizations taking those preferences into account. So once again, kudos to you all for thinking through almost literally every aspect.

Q: How do you think about continually creating a business case for your employee rewards and recognition program, especially in times like this when CFOs are sharpening their pencils?

Kevin: Ok, so, people are really excited about your program. There are great stories being shared. But now it’s getting to the end of year and budgets are being set for next year. How do you think about continually creating a business case for your recognition program, especially in times like this when finance teams and CFOs are sharpening their pencils.

Amy: Absolutely. We all know CFOs are paying attention to the bottom line as they should be. That’s their job.

But at the end of the day, it's the retention of employees that saves money. And so we focus on retention quite a bit. We want to do everything that we can to keep our valued employees at this company because we believe that they are truly the best at what they do.

We do run eNPS [surveys] every year and we see our scores staying well above excellence, which is really important. We also just implemented something that we call a stay interview: We interview folks that have been here for quite some time and ask them why they stay. That feedback from employees is one of the most important things—and then sharing that feedback out with the leadership team.

Stephanie H. from MANSCAPED used their experience on a relaxing couples massage: "Loved having a day to relax and rest!"

I also have a very close working relationship with the CFO, CEO, and President at MANSCAPED. This is the team that's gonna make the decision. And so I need to come to them with actual data points on how this program is positively impacting our employees. Of course, it’s not a perfect science and it can be hard sometimes to show that ROI.

This program gets called out quite a bit in our surveys. So it's our obligation, as an HR team, to continually put that in front of our leadership. It's not like making a sale. You know, I can't say this is the exact ROI, but when we start to see our voluntary attrition go down because people feel recognized, they feel important, they feel invested in, then the leadership team starts to listen.

The other thing is, if you’re at a company where you're more fiscally strapped, which is the reality in so many companies right now, start small. Just start small [and focus on building a culture of appreciation]. You don't have to have the whole kit and caboodle right out of the gate. Ask what the company can afford, what the company can support, and then build it around that. Show the small successes. And I guarantee, you'll get more support as the years go.

Kevin: That’s definitely a question we get a lot from people who are leading a small team or at a smaller company and starting small is how you have to do it if you don't have the finances.

Because doing a ceremony, writing a really thoughtful speech, talking about the impact of employees’ contributions—those things don't cost money. They just take time and thoughtfulness and people are often surprised at how far that can go.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give folks to take action on today to build an effective employee recognition program?

Kevin: Ok, here’s my last question before we read through some more audience questions: I think people coming to these types of webinars are always looking for a way to take action tomorrow, or even today. What's one piece of advice you want to give folks on how to take action to build a successful employee recognition program now or in the short term?

Amy: I mean, I love a good survey. And honestly, sometimes, I'm even resistant to surveys, but how in the world are we gonna know what our folks want, or what's gonna motivate our employees and our communities without asking them? So whether it's using SurveyMonkey, Google forms, or whatever—ask the questions. Have one-on-ones with your employee base, depending on the size of your company.

But the first action item is to talk to employees and understand what is important to them. And that's your baseline and you can build a program from there.

I can't state enough the importance of having a connection to your people. And ensuring that they know they can come with suggestions too. That's one of the priorities of our HR team, and I would encourage anybody else to emulate that.

Kevin: My two cents on this: Talking to your employees, you may get a really diverse set of wants and you can't solve everyone's exact needs, but put the patterns together and put something in place, right? And programs can evolve over time as your company grows, as you find out what sticks and what resonates. But putting something in place and learning is so important; taking action versus worrying about how to craft the perfect program right off the bat.

Amy: In our culture, we're not afraid to fail. So if it doesn't work, we change. And I think that's also a good attitude to bring forward when you're trying to craft something. It doesn't have to be perfect. You are never going to make every single person happy or satisfied, and that is okay.

And if you're taking a survey, report back to the business. Let them know what you've heard and let them know what you can do from the feedback. You know, it's an evolution. You're always gonna have different iterations of what these programs look like and allow them to evolve. I think that's really important as well. Recognize that, as folks come and go, the priorities may shift. Just keep looking back. Make changes as needed.

Questions from the audience:

Q: How do you think about revamping recognition, especially if the company has gone through a hard time? What’s your advice there?

Amy: It's probably a two-part answer.

For companies like MANSCAPED, where there’s nothing in place, it’s easier to introduce something smaller and then build off of that.

For companies that go through hard times, if you have to remove something [like a benefit], the communication to your employee base is the most important. We believe heavily in transparency as much as humanly possible and that has its advantages. If you need to revamp because of a financial situation or any other reason, tell your employees why.

And then survey.

Kevin: One thing I would add to that: we have a lot of customers that have gone through hard times, particularly in the last couple of years. And they tend to land in one of two buckets. One says we can't recognize people because we just went through a layoff and it's something really hard. And the other says we need recognition because we went through a layoff and we went through something really hard. And I think there's always that kind of cognitive dissonance in how we stay positive when there's a lot of negative things going on.

My Co-founders love the paradigm of the gap versus the gain. The gap asks what are the things we're missing? What’s missing [that’s keeping] us from hitting our goals and achieving our vision and mission? And that tends to be a little bit more negative and oriented around how we can improve.

But you can also usually look back and say, hey, six months ago, a year ago, there's been a lot of progress. Both can be true at the same time. So even if you're going through hard times, it's okay to, hey, you know, we've been through some hard times recently. And there's a lot of great work across this company and we as leaders want to acknowledge that. Versus ignoring it. Something as simple as that can help.

Amy: Oh my gosh. I absolutely agree. We do a year in review and a big part of that is the people piece of it, but also just company stuff. And sometimes you have challenging things to report back to the business. But like I said, being transparent to the humans that run the business is really critical. And I think the more honest you can be, that in itself just builds a really healthy culture.

Q: How do you actually tailor employee recognition for each individual?

Kevin: At Blueboard, we focus on experiences as rewards. Once you get an experience, you can choose anything from taking your kids for the first time to Disneyland, to doing a nice couples massage, to learning a new language and so that's where things get tailored to an individual. And that's how we think about it at Blueboard.

Amy: Just to speak on the experience of working with Blueboard, one of the things that makes it so special is the variety of experiences that folks can choose from. As an example, when COVID hit, you obviously couldn’t have in-person experiences. So Blueboard offered all these virtual experiences and just amazing things that people could choose from. [With a partner like Blueboard] we don’t necessarily have to craft it to the unique individual, the reward actually does that, the offerings allow that to happen.

Kevin: Thanks so much, Amy. The last thing I wanted to say is that we have a ton of customers, almost 600, right? And we see a lot of recognition programs built, some more successful than others. And when we think about particularly successful programs, the workplace culture is such a big factor.

Recognition is not a band aid solution for a culture that has deeper and more fundamental root issues. There's gotta be a lot of support in buy-in from program admins and leaders. There needs to be clear program design and expectations, and then a lot of energy and enthusiasm from launch  to the continued socialization. And MANSCAPED, your team, does an amazing job on all of those.

Amy: Thank you. I appreciate you saying that.

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