Employee Recognition Matters to Your Clients and Your Bottom Line.
i24 is recognized for the call answering service’s lead in creating and executing its employee recognition programs, such as its WOW Program. Gary Blair, President and Chief Engagement Officer of i24 Call Management Solutions and I (Ray Hiltz, director of Virtual Reality) were interviewed by the imitable Sarah McVanel, the international expert on “Recognition,” who reached out to us to discuss how we took her F.R.O.G Card idea and digitalized it to work with our, WOW recognition program. There’s a lot of “yummy” (in the words of Sarah McVanel) information about how these recognition programs work as a foundation for building a positive, human work culture.
Below is the original blog post written by Mallory Dunbar and published by Greatness Magnified.
i24 Call Management Solutions loved their WOW program – a peer-to-peer employee recognition program aimed to recognize the day-to-day acts of generosity. It was, and still is, a hit among employees and leaders alike. (You may remember we’ve told you about them before.)
As the workplace changed, the entire team moved to remote work (they had 48 hours to go from totally bricks-and-mortar to all virtual at the start of COVID), Gary and his marketing director, Ray quickly decided how to update WOW to align with a virtual work environment. They discovered this: the world may change, but core human needs don’t. The desire for connection was more vital than ever.
And so they set out to create a new, remote-friendly recognition program that people could get excited by. Instead of recognizing employees for what they do, they decided to recognize them for who they are.
The Power of Compliments in an Employee Recognition Programs
FROG compliment cards were not new to i24. I introduced them to it in previous conventions (such as CAM-X). When they moved to remote work, they knew they had to create a simple, easy-to-use digital recognition program to succeed. That’s where the FROG compliment cards came in.
They worked to create a place in their internal communication system where employees could select the name of the person they wished to send the compliment to, pick a compliment from the deck of 52 FROG cards in English or French and press send. Within seconds, that person will receive a personalized compliment card straight to their inbox, letting them know who it’s from. It’s a personal, authentic, sincere and timely way to give recognition. How amazing is that?!
The ROI of Investing in Employee Recognition
i24 has created an army of recruiters. They have had more new staff hired on from referrals by current employees than ever before. That means their employees are leaving work and bragging about how fantastic their company is to anyone who will hear it. They value and appreciate their job and company so much that they tell the people they care about to come and join them. (Isn’t that just the best compliment a company can receive?!)
They didn’t set out with the goal of anything beyond recognizing employees on a human level – the impact on recruitment was a bonus. By living true to their values and acknowledging and appreciating every employee, they have created a scrumptious workplace that employees are excited by. A place where employees choose that want their friends and family to be a part of.
i24’s commitment to continuing to iterate recognition no matter what challenges are thrown their way proves that recognition is a cornerstone of their company culture.
Here is an edited version of the ZOOM interview.
Never underestimate the power of a compliment, a generous gesture, and a good ear. Make feel they matter, and you will matter to them. Employee recognition is not about an “employee of the month poster”. Employees are people be they at work or at home working remotely. Wherever they are, it is our responsibility to nurture a positive work culture where they share a commonality of purpose and community. This will reflect in our company personality and our client’s level of service.
…And This is How We Do It!
1. Evaluate your culture and showcase your values every day
A successful recognition program will reflect who you are as a company. Employees want to be valued for the things their company values. If your organization values collaboration, your employees would likely favour a recognition program that honours the collective. In essence, one that focuses on being (who they are as a person). If your company values competition, then employees would likely favour rewards outputs. One that focuses on doing (what they have achieved and accomplished).
Remember, your employees and leaders know if recognition doesn’t feel authentic and sincere to who you are. Your recognition program should reinforce the culture and values your employees see and experience every day.
2. Get buy-in and get out of the way
Recognition is everyone’s job. Any program – recognition or not – will not be successful without buy-in from management, informal leaders, and employees. Leaders will set the path, creating more employee engagement and buy-in, and then they can step aside for peer-to-peer recognition events appreciation to shine.
Don’t let there be gatekeepers to acknowledgement. If you need budgets, approvals, and formal systems, know you’re putting bottlenecks on meaningful human connection. Do the work to create the system, then let the recognition be fuelled within and among the team members.
3. Be genuine and express gratitude
Recognition programs are about the person, not about what can be gained. If the program is there to incentivize what’s good for the business only, that’s rewards-based programs; there’s a place for those, however, don’t try to pass off “this is for you” when really it’s designed to drive profit or targets.
Recognition enables acknowledging behaviours and performances that reinforce healthy relationships, gratitude, and goodwill among fellow employees. Yes, performance comes along for the ride. Rewards can unapologetically target and reinforce performance, targets, and metrics. That’s the job of rewards (in the “rewards and recognition” dynamic duo.) It’s dangerous ground to have recognition manipulate performance first and foremost. Know the difference (if you don’t, that’s what Greatness Magnified is here for.) Your folks can tell the difference; they can spot an insincere recognition program from a mile away. When you design your program, do so with nothing in mind other than recognizing employees for what they do and who they are.
A well-designed and well-executed recognition program will result in business gains (higher engagement, retention, productivity…shall I go on?), but only when you go in with good intentions.
4. Keep it simple
In today’s world, people want fast and easy. We need it. Most of us walk around overdrawn in our emotional, cognitive and time “bank accounts.” If acts of recognition seem to be seen as cumbersome, it can turn a team or organization’s well-intentioned recognition initiative into a burden.
Want recognition to work? Make it as simple and easy as possible. That’s why i24’s strategy of building our FROG Tributes (compliments) into the communication system folks are already in and making it easy to share a compliment quickly (in 30 seconds) was an instant success.
Given folks are looking for deeper relationships, to do meaningful work, and to be part of a community of like-minded people, there is a desire for recognition to be part of our everyday work experience. If there are 8 different steps, 3 different platforms, and a one-week delay to receive a kudos, even if you can get folks initially on board, it’s unlikely to sustain itself. Even your cheerleaders won’t be able to keep up (they will do other things that are way easier).
i24’s FROG card program has 3 steps involved: select the recipient, add your name, choose your card and send. That’s it – just one minute to make someone’s day. And it’s built into the communication system that folks are already signed into when they are on shift. The simpler it is, the more people will use it, and the more sustainable it will be.
When they moved to remote work, i24 knew they could no longer hold the in-person WOW celebrations they had in the past, so they moved to a digital recognition program. Any program should continue to evolve to fit the changing needs of its employees and the work environment. If an external or internal change happens, don’t forget to take a peek at your recognition strategy. When you refresh your people strategy, your rewards and recognition program must be part of this review.
That’s exactly what we did. In just one day, breaking into two grounds so we could have coverage, staff, leaders, and the owner at i24 came up with super simple, satisfying and aligned next steps that were immediately implementable. They didn’t just talk about it, they did it. They didn’t decide on a board room, they invited a variety of team members to the table to plan the next iteration. And they weren’t afraid to try a few things without knowing if they’d work.
In other words, any team or organization’s approach needs to be fluid – it’s a journey, not a destination. The world moves fast, and we need to keep up.
If you want to revamp your recognition approach, let i24 be your reminder: your employees want to be recognized on a human level.
Appreciate employees not just for what they do but for who they are.
Employee Recognition Elevates Your Call Answering Service
At i24 Call Management Solutions, a service-oriented company with over 50 years of experience in providing call-answering services, recognizing and appreciating employees is not only “a best practice” but a crucial part of their work culture and business success.
The foundation of i24’s achievements is its continuous striving to find better ways to serve its clients and employees. By acknowledging employee achievements, positive feedback, and encouraging improvement, i24’s clients get premium, custom service, and its staff enjoys a nurturing, positive work environment. The result? – The recruitment and retention of dedicated employees and satisfying clients who remain loyal to the company.