As everyone is aware, the Coronavirus pandemic has, for the foreseeable future anyway, fundamentally changed the way we work and live. Offices remain closed or open with limited access and the most popular form of communication is through video conference. Remote working has become the norm, and organisations are having to address their existing HR strategies including Rewards and Recognition as circumstances continue to change.
Earlier this month, Xexec held the latest in its Expert View webinar series to discuss how companies need to look at their recognitions programmes as moving, flexible and living solutions as well as hearing from one of the most forward-looking companies how Colt Technology Services has addressed and adapted to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Recognition as a living Solution
Most large and international organisations have considered or already implemented reward and recognition schemes into their business as part of their overriding HR and business strategy. However, it is what they can do with these schemes that define whether they will be a success or not.
Jamie King, Director Global Rewards at Xexec commented, “most organisations should want a scalable solution that is able to change and adapt with the business over time. If the initial aims of the scheme were to strengthen core values and encourage team collaboration over time this may change to focusing more on retention and acquisition of talent as the emphasis of the business also changes”.
In addition, the way recognition schemes are implemented change and over time – adding new rewards and award schemes as well as amending he the processes. “As adoption increases and it becomes more embedded, the programme is likely to become more complex”, continued Jamie. “At Xexec we always advise, no matter the size or number of geographical locations that when starting out to keep it simple to facilitate adopted both by employees and business leaders”.
One off the biggest challenges faced is that of budget and how to gain buying from budget holders whist demonstrating engagement with the programme. “Again, similar to the overall strategy we have seen the more successful businesses start by introducing non-financial awards especially when it is a global programme and monetary rewards differ. It is also far easier to get approval for something that is non-financial”, said King.
Then over time as the scheme becomes more adopted and integrated into company culture, providing a data driven understanding of how it being used and adopted, organisations can look to introduce the financial awards, such as employee of the month, team awards, etc…
Jamie concluded “Finally once you have the data to inform decisions you can then start introducing and merging together other schemes such as referrals or wellbeing schemes, bringing everything together under a single platform or portal. However, the key thing with all this, regardless of the size of your business, is to have a clear vision of where your recognition journey is going to take you and ensuring that it is both scalable and adaptable to ebb and flow with your business”.
Putting theory into practice – Colt’s Story
Colt puts a huge emphasis on their recognition programme and from the top down, considers it an especially important aspect of the business. Ann Cain, Recognition Manager at Colt openly explained Colts approach and how they are constantly adapting their strategy to fit in with the current circumstances but also keep up with an ever-evolving business.
“The positive impact of being recognised in the workplace has been backed up by lots of research”, said Ann”. “We also know from experience that making people happier and more appreciated at work has a positive impact on performance.”
Colt does not make these sort of statements lightly and this claim is backed up by an internal survey they carried out that showed colleagues that have been recognised in the last few months are twice as likely to say that they are highly engaged in the business and 86% of people surveyed said that being recognised makes them prouder of their work.
As Heraclitus the Greek philosopher said, “change is the only constant in life” and according to Ann this is especially true when it come to life at Colt and even more so during the current pandemic.
“We are constantly being challenged to improve and update our systems and processes”, said Ann. “We are always reviewing and amending our reward strategy based on the business circumstances and the requirements from our employees. And as recognition is seen as such an important part of employee engagement globally. We have created a number of policies and pillars that we adhere to as we look at what we are doing”.
At Colt they three core pillars that underlie every aspect of the global recognition program
1 -Adapt your engagement strategies as your company strategies change
2- Flexibility is key within your recognition strategy
3 -There is no “recognition solution for all” – recognition evolves
Colts recognition evolution
Colt launched its recognition portal “Colt Inspire” with Xexec during October 2018. It is a bespoke branded platform that includes local nuances to meet the needs of over 5,000 staff and offices in 23 countries around the world. Initially the programme included e-cards and vouchers along with financial rewards that were amended locally to meet with regional costs of living.
“Over the next half a year or so adoption and popularity of the platform rose alongside the growth of the business”, remembered Ann. “Hence, in 2019 we added more countries and had to refresh our cost of living calculations. Later that year once everyone was on board, working with Xexec, we started to introduce a wider variety of awards such as a quarterly champions and career milestone awards that were consistent globally”.
However, as mentioned earlier on the key pillars of this reward programme is to keep up with the business and its employees at it evolves. When the platform launched in 2018 it had different requirements to those of today. These requirements have changed along with the business vision.
“Given the changing circumstances and challenges, we have been refreshing, changing, and flexing the portal to reflect the business and our employees. This has been based on a clearly defined recognition strategy that has been signed off from the top down. This support and clarity have also given us the confidence to deliver what the business needs”.
Colt’s recognition strategy is as follows; “To build a thank you culture that supports and recognises colleagues for demonstrating the vision, values and behaviours that drive Colt’s success”.
Embedding recognition as part of the culture
So far this year Colt has made several changes to its recognition platform such as introducing new and more regular awards to embed the culture of the business. These have included include weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual recognition. In addition, they have retained their Spot Awards too. However, whist before there was a vague criterion for rewards – now they are tied far more closely to the company values.
Ann explained, “as we looked to develop out or platform, we wanted to emphasise the values and behaviours of the business, so have changed the naming conventions and tied nominations to these values and behaviours. So, for example the monthly awards are for behavioural advocates and the annual award that is as special award from the CEO is referred to as the Value Hero. We also wanted to associate rewards with positive memories”.
Colt has also looked closely at its processes and looked to streamline and improve approvals. It has reduced the need for senior approvals for smaller financial rewards and included shortlists to speed up the process for other awards.
Finally, Colt is in the process of introducing a far wider number of non-financial rewards that has been driven by demand from senior management. These include virtual badges and certificates, free lunches, additional vacation days, training and shadowing senior management. Managers will also be given a virtual gift book where they can top up financial awards using vouchers.
“The changes made to the scheme has tried to make it a far more holistic approach to reward and employee engagement”, said Ann. “We are trying to add more value and be more thoughtful towards our employees. In addition, we have also tied in the scheme to our CSR programme, allowing people to donate their rewards to charity”.
Covid-19 adapting fast
As with every business in the world, Colt has had to adapt to the current changes and new restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on our working lives. Due to the company’s ability to be flexible and change, the recognition platform has seamlessly adapted to the changing demand from the business and its employees.
“We have all had to adapt to Covid -19”, said Ann. “Fortunately at Colt we had already started to consider a number of the solutions that we needed to implement when we were brainstorming ideas on how to improve the offering. We were able to quickly offer more support to our employees in the face of the pandemic, being reactive to the rate of change”.
Colt has quickly introduced several new offerings including a Safe workplace allowance offering every member of staff 200 Euros to make their home office environment more comfortable and safer. Colt has also introduced a Special Assistance Fund of 250,000 Euros set aside to help employees mitigate financial hardship or loss.
Colt has also recognised the social and physical restrictions that the pandemic has put on us all. As such it changed its annual incentive trip abroad rewards– this has changed as people are not unable to travel so employees receive the equivalent financial value and can choose how they want to redeem that through the discount vouchers and offers Xexec provides.
Ann concluded, “we are really proud of how we have reacted to the Coronavirus pandemic, not only due the fact that we are directly supporting our employees but also because we are continuing to celebrate them. Since the start of the pandemic, we have recognised over 300 employees as Pandemic Heroes with a financial award and paperweight memento. Some of our employees have done amazing things for their colleagues, local offices and communities and we are excited to recognise them”.
Colt is already looking beyond the end of the year and into 2021 as is part of their value and behaviour. “We are really excited about the changes we have implemented so far but it’s not finished. We are always driven to change and adapt to the evolution of our business be it circumstantial or strategic business decisions” Ann finished.
If you'd like to find out more about building an effective employee reward and recognition strategy, download our free e-book.