We spoke to Taryn Davino, Director of Global Organizational Development at WW, about how they’ve created a culture of peer-to-peer recognition and positivity through bots on Workplace.

In today’s world, it is common for an organization to think employees have plenty of work-based benefits and reasons to feel appreciated. Things like gym membership, flexible working, travel opportunities, providing free tech at home or ping pong tables in the office.

But there’s an incredibly important, and often overlooked, aspect that’s much more appreciated by staff – employee recognition.

Work-based recognition. Critical, but often overlooked.

Some organizations see it as a “nice to have” while others can’t get by without it, but what businesses that fail to prioritize employee recognition don’t see are the hidden dangers and costs associated with low morale and a high turnover rate.

77% of employees say that they “don’t feel strongly valued for the work that they do,” and 36% say a lack of recognition is “the number one reason they’re considering switching jobs.” When an employee moves on, you’re forced to spend time and resources looking into hiring and re-training their replacement. Most businesses will spend over one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that employee.

We all know the monetary loss of a disengaged employee, but there is another reason to rethink your staff recognition approach – company culture. Organizations must differentiate themselves, and a better culture will help with the retention of your best talent. In fact, 43% of workers would be willing to leave their companies for just a 10% salary increase, and weak company cultures are often to blame.

WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) understands the value of building a global community promoting positivity and encouraging people to recognize their peers.

In the real world, WW is on a mission to inspire healthy habits for real life and encourage people to be more mindful of their wellness. In this regard, health and wellness for WW have now come to encompass much more than what you eat or how you look. Now, WW is focused on all the different aspects of wellness, including mental and spiritual health.

Behind the scenes, they’re also trying to bring that mindfulness to their employees. We spoke with Taryn Davino, Director of Global Organizational Development at WW, about five learnings from rolling out a global recognition program using bots on Workplace.

1. Create a unified and consistent program

Before using bots on Workplace, the WW employee recognition program was splintered and singular to each office or department. Most of the programs ran as a nomination process with a committee determining who should be awarded, but the way each committee worked was different. This meant that there was no consistency with how recognition was being handled across the organization, and also led to confusion with what ideal staff behavior looked like in different regions and the expectations they were placing on staff.

Moreso, having different recognition programs running in different offices and regions created time inefficiencies with lots of overlap between the different programs and people spending time doing similar tasks.

To address this, Taryn and the WW team created a global recognition team and looked at all the different programs being run around the organization before taking a step back to look at research into what makes the optimum recognition experience for staff and leadership alike.

In doing so, they created a new approach that still achieved the goals of each of the separate recognition programs while borrowing on what was best from each of them too.

2. Harness the power of peer-to-peer recognition

One of the things that Taryn and her team had noticed from looking at how recognition was being done at WW was that, quite often, they were running as a nomination process where a small committee determined who should then be awarded. These committees also tended to be made up of senior staff members rather than a committee that was more representative of the different roles and experience levels at WW.

Rather than having recognition programs that are solely top-down, there’s been a lot of research that’s talked about the benefits of peer-to-peer recognition. As well as being pertinent, scalable, authentic and inclusive, peer recognition also helps because it feels less like a performance review, and more like an organic expression of gratitude.

As such, Taryn and the WW team wanted their updated recognition program to be one that was not only nominated by peers but also chosen by peers too. They created a global Impact Awards committee comprising of staff from around the world and is representative of a range of job functions and seniority levels within the organization. This panel then goes through all the votes each quarter and selects those which they think are worthy of winning an Impact Award.

3. Focus on values-based recognition with clear examples of sought after behaviors

To add transparency to the recognition program, WW wanted to provide clear examples of the behaviors being demonstrated by staff and why those actions were worthy of being awarded. To help with this, WW ensured that when staff were nominating their colleagues they provided clear examples of what the nominee had done, how that had helped the business and how that had inspired them.

To tie these actions back to the company, and educate staff as to why these staff members were being nominated, WW also included their company values in the nomination process.

As well as ensuring staff were associating good deeds with specific company values, this also helped increase awareness and understanding of WW’s new corporate values which had been refreshed as part of their rebrand from Weight Watchers to WW.

4. Public celebration is more powerful than a private pat on the back

I am sure we’ve all done something at work that we may have thought deserved a nod or a high-five without ever receiving credit. And who doesn’t like being applauded publicly for doing a good job or going above and beyond.

To help with this, as well as collecting the submission information, WW’s recognition bot also shares these votes on a public level by automatically posting submissions to an open Workplace Group for other staff members to comment and engage with. Nominees can see the full written submission of what they’ve done and be celebrated by their peers, while the nominators can feel good from knowing their submission has been recorded and shared.

At the end of each quarter, WW then announces the winners of the Impact Awards for both their corporate and field workers at their All Company meeting, and promote this using the Live Broadcast feature on Workplace.

5. Use automation to save HR and Internal comms teams time

When you’re in a large, globally oriented organization, running a recognition program could be someone’s, or even a team’s, full-time job. With bots on Workplace, you can completely automate these tasks while simultaneously providing a personalized and interactive experience.

Gone are the days of sending mass emails asking for submissions, chasing staff to finish the task, and spending hours of time compiling votes into one document.

Using Ripple, WW’s Employee Recognition bot, when a staff member is ready to nominate a colleague they simply open the bot in Workplace Chat and the bot takes them on a guided experience. The bot also allows WW to send pre-scheduled broadcasts to their entire workforce to help collate company-wide submissions at the end of each voting period – so no more chasing staff for votes. The bot will do that for you.

Then, on hitting submit, the bot posts that nomination and the associated information to a group on Workplace and a private Google Sheet which is sorted by date and region. This sheet then becomes the list that the Impact Awards committee go through at the end of each quarter to pick the winners.

With bots on Workplace, employee recognition turns into an automated, value-oriented, 24-7 opportunity to celebrate the hard workers within your community.

An easy to use, effective and automated recognition program - that lives directly in Workplace by Facebook.

With Ripple, WW have been able to create an intuitive peer-to-peer recognition program that’s tied to their new corporate values, creating a continuous feed of positive stories of staff going above and beyond across the organization and highlighting the authentic culture of the organization from the HQ to the field.

And, as well as providing a more efficient and transparent recognition program that’s able to recognize and shine a spotlight on people in a way that might not have been possible before, the Ripple Workplace Group has also created a regularly updated pool of positivity that, as the name suggests, ripples throughout the entire organization.

As Taryn says, “When we tell stories of what our people have done, it makes your heart swell. Every quarter when we go through and celebrate the people who have been identified as the quarterly winners I think, ‘This is the greatest thing ever.’ It really elevates examples of people doing amazing things who otherwise probably wouldn’t get recognized on a global scale.”

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Author Lauren Massey

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