Do You Recognize Your Employees the Right Way? How to Improve Morale, Streamline Rewards, and Make Employees Feel Valued


Everyone understands that people need to feel valued for their work, but the old ways of recognizing employees have become less effective than they once were. Financial rewards have often been a great motivator, but today, employees value public acknowledgment and recognition, too. Meanwhile, the typical monthly or quarterly awards tend to showcase the same people over and over again. Certain people are in better positions to have their contributions noticed by upper management, while others go above and beyond in their work and aren’t as visible.

We wanted to boost employee morale and give visibility to everyone's contributions by celebrating the people who keep our organization running day in and day out. We felt the best way to do that was to get rid of our outdated recognition systems and embrace a digital platform that helped keep teams engaged and morale high. 

Luckily, we happened to find one that would grow with our team and the company—even after a large-scale acquisition. 

Doing Away with An Outdated and Demoralizing Rewards Program

Thirteen years ago, I started working with the company that is now Solugenix. Today, I’m an Operations Manager, working with vice presidents, account managers, and directors to manage the delivery of customer support services and customer experience for clients in the retail and financial services industries. My team handles basic support calls, and our other teams handle retail helpdesk support. 

It’s hard for call center employees to stand out. They're the underrated heroes of any organization. They engage with so many different attitudes and personalities daily, and approach all conversations, even the difficult ones, with patience and friendliness. When a call center support member has an exceptional call, the customer might be pleased, but leadership doesn’t necessarily hear from that customer. With our old recognition program, it was hard to see, let alone celebrate, these wins. 

It was also discouraging that we didn’t recognize everyone equally. Our work environment includes on-site and remote workers, and sometimes the contributions of our remote employees were less visible than their on-site counterparts. 

Digital recognition programs allow employers to see, engage, and recognize everyone, regardless of where they are based.

Finally, we also needed to create consistency for celebrations. We used to send gift cards to employees for their work anniversaries and birthdays. People generally appreciated the gesture, but some teams were prompt with gift cards, while others forgot or handed them out late. Inevitably, some people got left out, which was the exact opposite of our intention. On top of that, gift cards were a pain for our HR team to tax and monitor.

There were far better rewards programs out there that would make recognition visible, fair, and timely, with more personalized rewards. We wanted to find them.

A Fair and Transparent Rewards Program

When my manager, Chris Antonelli, introduced the company to Bonusly, I was super excited. Bonusly gives all employees the ability to recognize each other for contributions large and small, thereby giving everyone an equal voice. That recognition is tied to points, which can then be redeemed for a self-selected reward. Managers and leaders suddenly had visibility into positive customer interactions and ways that people help each other—all things they couldn’t see before. This new platform was much more honest and transparent. 

Since adopting Bonusly, we worked our quality assurance (QA) scores, customer satisfaction surveys, and recruitment referrals into the platform with Bonusly's Awards suite. Each team has a bucket of points for performance metrics, and we recognize team members who come in first, second, and third place for performance standards. If someone receives between 90–100% for QA scores, they receive the same number of Bonusly points—or snaps, in our case—as that QA score. If someone gets a 100% score across two teams, they get extra snaps! We also recognize people with Bonusly points when they get positive customer satisfaction surveys, refer people to work for our company, and volunteer to appear on our social media platforms. 

Bonusly's Automated Awards help us honor employee anniversary and birthday milestones in a consistent fashion. No one is left out on work anniversaries and birthdays anymore because points are awarded automatically on those special days. Everyone can see that it’s someone’s birthday or work anniversary in the platform, which inspires others to celebrate the milestone with recognition and snaps. 

Employees can redeem their Bonusly points for all kinds of things, including personalized rewards. With Bonusly’s comprehensive reward catalog, people can pick what they really want rather than what we think they’ll like. Everyone appreciates that.

Bonusly Proved Critical in Our Smooth Transition to a New Company

We saw high rates of adoption and positive feedback about Bonusly from the start. When Solugenix acquired our company in 2019, Bonusly played a critical role supporting us through the transition.

Almost all of my 100-person team stayed with Solugenix after the acquisition, and our use of Bonusly didn’t change a lot at first. But the acquisition led us to transition from a company with small IT and HR departments to a larger company with much greater IT and HR resources. We had to scale quickly and effectively, and we used Bonusly to help us achieve that. 

We onboarded the new HR and IT support staff to Bonusly, which helped integrate our folks into the larger team in a natural way. They weren’t just the “IT Department” or the “HR Department” anymore; they became people with names who were there to help. Bonusly also helped those new team members become familiar with the people they were supporting.

Staying Connected and Engaged During the Pandemic

Just because someone doesn’t work in the office doesn’t mean communication has to end. Instead, communication evolves, and everyone adapts. #communication

When the pandemic hit, some of our teams had to transition to remote work for the first time. It was a difficult transition for some people. Whereas it used to be easy to walk by a person’s desk and say, “Hey, you made a great save on that call,” spontaneous interactions were next to impossible. Small words of encouragement go a long way, and people missed them. But just because someone doesn’t work in the office doesn’t mean that communication has to end. Instead, communication evolves, and everyone adapts.

That’s what happened with Bonusly. We saw increased engagement as people began to work from home and praise each other on the platform. Everyone can view that praise, which is great exposure for individuals and teams. It also encourages some friendly competition. 

It's important to mention that Bonusly is fun, too! Solugenix employees use lots of GIFs and photos within the platform, and they love that informal interaction. It breaks up the workday and lets us see each other as people with personalities rather than just employees on the other end of a computer.

Solugenix has a high program engagement rate, with 79% of employees recognizing 93% of their peers in the past year. People are impressed that our engagement is so high, but I’m not surprised. Our company is all about supporting and recognizing one another, regardless of where someone works. That does wonders for morale. 

And success breeds success! When the COVID-19 pandemic pushed our Enterprise Support Services (ESS) team to work remotely, they were looking for a way to engage with each other digitally in a meaningful way. Faced with the uncertainty of those first few months working remotely, the ESS team wanted to mimic the success and engagement that our CSS team has experienced with Bonusly, and they’re well on their way!

A Fun Rewards System Benefits an Entire Organization

Transparency is a crucial part of what Bonusly has done for Solugenix. With insight into the small wins that they wouldn’t otherwise see, managers can now identify the hidden leaders who have been driving a team’s success all along. That is particularly vital in an environment like ours that mixes part- and full-time staff. There are all sorts of reasons why someone chooses to work part-time; it doesn’t mean that they’re any less of a rock star or that their work is any less significant. Because we can identify these leaders, no matter how many hours they work a week, we can determine the best ways to encourage them and support their development. 

Bonusly's monthly reporting capabilities also allow management to see the correlation between low engagement and low team morale. It’s pretty simple—when people are recognized for their hard work, they feel better about their job, and do better work. Monthly reporting reminds us that we need to keep this top of mind. If we see a drop in engagement, we can hop on a call and discuss ways to improve.

When people are recognized for their hard work, they feel better about their job, and do better work.

At Solugenix, we believe strongly in recognizing one another. When you can involve the entire team instead of a select few, you create a better environment to work in, which goes a long way to retain hard-working, well-qualified employees. Bonusly worked wonders for team morale during the fast growth and uncertainty of acquisition and the quick move to remote work during the pandemic. We now have a way to recognize and reward employees for everything they do, big and small, that demonstrates engagement and ownership of their place within the company.