Ever since the WHO officially deemed the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, companies across the financial services industry have been hit at two different levels: not only do they have to deal with the broad business issues of maneuvering their way through a global economy that is in a major state of flux, they also have to deal with the more acute day-to-day issues of rewarding, motivating, and taking care of front-line employees who still have to go in to work every day. As several positions in banking and finance have been deemed essential by the Cyber-Infrastructure Security Agency, many employers have had to find a way to keep remote employees connected, while also determining how best to remain connected to, and show their appreciation for, front-line employees.
Banking services must manage both the uncertainty in the market as well as a new balance of onsite and remote work, and they are also seeing higher volume and demand as a result of their customers’ economic uncertainty. As Ernst and Young highlighted in a recent article “… one major U.S. bank recently reported an increase of 15 times the number of credit applications in 24 hours. Banks that have adapted quickly, and can respond efficiently to the higher volume of requests, have an opportunity to increase their reputation and value across the industry.” An increase in activity of that magnitude could easily lead to fatigue and burnout in ideal conditions. Paired with the external stresses of the uncertainty and stress of a pandemic, companies need to be acutely aware of the strain that this puts on each employee’s everyday life.
Similarly, in Fintech, pressures and stress on employees are on the rise, as businesses and financial institutions alike are driving an increased demand for digital transactions solutions. In a time where more and more transactions are being forced online and out of brick-and-mortar establishments, Fintech companies have felt the pressure of keeping workers engaged while dealing with this new influx of opportunity and also managing the stress and strain that come along with working while sheltered in place.
As workers face these challenges, their employers are trying a variety of methods to keep employees connected, including virtual happy hours, video calls, and financial incentives. One effective tool for to keeping employees engaged and connected is an employee recognition program. Providing frequent positive recognition can help reinforce a company’s culture and values, even while workforces are physically separated. According to Gartner: “As COVID-19 creates significant disruption, and undercuts employee engagement, managers need to redouble their recognition efforts. Effective recognition not only motivates the recipient but can serve as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should emulate. Recognition can take many forms other than monetary rewards — public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities, and low-cost perks.”
As our Chief Customer Officer, I have worked alongside our customers for more than 10 years. Our team of dedicated Customer Success Managers have been especially busy during the last few months, striving to support our customers through this challenging time in any way they can. In our regular calls with customers, we’ve learned about initiatives they have enacted to keep their workforces engaged and motivated as their companies and their employees navigate the pandemic and search for a “new normal.” Several customers, and many in the financial services and Fintech sectors, have mentioned the addition of informal virtual chats and new message boards or chat channels where employees can catch up and share resources. We’ve been especially proud to learn that nearly all of them are turning to their Achievers platform to help unify employees, drive connection throughout their organizations, and keep up morale in a time of crisis. Below are some of the best practices and stories that we found especially valuable.
Scotiabank increases managers’ point allocations to recognize the exceptional
Scotiabank, a leading bank in Canada and a leading financial services provider in the Americas with approximately 100,000 employees spread across over 30 countries, has been using Achievers for their employee recognition platform since 2016. Among multiple initiatives to support their employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scotiabank leveraged their Applause 2.0 program powered by Achievers by topping up points allocation in March and April for 4,000+ people managers with teams of 5+ employees in customer-facing roles as well as BCP-critical roles. Adding these additional points on top of their usual monthly point budget provided these managers with additional capability to recognize individuals for all their exceptional efforts in supporting their customers and each other during this challenging time. After this targeted investment, Scotiabank saw an increase across all their recognition KPIs, including a 52 percent year-over-year spike in the average number of recognitions sent. More than 110,000 recognitions were sent in the month of April alone.
Beyond their recognition efforts in the Applause 2.0 program, Scotiabank has also added a number of measures to assure the health, safety, and financial stability of their employees as well as their customers throughout their COVID-19 response. For workplaces that have remained open throughout the pandemic, they’ve reconfigured workspaces and added personal days to account for childcare, caregiver, and wellbeing needs. They’ve also provided remote medical advice for their Canadian employees, as well as onsite medical staff at their operations and customer contact centers to support employees’ medical questions. They’ve even implemented extra pay for eligible employees who’ve had to regularly come in to work at their branches, contact centers, and large operation centers.
In a recent announcement, the bank communicated that they’ve committed to do even more to support employees. Scotiabank is allocating extra funds to each employee’s Wellbeing Account, adding an allotment of “Emergency COVID-19-Related Paid Leave” to help employees handle the additional stresses placed on them by new conditions brought on by the pandemic, and are working with their employees to figure out a flexible work arrangement so that employees can have more control over budgeting their time between work and home life.
The thoughtful measures Scotiabank took to recognize and support their employees during this difficult time underscores their commitment to their employees’ wellbeing during times of crisis and beyond.
CardinalCommerce keeps the family together
CardinalCommerce, a global leader in digital transaction authentication out of the Cleveland area of Ohio reported that after the initial adjustment to COVID-19, amazing things started happening. Co-workers started scheduling virtual morning coffees to talk about the crazy Cleveland weather, the day ahead, or share their remote workspaces so everyone could “see” where the other was working. After-work virtual happy hours became a regular Friday night activity.
Then things began to ramp up even more. They started having lunch “together” while chatting about their families, ideas for entertaining kids, new recipes, and struggles they were experiencing doing everyday tasks. Some managers sent personal hand-written notes home just to say hello and check in – NOT virtually. Whenever someone found a new benefit like an online course or exercise class, it would be posted in their Slack channel. Emails were sent and virtual town halls were held to ease minds and share how the company was performing, and more importantly, what services were available to help employees through those times.
When it came to employee recognition and engagement, Cardinal turned to their Cheers! program powered by Achievers. As their program administrator put it:
“The Cheers! started pouring in. Compliment after compliment praising fellow co-workers for jobs well done, for going the extra mile, for reaching out, and checking on how someone was doing.”
Peer-to-peer recognition sent on Cardinal’s Cheers! platform praising help during the WFH period
The Cardinal HR team sent a Cheers! survey to see how everyone was feeling, just to gauge company morale. Overall, they enacted a variety of simple, everyday things, literally every day, to make sure that no one felt alone.
Prioritizing connection during trying times is a testament to a company, its leaders, and its people. Cardinal has used Cheers! and their online resources to keep their Cardinal family connected and they know that in the end, they will come out stronger than before.
Peer-to-peer recognition sent on Cardinal’s Cheers! platform
CO-OP Financial Services stays connected
CO-OP Financial Services, a provider of fintech solutions to credit unions with 1,500+ employees and seven office locations across the U.S., has truly embraced the mission of the credit union movement – “People Helping People.” To help both employees and clients navigate the many changes resulting from COVID-19, CO-OP quickly assembled cross functional planning and implementation teams to manage business continuity and potential client impact. CO-OP also launched an external microsite and an internal site to provide clients and employees with timely updates, resources, and information regarding the rapidly changing situation. Transitioning 80 percent of their employees to work remotely and implementing physical distancing measures for contact center employees in-office resulted in major shifts in the daily lives of employees across the organization.
CO-OP engaged their Achievers employee recognition program, CO-OP Kudos, to help bridge the physical gap and to provide a space for employees and leaders to connect. The space allowed them to recognize and reward one another for all of the amazing work and partnership that had been demonstrated across the organization. In collaboration with Achievers, CO-OP launched the CO-OP Kudos Stay Connected campaign to provide employees with resources, information, and a way to engage with each other through sharing their favorite ideas and suggestions for various activities, books, entertainment, and even recipes. Leveraging their employee newsletter to publicize the campaign, they launched the program with a dedicated feature story and published a direct link to the CO-OP Kudos Stay Connected campaign page on their employee internal site. Taking it a step further, leaders and supervisors across the organization were encouraged to recognize their team members through a special additional allocation of Staying Connected reward points.
Sample creative from CO-OP’s Stay Connected campaign
CO-OP continues to promote the CO-OP Kudos Stay Connected campaign across internal channels, and the result has been a significant increase in employee engagement both within and outside of the platform. Employees and CO-OP leadership have acknowledged the impact and benefit of the CO-OP Kudos platform and the Stay Connected campaign as a both wonderful and successful tool for boosting engagement and morale across the organization during challenging times.
Other examples from around the world
One of our large financial services clients based out of the UK was keen to recognize their key workers during the challenging situation with COVID-19, and they knew the best way to do this was using Bravo, their recognition program powered by Achievers. In May, this customer invested a sizable amount of additional budget for managers of key workers to use specifically for recognizing those essential colleagues who have made a difference during these exceptional times.
The efforts of this customer resulted in a significant impact not only on points-based recognitions, but on all recognitions when comparing May’s results with those for April 2020 as seen below:
A customer in the payments industry, a major credit card company, realized at the onset of the pandemic that with the shift to remote work, their traditional method for celebrating employee milestones wouldn’t be possible. This company decided to take the opportunity to integrate their years of service anniversary celebrations into Go Beyond, their Achievers program, to make the experience virtual/social for their employees. With offices closed, and gatherings prohibited, this customer was able to leverage Go Beyond to make sure employees could still come together to celebrate one another’s important milestones during the pandemic.
Strengthen connection with recognition
As we highlighted in our blog post on How Employee Recognition Systems Improve Productivity, frequent recognition not only drives performance, stock prices, and NPS scores, it also creates a greater sense of community and interconnectedness, which is essential at a time when companies are trying everything they can to connect with newly-remote employees.
Are you ready to build or revamp a recognition program at your organization? I’m proud to share that Achievers customers are 107 percent more likely to give their culture of recognition a high rating than organizations that don’t use recognition technology. In addition, Achievers customers are:
- 2.5x more likely to see increased employee retention.
- 36 percent more likely to see an increase in employee engagement.
- 3.6x more likely than customers of other providers to give recognition multiple times each month.
Find out how your business can leverage Achievers’ award-winning platform to help connect you to your employees during the pandemic and beyond. Request a demo today.