strengthen engagement

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: Strengthening Employee Engagement

Is your workforce recognized at an acceptable rate? According to Gallup’s analysis, probably not. In a recent survey, they found that only 1 out of 3 U.S. workers feel they received adequate recognition in the past seven days. Even worse, employees that aren’t recognized at a satisfactory level are twice as likely to leave their job compared to those that are. Why should you care? Because 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated and companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate of 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest levels of engagement.

It’s clear that an effective employee engagement program that makes recognition timely and ubiquitous can help your company reach new heights. Take Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) for example.

With a commitment to serving with excellence and dedication, Horizon BCBSNJ has worked to deliver quality health insurance to the people and businesses of New Jersey for over 80 years.

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

This commitment to dedication and enrichment isn’t limited to external recipients. HBSBCNJ understands that their success as a business would not be not possible without an engaged and committed workforce. Because they place such an emphasis on the well-being of their employees, they have historically scored high on employee engagement surveys.

But in 2013, seeking to replace their manually facilitated employee recognition program with a streamlined, automated solution, Horizon BCBSNJ partnered with Achievers to offer their employees an unbeatable platform that would better leverage the modern workforce’s affinity for frequent, specific recognition to obtain key business objectives.

Horizon BCBSNJ debuted their employee engagement and recognition program, Step It Up, to more than 5,000 employees across four locations and saw almost universal adoption from the get-go. The program reached a 90 percent activation rate by year’s end, with that rate further ballooning to the 97 percent it sits at today. In addition to the extremely high activation rate, Horizon BCBSNJ saw other positive results, such as:

  • A 6 percent increase in overall employee engagement scores
  • A 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to employee recognition

Gallup states that recognition “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.” Horizon BCBSNJ is not missing out on this massive opportunity for management; their leadership team is among the most active users on Step It Up, solidifying the employee engagement and recognition program as a very important pillar of their employee strategy.

Furthermore, with trackable data flowing through the system, Horizon BCBSNJ’s HR team has a better understanding of concepts that used to be a guessing game, such as employee morale, and can swiftly pinpoint the cause of any decrease.

The results realized at Horizon BCBSNJ is proof that any workforce can benefit from an effective employee engagement and recognition program, even one that is already engaged. To learn more, access Horizon BCBSNJ’s Case Study.

Download Case Study Red CTA Button



About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.





For Recognition to Have an Impact, Make It Strategic

We’re way beyond the old paradigm of years-of-service plaques or holiday gift cards as a form of employee recognition. We know that such rewards, tied to tenure or sporadically bestowed on an individual employee for a job well done, fall short of achieving any larger goal. For employees, they do little to spur a sense of being truly valued by an organization. For the organization, they don’t spark the levels of engagement that we know drive performance and lead to desired business outcomes. Why is this an issue? Gallup research this year found that only 33 percent of US workers feel engaged at work (it’s a mere 13 percent worldwide!). That’s nearly the same figure it was 10 years ago.

And even if organizations do connect recognition to driving individual performance and achieving desired business outcomes, how many have a recognition program that actually works? Achievers’ 2015 “The Greatness Gap” survey of the North American workforce found that most employees are far from satisfied with how, when, or why they receive recognition — if they do at all. They don’t feel they are recognized at their preferred frequency (41%) or get a manager’s in-the-moment feedback (60%) They don’t feel recognized for making progress (57%) or achievements (53%). Based on these findings, disengagement, not engagement, seems to be the rule.

But this gap is more than just a gap in driving engagement via feedback. It represents lost intelligence on how to improve the employee experience and better align it with business goals. To play an effective role in an organization’s success, a recognition program needs to serve a powerful strategic function for both employee and employer.

Strategic recognition serves a number of dual roles:


It’s part of a widespread, unified system of employee engagement —

that can be customized into any format, platform and frequency.


It’s aligned to the vision and values of the organization —

and can be tailored to meet individual employee preferences.


It generates powerful insight on employee performance and behavior —

but “learns” from even the delivery of a “smile” emoji or an e-thanks.


It’s closely aligned to business goals and targets —

While also recognizing employees for “softer” contributions & achievements as well.


It builds bridges between the executive/management and employee sides —

and enables uphill, peer-to-peer, team-to-team, and intrateam recognition as well.


It functions from a single, Cloud-based nervous system, regardless of organizational side or geographic location—

but always feels local and human in scale and tone.


It identifies out-in-front performers and succession candidates —

while pinpointing gaps and trouble-spots as well.


A strategic program of recognition builds engagement — and therefore has a positive impact on retention — supports talent management, and is closely tied to business goals. It is also the foundation of a cohesive, supportive environment. It also looks at the future as well as the present. It may be further refined to fit organizations shifting to more autonomous, team-based structures — a coming workplace shift identified by Deloitte’s 2016 human capital research. Or it may already be addressing profound shifts in workplace demographics (4 generations working together) and geography (global organizations with multiple hubs).

How long does it take for a strategic recognition program to take root and deliver game-changing results? Shop Direct, a multi-brand digital online retailer with some 4,500 employees, launched its highly successful recognition program across multiple global sites two years ago and it is already being credited with having a major positive impact across the entire organization. 

Shop Direct’s Shine program was designed to reinforce the organization’s purpose (to “Make good things easily accessible to more people”) and values (Trusted, Together, Proud, Ambitious, Innovative), and to drive performance. The program enabled instant recognition and rewards across multiple sites. And with features like at-a-glance data and in-the-moment messages, it soon turned into a keen motivator that has boosted engagement levels by 14%. But perhaps the clearest indicator of success has been the high level of adoption that the program has achieved. In less than one year, Shop Direct employees had sent more than 355,000 recognitions, and activation rates stood at an impressive 97%. Shop Direct has since garnered multiple awards for its innovative thinking — including being ranked as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces.

Likewise, communication and network services giant Ericsson (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), needed a strategic solution to its employee recognition challenge. The platform had to be able to connect over 15,000 employees in dozens of hubs across North America — and improve on existing manual recognition programs. After implementing the Achievers solution, Ericsson’s HR team was able to automate recognition among geographically-dispersed employees, track program spend (without once going over budget), and use program data to link recognition to business results. Employees enthusiastically embraced it, making it the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented.

If no man or woman is an island, no employee should feel like he or she is working alone. Whatever job we do, we all want to be appreciated. What’s most profound about a truly strategic recognition program is that is answers that very basic human need. But all the while, it’s an incredibly powerful driver — and monitor — of a much larger success story: the organization itself. That’s a win for everyone.

Check out Meghan Biro’s second guest blog post It Takes a Recognition Culture to Spark Engagement.

Learn More Red CTA Button



About the Author

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.


Ericsson culture of innovation

Ericsson: Uplifting Employee Engagement Scores With Achievers

Did you know companies in the top quartile of employee engagement see significantly better business results than bottom quartile organizations? According to Gallup, engagement leaders  see 21% higher productivity, 22% higher profitability and 41% higher quality of work. This is also supported by Aon Hewitt, which found that a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

One company that is doing what it takes to stay in the top quartile of employee engagement is the world-leading communications technology and services company, Ericsson. In order to maximize their business potential, the team at Ericsson understood the need to focus on employee engagement as a driver of business success. But finding a way to engage and unify such a large and diverse set of employees was no easy feat for Ericsson, considering the company employs over 15,000 people across 30+ regional offices in North America alone.

Ericsson had tried a number of recognition initiatives previously but was looking for an enterprise-class technology solution that was truly scalable and would serve to unite its employees around their culture of innovation The company’s leaders also wanted to find a platform with robust analytics and that would help them regularly track spend, leverage recognition data for business insights, and streamline the recognition process. After researching different employee rewards and recognition providers, Ericsson chose the Achievers Employee Success Platform as the best solution to engage its employees while aligning them with business goals.

Ericsson rolled out the Achievers platform — internally branded as “E-Star” — to its 15,000+ employees across 30+ locations in North America in 2014. With a 98% employee – manager activation rate, the E-Star program soon became the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented. Even better, a whopping 65% of the recognitions awarded were social, or non-monetary, helping Ericsson to stay on target with budget. With widespread adoption and usage, the company was soon seeing the payoff in the form of improved engagement scores across the board. Among the successes they saw:

  • A 3% increase in overall engagement scores, up from an already world-class score of 81%;
  • North America employee engagement scores that were 5% higher than Ericsson’s global scores and 14% higher than the industry average, and;
  • Employee engagement survey results pertaining to recognition given by managers rose 4%.

With increasing positive employee engagement survey scores and new business insights derived from Achievers analytics, Ericsson is rightfully confident about the strength and ongoing success of their employee engagement strategy.

To learn more about Ericsson’s success story, download the Ericsson Case Study.

Download Case Study Red CTA Button



About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.