ACE 2017 Key Takeaways

ACE 2017: Key Highlights and Takeaways

There really is no place quite like it…

New Orleans was treated to an eclectic mix of HR professionals as customers from across the globe flocked to the Big Easy for ACE 2017.

The 8th annual Achievers Customer Experience conference was an unparalleled success, as clients and prospective customers exchanged ideas with independent HR thought leaders and decision makers representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a series of lively and engaging speakers who introduced the various themes that were weaved throughout the rest of the talks. From the intersection of technology and personalization to navigating organizational change with an aligned workforce, the introductory speeches laid the foundation for a series of thought-provoking breakout sessions aimed at changing the way the world works! Major announcements were made during the event, including Achievers revealing the 2017 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Awards and the release of Achievers Listen, a suite of tools that is taking employee engagement to the next level.

From the grand ballroom of the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel, attendees were introduced to some of the developing trends in the employee engagement work space and various success stories from members of the Achievers family:

Achievers’ Chief Technology Officer, Aris Zakinthinos, introduced CHRISTUS St. Michael, who discussed how the implementation of their employee success platform in 2012 had a monumental impact on their business objectives, including a significant increase in recognitions given and leadership engagement as well as a remarkable decrease in their turnover rate, down to 6.4%, well below the industry standard of 19.4%. To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

Next up was Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who discussed how to use the Achievers platform to drive innovation within your organization. Drawing on first-hand experience, Ms. Roche outlined the benefits of creating an engaged workforce and how recognizing and rewarding their creative potential yields great returns to your bottom line. Ms. Roche went on to highlight some of the success other members of the Achievers family were having with their respective programs.

One of the more recent success stories comes out of Michigan, home to Meijer Inc., a supercenter chain with stores across the United States.

From President and CEO Rick Keyes and Recognition and Engagement Manager, Randi Roehling, we heard about the monumental impact their focus on employee engagement has had since they launched late last year. Discussing how they laid the groundwork for a successful launch of their M-Team program, the duo illustrated the importance of executive buy-in, highlighting the amazing 12,000 recognitions sent out by Mr. Keyes in a few short months.

Next came Achievers’ very own Vice President of Product Development, Egan Cheung, who proudly announced the launch of the much-anticipated Achievers Listen tool. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team‘s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers new functionality allows you to do just that.

Closing out the morning discussions was an incredible speech from one of the most inspiring young women many in the crowd had the privilege to see. Hannah Alper capped off the introduction to ACE 2017 with a discussion on how minor actions can lead to big change, leaving the crowd both humbled and inspired, ready to springboard into a trio of speaking tracks which individually focused on thought leadership within the HR space (Aspire), best practices for running successful programs (Achieve) and the exciting product functionality and releases from Achievers (Accelerate).

The first day closed out with an amazing event hosted by Achievers. Nearly 300 conference attendees joined a traditional second line parade and enjoyed a lively march through Bourbon Street. The end destination was B.B. King’s Blues Club, where all were treated to some of the best cuisine and music New Orleans has to offer.

After an unforgettable night in the Big Easy, the crowd gathered on Day 2 for a rousing and humorous presentation on Fearless Leadership from Cary Lohrenz, a celebrated author and leader who became the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Her experience navigating the inherent challenges of breaking down barriers and shifting individual perspectives prompted unique insights into strategic leadership and diversity training, topics that significantly influence any business’s bottom line.

Closing out the conference was none other than David Novak, author and former CEO of YUM Brands (parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). Voted the “2012 CEO of the year”, Mr. Novak knows how to build powerful and diverse organizations. As the leader of over 1.5 million employees, he understands the awesome power of recognition. In his own words, he succinctly drove home what much of the conference covered: “Everyone brings value, worth, and individualism. You need to bring your team together. When you give people respect, appreciation and let them know that they count, they’re going to go to the moon for you.”

With that, ACE 2017 wrapped up. From keynote speakers to customer success stories, the conference illustrated the importance employee engagement and how to get the most of out of your workforce. With the sights, sounds and flavours of New Orleans still fresh on their minds, participants will be able to apply fresh ideas to their programs and drive success within their organizations.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in this year’s events. Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2018 in Toronto. Check out photos from ACE 2017 here.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at ACE 2017? Check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology, which was written by ACE 2017 attendee and analyst Ben Eubanks.

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Also, while you’re at it, make sure to check out ACE 2017 attendee Coralie Sawruk’s blog post covering her ACE 2017 experience and why she is an advocate for employee recognition.

About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.







Employee Recognition Experience Open API

Achievers in the Flow of Work: The Open API

By: Amit Kaura
Senior Manager, Software Engineering, Achievers

Open API
Imagine all of your employee recognition and rewards programs; everyday recognition, innovation, recruiting referrals, or years of service awards; even sales incentives, on one platform. It’s the place where everything belongs: A place where you can align every employee, globally, on a single platform and make your recognition and rewards budget go further by leveraging combined data from every employee rewards program. A behavior-driving engine that aligns your employees to your business objectives and company values, fueled by recognizing and rewarding shared victories every day. And because it was purposely designed based on the familiar and fun-to-use social media model, it’s an HR software platform that everybody actually wants to use. That is the basis of the Achievers recognition and rewards platform.

But we also recognize that not all employees are able to be on our platform 24X7, so that’s why we decided to extend the reach of our platform through an Open API – to make it as easy and seamless as possible for employees to send and receive recognitions in the everyday flow of work.

What are we trying to do with our APIs?

Most organizations use anywhere between 10 to 16 different software systems to run their business. These systems can range from document management systems like SharePoint and Confluence, to project management software like MS Project and Merlin, to intranet portals enabled via Jive, to social tools with a newsfeed, instant messaging and email, and many more. Employees spend at least 30 hours of their work week in their email and other collaboration tools. Every organization today is, on some level, a technology company and leverages technology in many forms to increase employee productivity and improve their top line.

At Achievers, we recognize this and want to be where employees spend most of their time. We want to be where the work gets done – and we are making this a reality today through integrations. With these and future integrations we are enabling employees to recognize each other and post recognitions to our platform from the other software platforms they use every day.

How does Achievers manage this? By having an open, public API that any organization’s developers can use to connect their software systems with ours, programmatically.

What is an API?

We live in a world that is incredibly fast paced and every term out there is abbreviated to save time.  Whether it is business terms like ROI, Capex, and BAU or social acronyms like LOL, OMG, and ROFL; initialism is ubiquitous in our lives. One acronym that presents itself frequently in tech circles is the lesser known, but equally powerful API, or application programming interface. What is an API? Let’s break it down into its component parts.

  • Application: If you have a smartphone, you are well acquainted with applications, they are the tools, games, social networks and other software that we use every day. Achievers is an application that facilitates employee engagement. Workday is an application that lets you maintain employee files for your workforce.
  • Programming: Programming is how the developers create all the software that make our lives so much easier.
  • Interface: An interface is a programmatic connection shared by two applications that allows them to communicate with one another.

An API is essentially a way for two different software systems to communicate with each other via a pre-defined, well understood and agreed upon standard. In other words, it is a set of standard specifications developed by the host service owners that developers, who are familiar with other systems or services, must follow when connecting systematically to the host service. The API lays out the functionality that is available in the host service, how it must be used, and what formats it will accept as input, or return as output.

Why did Achievers build its API?

Every recognition on our platform has a story. It is an interconnected series of events that starts with an accomplishment, business or personal, by an employee. These accomplishments can be as simple as exhibiting a desired behavior like, “going the extra mile.” Or they can be specific, like achieving a sales goal. This sense of accomplishment is motivating in and of itself, but it is an even more powerful motivator when it leads to a recognition given by a leader or peer, with that recognition reinforcing and perpetuating the employee’s behavior, or accomplishment.

While we have the desktop and mobile versions of our software currently available to our members to facilitate recognition, we know that these recognition stories can happen anywhere in an organization’s software ecosystem. Employees need an easy way to recognize their peers from whatever system they are working in when they discover a colleague’s accomplishment. It won’t matter if the employee is on the shop floor, using a point of sale system, answering calls in a call center, in the warehouse, in email systems like Outlook, or in instant messaging systems like Slack or Skype, they can create and send a recognition.

Facebook LikeHave you noticed how common the Facebook like button is on the internet now? You can basically “Like” content on any website and it will magically appear on your Facebook news feed.


Achievers A

Imagine if there was a “Recognize on Achievers” button on all content inside all of the systems that your employees work in every day, allowing them to recognize the creator of that content. Fostering a culture of recognition and driving employee engagement isn’t easy, but technology can make it seamless for employees to interact with our system. It can increase adoption and thus further the culture of recognition. Our aim is to support this philosophy with our product, and that is why we have built our API and will continue to invest in it and in the app ecosystem around it.

What are some good examples?

Many organizations have already adopted our API and created some amazing integrations.

Cox Automotive Achievers and Jive Integration

Cox Automotive, one of our more forward-thinking customers, used our API to build an integration that allows recognitions to be sent from within Cox’s Jive Intranet portal. A link to recognize an individual appears beside each person’s profile on the portal. Clicking the link opens the Achievers application in a new tab, with that employee’s name pre-populated and ready to be recognized.



Cox Automotive Achievers and Slack IntegrationAnother popular integration we are seeing amongst our customers, Cox included, is to use our API to link their instant messaging tool, Slack to the Achievers platform. This link allows employee to recognize anybody from within the Slack chat window.


Achievers Platform Snapshot

Future integrations could include linking Learning Management Systems to the Achievers platform via our API. This would facilitate the automated posting of an achievement to Achievers whenever an employee finishes a learning course or mandatory training module, reinforcing to teams or to entire organizations the importance and value placed on completing courses.


Truth and Lie Performance Review Image

The Achievers API can also be used to transfer the recognitions and achievements of all employees from the Achievers platform into whatever performance management system your organization uses for periodic reviews. Most of us can barely remember what we had for dinner yesterday, let alone remembering what people on our team did 6 months ago. This integration can help provide a more informed review, allowing managers to see all the recognitions they’ve sent, as well as any recognitions their team members have received throughout that period, directly within the performance management system.


Achievers Referral Platform Snapshot

Recruiting talent is hard. At Achievers, we believe that A-Players know other A-Players. We use Jobvite to get out to our employee’s social networks and drive referrals into the platform. Our API then allows Jobvite to automatically recognize and award points to employees who successfully bring in a referral.






What do you need to do next to take advantage? 

Achievers Platform on Laptop

The answer, if you’re already an Achievers customer, is: very little. Do you have access to software developers that can be deployed by HR, or have friends in the IT department? If the answer is yes, you are in business. Talk to them and introduce them to our Open API at Even if you don’t see a use case for using our API, we are confident that they will. Encourage them to reach out to us at: if they have questions or are looking for inspiration. If you’ve identified the direction you’d like to go, but would like a little assistance to ensure your development team and business stakeholders are on the same page, Achievers also offers an API Consulting Service to help you and your team implement the changes and ensure your employees are aware of how this will benefit them in their flow of work. Reach out to your Customer Success Manager for more information. Finally, look at our list of existing or planned integrations and see if there is any overlap between our list and what you use in your organization. If so, we can get you started right away.

Achievers Open API integrationsWhat’s exciting about the world of APIs and app ecosystems is that it has opened new doors for our platform that we hadn’t even thought of yet. We are at an incredible point in our journey at Achievers. We have never been better poised for innovation in the space of employee engagement than we are now and we invite you to join us as partners on our journey.

Let’s engage more employees by integrating more systems with the Achievers recognition platform using our Open API.

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About Amit Kaura
headshotAmit Kaura (@Iam_amitkaura) is a technology leader at Achievers and is helping build the next generation Employee Success Platform. The platform provides digital systems for sharing recognitions, feedback, and suggestions and allows you to humanize the workplace by digitizing and thus magnifying the positive interactions among the workforce.


Credits: Session hosted by Bobby Bradford, Director of Product Design at ACE 2016

HR Achievers AACE

The New Face of HR

product spotlightThe HR space is in the midst of a dramatic upgrade, and this year’s #AACE14 conference proves there’s a new face to human resources.

As a newcomer to the space—I joined Achievers in San Francisco last week—I have to admit, I had a few preconceived ideas about what an HR conference would look like.

Yet, when I hit the conference floor this morning, I felt like I was walking in on the latest, Silicon Valley darling’s newest product launch. Even at 7 AM, the mood was electric, and excited attendees chatted over coffee while exchanging social media handles. It was all very sexy.

Not exactly the stuffy, rigid, image of HR professionals I was used to. But, after spending the day with this group, I’m happy to say my perception of HR is forever changed. Gone is the notion of a matronly HR administrator, cloistered in an office far away from the team, buried behind a towering pile of personnel forms and employee handbooks.

After just one day with the esteemed group attending #AACE14, it’s clear there’s a new face of Human Resources. Here’s what they look like:


Not one single person here today is satisfied with the status quo. Like any other disruptive technology or movement, innovation is at the heart of everyone involved, and the result is impressive. From exciting product innovations, to groundbreaking corporate initiatives making employee recognition a priority, the event was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm.

In the past, HR was plagued with the reputation of being an inflexible, necessary evil. After what I’ve seen today, that reputation no longer applies, and innovation is the new normal for HR.


Risk Takers

Using the word “risk” in same sentence as “human resources” might sound, well, risky, but it’s not. After listening to a handful of companies share their stories about implementing employee engagement platforms, one thing was clear; this wasn’t an easy sell. While just about everyone on the planet acknowledges being recognized for a job well done is welcome feedback, not everyone understands how that’s done—or is willing to take on the challenge of figuring it out. None of those people where in attendance today. Fortunately, today’s HR professionals are fiercely dedicated to their craft—not to mention fearless. Not only do they have to convince a tough crowd of executives that employee recognition is a worthwhile investment, they also have to convince armies of employees. Change can be a challenge, but the dedicated professionals here today, are taking it head on, and we’ll all be thanking them for it, soon.



Yes, human. A resounding battle cry throughout the day, was that we need to put the “human” in human resources. Whether it was highlighting the need for focus on developing relationships, to understanding the value of social recognition, everyone here today agreed—we’re all humans. Every piece of technology, every campaign, every initiative, had one thing in common; we all need the human touch. As our founder, Razor Suleman, said in his keynote this morning, “This is about the conversation, not compliance.”


The power and energy at this conference is infectious. I spent over 15 years of my career, seeing my colleagues in HR one way, and after just one day at #AACE14, I’ll never see HR the same again.


Eli Lilly and Achievers

Eli Lilly’s Specialized Approach to Employee Engagement

Eli Lilly's Specialized Approach to Employee EngagementHow do organizations create an atmosphere where people feel engaged and motivated? Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that there are many factors involved in creating an engaged workforce, but it usually requires a strategy that outlines specific targets and processes around company goals and objectives, career planning, employee feedback, and recognition.   Read more →

Save Mart Achievers

[Customer Video] How Save Mart Successfuly Aligns 18,000 Employees

Save Mart Supermarkets boasts a culture that is people first because it believes people are the key to success. Learn how Save Mart implemented the Achievers Employee Success Platform™ to better align its 18,000 employees with the company’s initiatives, objectives, and vision.


[Customer video] Why Samsung believes its people are everything to success

Samsung, a global provider of products and services, has built its vision on a foundation of people and people excellence. Find out how Samsung creates an amazing, engaged workforce by taking its employee recognition to the next level.

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Employee health and wellness programs

How HealthNow New York shapes its wellness program to drive success

According to Towers Watson, 67 percent of employers identified “employees’ poor health habits” as one of their top three challenges in maintaining affordable health coverage. And, according to the Department of Labor, 52 percent of employers that offered wellness programs in 2012 believed they were effective in reducing the firm’s health care costs.

No one understands the value of healthy employees more than healthcare providers. As a leading healthcare company, HealthNow New York has helped millions of people live healthier lives—including their own employees. In this webinar recap, you’ll find out how HealthNow New York utilizes the cloud-based Employee Success Platform™ to create successful employee wellness programs that engage, align and recognize employees. You’ll learn about how the program’s success has improved lives, saved money, and engaged employees—and how you can, too. Read more →