Recap: Creating a Rewards and Recognition Program - HighGround


Webinar Recap: Creating a Modern Day, Meaningful Rewards and Recognition Program

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Our latest webinar is part two of our Creating a Modern Day, Meaningful Rewards and Recognition Program series. Minna Pomeroy of MGP Human Resources moderated a panel that included Cheryl Johnson of Echo Global Logistics, Kim Witt of VRI Monitoring Care and our very own Libby Rapin. During the session, we learned how Echo, VRI and HighGround approach their recognition and rewards programs.

Here’s what they had to say:

What business conditions drove your strategy?
Cheryl said Echo has a very geographically diverse workplace. With over 30 offices across the country, it’s a major challenge blending various cultures together. Echo uses HighGround to share their values so they’re better able to ingrain them into the culture.

VRI was challenged after its annual growth almost doubled last year. Kim said they “needed a system that would be able to grow with us.” She was looking for a platform that was fun, scalable and employee- focused.

HighGround’s strategy is continuously evolving because we use the platform internally as a testing ground. As a result, we’re better able to provide best practices for our customers.

What are the key highlights of your program?
VRI takes a two-pronged approach, using HighGround for day-to-day recognitions as well as for its annual review process. The daily recognitions and rewards reinforce behaviors the managers want repeated. In March VRI conducts its annual performance reviews, so to make the process more fun, they’ve implemented “March Madness” where managers and employees can compete for rewards based on their performance.

How do employees earn rewards?
Kim said points are assigned based on ratings and earned on recognitions. These points can redeemed in the online store for rewards.“We try to load a variety of experiences that they can select,” Kim said. VRI makes the rewards more personalized, giving extra incentives to do a great job.

Libby said employees at HighGround earn points for demonstrating company values in their everyday work, for celebrating anniversaries and for winning various contests. More points are allocated for value-based recognitions. Employees can use points in the online store to redeem rewards. Because the platform tracks the items bought, Libby can re-stock the store with the most popular items.

It’s not just about the money for Echo. Cheryl explained, “We’re trying to hit people from every possible angle.” This includes rewarding employees for demonstrating company values regularly.

What part of your rewards strategy has worked best and what needs improvement?
Libby stressed the importance of finding items that employees think of as “worth it.” Monetary rewards don’t motivate many people, so experiences and non-monetary rewards are the heart of the HighGround store.

Cheryl believes rewards should match the effort. Expensive awards might actually deter some people off from even trying to earn it. She said the rewards attached to Echo’s values and culture are making an impact.

Kim said that at VRI,, “One of the things that really shines through is that the culture and the values of the organization have to be very evident inside of the rewards strategy and the people strategy.”

What are some ways you market your rewards program internally?
Cheryl says scarcity and excitement are the main drivers surrounding the marketing of Echo’s recognition program. Not allowing everyone to earn the rewards helps make the level of desire stronger.

Referring to the rewards at HighGround, Libby said, “Items aren’t given out anywhere else and these items are in limited supply.”

VRI slowly releases items i instead of making all rewards available all at once. This strategy builds curiosity and anticipation around each rewards release.

Many thanks to Cheryl, Kim, Janine, Libby and Minna for participating in this webinar series. If you missed the first part of the series, check out the two-part webinar recaps here and here.

Keep an eye out for our next webinar. If you would like to learn more about how HighGround can help you your employee engagement program, contact us at

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Human Resources Today

Human Resources Today