Amplifying employee recognition through technology

Technology has changed the recognition game in organisations, but the best might be yet to come, write Mark Barling and Amit Kaura

Amplifying employee recognition through technology

Technology has changed the recognition game in organisations, but the best might be yet to come, write Mark Barling and Amit Kaura

Technology is helping to transform employee reward and recognition programs faster than at any other time in their history. So, why is this the case?

A key in the shift from reward- to recognition-led programs is the removal of as many barriers as possible that limit the act of recognition, such as passwords and separate portals. By removing these barriers and incorporating recognition into an employee’s fl ow of work, recognition frequency increases.

At Achievers, through a clear focus on creating a fun, easy-to-use and integrated SaaS platform, recognition frequency is now the number one metric for best-in-class R&R programs. Globally, this produces programs that average 12 moments of recognition per person per annum.

The next evolution of modern R&R is the seamless integration of where to recognise everyday great acts with where people work. This means recognition from and for everybody, everywhere, every day.

So how does HR capitalise on the technological advancements in modern R&R platforms, and what do these changes mean?

To answer that question, we need to consider how most organisations operate and how their people spend their week at work.

System overload

Most organisations use anywhere between 10 and 16 different software systems to run their businesses. These systems can range from HRIS systems such as Workday or SuccessFactors, to document management systems like SharePoint, project management software like MS Project, and collaboration tools like Yammer and Facebook for Work. Not to mention social tools with a newsfeed, instant messaging and email, and many more. Employees spend at least 30 hours of their work week in such systems.

With technology helping to transform R&R, the risk is introducing even more complexity into the HR-technology ecosystem. Modern R&R technology like the Achievers Employee Success platform are SaaS-enabled. They introduce a range of simple, smart, yet sophisticated functionality to power a recognition-led culture within any organisation. The risk, however, is that an organisation’s IT function will see such technology as yet another platform that needs to be managed, secured and controlled.

The challenge is simple: how do you enable your employees to recognise everyday great work in your organisation while ensuring any R&R-enabling technology complements, rather than clutters, your existing systems?

The way employees need to recognise

Employees need an easy way to recognise 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 centre, in the warehouse, or in an email system like Outlook. Employees should be able to create and send a recognition from whichever system they are in at the time they see something worth recognising.

Recognition needs to be where employees spend most of their time. Recognition needs to be where the work gets done.

How can you achieve this outcome? By connecting your organisation’s software systems with modern R&R technology via API technology.

What is an API?

An application programming interface (API) is essentially a way for two different software systems to communicate with each other via a predefined, well-understood and agreed-upon standard. 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 is an API valuable in the world of modern R&R?

Firstly, imagine all of your employee R&R programs – everyday recognition, innovation, recruiting referrals, years-of-service awards, even sales incentives – on one platform. It’s the place where everything belongs: a behaviour-driving engine that aligns your employees to your business objectives and company values, fuelled by recognising and rewarding shared victories every day. And because it’s the modern approach, you have a recognition-led, fun-to-use social media approach in which great moments are shared in an instant. You have an HR software platform that everybody actually wants to use.

Now, imagine if there was a ‘Recognise’ button inside all of the systems that your employees work in every day, allowing them to recognise fellow employees. Fostering a culture of recognition and driving employee engagement isn’t easy, but technology can make it seamless for employees to interact within a modern R&R hub. It can increase adoption and thus further the culture of recognition.

That is the purpose of an API – the ability of a story, created in one system, to be amplified across a recognition hub, an RSS feed, or monitors in a call centre. This single story helps promote the message that what gets recognised gets repeated. 

APIs are rapidly transforming the opportunity for recognition to be created by employees – and with that the value, meaning and return on technology for HR.

Wrapping this up

What’s exciting about the world of APIs and app ecosystems is that it has opened new doors for modern R&R technology like Achievers that hasn’t even been thought of yet. As an industry, we have never been better poised for innovation in the space of employee engagement than we are now.


Workday has become an industry standard for HRIS. APIs are helping increase their value by enabling the transfer of recognitions and achievements of employees into core modules like Feedback within Workday. Most of us can barely remember what we had for dinner yesterday, let alone what people on our team did six 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.

 Mark Barling is the Senior Sales Director at Blackhawk Network. Amit Kaura is a technology leader at Achievers, a Blackhawk Network company. The Achievers Employee Engagement Platform combines the highest-adopted employee recognition platform with an active listening interface to accelerate employee recognition platform with an active listening interface to accelerate employee engagement.

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