How Telstra leveraged recognition to become a more engaged, recognised and connected workplace

Telstra’s ‘Appreciate’ recognition and reward program is the benchmark in Australia, a key pillar in helping the telecommunications giant transition to a more agile and connected organisation

Having invested early in recognition, Telstra have experienced the benefits and impact of recognition as an invaluable influencer in helping employees stay connected and engaged during the pandemic. The program has also served as an important tool in supporting other internal transformative projects. Creating a culture of appreciation that engages and supports employees is no small feat. With 79% of their workforce being recognised in the three months to June 30 ‘22, 84,700 happy moments generated and a connection quotient on the rise- 31% of recognitions coming from across the business, how have they created such a powerful cultural asset? To help us understand more Alex Badenoch, Group Executive Transformation, Communications & People at Telstra and person responsible for delivering Telstra’s T22 transformation takes us through some of the key reasons that have helped transform Telstra into a more agile, recognised and connected workplace.

And we know the power of a connected workforce, and employee connections, have only become more important over the last 3 years. According to the recent 2022 Engagement and Retention Report from the Achievers Workforce Institute, 48% of employees reported feeling less connected with their company or colleagues since the start of the pandemic.

Here is your chance to learn more about the impact of employee recognition at Telstra & gather some useful tips on enabling employee connections at your organisation to recreate those water cooler conversations and informal coffee chats that will help your employees connect, learn, grow and belong.


To view full transcript, please click here

Matthew: [00:00:00] Alrighty. Hello, everyone, and welcome. My name's Matthew Nutt and I'm the commercial manager for HRD Asia Pacific. Today, we're very excited for this webinar in partnership with Achieve is discussing the important topic of how Telstra leveraged recognition to become a more engaged, recognized and connected workplace. I'm going to hand things over now to Mark Barling from Achievers to kick things off. Take it away Mark.

Mark: [00:00:28] Fantastic. Thanks very much for the introduction. Thank you. Thanks, Matt. Thanks, Debbie. Thanks, everybody to for helping get this organized and for joining Alex and I today. Today's a bit of a special day for everyone at Achievers. This is a chance to share with the wider HR community in Australia and beyond just how much pride we have in the work that we do with Telstra. This has been an amazing relationship. It has been a long term relationship and it is really a day that we've loved to have seen coming. The story, however, is going to be brought to life though, by someone who arguably has the most nuanced and insightful view on what the true impact of our work together has resulted in. As I move my slides forward here with a storied career covering everything from mining to retail to logistics and of course, telecommunications. I am absolutely honoured to be hosting Alex Badenoch Group, Executive Transformation Communications and people at Telstra. Alex, welcome. Welcome to the Achievers eight player family for the day.

Alex: [00:01:31] Thanks, Mark. It's lovely to be here. And a great topic to be talking about today.

Mark: [00:01:36] Indeed, indeed, indeed. We'll get into it in good detail in just in just a moment. I can't wait to get into those questions. Hear from you on the story of Telstra's evolution and ongoing journey. Now, with the 25 plan announced and the structural changes made. A story today is about the impact modern recognition programs can have within a business. But first, the question What does good recognition look like? What is a modern approach to creating a programmatic recognition culture? Now, I think we can establish some common principles reasonably quickly. We know recognition is meaningful. It's personal. It's in the moment. It's valued by those that give it and receive it. And it makes a difference to how people feel. Now we know all of this. Yeah, the jury's done. We're finished on all of that. But what modern recognition programs deliver now is so much more than affirmation and appreciation. Modern recognition programs impact with the power and value not previously thought possible. Why? Well, are and are led historically by the act of reward grew to be associated with hygiene programs in a business not linked to material impacts on a business and excuse the background noise that's happening here at the moment. What employee recognition is now has changed and only for the better. Today's recognition program impacts the employee in so many ways. Firstly, it's a way to create belonging. It's a way to feel known, a way to make that nervous. First day of a job feel amazing because of a simple welcome card that's been created and sent around by your peers. Recognition creates a connection between people no matter where they are working, and employees all over the world are telling us they want connection. The 20T22 Achievers Workforce Institute Engagement and Retention report highlighted 48% of employees feel less connected with their company or colleagues since the start of the pandemic. That is still two and a half years on. That stat is not changing. In a world of hyper change, recognition is the connector to make everyone feel included, to feel safe. Purpose is created through the sharing of stories that tell how your people actually live your values. No corporate speak. What we see are words like love. Awesome, brilliant, amazing. The impact on the customer is through better service, better care, a greater sense of purpose from each employee delivers greater benefit to your customers. Now recognition is starting to and has, I think in large part found its home as a quantitative driver of return for a business. The service profit chain describes how profit is stimulated by customer loyalty, loyalty by customer satisfaction, satisfaction being largely influenced by the sum total of an organization. Services to a customer and successful organizations are powered by engaged employees. The service profit chain puts hard values on soft measures, and recognition can now be measured. Its transformation from the side of a desk to the CEO and board is almost complete. Now, hard values excite even the toughest of CFOs and CEOs. And thanks to some wonderful achievers powered customers, we can demonstrate quantitative returns, increased retention, increased in sales, increases in customer satisfaction. And with Alex, shortly, we'll get into the impact that it's had on Telstra overall as well. In times of change, recognition is a vehicle that helps an organization be what it wants to be. In times of change, recognition acts as both a driver and a demonstration of that change. What better way to encourage the desired outcomes? A strategy requires them by having your people write the story of how you are changing, bringing to life the actions in one another and making them visible to everyone. To publicly endorse how you are changing. Which brings us to Telstra, the Big Take. It's June 2018 and your CEO announces that your organization you work for is about to radically change. Your customer is changing the market and environment is changing. You as an as an employee are changing. And little did we know just 20 months later how much we'd actually all change. So Telstra had to change. Today, what we'll learn is how Telstra leveraged recognition to become a more engaged, recognized and connected workplace. And now we bring back Alex Badenoch, the chief architect of that change, to help tell that story. So, Alex, thank you again for coming in to have this conversation with us and walk through these changes before we jump into talking about appreciate, which is the Telstra program that is that is that is under or has helped you underpin, I should say, a lot of a lot of this change. Can you tell me a little bit about the backstory to the need for the first the TT22 transformation that helped set up where you are now?

Alex: [00:06:23] Yeah, absolutely. And look, you touched on it. Telstra is obviously an organization that's been around for a very long time, but one of the things that any enduring organization needs to be able to do is respond when things around them changed. And for us, if you if you sort of think about a few key dimensions, customers I think have started to feel very differently and have really different expectations around connection and and probably no more so than in the last couple of years where actually connectivity has become such an important part of all of our lives. Once upon a time, if your connection got disrupted, you might not notice. Now, if your connection gets disrupted, you're going to feel it in the moment. And so we we really have to be able to respond faster, evolve our products, our services, and our technology faster than ever before. The other thing that was changing is sort of the market context in terms of expectations of Telstra performance and return to shareholders. We were dealing with the flow through of the creation of NBN, which materially changed our financial and commercial construct as a business. And I think anyone who works in the space of people knows that the world of the employee landscape has been evolving and particularly over the last few years has accelerated even further in terms of the environment that employees expect. What they're looking for from an organization leader and the teams in which they're working. So really it was all of those factors that came to play in our T22 strategy, which addressed everything from our customer plans and propositions through to our underlying digitization all the way through to our ways of working and our organizational structure and design. I think we, I can't really think of many stones we left unturned, to be honest, but yeah.

Mark: [00:08:28] I can't imagine it must have, even from a personal challenge perspective, I imagine it must have been one of those moments of sitting back. I had no doubt with Andy and the rest of the team going, Where do we start?

Alex: [00:08:42] It was sort of it feels very overwhelming in the moment. And when we first built the plan, I think we felt it was a big aspiration. But we we put it out to market, which was also something a little unusual. Our scorecard that we set ourselves, we displayed publicly. And I think in all honesty, if we in those first days, if if we had hit 50% of it, we would have been really proud. But I think for us it actually has proven to be a fabulous success. We hit over 80% of the milestones and targets we set ourselves over a four year journey and it feels like a very different place today than it was when we started, which was really the bigger ambition was to fundamentally change who we were, how we were experienced by both our customers, our people and our shareholders.

Mark: [00:09:32] And I think that's the author of Nicholas Nassim Taleb. As popular as the skin in the game concept, there's nothing like putting out the markers of what you want to achieve publicly to help drive you towards that.

Alex: [00:09:46] Absolutely, yes. Makes it very real. Feel very accountable.

Mark: [00:09:50] It does. I just want to come back to a point you mentioned in that in that answer to the introductory question around the employee experience and the expectations from them were changing of their leaders. Leaders are such a key part of any approach to recognition. Could you share a little bit on, I suppose, the pressures that the leaders were feeling and how you how you'd look to it to bring them on that that transformation journey with you?

Alex: [00:10:14] Look, it's an interesting one because part of our transformation also involves going to what we call agile at scale, which really change the whole way we structure our organization. And many people who were once people, leaders and led big functions became what we talk about as leaders of work, but they don't necessarily own or have the people directly reporting to them anymore because they are managed via a chapter construct where you have a chapter lead or a chapter area lead, who is leading a common work type of common skill set. So all of the HR kind of people are within a chapter led by one of my team who then deploys them on to work so that. That was a really interesting challenge organizationally and as a leader, because the traditional sort of line management structure got completely disrupted. But it actually made recognition even more important because what it meant was you you needed your your group owner, so your non people leader to have a way to be able to recognize and thank people outside of the direct line. But then you also had this other family, this other cohort, which was your chapter, the person who actually looked after your career development, your promotion, all of that, who was seeing a different side of you. So having multiple ways to recognize people, to celebrate people, but then capture that became really important to empower all our leaders to feel that they could actually recognize and thank people, but ultimately also pull that data through in a more systematized way to contribute to performance reviews, to salary reviews, to career progression, all of those factors. So it's been a challenging time for our leaders. But I think at the end of the day, what we saw was actually whether you're a leader of work or a leader of people, you're always leading people because no work gets delivered without people. It enabled us to have people whose role it was to really think about the care, the well-being, including the recognition of their people in the chapter area leads, which has addressed, I think, some of the gaps. Most of us have always felt in organizations that the care for people felt sometimes like a bit of a secondary thing, something that you might do when you had time after you'd finished doing your work. Whereas now we have people, that's their job, that is their work, caring about people and supporting people. So it's been a massive transition, huge disruption to how we've always thought about leadership, but we've seen it flow through to better employee engagement and better employee experience.

Mark: [00:12:59] Yeah, lovely. That first and foremost, almost the transformation that you need to take little in the organizational structure and business strategy and all the rest of it. Just the transformation in the role of, Hey, you've got to let go of a direct people responsibility to move to this new way of working must have created impact. How? I suppose in two ways. One for our guests, who are attendees today, who are no doubt keen to hear how you approach them with that from a strategic perspective, I'd love to get a snippet of that, but equally, just maybe expand on those comments around how recognition helped people change. I'd love those sort of two angles, if you don't mind.

Alex: [00:13:40] Yeah, absolutely. So from a strategic perspective, I think one, it really helped us because what it helped us do was, one, get really clear visibility of the work we were doing in the organization. So through the group owners being very clear that all the work we did was lined up to the strategic priorities of the business. But it gave us the step change in workforce planning because by moving people into a chapter, you understand the total capability you have in an organization. If you think about program or project management, that's a very generic skill which in most companies you'll find distributed all over the place. We have taken all our program and delivery managers. They happen to sit actually in a chapter with me. And so we know all the people who have that skill and then we decide what work they get allocated to and make sure we're using that skill on the most important work to the company rather than having it distributed. It also really helps us think about, well, what sort of are the skills and the competency levels we want to develop? How do we build common learning programs so that we we have a quality standard in any skill or capability and that we understand sort of the total capacity of the organization to deliver work. So very important strategically to align our people to the most important work and build the right capacity, but capability as well. And then from a sort of recognition point of view, if you if you think about shifting people to from direct indirect ownership of their teams and that direct people leadership, it's a hugely emotionally disruptive moment. Most of us have grown up thinking about our careers as we become more important, or that our career is growing because we have more budget and more people and we build our way through a very sort of vertical career path. When you take away the teams from the people, there's a couple of things that happen. People wonder how how are they going to be important, How are they going to have control. How are they going to build relationships with their teams if they don't manage them directly? So sort of emotionally and culturally, that's really disruptive. So then making sure that people understood you may not manage them directly in terms of sitting hard line reporting into the system, but they will flow into your team and then your role as a leader. You are just as if not more important to that employee experience because they then are working for you. You are the one who is seeing the delivery of work. You are seeing what they deliver and how they deliver it and the tools. Then we provide people to be able to access, to celebrate, to reward their teams collectively, and individuals in the team actually go up in importance because they don't feel that they're managing some of the normal employee lifecycle elements like performance reviews or salary reviews. They're not doing that. The chapter area is doing that. So actually the recognition comes up in importance as to one of the dimensions that they can really influence in terms of how the employee is experiencing their leadership.

Mark: [00:17:04] Yeah, fantastic. I really like that point because I think you remove some of the almost the governance compliance element of leadership, don't you, in terms of, as you said, performance management etc. you can separate all of that. This is now just about the pure leadership of getting a task done, a piece of work done and and encourage and lead and inspire and all of that fantastic stuff. Whilst we're on the subject, it's a perfect time to segway into appreciate the name of the program that has evolved at Telstra and has helped helped underpin what we hope it's helped underpin in our own little way. That journey summarize it for us, if you don't mind, in your words as to as to what it is in totality and and specifically.

Alex: [00:17:48] So a price tag for us is our primary sort of recognition platform that we run across holistically across Telstra. And it is something that we hold very dearly because it is tied to predominantly our values. So we talk about what and how Telstra, the what is the hard deliverables, the how is obviously the behavior is appreciate is deeply tied to the behavioral element and any time you recognize someone you do that directly linked to how they've demonstrated one of our values at Telstra, it is about recognizing that recognition can come from anywhere, so it can be peer to peer, it can be leader to, to team member and trying to create a genuine culture of appreciation and celebration, celebration of recognizing in the moment things. What did you do today? What did you do this week all the way through it, feeding into our bigger sort of large scale sort of quarterly and then our annual recognition programs, but also tying in things like service anniversaries and all of that, that sort of ecosystem of recognition and celebration of our people. And we look for it to be predominantly self driven. And when I say self driven, it's employee driven. You know, we don't run around managing this. It has been built so that our people have decided it's relevance. Our people have decided if they're going to engage in it and use it. And the data tells us that it matters to them. In fact, one of the biggest issues or complaints we have is when we for example, if we do a new acquisition, they may not sit in our technology system ecosystem and very quickly people go, but I want to be able to appreciate that person they don't show up and appreciate yet because we haven't integrated them into our employee database. A lag of not being within appreciate gets called out by our people because they just use it instinctively. Use it as a way to say thank you, appreciate it, and celebrate each other.

Mark: [00:20:04] Yeah, that's fantastic. We will get faster if we need to on any of the bringing together quite clearly to help avoid any of that conflict for you in the future will reduce the number of complaints in your inbox. Alex. But I think that line. Our people tell us if it matters and we know it matters when they're the ones using it, they're the ones driving it. It's back to that, that, that, that quote, isn't it, of both a driver and a demonstration of that change for you. How did it support TT22? How are you seeing it supporting 25?

Alex: [00:20:40] A couple of things. As we've talked about already, I think it gave people leaders, whether they were group owners or Chapter it gave people leaders the opportunity to feel like they still had a role in building culture and recognizing people. So that was one dimension. But the other thing that was really important as part of the big cultural shift within TT22 is that we were looking to break down a lot of the silos or the barriers to collaboration that existed in in Telstra that exist in any big company, to be honest. And one of the things we've used appreciate to to do is really dial up the cross recognition across functions or cross-functional teams. It was something that historically was built in a way which was much more a within team recognition system. Whereas today often for me, for example, anytime I do an appreciate, it will often have at least three different function team members in it. And that's a really powerful message, which is as a leader, my job is not just to recognize, empower, engage my team, it is to engage cross-functionally across the organization. So I think that's been another important part of how it's played a role in cultural shifts.

Mark: [00:22:01] Yeah, I can imagine. And part of that role design of the shift from direct leadership to the leadership of chapter or leadership of work, the reinforcement from senior leaders to those that are making that shift to continue to encourage them to change and that that change is going to be okay, is a is a welcome thing to have.

Alex: [00:22:22] Absolutely. And because it's values linked as well, it allowed us to really call out the behaviors we wanted to encourage and celebrate and showcase. And that is so important because we all do. We all take our cues from what's recognized, what's appreciated, what what to people rewarding and the environment. What you see is what you tend to sort of follow in terms of your behavioral cues. So it was a really big part of that because we we see such a huge volume of our employees participating in the system is a sort of it's a slightly subtle way of cultural reinforcement that is actually happening every day in our environment.

Mark: [00:23:11] Yeah, and we have a very sometimes twee saying, but you know, what gets recognized gets repeated as actually still very true and echoed by those words of yours. And I think based on we know the performance of the program, I think through the last quarter alone there was almost three quarters of a business that was actively recognizing all the time, which is a fantastic way to serve, reinforcing the change that you're looking for or the comfort that people are seeking, the connection people are seeking. If TT22 I think, as Andy described it, was about necessity, 25 is about growth. How do you see it? How do you see appreciate evolving to support that? Because I know that it's almost the hey, we've done a lot of hard work, but it hasn't stopped and it's not going to stop.

Alex: [00:23:56] No, not at all. And it's interesting. I think they said, okay, we can be Atlantic T22, take a deep breath. But actually 25 is even harder in some ways because it was very clear, very tangible what we had to deliver in T22. If we think about T25 and let's go to the employee space where our aspiration in T25 is making Telstra the place you want to work. And, and that might sound simple, but it's actually it's quite, quite difficult in terms of that's a total aspiration. We know most of our employees actually love working with us, both their tenure and their engagement tell us that we have very high tenure. We sit in global, high performing engagement levels. So when you're in Telstra, there's a really sort of positive sentiment about it. But to build an environment where, to be honest, every one of you out there is saying, actually in my top three of places I want to work, or ideally number one, but I'll accept top really is Telstra, because we know for these reasons it's the place where we want to work and so appreciate and, and that sort of recognition programs are really important in doing doing that, which is if we think about what people, what we think people are looking for in a great place, you want to work, one of those things is purpose and that people want to be part of an organization that gives them a greater sense of purpose than just doing their job. Yeah, and how we can use appreciate is really elevating the stories of how our people do wonderful things. We use appreciate as well in, I suppose, what we call targeted campaigns. If you think about the Australian landscape, something that happens almost every year, it sadly is either fire or flood and we have a lot of our team who are out there in those moments because connection and restoring connection is one of the really important things to communities across Australia when those tragic moments happen and we can use something like Appreciate to recognize a collection or a collective within Telstra of amazing people who do those amazing things in those moments and our first responders into those situations to restore connection for communities, for example. So I appreciate becomes part of an ecosystem where we recognize the special things our people do, but also tells a story of the amazing sense of purpose that a lot of our people have. And I think it has to be that sort of holistic connection when you think it's not just appreciating sort of an individual should also be appreciating a collective or an amazing thing that our teams can do. The other thing we've used to do is link through when, when broader sort of social issues or challenges are happening. So when different countries that we operate in have been impacted by natural disaster, enabling our people to donate their appreciate points to charities that are supporting other countries or even locally in Australia, those charitable funds. So we use it actually in quite a range of dynamic ways to give a sense of purpose, to give our people a real sense of citizenship and being able to give back to the community. And then as we've already talked about, I think people want to feel that they can do interesting and amazing work, but they recognize for it that the people who go above and beyond are thanked and celebrated. So you can see it plays a role at an individual level, at a team based level, and that an organizational level for how we can be great citizens in the communities that we operate.

Mark: [00:28:02] And it's a lovely point, that piece about the connection to community, because at the end of the day, whilst for employees with an organization, we we live and breathe on a day to day basis in our local communities. I loved, I'm going to go back in time a little bit here, but, but one of the first examples of how recognition at Telstra could be highlighted and amplified as a result of something was there was an exchange fire in Warrnambool and we're going back some years. But what we saw were those moments of recognition just explode over the weekend as everybody got around restoring power, restoring connectivity to through the exchange to to the citizens of Warrnambool and David Thodey, who was the CEO at the time being able to fire in and just go source. And this is a great example, all of that. It was an amazing moment because then that lit up all of the reporting, it lit up the, the concentration of the words that were being used, the tone and sentiment analysis. And it's an it is great, I think, that's flowing through to. Then, as you said, points being donated to support the 2019 2020 fires, floods through Lismore, you name it, and broader global challenges that are well and truly even bigger than that. That is awesome. The report, the reporting and the science is a key piece to how appreciate is evolving. You spoke a little bit earlier about being able to see how not just have a feel for how recognition works within Telstra but to see it. What does that data mean? Where would you like to where do you want to see that go? And over the next few years.

Alex: [00:29:34] Yeah. Look, I mean, the data is also already very, very valuable to us. I think, you know, for for us, first of all, you mentioned and if I take the last quarter, 75, 79%, almost 80% of our employees were recognized in the last last quarter. Importantly, 96% of newly hired managers in the last quarter sent at least one recognition. So it's amazing that they've been employed for a maximum of three months, but they've already hooked in to what is an important part of our cultural fabric and sending recognition. And I think just sort of the more and more we can get granular about those sorts of insights, because it's not just the macro view of 79% of employees were recognized. If you think about how quickly that sort of new start sort of data I think is is particularly insightful because especially in a world where many of us are starting virtually, we're sort of more and more in hybrid environments saying, is this one of the ways that you maintain your culture and maintain the fabric of your organization? Most organizations are grappling with that question Do you lose your culture if people don't go into the office? My view is that culture is maintained through many, many things and recognition is one of the ways to do that. Do we celebrate our people? Do we tell the stories of joy and do we? We actually actively recognize and at times reward because within the framework there's recognition and there is reward as well. And how quickly are people indoctrinated into that? So getting increasingly granular in that last quarter, did it happen in the first week? Did it happen in the first month? Is there anything we can do to bring adoption faster and faster forward? Because I do think the faster people look into those really important cultural frameworks in your organization, the better likely they have of being successful in your company because they'll feel connected. I think a lot more and more research. Mark is talking about the importance of connectedness, recognition and this sort of platform makes you feel very connected because someone knows about you, someone knows what you did and someone valued what you did. That's actually the message that comes when you hit a button and recognize someone. So I think when we take hybrid and virtual working, when we take concerns about are you going to maintain cultural fabric, just making sure, just keep iterating the granularity of data to think about. You know, also if we've got 75 to 80% being recognized, what's happening to the other and who are they and what interventions, for example, from an HR point of view, is it just that they won't recognize this quarter but on average 100% of our workforce once a year? Or are there certain cohorts that are never using recognition, in which case that's an untapped opportunity for us as an employer to say what's going on in there, either in terms of leadership, in terms of employee engagement. Are there some other correlating data sets that we should be looking at to intervene with? But I do think that sort of early adoption that backs that on new managers, but also we saw in the same quarter, 71% of all new employees were recognized through appreciate, which is a huge, huge number really and very encouraging.

Mark: [00:33:18] Yeah it is. And I know the work that we're doing directly with you is we're trying to bring that, that new step because that new start of pieces is huge, isn't it, That sense of belonging that you can create. I know you've used the word connectedness. The Workforce Institute has pioneered the cheapest Workforce Institute has pioneered a belonging model of which connection is a pillar in that. And we know that the more people can feel welcomed, known, connected, supported, included from the get go and that talks to how was I welcomed. Am I known straight away. We've got really cool things in it like you know voice pronunciation of names. If things are difficult, the more that I can personalize that and tailor at, the easier it is to feel accepted. And belonging. So you can absolutely guarantee we'll be working with you to to continue to drive that. I encourage questions into the Q&A because we're just about to turn to that. But, Alex, before we before we do a moment from you, a personal story of appreciation. What is it? What has it meant for you or what's a personal story that you've got out of appreciate that that still resonates or really resonates with you?

Alex: [00:34:18] Yeah, strangely, it's probably it may not be what you expect, Mark. I mean, I use appreciate all the time to recognize my team or to boost recognitions that others do through the organization. But one of the lovely moments is when employees have recognized me, and I know that sounds like a funny thing to say, but it was in senior executive roles. I think often no one actually thinks to say thank you to senior execs, and you do often wonder because you don't get feedback. It is actually one of the areas where you get less and less feedback as you get more senior in organizations and feedback. We all use that as a cue to are we doing well? Are we appreciated? Is there anything good happening in that space? And I was surprised at how lovely it felt to receive appreciates myself and there's two or three that stand out. It's the little things if I've taken the time to set up a coaching conversation with someone who's deep into the organization, not in my function and I've made time for for that person I've had appreciates that. Say thank you for that. And I actually for me, it reminded me how important it is. No matter how senior someone is in an organization, no matter what role they play, we're actually all very human. And that sense of feeling valued and appreciated actually is really good for the soul. So weirdly, by being encouraged by others, it actually encouraged me to want to use appreciate more because I know actually how meaningful it is for an individual to receive it.

Mark: [00:36:05] Indeed, the old pay it forward principle of we forget it quite often, don't we? Yeah, we're the ones that leaders throughout any organization should be the ones that are walking that talk. To receive it back is an awesome thing. Thank you so, so much for taking us on that journey of the change that was needed, the change that was executed and how appreciate has underpinned that. I was going to grab a few questions out of the the Q&A that has that have been lighting up as we've been going through this. Questions that have come through. Sorry, I've jumped into the wrong window here as we do this and that might be a bit better. Keen to see the culture of appreciation, how are you seeing that impact areas like retention, attraction of people in the current climate? You talked about the employee lens of being the place you want to work. What's that looking like for you at the moment?

Alex: [00:37:00] Yeah, so it's an interesting question. And look, there's always many dimensions that play into your overall employee value proposition. But a couple of indicators for us that our ecosystem is playing out pretty well at the moment is, first of all, if you look at employee engagement globally, globally, the benchmarks are dropping. So many organizations are actually seeing engagement come off a bit at an Asia-Pacific level. Generally, the data I have says that most organizations were staying static on employee engagement. We have been growing employee engagement quarter on quarter for about the last eight quarters. I think the last quarter was the first time where we stayed, stayed flat, but at global high performing norms. So that tells me that our our ecosystem, the things that are impacting employee experience and engagement are working well. And despite all of the sort of I mean, if you if you read a newspaper, you would think all our employees across every company were leaving us in droves because everyone's you know, the great resignation sort of commentary was out there for quite some time. And I don't think it's real and I don't think it's real in Australia. But definitely there is this huge contention for resources and talent in Australia and there's a lack of supply to what we all need. So retention and attrition has become important to us all. You know, we still we still sit at a total macro level, a total organizational level. We still sit below 10% and that includes very large sort of bulk workforces such as call centres and field and retail which have higher rates. So we think we have pretty low attrition, pretty high engagement and we still have on. On balance, for most of our workforce, not all of it. We have very long tenured employees, so people choose to stay. So I think I think this is one of the dimensions among a number of dimensions that are creating good value proposition.

Mark: [00:39:11] Yeah, fantastic. You talked about working versus one of the sorry tenure, I should say. You spoke specifically to tenure. One of the questions that's come through is the reward component of appreciate those points that can be allocated, just perhaps provide a little bit of commentary on how you what are the aspects of how people can be recognized and rewarded. What where are those things where appoints used?

Alex: [00:39:36] Yeah, So look, there's a range of different ways. And for those who don't know, you can choose to just recognize. So you can do the pure recognition component or you can add a reward element to that. And the way it is for us is that leaders can choose. They've got a monthly budget that they they get dropped into the system and they can choose what amount of points they allocate so they can differentiate depending on how significant the contribution is. We have a huge take up of of points at Telstra because we link them to a couple of things. We link them to a catalogue of lots of lots of things you can use. So a huge number of retailers or experiences all the way through to just as simple as prepaid visa cards or gift cards to stores that many of us would use on any given day. So a big take up, I think things like prepaid card gift cards, things like that get a strong take up. Actually, the the other thing people love to do is use user points for Telstra products and services and those sorts of things that are pretty popular with our team. But if I think about just last quarter alone, 1.5 million points were redeemed. So what's really important, if you're going to have that reward component, you have to have things your people value and want. And our people certainly make good use of their points.

Mark: [00:41:18] They well and truly do. We know their happy little Vegemite in terms of being able to close that almost loop of how you've been recognized, which is the encouragement, isn't it, of doing the great work. The reward piece is the endorsement and the ability to close that by taking advantage of the great things. That is fantastic. And points can be used, as you said, for the endorsement of everyday recognition through to service anniversaries, through to form the nominated awards and all of that sort of stuff. So it's good to see. There's a couple of questions that I think are always really interesting when we talk about the frequency of recognition being absolutely key. Recognition can't be one off. There's a couple of questions from from attendees around how do you stop that becoming oversaturated? How do you ensure that it's still meaningful and how do you ensure that you can that you see that sustained level of activity? Perhaps just your thoughts, your comments on on those those question areas?

Alex: [00:42:08] Yeah, it's an interesting one. The oversaturation, to be honest, it's never come up as an issue for us because I think generally and I don't have the numbers of off the top of my head but for most individuals they will get a handful of recognitions in a year. So that is not too many. And, and, you know, sometimes it will be a quarter of those as part of a team and the rest might be individual, which are quite different types of recognition as well, calling you out individually versus a collective effort, those sorts of things. Or we use it to reward a company wide event that we want to do. Yeah, So we use it in different ways rather than it feeling like the same thing all the time. So that probably helps with sort of avoiding over oversaturation in terms of how we keep it meaningful. One of we kept evolving it, to be honest, which has been using it in the different ways we've talked about today. So, you know, doing citizenship things where people can donate points, having a big company wide sort of goal and then recognizing the whole company through appreciate points during COVID lockdowns. We use appreciate to give people we couldn't have Christmas events, we couldn't have parties, we couldn't do our big annual recognition events. So we used appreciate points to to still show people we cared and were thinking of them in those moments. So I think it's about keep it fresh and keep being dynamic with how you use it. But then underpinning that starting to think a. For example, we looked at how people could then bring their appreciate points or they appreciate recognition some points into our performance review process, into our workday system, so that people could actually use that as part of their evidence base or the fact base that supports their annual performance review as well. So people actually really care about it because it becomes an important component to the conversation where they have about their leader in terms of what they've done and how they've done it through through the year. So tying it to your underpinning processes, but keep it fresh and keep using it and try using it in different ways.

Mark: [00:44:37] I think that's it. Experiment. And because the the applicability of where recognition lives is everywhere. So think about the ways we've been seeing systems that help create moments of achievement can be linked through to create system generated recognition on the back of simple things. Safety programs you've completed. Fantastic. How we get really creative with it. And I think that last piece about employees having now an evidence base, it's not just a pat on the back in the in the corridor because not all able to do that now anyway but the evidence base of how I'm working to be able to inform performance conversations no matter what the environment is an outstanding achievement of it. Alex, we're at time. I can't believe it's gone so quickly. Thank you so, so much for everything you've contributed to all of the attendees who've posed questions that I and Alex haven't been able to get to today. We will. If Alex, you don't mind, we'll just get a few bullet points from you on on each of those and we'll follow up. And there's a lot of interested parties out there. But from me at Achievers and the whole player family here in Melbourne and right around the world. Alex, thank you so, so much for taking us through the story of Appreciate. And Matt, it is back to you. I hope he's there.

Matthew: [00:45:56] Awesome. I am here.

Mark: [00:45:58] There he is.

Matthew: [00:45:58] Yes. Fantastic. What a great session. Thanks a lot, Mark. And thank you very much, Alex, for the great insight into Telstra's recognition transformation. Very, very insightful session on behalf of HRD. Thank you to all our attendees for joining us today. Just a reminder that all of you will be receiving a link to today's webinar. I know there's been a few questions about that, so that should be coming out to you in the next couple of days. And thank you all. Have a great afternoon.

Mark: [00:46:32] Wish you well for the rest of the week. Thanks very much.

Alex: [00:46:34] Thanks.

Mark: [00:46:35] Thanks, Alex. Bye.