Case Study: NBC Universal finds innovative ways to say Good Job!
An annual survey of NBC Universal (NBCU) employees showed that while employees felt that they made a difference, their contributions were not always recognized and spotlighted by their higher-ups. In response to the employee feedback, NBCU decided to create an improved employee recognition program. To help them in this project, they partnered with recognition provider IncentOne.
CREATION OF A BRAND
Prior to launching a new employee recognition program, the existing reward program was evaluated. NBCUs spot special award program was cash-based and awards were presented without fanfare. Although the program was well defined with good back-end controllership features, the front-end nominating process consisted of a paper nomination form that had to be routed throughout the company for appropriate approvals. NBCU decided to come up with a new program and a new brandOvation. The brand was chosen because this word describes the new culture of recognition NBCU desired to create and nurture. The goals of Ovation were to make the employee recognition process:
More memorableby encouraging merchandise and gift certificates, rather than just cash
More prevalentby encouraging smaller-sized awards, given more frequently and to more employees
More visibleby the creation of a branded program and by encouraging public presentation of awards
More personal and spontaneousby using Web-based technology to enable a wide variety of choices (merchandise, gift certificates, cash) to suit different employees and different occasions calling for recognition.
The Ovation program was designed to enhance NBCUs position as an employer of choice and improve overall employee satisfaction by developing a culture of recognition. A cross-functional team of NBCU managers, using GEs Six Sigma process, established the program guidelines based on voice of the customer input from operations managers. Recognition budgets were established at division levels and managed by HR managers in conjunction with operations managers. Ovation had managements full approval. The HR managers, charged with being the champions of the Ovation program, participated in various in-person and online training sessions in the weeks leading up to the launch. Several days prior to launch, the program was communicated to employees via e-mail announcements and feature articles on NBCUs intranet. Key to the success of Ovation is the broad choice of rewards that would appeal to a diverse audience. The program offers the award recipients choices with the Gift Certificate Award, which was specifically branded for NBCU. This award enables employees to select rewards from an extensive portfolio that includes gift certificates, merchandise, travel packages, personal services, airline miles, and phone cards. NBCU uses a comprehensive award management system that automates and integrates all program rewards, administration, and procedures. Eligible managers issue awards through an automated nomination and approval process that facilitates as many as four levels of authorization (for the very largest award levels). Once a nomination is approved, a personalized congratulatory letter; the Gift Certificate Award; as well as a framed Ovation Certificate of Appreciation, suitable for display to assure that the employees accomplishments are properly and publicly recognized, is sent to the nominating manager for presentation to the employee.
As part of the Six Sigma process that was used to develop the program, a variety of measures were set up to track progress. Key measures include the number of awards given each month, the average size of awards, the percentage of awards delivered as cash, and the average time it takes to go from nomination to final approval in their systems. Overall results include the following:
A culture of recognition strategy was well received and has been embraced at NBCU.
More employees are being recognized, more frequently, at no additional cost to the company. Return on investment has increased.
The entire rewards process is Web-based which results in quick turnaround with no manual residue.
Memorable merchandise awards, rather than nonmemorable cash awards, are encouraged.
Says Eileen Whelley, EVP of Human Resources at NBC Universal, I am thrilled with the enthusiasm with which managers and employees have embraced the Ovation program. Clearly, recognition of the accomplishments and outstanding work of our employees was something we needed to improve. This program has made an impact in this regard and is continuing at a fervent pace.