Monday, October 6, 2014

Attending the Launch of

We recently had the chance to take part in the unveiling of in the heart of Dumbo Heights, Brooklyn and hear Mayor Bill DiBlasio talk about the role of entrepreneurship in NYC. is a collaboration between New York City, Gust, and IBM that provides one central way to connect entrepreneurs, startups, and investors. It's worth a look to check out how a startup community comes together (even those not in NYC). 

Here are our three main takeaways from the event. 

1. Ask the question, "who are your people?" 
When building a company, identify who are "your people" and ensure your product/service is laser focused on them. 

While that may seem simple, too many times startups lose focus and have too many audiences. Google is a classic example where the team optimized the site to be amazing for people looking for information. The business model "stuff" and services for advertisers came later. It all started with identifying a better way to search for info. 

2. Keep it Simple
The Mayor said it best when he commented that a favorite element of the new website is that it uses language he can understand. For example, Find a job!

Reduce clutter, simplify language, and fine tune how you help your people. It's hard, but well worth it.  

3. Embrace Diversity!
One of the greatest things of the NYC startup scene is the diversity of ideas, founders, and approches to building great companies. If you follow your heart and embrace diversity, your startup will be more sincere and likely to succeed. 

Parting Thoughts

We attended as a proud participant in IBM's Global Entrepreneur Program and are grateful for the support the program provides young companies. It was also fun to catch up with other GEP companies such as 8 Path Solutions.

Some people to follow on Twitter. @digitalnyc@sandy_carter@IBMGE, .

And check out the conversation at #IBMDigitalNYC and #DigitalNYC

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Expanding Our Reward Options

A guiding philosophy of our approach to recognition is that the best praise occurs frequently and celebrates an employee's journey of development, not just the destination. 

To that end, we recently updated the various award options peers, managers, and executives can give to employees. These new options complement our global options to ensure companies can craft a custom reward catalog that resonates with their employees. 

These new options are all in line with our approach of delivering each award digitally eliminating the need to wait for a plastic card to arrive or have a someone take time to send a package.

  • Aeropostale
  • Applebee's
  • Champs Sports
  • Dell
  • Foot Locker
  • Golfsmith
  • Groupon
  • Jiffy Lube
  • Omaha Steaks
  • Papa Gino's
  • Timberland
  • Uno Chicago Grill
  • Xbox

Since we started KangoGift, our spirit has been rooted in the idea of making it easy to say thank you. Sometimes the words alone are sufficient. However if the moment calls for an appreciation gift, we have you covered.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Makes an Employee Happy

We think a lot about employee happiness at work and enjoyed coming across Brian Junyor's infographic. 

For us, the takeaway from his research is to always remember the basics of fostering a collaborative culture. Understand your employee population, create an environment where they can succeed, and definitely focus on the little things. 

We hope you find these stats helpful as you think about your team or corporate culture.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Finding Recognition Inspiration from the Military

In Geoff Dyer's recent New Yorker article about life on an aircraft carrier, he offers us a great reminder that employee recognition at its most basic is a sincere and personal display of appreciation.

In Shipmates (article subscription required), Dyer follows Captain Brian Luther as he leads an aircraft carrier and a few thousand soldiers during a deployment in the Mediterranean.

One passage in particular captured our feelings that recognition when done properly is public, personal, specific, and rewarding to the recipient. 

We suggest taking a looking at the entire article, but an excerpt is quoted below.

"The next part of his speech was devoted to publicizing the achievements of the Avenger of the Day a member of the crew who had been selected for outstanding work. On this great day, it was a sailor named Stremmel, a lanky twenty-two-year-old whom the Captain invited to sit in the big chair and "drive the boat for a bit." While Stremmel was driving the boat, the Captain explained  on the loudspeaker that Stremmel had volunteered for extra shifts, had done this and that, and was  an outstanding example of freedom at work. Another nice part of this little ritual was that the Avengers got to call home to tell their sweethearts or parents that they were being honored. The Captain's Avenger of the Day ended not with a hierarchical nod of approval but with a democratic "Well done, shipmate!" In that instance, the Captain and Avenger were equals..."

What stands out to us is that the Captain's recognition has the following elements. 

  • Is part of a named program.
  • Is delivered frequently - every day in this case.
  • Is specific. 
  • Is shared and reinforced with a reward - a call home in this case. 

We appreciate everyone who serves and were pleasantly surprised to see HR insight taking such a prominent role in the article. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Presenting at IBM Connect

Recently we had the good fortune of presenting at IBM Connect 2014. This year's theme was Energizing Life's Work and was quite fitting for a company like ours focused on bringing joy to the workplace. 

Our talk was titled, "Redefining Employee Recognition at Honda R&D: Capturing, Amplifying and Measuring Employee Success". 

A huge thank you to the Honda R&D team for sharing their story working with us and to IBM for inviting us to present. 

If this area interests you, we did a 5 minute interview with Sandy Carter who is the General Manager, IBM Ecosystems and Social Business Evangelism.

If you don't have time to watch the video, one takeaway from our presentation was a simple framework you may find helpful if you are thinking of making core HR processes like recognition, praise, and feedback more social and engaging.

1. Timely - We live in an instant world and HR processes are converging into timely social interactions. As an example, immediate feedback is the most effective. What are the HR tasks you may be able to shift from an annual event to structured on-going conversations?

2. Tangible - A real reward (even micro) makes the recognition more impactful. Where possible, reinforcing great work with targeted praise and a small award shows thought and appreciation on the part of the manager or peer giving the recognition.

3. Remembered - Social recognition creates a living performance review and provides managers with detailed employee statements that can be referenced throughout the year.

4. Shared - Giving visibility to the successes occurring across the organization amplifies impact and program participation.

Thanks again for making the week in Orlando fantastic!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why We Launched Length of Service Awards

Happy New Year to everyone! We are excited for 2014 and are excited to announce that we just launched a new way to help companies manage length of service programs.

According to BI almost 90% of large corporations have some formal program to celebrate an employee's tenure. When designed well and as part of a larger talent management strategy, length of service awards can go a long way in showing appreciation for an employee's continued contributions. 

Unfortunately, length of service programs often feel lackluster because:

1. Awards are not provided every year but only on specific milestones (such as a 5-year anniversary)

2. Recipients are given a plaque or have to redeem points for merchandise

3. The recognition is not delivered on an employee's actual anniversary

4. The program can be difficult to manage for HR

With our focus on helping companies bring recognition programs from offline to online and in ways that integrate social solutions into HR processes, we’re enabling companies to capitalize on opportunities to celebrate successes big and small throughout the year. Giving companies the tools to more effectively recognize employee anniversaries in more timely, fun, and relevant ways is a natural next step for us in revisiting the ways HR programs can work in a digital age.

We worked closely with two forward-thinking companies (a major financial services company and high tech company) to develop a product that...

1. Celebrates an employee's work anniversary every year 

Why keep someone waiting five years for their first recognition when the average tenure at many firms is only four years? Our approach is to acknowledge an employee's service every year with a certificate and social alerts to team members. 

The benefit of this new social way is that team members can join in celebrating an employee's anniversary and help make it feel more meaningful. 

2. Reinforces service with digital gift cards 

On specific milestones, such as every two years, include a digital gift card to a brand the employee chooses.

While plaques can be nice, more and more employees prefer something tangible that they can use for their home, family, or just to go out. And most would agree that the trend in rewards is to go digital so the recipient can use the award instantly. 

3. Celebrates an employee's anniversary on the actual day

It’s labor-intensive to celebrate every employee’s anniversary on the actual day, so most companies recognize a pool of anniversaries only once a month, quarter, or year. 

The challenge is that a work anniversary is like a birthday. It feels more meaningful to recognize it on the actual day. 

4. Simplifies the management of the program

One of the biggest HR tech trends has been to shift away from separate individual tools to more comprehensive solutions that bring together things like employee feedback, recognition, performance, and now service awards. As companies go social, many of these HR tasks will be brought into platforms. 

In our approach, HR approves all upcoming service awards once a month and then on the actual day, the awards are sent on behalf of the manager according to HR's program rules. Sounds easy, but many programs don't work this way. 

We want to thank the two companies who worked closely with us! The new length of service award tool is available as a stand-alone product or as part of our main social recognition platform.