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Appreciation is memorable. If I asked you when you were last thanked for something – anything at all – it probably wouldn’t take much thought.

Why? Because when we are thanked, a chemical reaction occurs within our bodies: Both serotonin and dopamine – our ‘happy hormones’ – are released into our bloodstreams. The reason I wanted to make sure we understand the chemical reaction is because, within the workplace, there are some scary stats around how little people are being praised, with 30% of employees saying that they actually haven’t received praise within the last week – which is quite daunting, knowing that we’re all feeling more and more burnt out.

70% of employees say that they actually would have stayed in their previous job if they were thanked more.

I’m not here to scare you, though. I genuinely believe that small recognition changes don’t have to be complicated or difficult to implement.

As we know, recognition can have huge impacts on things like turnover – 70% of employees say that they actually would have stayed in their previous job if they were thanked more, so embedding recognition in your company culture and operations is crucial.

At Reward Gateway Live 2023, I sat down with Chief People Officer at Copart UK, Leann Carroll to talk about their journey with recognition as a hidden superpower.

Tell us a little bit about Copart to start off.

Leann Carroll: We resell and remarket vehicles, including salvage. We are market leaders in what we do. We are owned by Copart, Inc., which is based in the U.S. They just celebrated their 40th anniversary [in the U.S.] – and 16 years in the UK this year.

35% [of staff] at Copart in the UK are women, which was 29% in 2020, so we are increasing the women population. And we’ve got 1,300 employees in the UK, and over 44% of those are offline workers.

Copart Rewards mockupWhat changes to reward and recognition has Copart UK seen in the past few years?

As with everybody, we’ve had a real need to focus on engagement more than we ever have before – especially reward and recognition. A recent survey I saw [showed] that people will leave their jobs more over culture than pay at the moment. So that’s really, really important.

I’ve used Reward Gateway previously with other businesses – and I’ve also implemented it in another business. So, for me, [the partnership] was quite an easy decision to make. I knew straight away that I wanted to go back to Reward Gateway, so that’s what I did. We launched Copart Rewards, which is our platform, in February 2022.

How did you decide on the approach you were going to take when building your strategy, including your timing?

So we were implementing our new HR payroll system. And because it was a huge change for the business, I thought I would have the attention of all the employees. So I thought that was the best time to do it, to get their attention and implement them both at the same time. 

It’s not a finished product. We are still on that journey, being only just over a year. My previous experience with Reward Gateway really helped because I knew what I wanted, I knew what I could get. And then it was just having a look at what else was out there and what we could go for. So we went straight in and implemented the platform, along with the support of our implementation consultant, who was amazing. 

Along with your previous experience, how did you go about justifying that to the business?

It was fairly easy, in terms of the fact that we already were spending money [on long-service and employee of the month awards]. So it was digging around, trying to find out how much we had spent. It was spread across the business, so it wasn’t tracked anywhere. I just used that and then forecast what I thought we would be spending in the next year. And we have a top-up on our award pot every month. So it’s [money] kind of already spent.

How has the non-monetary recognition been felt across the business? Who’s using it and how it is affecting team communication?

Copart values eCards mockupIt’s used with everybody in the business. It’s really good to see the stats that it’s not just managers, it is employees that use it across the platform. I see people are sending eCards to people [across departments], [and some may] just be the person that sat next to you on the desk. You wouldn’t know if someone sent someone an email to say thank you. But looking at the stats across departments – I really like that.

How has Copart’s financial recognition changed shape since launching the platform?

We’ve shifted all of our financial recognition onto the platform. So, as I said, I knew how much we were going to spend. And actually, from 2022 into ‘23, we had £8,000 (over $15,000 AUD) leftover [budget] transferred into 2023, where people’s vouchers expired, where they don’t expire with Reward Gateway, or where they were lost, we would be reissuing them. And for us, that was quite a big thing. And it was a brownie point for me that we’ve managed to transfer [that money] over. [And we’re] still keeping in line with what we do in terms of our long service award, which we rebranded to ‘Years of Service milestones.’

Are there future expansion plans for Copart’s monetary recognition?

Our local recognition is still held within the relevant locations or departments. I am trying to analyse what’s been spent, which is quite difficult – but in terms of their Employee of the Month, they do that locally, and they purchase vouchers. We are in the process of creating award pots for each location so the general managers can manage it themselves. The money then goes back in and they’re saving on the platform, and I can also track their spend.

With Copart’s demographics constantly shifting, how have you communicated with your employee groups to ensure R&R lands with each of them?

Visit your various locations to help engage and onboard employees.We are currently… travelling around the country, doing engagement roadshows. [We’re] spending a day in each location, sitting with the employees, the drivers, the people that work in the yards, [who] aren’t accessing their phones or their computer during the day, showing them how to log in, where to find things, what the offerings are – which has been great.

[And the feedback has been] really positive... We had a recent comment from one of the general managers saying that HR have really turned things around, in terms of trying to encourage the culture that we want. I think people are probably scared, or have been scared, to have a look at something that isn’t their work during the day. Our homepage has actually got the login for Copart Rewards, so we’re encouraging people to use it. They said they can see the change overnight.

This is probably after a bit of feedback, but we have a cuppa in chat, which we do on a monthly basis. We’ve done two so far. And any new hire, once they’ve logged onto the platform and they’ve navigated around it, they can register onto a live webinar that is hosted by HR, and we have some special guests from around the business. And they’re signposted around the platform [to resources on] how to send recognition and stuff like that, and just talking about what it’s like to work at Copart. But [we’re] using that platform to direct all of that, because when I say we’ve got everything on there, we’ve got everything.

Different people in different demographics receive recognition in different ways. We talk a lot about the difference between appreciation and recognition. What does that look like for you guys at Copart?

Copart UK's "Welcome to Copart!!" eCardSo people might have different opinions, but appreciation, for me, is remembering somebody’s birthday or remembering somebody’s work anniversary. I think you feel appreciated if that happens. Now, we turned on the line manager notifications only a month ago, I think it was, because we have managers saying to us, ‘Oh, you didn't tell me that such-and-such in my team [hit] two years this [week].’ So now you get an email that tells you that somebody in your team is celebrating the work anniversary or a birthday.

Being recognised in the moment for doing a good job is really important. Now, previously, you would sit around as a group of managers and say, ‘Such-and-such did a really good job on that last week; we need to get them a bottle of wine, or we need to get them some vouchers.’ Using the platform and using the recognition on there doesn’t cost you anything, but actually, whether it’s a colleague or a manager, you send them an eCard and say, you know, great job, thank you for today, really appreciate that you did that – I think that’s really important because it’s in the moment.

We love eCards at Reward Gateway because of how easy they are to use and how big of a measurable impact they can have on someone’s day. What types of eCards is Copart using?

We started with about six. We’ve now got about 30 – and we’ve got greetings, celebrations and values. But the most-used eCard – which I love, and it's been the leader from day one, – is ‘You're awesome,’ which I think is really good. And slowly following now is ‘What a great team.’

What has the overall impact of these R&R programs on employee engagement?

Copart Rewards Wellbeing Hub mockupOur turnover is reduced by over 14% in the last 12 months. Mental health absence, sickness absence has reduced [as well]. We are supporting more people at work. So we still have cases [of] mental health [situations]. But with the platform, with our wellbeing hub, there’s lots on there to support our employees. And I think we do that really well.

And the participation rate [on our employee survey] was [higher] than it has ever been by using the platform. 94% were proud to work for Copart. Now, we’ve never asked that question before – I think the last survey was done in 2019. So 94%, for us, was great. Recommending Copart as a place to work in 2019 was 80%, and we’re now at 85% [as of] September 2022 – so we are really looking forward to our survey this year.

[And] in the last 12 months, 86% of our employees have either sent or received recognition. 57% send-in recognition are not managers. Seven employees – some remote or offline employees – are in the top 10 savers, which is really good, because that was our challenge in the beginning. And two drivers are in the top five. And when people kept saying to me, ‘It's not going to work, it's not going to work.’ I throw that one [to them].

I think we could all come up with a lot of ideas. The hard part is actually embedding them and putting them into practice and making sure they’re part of your culture long term. Whether you’re just getting started on your employee engagement journey or haven’t stepped foot on the track yet, reach out to one of our friendly experts to schedule a conversation and see how Reward Gateway can help you make your corner of the world a better place to work.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Ella Roberts

As a Corporate Client Success Manager, Ella supports her wide range of clients to boost engagement and excitement with their platform. Outside of working hours, her top spot for holiday is Bali - especially the beach clubs!

Corporate Client Success Manager

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