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Getting your company’s employee engagement programme off the ground can be pretty daunting. Given the time (and money!) you’ve already put in, what you want most is to have your people using the programme and experiencing how it can change their everyday interactions with the company (and one another).

Depending on what type of programme you’re putting in place – whether it’s recognition, discounts, benefits, communications or a combination of all of these, your strategy will always look a little different.

What I enjoy most about my role as a Corporate Client Success Manager is working with companies to build a strong, all-encompassing engagement strategy, and seeing even simple tactics making a difference in the everyday experience of their employees. So today I wanted to share some tips on how to make a big impact right from the moment you launch.

A successful employee engagement programme launch takes thoughtful preparation and planning – and when you put in the time and thought, you know you’re putting your best foot forward in your employee engagement journey!

Below are some of the tried and tested approaches from clients who’ve worked hard to generate excitement across the business and breathe life into their programmes. These organisations are seeing the flow-on effect as their people embrace new ways to engage with initiatives like reward and recognition or a new employee discounts programme.

Learn more about the Reward Gateway employee engagement platform for your  business »

Get creative and build a brand

Gone are the days when reward and recognition means printing off a few certificates with your company logo and a bit of clip art next to the recipient’s name. Everyone is used to tailored, personalised communications, and your employee recognition programme is no different.

In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to reinforce your employer brand.

Whether that’s through the colours you use, the eCards or the tiles you design, or the language and tone of voice you use throughout, these elements all come together and can really inject personality into your programme.

Peoplecare’s programme, VIP, is a perfect example of this. The choice of colours and font on the platform are all familiar to its employees. Even its eCards (which they call “Mwahs”) reflect the the warm and fun culture, which ensures the programme aligns with what they stand for and invites people to come back.

how to start an employee engagement programme

Download our eBook for more examples of how to reach employees with your  employee engagement program »

Leverage the power of video

A short introductory video that explains your programme and how to use it, or with tips from the CEO, or with employees from different areas of the business explaining how they’re using/plan to use the platform features can be a powerful way to spread your core messages and keep people informed.

Take a look at the video we created for the launch of Hartmann Extra, a 100-person company providing wound management products. With its office comprising younger, high-turnover, field-based staff, getting the word out can be tough, but this video helped spread the message about the new platform leading up to launch day in an easy-to-understand format: 


Keep in mind that video doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – you can film an impromptu interview on your phone and upload this to your platform to get people interested.

Give your employees a chance to name your employee engagement programme

The employee reward programme name should mean something to your people, and what better way to understand what will resonate with them than to invite people to provide suggestions? During the design phase of a project, some of our clients run a competition or a survey and ask people to submit their ideas and select the name based on votes or through a project committee.

 One of our Australian clients, North Construction, named their programme 'The Box,' which is a term that was coined almost a decade ago and carries a lot of meaning for employees. It’s unique to the business and gives its employees something to look forward to.

how to start an employee engagement programme

Show real people… your people!

While stock photos have their place, the most impactful imagery you can put on your platform – whether it’s in eCards or on blog posts – are photos of your people. The HR team at PYBAR Mining Services went to every site to take photos of people that they could use on their eCard designs. This helped generate excitement about what was to come.

how to start an employee engagement programme

Get ready for a countdown

Let your people know that a new engagement programme is something worth getting excited about. Don’t just organise the event and expect people to turn up! Send out teaser emails, do a countdown – anything that piques people’s interest and gets them wondering what’s to come. Here’s an example of postcards Tower Hamlets Homes, a 500-person, non-profit housing services organisation sent to its employees as a teaser of what was coming soon on its new platform THHHbuzz.

how to start an employee engagement programme

how to start an employee engagement programme

Read the full case study from Tower Hamlet Homes »

Train your leaders

A key component of running a successful programme is making sure managers are equipped with the knowledge and skill to teach others and lead by example in using the platform. For example, if you’re launching a reward and recognition-focussed platform, you can schedule workshops for leaders that focus on the “why” of recognition and how to deliver strategic recognition.

Provide key leaders with early access, long before the programme launches and provide opportunities to address questions or walk them through the platform so they’re comfortable with using it. 

One tactic I used recently was for the launch of Hive, a platform we created for Hand Picked Hotels, a luxury hotel stay with 1,500 employees (the majority of which are offline!). I put together a slideshow presentation for the HR Managers and General Managers to distribute and train across their teams.

Celebrate and decorate!

Generate buzz and excitement on launch day: Decorate the office with posters, streamers, printouts of eCards, hide prizes under chairs, and run a competition to encourage employees to sign up and start using the programme straight away. Again, let your employer brand shine and have fun with it. 

If you have employees at different sites, send them an onboarding pack with instructions and goodies to get them excited. Here’s a look at a couple scenes from THHBuzz launch day, where we went all-in with a honey-themed day. We even had our “champions” wear T-shirts to follow the theme and promote conversations:

how to start an employee engagement programme

Mark launch day in your diary

If you can, launch your programme around a specific focus event such as 'Thank You Thursday,' or Employee Appreciation Day. To drive awareness and activity, nominate a time in the year as 'Say ThanksWeek,' which is something our client FlexiGroup did to remind people to keep its new peer-to-peer recognition programme front of mind:

Spread the good news

Whenever you see recognition coming through your new programme, share some of those moments in other employee communication channels. Highlight award winners in your company blog, create an automated feed of eCard recipients on Slack, or display some top eCard messages on your office TV screens.

Any way you can keep your programme front of mind before, during and after launch day, the more your employees will use it, and the bigger an impact you’ll make in the motivation and engagement of your people.

What have you done to launch your programme with a WOW? Tell us in the comments!   

Helena Davies

Helena is a Corporate Client Success Manager at Reward Gateway. In a previous life, she was a mixologist. She still loves a good espresso martini!

Corporate Client Success Manager

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