How EcoWater Systems reached 73% of its hybrid workforce with centralised, digital tools
EcoWater Systems, a Marmon Holdings and Berkshire Hathaway company, is a leading manufacturer of water softening and water filtration products with over 500 employees across its Minnesota headquarters, as well as two manufacturing plants in Mississippi. The organisation was looking to put an accessible, digital engagement platform in place to reach its hybrid, dispersed workforce where not all employees have access to a computer or email on a daily basis.
Number of employees:
Number of locations:
Employee recognition and reward, employee communications
Rachel Cook, Director of HR at EcoWater, joined the business when HR was emerging as a strategic function. As part of the company's Senior Leadership Team, her primary focus areas include driving engagement and transforming the company culture.
She recently led a project focussed on developing the company's mission, vision and values – and part of the newly established values is to celebrate and be encouraged by each other's successes. Alongside the new values, Rachel held focus groups and two of the biggest pieces of feedback were to have a greater focus on employee communications and recognition and rewards.
Rachel wanted to bring the values to life and act on the employee feedback, but needed a digital and accessible solution in order to reach company goals, transform the company’s culture and connect hybrid workers. The next step in her journey began with stakeholder alignment.
Rachel says, “Launching a new tool is not going to be successful without the support of the full Leadership Team. It's not something that HR can do in a vacuum. In order to ensure we had a good understanding of employee desires and expectations, we also engaged our extended Leadership Team, as well as focus groups made up of employees of varying levels and departments.”
There were many stakeholders involved in the process of choosing a new engagement provider – including the President, Vice Presidents from sales and marketing, finance, operations, manufacturing, engineering and of course HR. Sandy Arvin, a 35-year employee and culture champion, was also a key stakeholder. Sandy’s role in implementing this programme was vital as she represented an employee perspective, and this was important to help avoid groupthink.
Rachel worked with the Reward Gateway team to demo the platform to senior leaders and emphasised the need to act on employees’ feedback. After gaining buy-in, it was time to research vendors. Rachel and Sandy narrowed it down to four providers and ultimately chose Reward Gateway for its far-reaching North American presence and ease of use.
The team worked with the Implementation Team at RG to bring EcoWater’s employer brand to life. They named the platform 'Tap In,' which nods to water filtration. “The Reward Gateway team was super creative in integrating our newly updated logo within the title. They helped us fully customise our platform and even made sure that our mission, vision and values were extremely visible at the top of the homepage,” Rachel adds.
Rachel adds, “Our thought was that if HR drives it, it's going to be generic because that's what HR is supposed to do. But if a manager drives it, it’s more authentic. So our goal was to involve as many key stakeholders up front as we could to boost interest and adoption.”
Tap In needed to meet the needs of and unite everyday company email users, as well as the plant floor employees. Rachel knew that integrations like Microsoft Teams and Outlook were going to be key to meeting people where they already are.
Rachel adds, “This was really important for us because we needed a system that was easily accessible. If it's a pain to get into, then our fear was that people weren't going to access it. For our plant floor employees who don't have company emails and are not on the computer on a regular basis, the mobile app is the perfect feature.”
Tap In supports various award programmes that provide employees with points that can be spent on a variety of gift cards from hundreds or retailers or through Tap In's built-in Reward Marketplace with an Amazon integration.
Rachel adds, “The fact that our diverse workforce – from C-suite employees to the plant floor – have endless options and can get instant rewards through points and they can link it to their own personal Amazon account is so valuable. If they have £5, for instance, they can use that towards a bigger purchase, which extends the value and personalisation of the reward.”
EcoWater has a tiered-recognition approach to recognise different milestones or reinforce desirable behaviours:
These non-monetary eCards can be sent to any employee, at any time. There are two categories, including values-based eCards which recognise a team member for exemplifying the core values in their day-to-day tasks. These focus on the four values, including 'Integrity,' 'Inspiration,' 'Innovation,' and 'Inclusiveness.' There are also greetings-based eCards, which enable employees to send personalised messages such as 'Happy Birthday' or 'Welcome to the Team.'
|MVV Awards:||The Mission, Vision, Values (MVV) Awards give everyone the opportunity to earn rewards and celebrate those who have made an impact on the organisation, their peers or the customer by living the core values. Awards can be earned in increments of 5, 10, 20, 25 or 50 points.
|Service Awards:||Tap In helps remind managers and leaders how proud they are of their people. For specific service milestones, employees receive an automated eCard and a reward right through the platform that they can redeem for countless items on Tap In's Reward Marketplace.
|Other Rewards:||The Retirement Awards and New Hires Awards are another way to thank tenured employees for their hard work or welcome new joiners to the team and set the stage for recognition at the organisation.
One thing Rachel gained from the employee feedback before searching for an engagement provider was the desire for more employee communication. Rachel adds, “We know that people are craving communication within our workspace. Especially in the COVID-19 environment, we know that there's a need to engage people differently.”
When Tap In launched back in July 2021, the team kicked off the main blog, 'Tap In News.' They initially started out with one category that was focussed on safety, which was especially important in a manufacturing environment during a pandemic. But as the platform grew and continued to expand, Rachel saw endless potential for ways to involve different stakeholders to broaden their reach.
Fast-forward to January 2022, and there are numerous categories with authors in different departments who are contributing to EcoWater’s employee communications. A few of the blogs on Tap In News include:
These blogs help keep hybrid workers in the loop about volunteering opportunities, organisational growth and promotions on various teams.
With the help of communications analytics dashboards, Rachel and team can see which topics are resonating the most with employees which helps to fuel further updates. For example, the team can see which blogs have the most views, most comments and most reactions.
Keeping in mind the need to connect hybrid workers, the team displays announcements in the manufacturing plants to show updates within Tap In and showcase the platform. This way, even if an employee doesn’t log into the mobile app or desktop every day, they’ll still see it and feel in the loop with company news.
Reaching a hybrid workforce can be challenging, especially when some employees don’t have access to company email all the time. But EcoWater is now able to connect their people in new ways, while delivering on the employee feedback for more R&R and communications. Since launching Tap In, there have been 429 new users logging into the platform on a regular basis (which is 73% of the EcoWater workforce).
Reward and recognition are the cornerstones of Tap In. Since July 2021, these tools have transformed the culture at EcoWater to one that’s centred around appreciation. 65% of all employees are actively sending and receiving recognition, and have sent 460 eCards with the most popular one being Happy Anniversary. Employees and managers have also sent a total of 1.5k awards, totaling more than £18k spent on awards through the platform in the past six months.
The centralised communications tools have proven to be a great way to connect the dispersed workforce. Plant floor employees can read posts on-the-go, whether they’re commuting home or in the break room. So far, there have been 4.09k views of the posts and 211 reactions to them. In 2022, Rachel and the team plan to expand their blog content and focus on employee communications.
Tap In has truly created a branded, one-stop-shop for EcoWater’s people that is easily recognisable and unites all people, no matter where or when they work. Rachel adds, "Reward Gateway is helping us bring the words of the mission, vision, and values to life and engage our hybrid workforce in a digital workspace, which is something that wasn’t possible until now."