By Mike Ryan, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Strategy, Madison Performance Group
Creating and implementing a successful large-scale employee recognition program in the workplace can be a challenge in any environment. Inherently, obstacles can be more complex within a self-governing business structure. Siemens USA—with 60,000 employees in all 50 states and Puerto Rico—recognized the need for a company-wide program that balanced its business autonomy with enhanced corporate-level visibility, oversight, and control requirements.
Siemens USA provides technology and innovation in the fields of health care, energy, industry, and infrastructure. It is an independent subsidiary of German-based Siemens AG. Siemens is a decentralized organization comprising autonomous business units—many of which have had their own employee reward and recognition programs in place for years. A successful transition to a company-wide program would require skillful consensus building, as well as a flexible design approach. This is their story.
The Business Case for Consolidating Programs
A decentralized operating model long has allowed Siemens to move with speed and agility across its key business sectors: industry, energy, and health care, as well as its corporate and cross-sector functions. But that operational independence also has meant that recognition and reward programs varied across business units, and were not consistently connected to corporate imperatives.
This shortcoming led to the development of the “You Answered” program. “You Answered” launched in early 2010 and steadily has gained traction as Siemens USA’s unified recognition solution.
“You Answered” began with a mandate to streamline the overhead inherent in managing multiple reward programs, but has evolved to be a critical extension of the Siemens brand.
According to Susan Brown, director of Compensation at Siemens USA, the original intent of the “You Answered” program was to:
The best practices presented here capture some of the more important lessons learned by Brown and her colleagues as they balanced Siemens’ tradition of business unit autonomy with today’s needs for transparency and governance.
Getting Stakeholder Buy-in
Brown leveraged the various business units’ HR leaders to evangelize the program to their executives. “The business executives’ enthusiasm was clear; Siemens had made a decision to invest in a reward program to motivate our workforce during very challenging economic times. That was never in doubt. The question was: What was the best form for it?” recalls Brown.
The Compensation group then engaged the Finance group, and presented the program as a solution to their fiscal management and control needs. With these key stakeholders on board, Brown and HR leadership worked with Siemens AG world headquarters in Germany to apprise global management of the program and secure approval for its branding elements.
Choosing a Technology
Siemens considered using both off-the-shelf packages, as well as customized solutions, weighing four factors:
The platform had to address the company’s needs for:
Siemens USA ultimately chose to partner with New York-based Madison Performance Group, which built a custom platform using proven technology. Brown quickly ascertained that the best solution would be one built specifically for Siemens—and wanted a partner who could add value over the long haul.
Living the Brand
From the onset, Brown’s team saw the opportunity to connect employees with Siemens external branding message. “The program name 'You Answered,' complemented Siemens AG’s global “Answers” advertising campaign, which, shows how Siemens can answer the world’s toughest questions around environmental issues, city expansion, and building infrastructure,” Brown says.
“You Answered” aligned employees’ behaviors with the expectations the campaign created, and helped to reinforce corporate values and link employees’ efforts directly to the company’s success.
With the infrastructure in place, the final consideration was the design of the program’s reward currency. “Instead of using a generic gift card, we realized a branded reward card would be a powerful way to remind the recipient of their role in our company’s mission—to be theanswer—every time they take it out and use it extend the program’s impact,” Brown explains.
Answers for Today…And the Future
Siemens USA took the time to properly establish the foundation of its “You Answered” program, which helped ensure its successful launch and ongoing momentum. The result is an employee reward and recognition program that meets Siemens USA’s strategic and tactical objectives today, and has the flexibility to grow as needs change over time.
“At Siemens, our employees are thinking about our business and the role they play in making it better constantly,” says Brown. “The ‘You Answered’ program is an extension of that culture, strengthening the connection that employees feel toward the business.”
More information is available by listening to a recorded Webinar available at Madison Performance Group’s Website at www.madisonpg.com.
Mike Ryan is Madison Performance Group’s senior vice president of Marketing & Strategy. He is an industry authority, speaker, and writer focusing on the latest trends that impact workforce engagement and sales incentive marketing. Ryan is president of The Performance Improvement Council (PIC), a board member of The Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), and a trustee of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).