HomeInterviewsInterview: O.C. Tanner's Zubin Zack on the role of technology in enhancing employee recognition programs

Interview: O.C. Tanner’s Zubin Zack on the role of technology in enhancing employee recognition programs



In an interview with TechGraph, Zubin Zack, Managing Director of O.C. Tanner for South Asia, the Middle East, and the African region highlighted the crucial role of technology in enhancing employee recognition programs’ effectiveness.

Read the complete interview:

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TechGraph: What specific technologies or tools has O.C. Tanner developed to help employers recognize and reward their employees? How do these solutions set your company apart from others in the HR tech industry?

Zubin Zack: Our range of services includes cutting-edge technologies and a wide array of offerings aimed at helping employers recognize and reward their employees. Known as Culture by Design, our comprehensive solution extends beyond enterprise software.

It includes a comprehensive suite of tools such as consulting services, culture evaluation, educational planning, branding and communications support, award fulfillment, customized award design, measurement, and analytics. In addition, it provides continuous support for software optimization and maximizing return on investment.

What sets us apart in the HR tech industry is our research-driven approach. We conduct extensive research, and one product is our Global Culture report. This report surveyed around 40,000 individuals across the globe, with 10,000 in India.

We see a lot of this research embedded in our ongoing development of features and technology. This research addresses areas such as diversity, equity, and inclusivity, as well as analytics for measuring program success and impact evaluation. We measure impact, discuss ROI, and build a complete plan – this is how we tailor our approach based on each organization’s objectives. So that is how we differentiate ourselves, or how technology differentiates us.

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TechGraph: How does O.C. Tanner ensure that employee recognition programs are inclusive and equitable for all employees, regardless of their background or role within the company?

Zubin Zack: We promote a comprehensive 360-degree recognition program that covers both offline and online employees. This program incorporates various forms of recognition, such as vouchers, and redemption options for experiences or merchandise.

We utilize multiple channels for recognition, including physical cards or e-cards and online town hall meetings, closed group meetings, email communication, and integration with analytics. Our program caters to employees across different segments, including manufacturing, food delivery, high-tech software engineering, and investment banking executives.

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Our recognition program entails peer-to-peer recognition and incorporates recognition from superiors to subordinates, subordinates to leaders, precedent awards, and informal acknowledgments.

We join forces with the organizations to create an effective recognition program that builds momentum, sustains enthusiasm, and fosters inclusivity, belongingness, and equity for all employees. We ensure that the program’s design promotes fairness and equality, regardless of employees’ backgrounds or roles within the company.

TechGraph: Can you discuss any recent initiatives or partnerships O.C. Tanner has launched to help organizations improve their employee recognition strategies? How does this foster a more positive workplace culture?

Zubin Zack: Our initiatives and partnerships focus on our customers and partners who help us develop tools and technologies. These partnerships encompass various areas, such as integrating our technologies with platforms like Workday and collaborating with HR partners.

We also work with partners who supply our catalogs globally across 180 countries to support program launches. Additionally, we engage delivery partners and import/export partners. Managing these partnerships is an extensive endeavor, involving thousands of collaborations.

We sustain these relationships by continuously researching trends and seeking partners who can contribute to our forward-thinking approach while helping us understand market needs. Research partners play a crucial role in this regard.

Our customers are also vital partners, and we have implemented initiatives like the client advisory board to receive ongoing input from a select group of customers. We host events where we bring together customers from different countries. This allows our tech and research teams to interact with them, gather feedback, and gain insights into their evolving needs.

With our customers’ feedback and suggestions, we develop new features and services to support them as strategic partners in their internal growth journeys. Overall, our partnerships span various aspects, including client advisory setups, country-specific events, one-to-one feedback sessions, and win-and-loss interviews. These interactions with our customers not only help us improve our offerings but also contribute to fostering a positive workplace culture.

TechGraph: How do you measure the success and impact of your employee recognition programs, and what metrics do you use to track employee engagement and satisfaction?

Zubin Zack: The metrics for our program are established in collaboration with the client from the start of the program. For instance, if the client wants to measure the change in net promoter score (NPS) or any other metric, we run the program and then assess the difference in the NPS score after a year of implementation.

This approach applies to various metrics such as attrition, stock market price, engagement scores, belongingness, client care, and innovation. While we acknowledge that there isn’t a 100% direct correlation between our program and the impact on stock prices or attrition, we do observe a correlation. We measure it through surveys. The chosen metric is predetermined, and we track its progress to evaluate the impact our programs have on these outcomes for companies.

TechGraph: In your view, what role do you see technology playing in the future of employee recognition? How is O.C. Tanner positioning itself to stay at the forefront of this rapidly evolving field?

Zubin Zack: Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing employee recognition programs’ effectiveness. While ensuring 100% program utilization is a good starting point, genuine, timely, and impactful recognition is essential. Merely providing vouchers or cash rewards may not deliver the desired impact or foster a memorable company brand. To make recognition programs effective, companies may need to establish brand stores or offer unique experiences. Technology facilitates program management, simplifies order placement, enables global communication, and provides valuable analytics.

However, the key lies in ensuring relevance, effectiveness, and measurement of recognition program impact. While technology serves as a foundation, our focus is on partnerships, delivering impact to our clients, and investing in research. We also offer services such as culture by design, intentionally strengthening and sustaining existing thriving cultures. Our recognition programs contribute to this goal, emphasizing relevance and effectiveness.

TechGraph: How has the pandemic affected the company’s HR practices, particularly in the area of employee recognition and engagement?

Zubin Zack: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated us, right? It has undoubtedly expedited certain trends in the workplace. It has brought us several years ahead, unveiling the significance of remote and hybrid work setups while emphasizing the need for employee engagement and well-being. Employees now seek a deeper understanding of their company’s purpose and values, recognizing that there are more critical aspects to consider beyond work alone.

In this context, recognition plays a vital role. By utilizing recognition tools, organizations can foster a shared purpose, convey the company’s values, and demonstrate appreciation to their employees, acknowledging them as the essential foundation on which the company relies.

The pandemic has catalyzed this message, as recognition is being employed not only to acknowledge individuals but also to effectively communicate what truly matters: people, shared objectives, direction, and vision. With the ability to transmit this message globally through various tools, recognition has gained prominence and become one of the most crucial initiatives embraced by companies.


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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder, CEO & Group Editor of TechGraph.

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