How One Company Rocks In-Person, Hybrid & Virtual Recognition

by Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

Huge love. Heart eyes emoji. My recognition heart gets all aflutter.

i24 Call Management Solutions. Yummy scrumptious recognition-rich culture. Do you want to know why? Let me take you back a few years…

In a tiny city called Montreal (teehee), three generations ago, a strong womanpreneur started a call answering service to put food on the table. She had her phone in the kitchen, so she literally could be found stirring a pot of soup while answering the phone and tending to her kids—the original multitasker.

image of Gary Blair of i24Fast forward a few generations (and a few decades), enter stage left, grandson Gary Blair.

Now, to know Gary is to love him. Seriously, you couldn’t meet a more likable guy. Brilliant biz mind too. (He hangs with a crew of amazing call management leaders from other organizations, too – Scott, Lina, Jessica, Laura, Dana, Paul, Jen, Lucy, Tim, Kelsey, Linda, Brad, Kristie, Adrian, Doug, and Jamey to name a few ;-] )

He has curated one of the most delicious recognition-rich cultures of belonging. Seriously, there isn’t one person I’ve met at i24 that I wouldn’t want to have over for dinner. They attract seriously yummy people.

So, I thought you might want to snack on some insights on the newest recognition practices i24 was trying to attract and retain amazing folks in an industry riddled with turnover, and I sat down to interview Gary and Ray, his partner-in-culture-crime (geez, it’s just an expression…you didn’t think I meant actual crime, did you?).

Check out the video interview below.

What we’re talking about in this article is how to hardwire recognition into hybrid and virtual contexts as well as (and possibly better) than when you were 100% bricks and mortar.

To get the complete yummy factor, check out this and next week’s article and the video; you won’t want to miss a drop of their wisdom.

I’ll hand the writing reigns to my colleague Mallory for this article. (You may have noticed that I love it when someone with fresh eyes to an interview writes the article.) Enjoy!

Ready, Set, Hybrid

by Mallory Dunbar, Learning Specialist, Greatness Magnified

i24 Call Management Solutions loved their WOW program – a peer-to-peer employee recognition program aimed to recognize the day-to-day acts of generosity. It was, and still is, a hit among employees and leaders alike. (You may remember we’ve told you about them before.)

As the workplace changed, and they moved to remote work (they had 48 hours to go from totally bricks-and-mortar to all virtual at the start of COVID), Gary and Ray quickly decided how to update WOW to align with a virtual work environment. They discovered this: the world may change, but core human needs don’t. The desire for connection was more vital than ever.

And so they set out to create a new, remote-friendly recognition program that people could get excited by. Instead of recognizing employees for what they do, they decided to recognize them for who they are.

Virtual FROGing…The Power of Digital Compliments

FROG compliment cards were not new to i24. I introduced them to it in previous conventions (such as CAM-X). When they moved to remote work, they knew they had to create a simple, easy-to-use digital recognition program to succeed. That’s where the FROG compliment cards came in.

They worked to create a place in their internal communication system where employees could select the name of the person they wished to send the compliment to, pick a compliment from the deck of 52 FROG cards in English or French and press send. Within seconds, that person will receive a compliment card straight to their inbox, letting them know who it’s from. It’s a personal, authentic, sincere and timely way to give recognition. How amazing is that?!

The Impact of Investing 30 Seconds to Give a Compliment

image of an hourglass containing black sandi24 has created an army of recruiters. They have had more new staff hired on from referrals by current employees than ever before. That means their employees are leaving work and bragging about how fantastic their company is to anyone who will hear it. They value and appreciate their job and company so much that they tell the people they care about to come and join them. (Isn’t that just the best compliment a company can receive?!)

They didn’t set out with the goal of anything beyond recognizing employees on a human level – the impact on recruitment was a bonus. By living true to their values and acknowledging and appreciating every employee, they have created a scrumptious workplace that employees are excited by. A place where they want their friends and family to be a part of.

Sometimes we think recognition is fluffy stuff. i24’s commitment to continuing to iterate recognition no matter what is thrown its way proves that recognition is a cornerstone of culture.

Want more? Spoiler alert: join us next week for more advice from Gary and Ray.

How have you ensured that your approach to recognition aligns with the world of work in your team, organization, community and even family? If we can help, reach out.

P.S. – if you need bilingual call management services, give Gary and the team at i24 a call (no pun intended). Who doesn’t want to work with an organization that rocks at culture?

Looking for more recognition-building ideas? Here are a few more:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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