On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Samantha from Hired about why every remote company should adopt the three tiers of employee recognition.

Some Conversation Highlights:

Let’s really dig into the three tiers of employee recognition.

When we transitioned to a remote-first working model, we realized that we were going to need a new way to kind of show employee recognition and appreciation to people for the work and contributions that they were doing. Right? It’s just when you’re not in an office it’s probably no longer the same where a lot of recognition had been done so naturally in person.

And so, one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve really established a three-tier system to ensure that our employees feel seen and recognized wherever they’re located. And so, we think about that on an individual level or a peer to peer, how are our employees able to recognize one another? Then thinking through, okay, there’s a manager or a team level in which we want to make sure employees and managers and leaders are connecting with one another on that piece. And then really importantly, how are we recognizing those things on a company-wide level? So what are the bigger programs, initiatives, processes that we have implemented within our very being, right? To really promote this idea of continuous feedback and recognition?


Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 27 minutes


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Samantha Lawrence
Senior Vice President, People Strategy Hired Follow

Music:   This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup

William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the recruiting daily podcast. Today, we have Sam on from Hired and our topic today is why every remote company should adopt the three tiers of employee recognition. So lots to unpack there. Can’t wait to get into it with Sam. Sam would you do us a favor, the audience of favor, and introduce yourself and Hired?

Sam Friedman: Absolutely. So thanks so much for having me on.

William Tincup: Sure.

Sam Friedman: My name is Sam Friedman. I am the head of people strategy here at Hired that encompasses your everyday HR operations as well as our talent acquisition functions and Hired is a global hiring marketplace. And what we essentially do is we match highly engaged and qualified tech and sales talent with top companies who are really looking to drive efficiency, equity, and transparency throughout their hiring processes by using our platform and our tools.

William Tincup: Love it, great synopsis by the way. So we got to get into the three tiers. So let’s just, let’s do this first, because there’s, we’re unpacking remote which is going to be interesting, but let’s get to the three tiers first, and then we’ll kind of go backwards to kind of unpack the things that are different about remote or hybrid or in the office, et cetera. And then we’ll really kind of dig into employee recognition. So take us to the three tiers.

Sam Friedman: So when we transitioned to a remote-first working model, we realized that we were going to need a new way to kind of show our employee appreciation and recognize people for the work and contributions that they were doing. Right? It’s just when you’re not in an office it’s probably no longer the same where a lot of recognition had been done so naturally in person. And so, one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve really established a three-tier system to ensure that our employees feel seen and recognized wherever they’re located. And so, we think about that on an individual level or a peer to peer, how are our employees able to recognize one another? Then thinking through, okay, there’s a manager or a team level in which we want to make sure employees and managers and leaders are connecting with one another on that piece. And then really importantly, how are we recognizing those things on a company-wide level? So what are the bigger programs, initiatives, processes that we have implemented within our very being, right? To really promote this idea of continuous feedback and recognition?

William Tincup: I love it. So let’s go through each one of the tiers real quick. So peer to peer, we’ll start there, give us some examples of kind of things that you’ve seen not names and anything like that, but just examples so that folks can get a little bit of the texture.

Sam Friedman: So at that individual level, one of the things that we created somewhat early on as we transitioned into a remote environment is a Slackbot and what this Slackbot does is it can be triggered by anyone in the organization at any time, really kind of recognizing those achievements or wins or something great that they’ve done. And so what we have done is we actually created a dedicated channel within our slack instance that is by far the yes, the most used channel, I think on a daily basis. It’s very simple. It’s just that employee recognition and what this Slackbot does is it kind of, it adds up some karma points for individuals and it’s as simple as adding your colleague’s name and giving them a plus and shouting out that achievement.

And then the bot does the work and gives some really fun and quirky responses. Just cheering them on from anywhere from the cat’s pajamas to you get free guac on your next meal. So really fun. And what we’ve seen is employees really adapted this quickly and fast and they’re excited about it and they use it like I said it’s definitely one of our most utilized slack channels and it’s just people get karma points or slack-bodied on their very first day. And I think that’s something that we’re really proud of as well.

William Tincup: So dumb question alert.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: When we think about recognition, we’re really thinking about the positive sides of recognition. Right? So I guess I grew up with public praise, private criticism.

Sam Friedman: Right.

William Tincup: Right. So if there is something it’s most of that channel I’m assuming is positive. If not all of it.

Sam Friedman: Yes. It’s funny. It’s all of our recognition is definitely, is positive agree. I always as a people leader, as a manager myself, I think that there’s always time and it’s important to give areas of development or talk about that maybe didn’t go so well.

William Tincup: Right.

Sam Friedman: But doing that may be in a one-on-one setting is probably your best case. And that really leans into things that we do on a structure and processes we have in place on our company-wide level and how we train our managers and leadership in that as well.

William Tincup: And so, okay. So peer to peer really can be anyone it’s not just peers, like when we think laterally or it can be literally 360 degrees?

Sam Friedman: Absolutely. So we often see our individual contributor shouting out their managers for helping them through a hard issue and then vice versa, right? Someone on our executive team, just recognizing someone who’s kind of gone above and beyond their day-to-day in that channel as well. So it can come from anywhere across the organization, same level, up level, or also looking downwards within.

William Tincup: And again, and because we’re talking a little bit about remote. It can become from not only just anyone in the organization but from anyone at any type of whatever work position, if you will if they’re in headquarters if they’re working at an office if they’re working at home, if they’re working with from Brazil, whatever, doesn’t matter.

Sam Friedman: Exactly.

William Tincup: It’s giving them praise and again, praise in a way that you’re kind of telling us about it is it can be little things. It’s just like little tiny things. I really enjoyed your presentation just little things, but it can also be big things I’m assuming as well.

Sam Friedman: Absolutely. So I see everything in our recognition from someone saying hey, I appreciate this engineer taking time out of his day. And really walking me through a complex coding issue to this person held the door open for me when I had four coffees in my hand. Right? So it really does kind of run the gamut in terms of what people are getting recognized for and I love that.

William Tincup: So let’s move to the manager. Oh, wait a minute, because you went there and I wanted to ask you this question anyhow, without naming names. Of course.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: How active is the, is your executive team?

Sam Friedman: So I’m super fortunate. We work with an excellent executive team where we all believe that if we need to model the behaviors that we want to see within our company. And so our executive team is incredibly active, not only in our slack channel but in a variety of ways that I hope we get to talk about through here too, to make sure that we are recognizing people throughout the org, not just maybe those leaders that are underneath us.

William Tincup: I love that. First of all, it’s like living your values, right? So here, it’s one thing to say that, oh yeah, we’re open to feedback or high candor and then not do it. So it’s, I love that they’re backing it up and then you’re backing it up as well. So, okay. Let’s move to the managers, the second tier if you will. So the relationship between employee and manager, what does that look like?

Sam Friedman: So for us when we think about manager and team level feedback, there’s a couple of things that we do structurally as a company and put in place, right? So we have our bi-annual reviews, which obviously these are more in-depth or personal development conversations is what we call them. And then they also have opportunities as well to kind of think through other places in which they can give recognition and feedback, which is obviously your one-on-ones or your team weekly things. But we also make sure there’s a real point in our all-hands meeting. So this is where we bring our entire company together. We do this on a bi-weekly or a tri-weekly basis, depending on the month to make sure that we really have frequent transparency and communication across the organization, especially as we’ve moved to a fully remote company. And one of the most important parts of these all hands and always can be expected is this piece where we have different team members get up in front of the company and really kind of go through those team wins.

And so this is something that happens on a much more visible and company-wide scale, where we really are calling out the achievements of teams or individual members so that they get that broader visibility. And it’s maybe not being trapped in those one on ones or development conversations, or even in just those team meetings. And so everything from, hey, you’ve already met your Q one quota to you crushed this marketing campaign and we’ve seen X amount of leads to we’ve won a new client are things that we on a company level have been able to and on a team, level have been able to celebrate within our all-hands meetings. I think one of the interesting that I’ve learned as a people leader throughout the pandemic and then in this remote environment was in our all hands.

And it’s a, it was a great learning for us. So, I’m a people leader. I often think about risk when we introduce things and on our all-hands meetings, when we had kind of first brought our team together, I had recommended that we had, we turn off the chat feature during these large company-wide meetings. I thought it would be incredibly distracting and that it would kind of bring, it would muddy, maybe content or strategy. And we heard from our employees and they said, hey, we would really like the chat feature to be turned back on.

And so I said, okay, let’s embrace it. Let’s see what happens. And I think one of the best things that we saw is during that team wins section the amount of people who got to join in the conversation and chat to applaud and cheer on and say what a great job. And that is something that has been such a highlight and key takeaway for us to see that celebration happen and recognition happen. Not only obviously within that all hands and the person who is being able to share that, but then being kind of seen and rippled throughout the organization has been great.

William Tincup: Question alert again. Can you go too far with recognition in a sense of you’re like and again, kind of growing up in children in this generation? So it’s, everyone gets a trophy kind of generation. Can you go too far in a sense of everyone feels they need to be recognized for everything?

Sam Friedman: I think what we try to do at Hired and what I would encourage other people to think about is really tying recognition back to your value, your brand, your mission, and your vision. And when you do that, recognition is meaningful.

William Tincup: Right.

Sam Friedman: It’s not for every single thing. Right? And so when you are really thinking through, hey, I’m praising someone or I’m giving that feedback or that recognition because they are embodying those values. That it means so much to us as an organization. I don’t think there is a something that goes too far in that case. I think you’re really building up the culture that you’re looking for within your team.

William Tincup: I love that because it’s the reinforcement part.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: This is Pavlovian in some regards it’s-

Sam Friedman: Absolutely.

William Tincup: You’re recognizing them, but you’re recognizing them within the context of your values.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: And so your context of your values and becomes culture, which gets us to back to remote in some regards. One of the things that we saw early in the pandemic is kind of some dysfunction around what was culture because there was for a long time culture was the office, or at least that was what was seen as culture was thought of as culture. We have catered lunches and massage tables and this and that. That stuff that was at the office was our culture. And with remote, it blew all that stuff up. If that’s what we thought culture was. So two questions, one what’s been y’all’s remote journey and kind of how you’ve adopted remote and what you’re kind of what you see as a people leader going forward with remote? And then second part of that is around culture. How have y’all kind of re-configured or re-thought culture from a hired perspective? You can take them in either order, by the way, doesn’t matter.

Sam Friedman: Sure. So Hired journey into remote has been interesting. So we definitely embraced remote fairly early on in the pandemic. I like many other people leaders or talent acquisition leaders at the time said goodbye to our colleagues and said, see you in a couple of weeks. And here we are in calendar year three. And at and fully we decided last year that we would embrace and become a remote-first work model. And what, and how do we get there? We did a lot of listening to our employees and I think what we’ve learned and what all people and all workers have learned at this point is that we don’t have this luxury of our personal lives and our work lives always perfectly lining up. They intersect and quite honestly, I think that’s okay, and I think we need as people leaders to really embrace that and understand that we have a responsibility to our employees as well, to recognize that and give them the flexibility and space to manage their own schedule and provide some kind of better work-life balance than what we’ve been seeing before.

And as we talked as an executive team, as we thought through the acquisition of Hired and then re-branding to that team, one of the things we kept at that forefront was how are we listening to employees? How are we making sure that they feel heard and seen despite not being in an office in location Necessarily having that in-person face-to-face conversations with the executive team on a daily basis? And so we really made sure we gave them plenty of avenues to provide feedback. And then we said, what’s working?

And we saw as a company that remote really did work for us. It provided us a competitive advantage as we [inaudible 00:16:32] It provided us that flexibility that definitely both current employees and candidates are looking for and we embraced it. And so about July of 2021 is when we kind of put our stake in the ground to say, we’ve been remote, it’s working, it’s doing well for our business. And we think that this is something that is going to be as a policy. We embrace in perpetuity, right? We are not looking to bring people back. We are not going to hybrid people into the office when God willing the pandemic is over and sustained. And so it was a journey for us, but really important for us to keep those employees at the forefront.

William Tincup: I love that. And you’re kind of fitting around kind of, not only what works for the company because we still it’s a forefront of business. We still have to do the things that make the company go, but you’re really looking at kind of the employees themselves and say where do they thrive?

Sam Friedman: Yes. Definitely.

William Tincup: And how do we unlock them thriving? And you touched on two things of a really interesting work-life balance, which seems like such a foreign concept now.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: And, but you also hit on work-life integration, which I think is from my perspective, I’d love to hear yours. I hope we don’t go back. I really, after everything is settled, I hope we don’t go back. And I like cats and a background-

Sam Friedman: Of course-

William Tincup: And kids interrupting the calls and stuff like that. I love that stuff. And-

Sam Friedman: Thank you.

William Tincup: I hope we don’t go back because before it was so buttoned up.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: I remember zoom calls before and we didn’t have video on a lot of them. There were just calls and, but there were buttoned up and everyone was had to own their PS and QS. Not, I like where we’re at now. Yeah. I hate how we got here.

Sam Friedman: Sure. Agreed on that friend. I love where we’re at too. I think there is a different element of getting to know your colleagues when you do have… Transparently my 17-month old I was one of the crazy ones is to have a child during the pandemic. And I can’t imagine my team not getting to see him during a weekly meeting or having that empathy for a new parent when something is happening in the background you really have no control over. I have no desire to go backwards. I think that we are creating better, stronger, more empathetic colleagues and leaders through this environment.

William Tincup: Yeah. And it’s interesting to see the folks that don’t thrive there. It’s also the folks that want to rush back to an office and kind of get back into a kind of command and control type of environment and it’s just the reluctance of candidates and employees like, yeah I have recruiters. You’ve got the same thing going on. I have recruiters that call me sometimes. And they’re like, I need to figure out synonyms for the word commute.

Sam Friedman: Yeah.

William Tincup: Because well, everything’s fantastic Roland, they love the job, pays done. And then I have to tell them they need to be in the office three or four days a week. And it’s like how do I do all like, dude, seriously? You just need to say the word actually, you need to lead with it. And just kind of see if you don’t waste time.

Sam Friedman: Definitely, advice I would follow if that were the case for-

William Tincup: Yeah.

Sam Friedman: People you want to be within. So you kind of don’t have take people on a journey. They don’t want to be on.

William Tincup: That’s right. You’re not going to surprise people at the end and go, oh, by the way. So let’s talk a little bit about the rest of 22 and 23 for y’all in terms of recognition and the way that you, because it’s really wonderful you’ve thought of a model, you’ve explored the model, employees have given you feedback on how to do things, open things up, where do you see this going over? Just not flying car stuff, but just like over the next year and a half or so, where do you see y’all’s recognition going?

Sam Friedman: So, one thing that was really important to us, as we thought through our transition to fully remote and building out a bigger team, which we’re so fortunate to be able to be doing at this time. But adding new people in is always adding that complexity. And so something that continues to anchor us in our philosophy around recognition and feedback is again, kind of really anchoring them to our core values. And a lot of times what you see is employees get really exposed to your values and your mission and your vision during that onboarding process or hopefully even within the interview process, right? You’re already kind of talking about those things, but for us thinking through how we really do establish that idea around continuous feedback and continuous recognition is something that is really important to us from the executive team on down to the IC level.

And so that happens in a multitude of ways, right? So whether that’s through our leadership training and making sure that it’s so easy to try and use the time that we do have altogether to really talk about maybe what’s not working, but taking a few minutes out to celebrate those team wins, or one thing that actually happened to us this week is I got pinged by someone in the org who said, hey, I need an ice breaker for a meeting. I’m having cross-functionally a lot of these people don’t know each other, what should I do? And you, of course, can Google a thousand different icebreakers. And I said, hey, how about you ask someone what their win of the week is in terms of their day to day their work? What had it gone well that they want to share with the team?

And that went over incredibly well and gave some really insight into the team. And then I think one thing that we’re also really leaning into is a bi-annual award that we’ve established within the company. And so we call this our one team, one dream award. It is based off of one of our values. And it’s really someone who just has that pride and passion for our mission and who embodies those values on a daily basis. And what I think has been amazing is as we’ve introduced this award, we’ve seen over 30% of our workforce get nominated each time we kind of open this award ceremony up. And there’s a lot of fun things that go with it too. You get recognized on a company-wide level, even if you’re not selected as a finalist, but all nominees get celebrated.

You get some fun swag, there is a cash award for us, but not necessary if you’re thinking about implementing it on your own. But I think the most important part about these awards again, is that it’s peer-led and driven meaning that our executive team really does take a step back here. And we’re empowering that next-level leadership within our organization to really have ownership in terms of the recognition and understanding the values of the company and figuring out how to recognize employees within them. So I see us continuing on this journey and hopefully finding more fun and interesting ways for our employees to celebrate and live our values and continue to make sure that recognition is at the forefront of what we’re doing here at Hired.

William Tincup: I love that. Last question and I failed to ask it earlier. Is there any intersection points between customers and kind of their-

Sam Friedman: Absolutely-

William Tincup: Feedback or recognition, but if Sally does a wonderful job, is there a way to pull that [inaudible 00:24:49] that content out?

Sam Friedman: I love that question. Absolutely. So I think we see this for us, especially within our revenue team or our candidate experience teams who kind of have a different view into our business. But what we try to do there is our revenue team has taken a really interesting approach where they have a monthly newsletter that gets sent out not only to the revenue team but other people within the org that have very many touchpoints with them where we call out different client feedback or candidate feedback and work-sharing that on a company-wide level. I also know we’ve done a pretty good job implementing and including that feedback within our all hands as well. So nothing gets more praise within our chat than when we hear a candidate talk about how excited they are about their journey or accepting a new job. And how someone on our candidate experience team was able to kind of get them across the line. And so definitely when we can include feedback from our clients or from our candidates on the platform, we love that because it’s just another level of recognition that can be seen.

William Tincup: Another tier. I love it.

Sam Friedman: Yes.

William Tincup: Sam, thank you so much for your time and for educating us and telling us kind of taking us into the Hired world and what y’all are doing. And I just love it. And I think it’s just the right thing to do. And y’all have just done a wonderful job of baking around, putting, making, building it around your values and I just love it. So thank you so much for your time.

Sam Friedman: Appreciate being here. Love sharing it. Yes. I think it is a huge thing that companies can be doing to really help drive better culture within their teams in this environment.

William Tincup: And that’s that. So thanks for everyone listening to the recruiting daily podcast until next time.

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William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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