Build a culture of recognition with kudos and badges

Regular recognition of good work is a critical part of a healthy culture. Studies show recognition in the workplace doesn’t happen enough despite being the easiest and fastest way to improve team morale and employee engagement. Oftentimes, the reason for the lack of praise is innocent enough – it just slips people’s minds as “recognition” is not a task attached to a tangible outcome. How can we make healthy praise a habitual part of managers and peers’ average day?

Brian sent David a Kudos for good work, and it showed up in my producitivity stream.

Through an employee mobile app, there’s two tried-and-true methods to help with this issue: badging and kudos. We’ll cover what these tools are and how best to use them.

 

Kudos: let someone know they’re awesome


Kudos is our term for, well, praise: it’s a system that allows you to publicly praise someone for excellent work, a good deed, or whatever else you deem to be praiseworthy. Kudos are sent from one user to another and also visible in a dedicated ‘kudos’ channel. Kudos are user-initiated and can be for subjective achievement.

Sending someone a kudos isn't a grand ceremony, but it’s not insignificant either: it's a publicly visible declaration that shows you went out of your way to praise someone. Kudos are best fit to use regularly for everyday excellence.

Badging: reward your most active users


Badging rewards certain activities executed within the app. It’s like kudos, but there’s automation and gamification involved. Essentially: badges must be earned by discrete actions, not by subjectively-judged good work. You can customize what conditions the system will reward someone with a badge. Badging is a tool that helps drive adoption via engagement, as it encourages more app use.

Governance and gamification of kudos and badging


While kudos and badging mainly work to engage your employees, they also assist with guiding your users to desired behaviors, like answering more questions. As usual, the devil is in the details; the most effective kudos and badging have good guidelines that focus their use effectively while meeting your company’s unique needs and meshing with culture. Here are some key strategies to maximize the effectiveness of these features:

1. Provide managers with guidelines on how to style their own kudos. Make them fit your company culture.

Tying kudos to recognizable symbols and messages (like the company values) helps kudos become a tangible and measurable manifestation of those symbols that employees will recognize and value. For example, our values of SP^CE are well-known at our company, so we created a 'SP^CE Astronaut' kudos to recognize when someone deserves recognition for reflecting the values.

What kudos look like counts too – so provide some basic design principles and example images for use (your Customer Success Manager can help out with this, too).

2. Make kudos as specific and relevant as possible to the recipient and their audience of peers.

It’s important to delegate kudos management to the smaller and smaller managed groups – the perfect kudos is highly relevant and specific to the recipient and the peers that it’s visible to.
 
Managers can mix acknowledging specific tasks and achievements with general recognition of exceptional performance, kindness, or effort. For example: a Quality Assurance professional could achieve a ‘bug-finding’ kudo for finding a defect in a product. If that same QA employee shows a pattern of bug finding over a period of time, they’re probably in line for a more general kudo that recognizes their excellent overall performance. Keep your kudos genuine and relevant and you'll see they'll start to have an impact.

3. Use a hierarchy of badges to signify levels of attainment.

A big part of gamification is incremental rewards for progress towards a goal. This applies to badging. If you've identified a desirable user behavior (like adding comments to the stream), create multiple badges for this behavior around multiple amounts (ie, a badge for 5 comments, 15 comments, etc). The idea is to keep someone interested in achieving a reasonably attainable badge whether they’re just starting out or are an experienced power user. It also subtly stokes the competitive spirit: if you’re currently sporting the Bronze-level Commenter Badge because you’ve added 10 comments to the stream, you know there’s a higher level to unlock – and you want to know how many actions it takes to get there. This makes it fun for beginners and experienced users alike.

A simplified example of tiered badging, culminating with users who share 50 posts being invited into a club.

4. Use reporting to keep track of kudos and badges for further rewards and monitoring engagement.

Once you feel you have a strong culture of recognition, the kudos system can be a bellwether for the health of a team or manager. If a team isn’t meeting normal rates of sending and receiving kudos, it may just be that they don’t like using the tool. Or they may be having some issues. If kudos truly show something about the health of the team is unique to each team; treat it as another datapoint to help determine the engagement of your employees.

Making things fun


Kudos and badging are powerful tools that you can create complex reward structures with real impact. When starting out, remember to keep it simple and fun. Start with a light touch and get more involved as your company culture absorbs the concept of gamifying and tracking rewards.

Employee engagement is tough and requires a holistic approach that involves many aspects of your employee app. A culture of recognition – codified by kudos and badging – is a great start.

James Casagrande

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Sticky Adoption: tools for building a sustained mobile readership, Part 3

This is a series on tools and tips for “sticky adoption,” or sustaining the audience that uses your employee app. Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 as well.

Our Sticky Adoption series has covered some great mobile tools at your disposal to get users to love and habitually use your employee app. Using push notifications, app badging, email digests and other tools will definitely help get great content the views it deserves. But there’s one more hugely important thing that will keep users reading your content every day. If you read our first post in this series, you’ll recall I claimed there were two key principles to follow when trying to sustain user adoption of your app:
 

  • Creatively leverage the mobile-unique features, like push notification and app badging, to remain front-and-center in the user’s mobile experience.
  • Thread “nonessential” activities – like perusing a company newsletter or taking a survey – with essential information and tasks within the same stream.


Today we’ll cover that second bullet. There’s a natural pairing of micro-tasks and critical information inside your employee mobile app that makes both tasks easier to complete and gives your other content more views.
 

Adding function to form: when good content isn’t enough


Here’s a hard truth of internal comms: the pure quality of the communication isn’t enough to get someone to look at it. Solid communications should be the hook that gets people to engage once they’ve arrived at your communications stream; it doesn’t always get people to open your app. This is a fact of life for an overstimulated workforce that is bombarded with communications every day. Your competition is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other self-selected and self-curated content that the user is already looking at. Let’s be honest: it’s hard for the best company newsletter in the world to compete with all of that.

So how to get eyeballs on your mobile app content? We return to the principle of intermixing essential value to nonessential communications. There are at least two effective ways to do this:
 

1. Make essential, personalized information accessible via the app.


This can be information like benefits, time off status, payslips, expense status / balances, or anything that is personally relevant to the user’s self-administration. Staff will appreciate that they can access this info faster and easier on their phone – particularly because this information is often in an HR system that is rarely used by the employee and not optimized for fast mobile access. Why not surface this info in the same place as your company news and alerts? Of course, you need to handle this info securely, but your employee app should be able to handle your requirements (more on mobile security here). Now when an employee is on their way to view their self-administration info, you earn an impression on your content.

2. Allow users to complete micro-tasks within the app – faster than they would on a desktop.


Repetitive administrative tasks are part of life. Compliance acknowledgment, time clocking, time off requests, expense requests – all of these are tiny, easy tasks seen as ‘necessary evils’ that workers must complete. If you have an employee app, you’ve got an advantage here. Leverage the mobile platform to make these little tasks easier. Think about it: these tasks are perfect for getting out of the way when you’re commuting on a train, waiting for an elevator, or some other time when you’re staring at your phone killing time and you’re not able to complete your cognition-intensive work. Receiving a push notification for an employee vacation request and being able to quickly view the vital information and approve or decline the request makes the whole process faster and less burdensome for both the manager and the employee.

Managers see approvals pop up in their stream next to their internal communication news.

Providing a high level of value within your app is a surefire way to get users to come back to your app time and time again. Intertwined with the essential information will be your company news and communications – which now have a chance to shine. After repeated exposure to quality content, users will notice the value demonstrated by the nonessential communication. Now  you’ve got sticky adoption and a continuous readership.
 

Play the long game


Executing on all these techniques can seem daunting. It needn't be. Keep in mind: adoption is a marathon, not a sprint. You might think that the best content will get you the most adoption, but even the best content isn’t enough to win someone’s attention for more than one day. You’re not hunting for clicks, you’re building trust. But with the right mobile platform, you’ve got the tools you need to make users make your app part of their daily habit.With first-class analytics and user reporting, like the dashboard in Sitrion ONE, you can measure your progress each step of the way.

Every app starts with zero readers. Build and nurture your user base and you’ll see that content finally getting the attention it deserves.

James Casagrande

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Sticky Adoption: tools for building a sustained mobile readership, Part 2

This is a series on tools and tips for “sticky adoption,” or sustaining the audience that uses your employee app. Make sure to read Part 1 here.

Our first post in our Sticky Adoption series dealt with using push notifications to drive sustained adoption. While effective, push notifications are not your only tool in enticing users to make your app part of their routine.

App badges indicates how much new content is waiting for you.

The subtle reminder: App badging


App badges – the little numerical indicator in the top right corner of an app icon – can show users how many cards they’ve missed since they’ve logged in without interrupting the user. The badge is designed to catch a user’s eye scan of a typical screen, but it will not actively interrupt them if they are completing another task. App badging is a must-use tool.

For Sitrion ONE, our award-winning employee app solution, we like to use app badging to show a user how many cards have populated their stream since they last looked at the app. If that little number in red gets too high, they know they’re missing out! App badging will also be a persistent reminder of more important items that were sent via push notification.

The old faithful: the email digest


“Email is dead,” declared a very wrong person, every year, from 2005-2017. Yes, it’s still here and it’s still relevant to our work communications, despite our myriad other ways to collaborate. So how does it factor in to your mobile app readership?

Many users prefer to use email as the “front page” of their day – they set the table with all the information they need routing to some sort of summary in their inbox, and navigate from there. This habit isn’t going away, so you might as well accommodate for it.

In ONE, we’ve created the ability to send a daily email digest that sums up all the posts in the stream for the past 24 hours. Users get the “front page” summary view of what’s happened, and can click to go view content in the app. When you’re getting users into the method of using your app, you need to build as many bridges to their current information destinations as possible.
 

Gamification: reward users with badges


One of the most direct ways to reward people for continuing to use your app is through badging. “Badges” are rewards that are doled out as cards in the stream for completing discrete actions, like commenting, answering polls, posting, etc (to clarify: this is different than app badging, which is simply a UI feature; badges are a fully administrable feature within ONE).

An earned badge in the ONE stream.

Think about what user behaviors would help demonstrate the most value to those users, and build a system that gives out badges for those behaviors. You can customize what actions the system will reward with a badge and create levels of achievement for the same action. Say you want to reward commenting: you’d create a Bronze-level commenter badge for beginners with five comments, while a power user would achieve a Gold-level commenter badge for 30 comments, etc.

Gamification is a proven supplementary tool for app adoption. Will people go mad with badge fever, creating a black market to get their daily badge fix? No. But in concert with these other tools, badging can provide a psychological incentive for higher use and exposure to the value of the app. Semi-engaged users – that key demographic that you need to win over for sustained adoption – can be won over with that little push to achieve a higher level of a badge.

Badging is a tool that naturally lends itself to fun uses, so get creative. Run contests around badge acquisition. Turn it into a scavenger hunt. Make teams compete to see who can achieve the higher badge count. Mold your badging to your culture and design accordingly!

What’s next?


In this post, we’ve gone over a bunch of the user experience tools at your disposal – but this is just the beginning of sustained adoption. In our next post, we’ll look at sticky adoption from a content and mobile app capabilities standpoint and how delivering real value to your users will drive true, organic sticky adoption.

James Casagrande

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Sticky Adoption: tools for building a sustained mobile readership, Part 1

Picture this: you’ve got a killer company news post ready to go out on your employee app. You’re an experienced content producer, and you know these stories are full of juicy hooks and interesting factoids. You also know that 95% of your colleagues have downloaded and logged into the app, so there will be eyeballs on the stream. You know you’re going to get a ton of engagement on this; people will be talking about this post for days. You’re pumped. The post is published on Tuesday. You check the post’s engagement report on Thursday and… three people read it. You are distraught – you know this content was really good! You begin questioning life, the universe, existence itself. What gives? As usual, it has everything to do with the medium and not the message. Your post was dead on arrival because no one was looking at the stream to begin with. When you check your user metrics, you see you’ve got an adoption issue – while a lot of people initially downloaded and logged in to the app, they're not returning to the app to read your content. Your user adoption wasn't sticky. What do you do now?
 

Becoming sticky: getting users to regularly return

In the early days of your employee app, getting your staff to download it and register feels awesome. Big numbers flood in as more and more people sign up thanks to your initial campaign. But this is where most people see their first setback – a majority of first-time users don’t come back. It’s a shocking drop if you don’t expect it, but it’s the nature of mobile – consumer apps lose 80% of their users in the first 3 days after installation. If you’re not continuously providing essential value to the user within the app, they don’t make it part of their routine. Three principles are key to follow when trying to avoid user abandonment of your app:

  1. Create great content that is meant for 'mobile moments.' Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Creatively leverage the mobile-unique features, like push notification and app badging, to remain front-and-center in the user’s mobile experience.
  3. Thread “nonessential” activities – like perusing a company newsletter or taking a survey – with essential information and tasks within the same stream.

The first bullet is something all communicators know: match your content to your medium. We're going to tackel the second and third bullets to show you all the tools available to get that content as many views as possible. In today's post, we’re going to cover the first mobile tool in your bag: the push notification.
 

Using push notification features effectively

Any time you give someone a new place to look for information, it’s another ‘destination’ that they must voluntarily navigate to and add to their habitual routine. It is hard to break user habits. The beauty of mobile is that it is not simply a ‘destination’ – it has mechanisms to push information to the user when it’s relevant to them personally.

Push nptifications are powerful. Use them often but use them wisely.

You’re familiar with mobile push notifications already. They tell you when your Uber has arrived, when someone sends you a text, etc. As a user, you choose to turn these notifications on for each app, so you’ll need to instruct your users to allow for push notifications from your app. Make sure you communicate that notifications are incredibly valuable to the user, as they no longer need to hunt for what they need to see, as their user data will actively predict what they need to read. Using ONE’s channels, groups, and geolocation data helps ensure that content pushed to a user remains relevant.

One caution: push notifications are an interruption to a user’s flow. Your authors will be tempted to use push notifications for every single thing they write. In order to foster trust with the user, use them judiciously. It’s tempting to put a push notification on every piece of content, but ask yourself: is it beneficial for the users receiving this content to read it right away? Will they be happy or annoyed if this interrupts another activity? Think of a push notification as something to use when you have information that is less urgent/ interesting/ relevant than a phone call, but more urgent/ interesting/ relevant than an email. Overuse of notifications will lead some users to turn them off or stop using the app altogether.

The 'bring the users back' notification targets semi-engaged users to get them back to the app.
Winning the semi-engaged user

In addition to an ability to send a notification for any relevant individual post, Sitrion ONE includes a feature to send a push notification when an active user hasn’t logged in for a set amount of time. The push will tell them how many cards they’ve missed in their stream since they last logged in, letting them know there is additional value they could be getting from the app. We call this the bring-the-user-back notification. This semi-engaged audience is the real sweet spot for increasing your adoption. Since they’ve logged in before, you know they have some interest in your app. For whatever reason – vacation, boredom, broken thumbs – they haven’t been using their phone or app, but it’s likely that displaying additional value will get them to log in and reengage. This audience includes the one-and-done users that most apps lose after launch. It’s critical to cater to them and get them to give the app another look so they see repeated value from it. They are the most likely source for swelling the ranks of your faithful readers.

What's Next?

Push notifications should be reserved for when there is either a task, a high volume of unread information, or an important single piece of information to catch up on. There are lighter-touch engagement options that are more passive, but still grab the user’s attention. But you’ll have to wait until Part 2 to see those.

James Casagrande

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The ONE award-winning employee app to reach and engage your entire workforce

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Get in contact

Are you looking for support help? Do you have questions about our products and solutions? We’re happy to help.

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Or call 1-877-SITRION

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