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All Things Recognition and Rewards: Interview with Awardco founder and CEO Steve Sonnenberg

In this interview with Awardco founder and CEO Steve Sonnenberg, he shares some actionable steps that employers can take to nurture their remote work culture and how companies can implement them with the help of employee rewards and recognition platform Awardco.

Please tell us more about yourself?

My name is Steve Sonnenberg. I’m originally from Chicago and now live in Utah with my wife and kids. I’m the co-founder and CEO of Awardco and love being an entrepreneur. I love to think of innovative solutions to existing problems, and that’s how Awardco came about.

What is Awardco and what unique services do you provide?

Awardco is the only employee rewards and recognition platform to offer the largest reward network on the planet, simple and flexible solutions for any number of recognition programs, and an all-in-one platform that makes administration easy. Some of our unique offerings include our official partnership with Amazon Business (which means no markups and free shipping options on rewards), our ability to create custom catalogs of any items, our automation capabilities so no service anniversary or life event is forgotten, and our smart award network that allows organizations to customize what rewards can be spent on. 

Distinct work culture is believed to be essential to organizational success, what workplace challenges would you like to discuss with us today?

Two things have been at the forefront of my mind for many months now: the Great Resignation and remote work. The Great Resignation is affecting almost every organization across the globe. Granted, some industries are hurting more than others, but why is this happening? What can be done about it? I believe that the root cause of this is that expected value does not match conveyed value for employees. When an employee does not feel valued as they expect, either in salary or environment, they will look elsewhere. Awardco aims to alleviate the pressures of the Great Resignation, and we’ve already been seeing success with our clients.

Secondly, remote work is a topic I love to discuss. Though remote work was already on the rise, the pandemic accelerated that change and we’ve all had to adapt. How can we keep remote teams cohesive, help employees feel seen and heard, and help keep them engaged when they aren’t at an office? Once again, Awardco has the tools to make this happen. 

Please enlighten us more on the importance of recognition and rewards for workers and how it enables retention and productivity?

I could go on about the importance of recognition and rewards all day. While many organizations still see it as a nice thing to have, I believe it is absolutely integral to the future success of every organization. The wellbeing and success of employees hinges directly on whether or not they feel valued at their organization. If they don’t, they will not be engaged, they won’t be as productive, and they’ll eventually look elsewhere. Now, we know that employees will always need to do what’s best for them. We don’t condone keeping employees around that don’t want to be there. But when an employee feels seen and appreciated, they’ll be more engaged. They’ll be more productive. And that will continue in a cycle and will increase retention rates. Being seen and appreciated is important everywhere, even at work. And there’s no better way to help employees feel that power than through an effective, deliberate, and powerful rewards and recognition strategy.

With remote working on the boom, how are employee recognition platforms enabling better work culture, could you give us an overview of this industry and how important it is?

As was mentioned earlier, remote work is on my mind a lot because of how integral rewards and recognition is in keeping remote teams cohesive and engaged. Employee recognition platforms like Awardco help engagement by recognizing and rewarding added value. It’s a lot easier to say thanks when you’re in person, and to express appreciation. When you’re a remote work culture, however, it can often fall by the wayside but is never more important. Making recognition more accessible and easy, and top-of-mind, is what Awardco is all about. 

What actionable steps can employers take to nurture remote work culture and how can companies implement these  actionable steps successfully?

First and foremost there needs to be a strategy, or plan, on how you will continue to nurture your workforce when they’re remote. This can be something as simple as a regular reminder to check in with your employees, or it can be something more powerful like a recognition platform. Secondly, once you have a plan in place, it is helpful to use the tools at your disposal to make this plan work. Awardco integrates with many existing tools to make it easier than ever to make recognition a part of your daily work culture. We integrate with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and many others. This means that recognition doesn’t need to be just another tool, but a part of the tools you already use. Lastly, it’s important to train your leaders on the importance and impact of recognition so that every leader uses the tools you have in place, and every employee feels the power of recognition in their daily work. 

What are you currently working on at Awardco and what is next on your roadmap?

Awardco has, until recently, been entirely bootstrapped and we’ve been as fiscally responsible as we possibly can be. This has attracted some incredible investors like General Catalyst to partner with us. General Catalyst has been integral in building other well-known organizations such as Atlassian. Air BnB, Hubspot, and more. With this new partnership Awardco has been enabled to position ourselves to grow like never before. Our goal is to help organize the world’s incentive spend and make rewarding recognition available to everyone around the world. Not just to employees, but to customers, fans, patrons, and more. The future is bright!

For more information, visit the website: Award.co

Angela Scott-Briggs

Editor, TechBullion.com | Interested in Innovations in Business, Finance, and Technology .

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Angela Scott-Briggs

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