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Dushyant Ajwani American Express

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Dushyant Ajwani, manager for compensation and benefits at American Express Southeast Asia,  shares how the company builds a culture of reward and recognition through Reward Blue.

Reward and recognition is a critical pillar of the Rewards framework for any organisation and is the foundation to achieve engagement. In order to benefit both employer and employee, a carefully planned programme is necessary.

The way American Express has built its reward and recognition programme, Reward Blue, is purposeful. The programme is available to more than 62,800 American Express employees across the globe and it delivers a consistent and uniform message to motivate and appreciate colleagues.

It is simple yet effective and is based on three fundamental pillars: Praise employees for their efforts, offer rewards for meaningful results and celebrate loyalty – a win-win formula.

Praising efforts is a non-monetary way of appreciation, allowing employees to create, design and send fun animated eCards and eButtons to colleagues across all markets, recognising them for everyday tasks and congratulating them on great work. The intuitive and user-friendly on-line portal offers various themes for appreciation such as leadership, congratulations, teamwork, innovation, customer Service and encouragement.

Reward Blue plays a pivotal role in bridging geographical boundaries and helps employees add a personal touch, even when they are hundreds and thousands of miles away from their colleagues. For instance, an individual can make a customised eButton by picking a theme, colour, background and send a personalised message to make their colleagues feel valued and special.

Rewarding results allows employees to nominate colleagues for Blue Awards when they truly go above and beyond and perform exceptionally well. It is based on achievement of meaningful results and outcomes that have a significant impact on the project, team or business as a whole.

Employees based in the UK, US, and Canada have an elaborate catalogue of gifts to choose from based on the Blue Awards (Reward Blue currency) accumulated by them. For other American Express markets, the Blue Awards are converted into local currency and paid out to employees as and when they receive the awards.

The culture of recognition goes beyond praising efforts and rewarding results. American Express celebrates loyalty – service milestones of employees who have dedicated their careers to American Express. Employees receive a crystal award with a congratulatory message from the CEO. They also get to redeem gifts from the loyalty catalogue.

The global recognition programme runs across different lines of business and staff groups to identify exceptional performers within each department and rewards them with prestigious awards such as the Pinnacle Award, Top Achievers Award and President’s Award.

To reinforce a strong culture of recognition, American Express runs interactive and engaging campaigns to continuously educate and engage employees to appreciate great work. Campaigns and events such as build-a-button contest, employee appreciation month and global competitions help increase awareness and participation.

One of the most popular campaigns is a global competition designed around a topical and popular world sporting event such as soccer or cricket. In the global competition, markets are pitted against one another and go into the next round based on the level of participation and engagement on Reward Blue during the competition period.

The most engaged market will enter top 16 and semi-finals, and eventually the finals. The winning market receives a special award, as do the top givers in Reward Blue. These competitions not only help increase awareness of Reward Blue, but also help drive team recognition and camaraderie. The senior leadership are strong advocates of recognition and they consistently reinforce the message.

Overall, Reward Blue provides strong foundational support to the Rewards framework at American Express to motivate and encourage employees.

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