Article: Democratising employee recognition: A design for the unconventional at TechHRSG

Employee Engagement

Democratising employee recognition: A design for the unconventional at TechHRSG

Tokopedia's experience, shared at TechHR SG 2023, offers insights into how employee recognition can enhance employee engagement and productivity.
Democratising employee recognition: A design for the unconventional at TechHRSG

Employee recognition fosters a connection between employees and the organisation, ensuring that all individuals experience a sense of belonging, value, and appreciation. Nanang Chalid, Senior Vice President of People and Culture at Tokopedia, presented a case study at TechHR SG 2023, highlighting Tokopedia’s journey in becoming the 2023 Fast Company Best Workplace for Innovators through its employee recognition programmes.

Addressing the challenges of employee recognition

Starting the session by addressing challenges of employee recognition, Nanang expressed, “Year after year, employees often find themselves ranking at the bottom in terms of feeling adequately compensated and recognised. Despite addressing these needs through monetary incentives, we realised it's an insatiable demand. So, we've taken matters into our own hands by focusing on recognition.

  • To provide you with a glimpse, our organisation comprises 3,800 individuals and boasts 1.8 billion listed products. While the online aspect may not always be visible, our operations encompass intricate logistics, category management, and the user interface you interact with in our apps.
  • Since 2019, our commitment to championing Indonesia remains unwavering. We proudly operate exclusively in Indonesia, and we have adopted Indonesia's national anthem as our company anthem, for a strong sense of national culture.
  • However, what truly motivates us is the shift from merely managing HR processes to cultivating an entire ecosystem, similar to any technology company. This shift in mindset is the cornerstone of our approach."

Designing employee engagement ecosystem: HRs as the product managers  

Encouraging HR professionals to recognize their worth on par with product managers. Nanang explained, "The essence of HR's role lies in constructing an ecosystem. In 2019, I conveyed to my team that our daily mission is to cultivate a thriving people's ecosystem. To make it more relatable to millennials and Gen Z, we refer to it as #maketheshift."

Additionally, we aim for an "H" - more human, "H" - more impact, "H" - more fun, and "H" - more technology-driven. Now, when we delve into recognition, here's the ecosystem framework we envision. Your ecosystem extends across the spectrum, spanning from company to Nakama (meaning: colleague/employee). As defined:

  1. Company to Employee: For example, the Long Service Award is a company-to-employee recognition.
  2. Employee Leaders to Employees (Nakama to Nakama): Encouraging fun conversations, one-on-ones, coffee check-ins and more, between employee leaders and their colleagues.
  3. Nakama to Nakama (creating an employee engagement ecosystem): Overcoming challenges like how can we facilitate employees engaging with each other? Creating a high-tech, high-touch employee experience or nakama experience. This is where recognition comes in.”

Recognition: A solution for employee engagement

Recognition is essential because it has a positive impact. Commenting on this, Nanang said, “When employees recognise each other, they feel a strong sense of belonging, with 44% more likely to thrive and show resilience in the workplace.

  • Additionally, a mini focus group discussion revealed that 73% of employees feel overwhelmed when they don't receive recognition.
  • Therefore, engaged employees are more likely to drive organisational change and become change agents. Also, workplace collaborations can lead to innovative solutions. 

Democratising the recognition process

When HRs are focusing on employee recognition, they should also consider democratising the process. Illustrating the same, Nanang said, “Digitalizing the 'thank you cards' and making it accessible to everyone by giving UDOs (Undang Diri Online, or online invitations) as a form of recognition. These small gestures can have a significant impact. Every action in HR, no matter how small, matters. HRs, viewing themselves as product owners and creating an ecosystem, can unlock great potential.

The concept of democratising recognition through UDOs was recognized by Fast Company as a unique approach. In addition to peer-to-peer and leader-to-employee recognition, Tokopedia is now working on a second layer, a technology product called Spot Work, to help leaders engage with their employees. Shifting the mindset in HR to that of a product manager opens up endless possibilities for innovation.”

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Rewards & Recognition Technology, #TechHRSG

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