How Culture Drives Engagement and Recognition at Rocket Companies

September 14, 2022 Anna Chmura

“Every company has a thing it runs on. It’s the thing that is truly the heartbeat of the organization,” said Mike Malloy, chief amazement officer at Rocket Companies. “It is, whether people say it or not, the North Star. In our organization everything runs on our culture.”

Rocket Companies outperforms in its industry for providing clients with mortgages, loans, and other products through its digital lending platforms. Key to this success is their employees. They make a difference in their clients’ lives, so the company invests in making a difference in their workers’ lives.

Malloy recently spoke at the Workhuman® Live conference on Rocket Companies’ values, or “ISMs” as they refer to them, and how implementing a social recognition platform helped create a culture of engagement and excellence.

Below are key points from the presentation.

Rocket divider

Establish organizational culture

A topic Mike emphasized throughout his conversation is culture. “Our organization is entirely about living our culture,” he said. “There is nothing else that matters in our organization beyond a core value of living our culture. And that drives everything else we do.” Organizational culture is the backbone to any successful organization, and that is clear throughout Rocket Companies’ onboarding process.

Every new hire, within their first 30-60 days, attends an event called “ISMs Day”. During this time, Rocket Companies’ senior leadership team speaks about the 20 ISMs and how they are living up to them. They’ve even implemented this concept into performance reviews, rating employees on how well they incorporate ISMs into their everyday lives.

Mike shared his favorite ISM, “Obsessed with a better way.” “When I talk about ‘obsessed with finding a better way at ISMs Day,’ I say if anyone ever tells you it’s this way because it’s always been that way, you are supposed to challenge them and say, ‘No, there’s got to be a better way.’”

Rocket divider

Align awards with company values

Rocket Companies links their ISMs to recognition moments, using positive reinforcement to remind employees why their hard work is the lifeblood of the company’s success.

AMAZE, Rocket Companies’ social recognition program, includes different award levels that provide a broad range of award options to recognize behaviors based on varying degrees of contribution, achievement, or success. Their most popular award, called “Fist Bump,” is a non-monetary award that gives employees the

 freedom to encourage and support each other whenever they want.

To bolster AMAZE, Rocket Companies integrated 30 previously disparate programs, such as sales awards, into the one recognition platform. Malloy explained: “By putting in this platform three years ago, we were able to find another way to reinforce … keep people talking and thinking about and pull their ISMs book off their desk or shelf and [think about] how we can all do better living our culture.” Employees and teams can easily recognize each other all on one unified platform.


Recognition moments drive data

99.6% of team members have been recognized at least onceNot only does AMAZE reinforce engagement and culture throughout the company, but it also provides compelling people data. Rocket Companies can understand how these recognition moments impact metrics like retention, DE&I initiatives, ROI, and so many others. Since the start of AMAZE program:

• 97% of employees have adopted it. That’s more than 25,000 team members.
• 99.6% of team members have been recognized at least once.
• Employees who are recognized 2x per month have reduced turnover by 5.5%.

As time goes on, Rocket Companies hopes to improve on this data. According to a study conducted by Gallup, creating a culture of recognition can save a 10,000-employee company up to $16.1 million in turnover costs annually.

But for Mike, this jaw-dropping number doesn’t compare to his amazing team members. “We know how valuable our team members are, and we generally don’t reduce them to a specific number because I think it’s sort of a false precision that doesn’t add a lot.”

Mike concluded, “The most important thing is to make it real, make it open, make it organic – meaning that people see it, we have a running feed.” Jay Farner, CEO, regularly sends recognition moments to remind employees to feel empowered to use the platform and instill the value of ISMs throughout the organization.