Cardinal Health partnered with Workhuman to launch its first global, social recognition solution, Bravo!, designed to support a culture of recognition and appreciation across the entire organization.
Merck: Culturally Energizing, Global Social Recognition A CASE STUDY
Merck chose to partner with Workhuman to launch its first ever peer-to- peer recognition program, called INSPIRE. “Workhuman’s platform allowed us to improve every aspect of the recognition process, making it easier for employees to both give points and recognize each other, as well as redeem for gift cards and merchandise in every country,” explains Michaela Leo, former director of compensation at Merck.
Workhuman came to us with an innovative solution that allowed us to move into the digital space and make our recognition program more user‑friendly.
With a 125-year history of working to make a difference, Merck is a premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company with a mission to save and improve lives. Its 67,000 employees around the world provide medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases.
Whether helping invent the next breakthrough treatment or simply
challenging and supporting one another for mutual betterment, Merck’s
culture is all about applied curiosity. Underpinning that culture are Merck’s
core values of patients first, respect for people, ethics and integrity, and
innovation and scientific excellence.
This case study explores how Merck partnered with Workhuman® to
implement a modern recognition and reward solution that boosts employee retention and engagement, and improves key diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) metrics.
12-point increase on the recognition question in Merck’s employee engagement survey
The existing recognition experience at Merck did not match the needs of a modern workforce. Recognition was not peer-to-peer – it could only be given top-down, from manager to employee. And since the nomination process was paper-based, no one was recognized in real time, in the moments it mattered most.
Merck’s service anniversary program was also outdated. “Our vendor did not have local distribution centers, so we were dealing with tax and customs issues,” explains Dave Watson, global solutions and relationship lead at Merck. “Many times, people didn’t get their award for months after their anniversary.”
The bottom line? Merck wanted a consistent global program to deliver a similar experience to employees in different parts of the world.
Merck needed a partner to help build a global recognition solution that would allowed employees to recognize each other quickly, easily and frequently. Three million recognition moments to date, with a new award every 23 seconds.
400,000 recognition moments to date, with 72% of those between peers
Merck chose to partner with Workhuman to launch its first peer-to- peer recognition program called INSPIRE. The program was launched globally in 85 countries on one day.
Helping launch INSPIRE were more than 400 ambassadors and early adopters around the world, tailoring launch events to their countries and cultures.
Workhuman’s platform allowed Merck to improve every aspect of the recognition process, making it easier for employees to both give points and recognize each other, as well as redeem for gift cards and merchandise in every country.
Since INSPIRE is far-reaching, with a recognition moment happening every 23 seconds, the program was well positioned to support Merck’s DE&I efforts through two industry-first, built-in micro-coaching opportunities: Inclusion Reflections and Inclusion Advisor. Inclusion Reflections nudges employees in the process of nominating a peer for an award, asking questions like: Are you recognizing the right individuals? Are you recognizing individuals equitably? Inclusion Advisor is a smart assistant that provides in-the-moment microcoaching to flag potentially biased language in award messages.
Workhuman came to Merck with an innovative solution that allowed Merck to further advance its program in the digital space and make its recognition program more user-friendly.
More than 84,000 mobile recognition actions
Excitement for INSPIRE has only grown since the program launched. There have been nearly three million recognition moments, with 37% of those between peers and 100% of the population recognized at least once. Merck has also seen impressive adoption of the INSPIRE mobile application, with more than 84,000 mobile recognition actions.
INSPIRE has exceeded Merck’s expectations for a more user-friendly recognition experience. “We don’t have any training materials on how to use INSPIRE,”
says Dave. “The system is extremely intuitive. It takes two minutes to
The ease-of-use means people are being recognized more frequently. “That builds a positive energy in the organization, which you just don’t get with the infrequent cash awards,” says Michaela.
Another tangible result of INSPIRE is a 12-point increase on the recognition question in Merck’s employee engagement survey. Today, a majority of Merck employees say they have a positive recognition experience, which is a significant change from years prior to the launch of INSPIRE. Seeing this positive impact, Merck chose to increase investment in INSPIRE to create the best possible recognition and reward experience for employees.
“All of our line division leaders say HR should be doing more things like this. The business rarely talks about HR that way, but they’re talking about INSPIRE that way all the time,” says Dave.
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