COVID-19 was a perfect storm, and almost nobody saw it coming. Likening this crisis to a "Black Swan" event, characterized by its unpredictability and unprecedented impact, leaders in all industries across the globe were forced to make immediate decisions in response. As business models unraveled almost overnight, and personal and professional lives were dramatically altered, the race to mitigate the fallout was crucial.
In these moments, it was imperative that someone take the reins to help maintain a sense of hope. "Although the world stopped and pivoted on a dime with the onset of COVID-19, we chose to be a voice of calm, support and motivation to our customers," says Alex Alaminos, CEO, Madison. Madison, a global leader in social recognition, providing employee recognition, sales incentives and service anniversary programs designed for today's ever-changing workforce, worked to find a way to counterbalance the negativity and uncertainty that engulfed the world. It was clear that a White Swan moment was needed to instill a sense of hope for employees globally. Led by the HR champions and workforce ambassadors that supported them every day, Madison sought to motivate, and rally them around this cause. The popular White Swan podcast hosted by HRO Today and led by Madison executives arose as a tool to help their long-standing partners weather the storm with their teams. Discussing real-life topics on how to support employees through these hardships with an eye for the future, the White Swan podcasts underscored Madison's overall mission to give workforces the power to engage and inspire anytime, anywhere.
That mission, while well- suited to rise to the occasion of a crisis, is also the way Madison has approached its business model every day since its inception. Founded in 1974, Madison strives to create cultures where employees love to work, learn, connect & succeed, and they do so with technology and methodologies that transform behavior, attitudes, and culture within organizations.
"Madison's uniquely configurable cloud-based SaaS technology, Maestro, provides a suite of employee recognition and sales incentive tools and services to help our clients with their employee recognition and sales incentive needs, "says Alaminos.
Maestro simplifies the administrative and user experience and connects the different components into one cohesive solution that can serve multiple purposes for any business.
Maestro comprises of these components: Maestro|CHEER provides an activity stream that enables employees to make meaningful connections with one another through recognition delivered via interactive messages, audio, video, and likes.
Maestro|OTS encourages a culture of recognition that isn't entirely device-dependent and delivers in-the-moment recognition for employees' good work. Using custom-designed certiﬁcates for any desired award type, managers and leaders can provide recognition the minute an ideal behavior is observed.
Maestro|CONNECT is an API that allows the key functions of the social recognition technology to be integrated into any third party or proprietary application a company may be using. This enables enterprise organizations to that to provide employee-facing tools with the ability to incorporate recognition under the same user interface that's familiar to their employee base.
Maestro|ONE provides managers with the tools to drive employee development and ultimately enhance organizational growth through real-time feedback, collaboration, and goal management.
Maestro Reporting and BI also offers a comprehensive data analytics suite that captures every activity that occurs in the platform, ensuring administrators can measure performance against their unique pre-determined benchmarks.
All these components work together in harmony to help organizations adapt to new workforce models and environments that have been changing rapidly.
Facing today’s unprecedented challenges
With today’s challenge of how COVID has dispersed the workforce and confined it inside the four walls of a room across different geographies, vital questions surface while designing, deploying new services for the employees. How do we reach each employee in engaging ways? Will one-size-fits-all suffice the needs for all? Is there any way to continue celebratory events for employees? Are R&R programs even more necessary now?
For an industry leader like Madison, these questions are no shockers; instead, the answers are the fruition of their years-old research and development.
In terms of geographies, Madison relies heavily on social platforms and online endeavors to reach almost every corner of the world. Social recognition tools essentially shrink distances, allowing connectivity between team members sitting tens-of-thousand miles apart. “We can agree that social recognition changed the industry, and thankfully, Madison was at the forefront, leading the charge,” adds Alaminos. “And now, with the trend in remote work growing exponentially, reliance on these systems is paramount to creating and maintaining the inclusive environment we envision.”
In addition to social tools available, Madison recognizes the diverse and unique rewards and recognition needs of a global workforce, underscoring the notion that programs must be more than just the aforementioned “one-size-fits-all” solutions. "With storefronts in 160 countries, we create global reward programs consisting of incentives, redemption, and recognition items that truly reflect the recipient's environment," details out Alaminos. These storefronts create a personalized moment for a diversified workforce, allowing them to select from choices aligned with their interests, where they live, and what is familiar to their lifestyles. Plus, the unique configurability of these systems, allows Madison to build solutions based upon their client’s needs, for a truly customized experience.
Of course, with all the uncertainty still hanging above, some companies feel that R&R is a 'nice-to-have' rather than a 'must-have', especially when company solvency is at risk. At Madison, those concerns are validated and addressed with meaningful and practical planning and insight.
“If there is one thing we learned throughout this crisis is that employees were looking to their companies for support and stability more than ever. It is in those moments that companies had the ability to exemplify their investment in their teams and the values they placed on them,” notes Alaminos. But rather than saddle an organization with something unsustainable, Madison created a path of choice. "We've developed financial models that can be customized and solutions built-to-suit so that companies can partake in successful R&R programs," answers Alaminos. These custom solutions allow rewards and recognition to become something accessible and welcoming, not a hindrance to engaging the workforce.
Managing against the unprecedented push of the pandemic
While operational and financial stability were foremost on the agenda for most companies as the COVID-19 crisis took hold, it was imperative that a vital component of any organization, employee rewards and recognition, did not fall by the wayside. Proven again and again, these programs remain mutually beneficial to all participants; by their very nature they improve employee engagement and morale, leading to increased productivity, brand loyalty and ultimate success for the organization as a whole. To face the ongoing challenge presented this year, a leader in the space, like Madison, needed to serve as a committed partner and advocate in helping their clients navigate the choices in front of them. By offering best practices to maintain, modify or even implement new solutions that worked for their needs, no matter how large or small, many organizations were able to continue offering programs that delivered much-needed hope and support to the teams they were built for.
As Alaminos concluded, “we had to think differently for our customers, and we had to act quickly—but we have been doing that for 40 years as a core business principle, so while the challenge was great, our team was experienced in and ultimately comfortable in being part of the solution.”