Career and Jobs

Building A Human Workplace: Edgewell’s Story

It’s still too early to know what exactly the post-pandemic workplace will look like. But we do know that mass disruption over this past year has forced many business leaders to reassess their priorities in an effort to set their organizations up for success moving forward.

“Most companies are reimagining themselves right now,” says Susan Lund, partner and research leader at McKinsey and Company. “They are embracing speed and flexibility and agility, and the flattening of hierarchies in an effort to make decisions faster and better.”

The only way your organization can achieve greater flexibility and agility is through people. Forward-thinking companies are doubling down on a people-first mindset. They’re taking care of their people by building a more human workplace. As I noted in my Forbes column earlier this year, a human workplace is more than a slogan. It is a new work paradigm that leverages the power of human connection to build resilient, high-performing teams that thrive in the hybrid workplace and beyond. Instead of trying to get the best out of employees, a human workplace enables and inspires employees to give their best.  

One such company I’ve had the privilege of working with recently is Edgewell Personal Care, a consumer products corporation headquartered in Shelton, Connecticut. You’re likely familiar with the company’s portfolio of brands, like Schick, Banana Boat, and Wet Ones. 

I sat down with Anthony Renella, VP of total rewards at Edgewell, to discuss how his team is using social recognition to drive culture transformation. 

Eric: You launched your employee recognition program, InspireJOY, earlier this year. Why now? What led Edgewell to social recognition?

Anthony: Edgewell is in the midst of an exciting transformation – becoming more agile and competitive and staying true to our smaller company feel. At the heart of this transformation is the launch of a new company purpose to ‘Make useful things joyful’ and a set of corporate values which support this purpose. We infuse joy into our daily interactions, and we create products that are functional and joyful for our customers.

These new values – People first, Move forward, Listen up/Speak Up, and Own it Together – guide our behaviors, our decisions, and our actions. We needed a way to reinforce the values, by making them tangible and repeatable – to bring them to life. That’s why it was perfect timing to bring Workhuman in as a partner to launch InspireJOY.

Eric: How has InspireJOY become a catalyst for culture change?

Anthony: It was important that this new employee recognition program really be about our people, and to lead the way in creating a ‘thank you’ culture. For that reason, InspireJOY is our first truly peer-to-peer program – anyone in the company has the opportunity to give and receive thanks for a job well done at any time of the year.

Edgewell is headquartered in the United States, but we operate in locations all over the world, so it was also important that InspireJOY be really simple and intuitive no matter where someone sits within the organization. 

Eric: How does InspireJOY work?

Anthony: It’s super easy – no more gift cards in drawers or huge catalogues for employees to sift through. On one digital platform, employees can instantly give and receive recognition and redeem points for gift cards and merchandise. 

We’ve also brought service anniversaries onto InspireJOY, so each employee’s anniversary is given the time, attention, and celebration it deserves. The system automatically generates reminders to managers and the employee’s work circle as the milestone approaches. This is critical, especially for managers with larger teams. The technology makes sure no one is left behind. 

It’s been amazing to celebrate some of our most tenured colleagues with 25+ years of service. InspireJOY has brought a level of transparency to these milestones that simply didn’t exist before. Our executive leadership team sees recognition as a business priority, and they are helping lead the culture change by making recognition a daily practice as well.

Eric: What results have you seen since the launch of InspireJOY in January?

Anthony: We’re thrilled to see the program gaining momentum. We have exceeded expectations with InspireJOY. Our people are not shy. The social recognition piece is working.

There are many moving parts to our culture transformation, and recognition really is at the heart of it all. With any initiative we’re driving, we’re leveraging recognition. For example, for Women’s History Month, we used InspireJOY to tell stories and celebrate our female teammates, reinforcing the value they bring to our organization.

It’s also been eye-opening to dig into the data provided by Workhuman. We have always invested in recognition, but now we know exactly where that investment is flowing in the company. Which locations are maximizing that investment? Where is there underutilization? Why? We’re using that data to drive more effective change management campaigns. You can’t change something you can’t see.

The launch of InspireJOY has confirmed what I’ve known for a long time – that recognition is critically important as a total rewards pillar. If you can’t easily recognize people for their efforts day in and day out, then you’re doing something wrong.

Above all, Edgewell’s story demonstrates the incredible business value of building a human workplace. Businesses looking to thrive in the future of work are prioritizing the qualities that make us most human: social connection, community, positivity, belonging, and a sense of meaning. Launching a world-class social recognition program like InspireJOY is a great place to start.

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