the dow chemical company: winner of o.c. tanner’s 2016 recognition leadership award
By kassi cox whale in Appreciation, Culture, and Editor Picks
The Dow Chemical Company has been an industry leader for over a century. They have over 50,000 employees, are in over 180 countries, and have become a global leader in innovation, technology, and corporate culture. All the while they were making a difference within our world, they were creating a culture of recognition within their company.
As an industry leading chemical company headquartered in Midland, Michigan, Dow has created a reputation as a market leader that attracts and retains great talent. In an ever-evolving and competitive landscape, Dow continues to win the loyalty of their employees across the globe.
However, simply claiming to have a great culture isn’t enough. Dow doesn’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. Over the past two years they have seen engagement in their customized employee recognition platform, Accelerate Great, increase over 18%. In 2015, there was a recognition moment every 3 minutes. And, the amount of employees engaged in their formal recognition program increased 11% from 2014 to 2015 taking the global average to 84%.
Focused on an Engaged Culture
The culture at Dow, when described by their own employees, is a culture of openness, innovation, diversity, team spirit, and growth. By focusing on the feedback they heard from their employees, they made the appropriate changes to their recognition program companywide. Once their new program was implemented, they sustained its progress by continually appreciating great work, great employees, and recognizing when something great was achieved within their company.
“Our mantra is having the best people and the best people will make a difference,” says Johanna Söderström, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources and Aviation, “In order to get the best people we have to outsmart the others. We have to be attractive and we need to find ways for our people to want to stay.”
Johanna continues to clarify how they became a company that attracts not only new external talent, but retain their internal talent as well.
“We have to make sure it’s known externally as well as internally. And that’s where recognition plays an important role. So recognition is really about knowing your employees and what makes them tick,” says Söderström.
According to Dow, once they understood their employees’ needs at a more human level, they were able to not only recognize, but recognize with purpose. By successfully understanding how to connect the head and the heart of their employees around the world they became a leading figure in the corporate culture arena.
Stagnant to Successful
Curtis Kesler, the Recognition and Appreciation Program Manager at Dow describes their previous recognition programs as stagnant.
“We had a formal recognition tool that was oriented primarily around monetizing the appreciation experience so it was only vouchers or it was only cash. There was no long term strategy in terms of driving a different culture,” says Kesler, “We had a program that was stuck. It wasn’t moving forward.”
Kesler continues to describe their previous platform as a ‘one size fits all approach’ that simply wasn’t ringing true to Dow employees.
“Every single person has an individual motivator,” says Kesler, “there was a need to move forward with a global strategy, but with local implementation taking more of the local culture into consideration.”
One way Dow successfully came to understand what connected their employees to their local cultures and the company they worked for was by conducting companywide employee satisfaction surveys, and more importantly, taking the time to evaluate what was working and wasn’t working in particular regions.
These surveys helped Dow work with O.C. Tanner to create customized strategies that would thrive in local cultures around the globe but still be a part of one cohesive Dow recognition platform. By utilizing these surveys and adjusting their program accordingly, they saw program registered users increase from 60% in 2014 to 84% in 2015.
“O.C. Tanner has helped us to be more flexible in reaching our employees wherever they are,” says Kesler. “Employees are more open to collaboration, they’re more open to innovation, they’re more open to helping others around them succeed, and therefore succeed themselves.”
Dow saw early on how having a proper functioning recognition program that worked with their specific needs affected business strategies, outcomes, work produced, and overall bottom lines.
“When employees feel validated and feel a part of the bigger picture, and a part of the strategy, we all work harder. We do more. We put more effort into everything we do and we do better work. That impacts the shareholders. That impacts corporate initiatives. That impacts the bottom line. It’s very good business sense to make sure that we have an engaged workforce,” says Kesler.