How a high-tech AI solution can boost employee engagement

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When I entered the workforce many years ago, I became disengaged because I felt overlooked by my managers—they never communicated the impact my work had on the organization.

My experience mirrors the latest employee engagement research that shows employees crave real and immediate recognition. Just saying “good job” or “I appreciate you” doesn’t cut it; more important is the quality of the recognition. To increase employees’ engagement and commitment, managers need meaningful ways to highlight their contributions to a project or the enterprise.

That’s why we founded KangoGift, which makes giving feedback and praise a simple, timely and authentic experience for employees and managers alike. Our all-digital platform solves the problem of employees not getting the recognition they deserve.

Powered by the IBM Cloud and IBM Watson technology, KangoGift makes it easy to set up and manage both structured and on-the-spot recognition programs. Thousands of managers across 20 countries use our tools to help determine who, when and why people should be recognized. What’s more, Watson’s smart recognition features unlock insights that can make recognition a strategic advantage.

Recognizing employee contributions

How do our clients learn best practices for employee recognition? We work with them to customize programs to their needs. These can involve recognition of everyday successes, and then bigger-picture awards relating to projects, performance, incentives, corporate values and length of service. The HR team can track and manage all recognition from a single interface.

Here’s how the solution works. When a manager or peer recognizes someone, that person receives a personalized message as well as a printable certificate, and the moment is preserved in a recognition history. In order to understand the impact of employee contributions towards company goals and values, we notify managers of recognition they didn’t initiate. And our e-gift cards simplify award delivery. For milestone awards such as a length-of-service anniversary, coworkers can add personal notes of appreciation.

Because our platform resides on everyone’s PC, it encourages frequent praise and feedback. People begin to realize how good it feels to give and receive recognition. This compels them to repeat the process, creating a virtuous circle that raises morale—and generates a wealth of unstructured text Watson can analyze for workforce trends, patterns and insights.

Gleaning insights from unstructured data

Watson serves as a digital assistant that can alert managers to recognition opportunities. It can remind busy managers to praise a standout employee whose contributions may have been overlooked and suggest the type and level of award appropriate for a particular situation.

During performance reviews, managers can analyze keywords to view an employee’s recognition history, drilling down into the context and content of each recognition. Applying the same analysis enterprise-wide can pinpoint the buzz around influential people, key projects and corporate values. And Watson Tone Analyzer and Personality Insights can reveal insights into the communications style of a manager, workgroup or department. Such knowledge is essential to improving internal communications.

Clearly, Watson technology can deliver useful intelligence about corporate culture and deserving employees, but this isn’t a technology story. KangoGift helps managers more effectively communicate meaningful displays of appreciation. That’s the best way to increase employee engagement and is a key differentiator for attracting and retaining the right people.


Listen to Todd Horton discuss AI-powered smart recognition:


Chief Executive Officer, Kangogift

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