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GM deploys employee recognition software globally

Employee recognition software is having a moment at General Motors Co. The software helps with budgeting and engagement, and the automaker is deploying it to 160,000 employees globally.

LAS VEGAS -- Employee recognition software, which helps to organize and manage recognition and rewards programs, may be gaining traction with HR. That's the case, at least, for General Motors Co.

The Detroit automaker ran some 60 recognition programs for its 160,000 global employees. But the company lacked insight into the cost of these programs. It had no way of measuring their success in raising key HR metrics, such as engagement.

The programs varied in approach, said Sandra Garcia, GM's global compensation lead for global strategic initiatives. It "was working against really building this one unified culture or company," she said.

"We couldn't budget globally, because we didn't know how much money was being spent," said Garcia, who spoke at the annual Society for Human Resource Management conference.

General Motors is not alone

Employee recognition programs seem to be getting more attention from users.

On the trade show floor, Martin Arnold stopped at one of the employee recognition software vendor's booths. He manages a program and project operations at a healthcare firm that he asked not be named.

His firm has decided to invest in an employee recognition software platform, which he described as being easier to deploy, thanks to changes in technology and lower cost.

"Over the last two years, a lot of things have moved into cloud solutions, so it's not a lengthy implementation process," Arnold said.

"It's not a very cost-intensive implementation; it's very flexible and quick to implement," he said. "That is one of the reasons why it makes sense to do it now than, let's say, five or 10 years ago."

HR is a business

HR is not only a part of business, it is a business.
Bonnie SofferHR manager, Tri-K

GM is using employee recognition software from Achievers Solutions Inc. The automaker has rolled out the software to salaried employees. Next year, it plans to add hourly workers, Garcia said.

The system uses social recognition and a points system for rewards ordered from a catalog.

Recognition from peers is particularly important. In an interview, Garcia said, based on internal research, what really drives engagement "is the peer-to-peer recognition."

Garcia said she is now working with the analytics team to see if they can determine whether the recognition program is helping with retention and attrition. They do know that employees with four or more recognitions were 16% more engaged than those with none.

Bonnie Soffer, HR manager at Tri-K Industries Inc., based in Denville, N.J., attended the GM presentation. Her firm has started to use employee recognition software that was part of the company's human capital management suite. The firm manufactures materials for the cosmetics industry.

Soffer had a broader observation to make about HR tools and the interest by vendors to automate as much as possible. 

One thing that's become obvious to her at the conference "is that HR is not only a part of business, it is a business," she said.

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