CEAT: Becoming an Aspirational Employer Brand Through Rewards and Recognition
CEAT believes in providing the best employee experience for their people. As one of India’s leading tire manufacturers with a strong global presence, CEAT is a forward-thinking, innovative, customer-centric company, with a goal to be an aspirational brand for talent and a great place to work for its employees.
Mr. Milind Apte, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, strongly believes employees want to see a link between their work and what the organization accomplishes. “While compensation is very important, the intrinsic motivation and public recognition can be more important: knowing my work impacts the organization, feeling that I’m significant, that people care for me and consider me as part of the larger organization ecosystem.”
Arjun Singh, Vice President of Human Resources at CEAT, explains that the company recently looked to identify what would make them a great place to work. What do employees look forward to at work? “We found having a robust reward and recognition mechanism is vital to create a culture of appreciation and performance, and we wanted to strengthen that,” explains Arjun.
Moving towards consistent, visible recognition
While recognition was happening in the organization, it wasn’t given consistently or in a timely manner. Different areas of the company were providing different recognition experiences. Recognition framework and experiences needed to be enhanced. Being a quality organisation, the CEAT team conducted a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) to do an assessment of the current rewards and recognition framework, conducting in-depth insighting interviews, sending out a user feedback survey, and examining the touchpoints of the rewards and recognition experiences employees were currently having.
The team was looking to create continuity in recognition usage as well as have the ability to give spot, quarterly, and annual awards. After searching for a potential partner, CEAT selected O.C. Tanner’s technical platform for administrating eCards and Spot Awards with a social wall, at a reasonable cost.
“We wanted a dedicated framework and platform for rewards and recognition, and a framework which makes instantaneous rewarding a habit—something that gets engraved in the DNA of the company and all our employees. At the same time, the quarterly and annual awards part of the framework ensure that good work and effort are recognized at a bigger platform and our employees get rewarded for it,” says Arjun.
“We wanted a dedicated platform for rewards and recognition, and a framework which makes instantaneous rewarding a habit—something that gets engraved in the DNA of the company and all our employees.”
—Arjun Singh, Vice President of Human Resources, CEAT
CEAT launched its CHAMP program in April 2019. CHAMP empowers every employee to recognize outstanding contributions through ecards, spot awards, and quarterly and annual awards for performance. CEAT’s CEO sent a custom ecard to all employees to introduce the employee recognition software.
“Whether it's day-to-day accomplishments or above-and-beyond results, we recognize, honor, and celebrate the individuals and teams who are at the core of our success,” says Meghna Gupta, Manager PMS and CnB at CEAT.
The CHAMP program allows employees to immediately recognize and reward one another for their contributions and has a Wall of Fame to give employees instant visibility across the organization for their achievements. In the first year, 65% of their employees received a recognition award—over 14,000 awards across locations.
“CHAMP is a very motivating app,” says Rajendra Dewda, Assistant Manager – QA at the CEAT Mumbai Plant. “We can show our good work and talent on this platform and also win an award."
Senior leaders like Dilip Modak, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing, encourage their managers to give recognition often. “When we see there’s an area that has low usage, we’ll talk to the leaders,” he explains. Employees enjoy the consistency and immediacy of the recognition, but also the visibility that the Wall of Fame brings. “Now managers want their people to make it to the social wall and receive recognition,” says Dilip.
Echoes Milind, “Recognition is something everyone wants, but sometimes forget to give to others.” He and the HR team worked to create more awareness of the importance of recognition and how it can inspire people. They’ve set the expectation that each month, every manager gives at least 2 awards, and they set up ongoing “recognition weeks” to promote the program. These gentle reminders have resulted in slow, steady, consistent growth in usage. “CHAMP has provided visibility and people know their work is being seen, which gives satisfaction to many employees,” says Milind.
Milind credits the business unit leaders in helping make the program successful. “We are more successful when our line partners embrace the program, so it’s not just HR pushing it. They help us take the value of the program and cascade it down. Our job is to bring these programs on board, but it’s their contribution that makes it work,” he says.
“[Recognition] encourages us to come up with innovative ideas to improve product/process quality to keep our customers happy at all times.”
—Ranjith Reghu, Service Manager - Middle East (Dubai)
Dilip has seen a tremendous impact of CHAMP on employee motivation as well as collaboration and performance on his team. Recognition has inspired employees to be proactive in breaking down barriers and achieve cross-functional teamwork. Employees have overcome functional boundaries to work towards the company vision and purpose without feeling insecure about their individual functional agendas. And it’s had a huge impact on performance. “Recognition encourages employees to go above and beyond their role, help others, and seek help from others. This platform has impacted the motivation of our people. Employees are contributing significantly. In all of the company’s performance, financial metrics, and efficiency parameters, you can see the reflection of CHAMP,” says Dilip.
Overcoming crisis with CHAMP
Like other organizations, CEAT had to quickly pivot when the 2020 pandemic hit. But unlike other companies, CEAT’s employees were able to thrive despite the changes in the workplace, because of initiatives like CHAMP.
Milind explains, “During this difficult situation, despite so much risk, anxiety, and fear, our people have delivered disproportionate results that we would have never expected, even in ordinary times. This has happened only because employees feel this organization is fair when it comes to recognizing people.”
Dilip agrees. “During this pandemic, we are more agile, flexible, we’re outperforming the competition. It’s these types of programs that help employees perform better.”
Recognition has also helped to strengthen CEAT’s culture and values during times of crisis. Milind describes how employees went out of their way to turn out results during the pandemic. While the company had been making major decisions and cutting costs, its people were taking it in stride. “Employees have been stretching themselves during these uncertain times, taking risks to make tires and then going out to sell them, just to make sure we as a team, stay ahead. It’s a big shift in culture.”
More empowerment, more accountability, more agile, more motivation. This is a new way of working that CEAT hopes to continue after COVID.
“During this difficult situation, despite so much risk, anxiety, and fear, people have delivered disproportionate results that we would have never expected, even in ordinary times. This has happened only because employees feel this organization is fair when it comes to recognizing people.”
—Ranjith Reghu, Service Manager - Middle East (Dubai)
Milind and Arjun look forward to growing the program even more: reaching 100% usage, expanding the program to incorporate other types of recognition, and including the family in the recognition experience.
In addition to the CHAMP program, CEAT has also embarked on a journey to provide continuous learning and improve the quality of life for all employees. By setting aside approved time for learning and providing new e-learning opportunities, as well as implementing various wellness initiatives and adjusting company policies to further work-life balance, CEAT is actively creating a company culture where employees can be and do their best work.
“To ensure that our belief and trust in employees convert into practice and ultimately culture, we have contemporary policies that provide a guiding framework to people so that they can avail from the benefits of these policies,” says Arjun.
It’s these types of initiatives, and their robust employee recognition programs, that are creating a workplace culture where employees can thrive and are quickly making CEAT an employer of choice in India.
“Recognition encourages employees to go above and beyond their role, help others, and seek help from others. This platform has impacted the motivation of our people. Employees are contributing significantly. In all of the company’s performance, financial metrics, and efficiency parameters, you can see the reflection of CHAMP.”
—Dilip Modak, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing
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More Employee Recognition Resources
There are so many different ways to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate your employees. Here are more resources for guidance:
• Guide to Employee Recognition Programs
• 11 Employee Recognition Ideas
• 22 Awesome Employee Recognition Gift Ideas
• 9 Tips for How to Choose Employee Recognition Software
• Heartfelt Employee Appreciation Quotes to Say "Thank You"
• Benefits of Peer to Peer Recognition
• Best Practices for Virtual Employee Recognition
• Guide to Years of Service Awards
• Tips to Celebrate Work Anniversaries
• Employee Recognition in the Modern Workplace
• Victories: Modern Recognition Software