Announcing Ragan’s Platinum HR Awards Winners, Class of 2022!
On Wednesday, August 17, 2022, Ragan Communications celebrated all of the finalists from its Platinum HR Awards at an awards luncheon at Workplace Wellness Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.
This impressive group of winners represents the people, the programs and the products that are dedicated to driving HR success for their organizations, employees and clients. Their efforts were instrumental in retaining, attracting, informing and supporting employees.
Ragan congratulates all of our winners in this year’s program.
Read about the winners—and find out who earned honorable mention recognition—by checking out the details below.
Blackstone opens doors with DEI and recruitment efforts
Blackstone recruited one-quarter of its U.S. summer analyst program through diversity partnerships or internal diversity programs. Its years-long effort to attract more diverse talent and create opportunities for those individuals to grow their careers makes the company this year’s recipient of Ragan’s Platinum HR Award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
As the world’s largest alternative asset manager, Blackstone wants to attract a broad range of talent. To improve diversity, equity and inclusion from 2013 to 2021, they reached out along new and proven pathways to schools and professional organizations. As a result, roughly a quarter of its U.S. summer analyst class had been hired through diversity partnerships or internal diversity programs from 2019 to 2021. These programs aim to ensure that talented, diverse candidates are ready for job interviews and successful careers in finance, giving them a real understanding of the way the industry functions day-to-day.
It all started well before this, however. In 2013, Blackstone launched its first Future Women Leaders program, providing university student women with events hosted in New York and London with seminars, technical training, networking events and mentorship in finance. Blackstone also provided a framework for future leaders with the Future Women Innovators Program and Diverse Innovators Program, laying down a pipeline for women and diverse talent in technology.
From there, they built on this success with the Diverse Leaders Program, which was open to highly talented undergraduate students in groups including but not limited to Black, Hispanic, Native American, LGBT, disabled and veteran status. As a result, Blackstone has more than doubled the size of its diversity pipeline programs globally since inception.
To do so, Blackstone reached out to organizations such as SEO, Girls Who Invest, Black Women in Asset Management, 10k Black Interns and Scholars of Finance. Creating meaningful and lasting relationships in these organizations creates the pipeline these students need to ease their way into a successful career. Blackstone focused its efforts to expand recruitment at HBCUs as well, especially Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.
A few different tech platforms also helped ease the way for both the organization and the students. Blackstone utilized Pymetrics, a talent matching platform that has been shown to help reduce bias, and Handshake, a college job board. Outside vendors Training the Street and SyncLX also lent respective expertise to bring students to recruiting process and professional readiness.
Congratulations to the Blackstone team.
Carrier Digital Transformation
Carrier brings people together with live and archived trainings
Carrier Corporation’s Digital Transformation was a widespread training effort to bring employees up to date and keep business running smoothly in a digital world. For its efforts, Carrier received a Ragan’s Platinum HR Award in the Digital Culture category.
Carrier, a global innovator in building and cold chain solutions, launched its digital transformation with people in mind. Core objectives included:
• Building excitement around digital trends
• Shaping the mindset on how to think about disruption
• Expanding core knowledge on digital native skills and tools
• Synthesizing knowledge to drive inputs, collaboration and outcomes
At the center of that was a digital learning culture supported by 100+ instructor-led pieces of training, 100,000+ learning hours derived from digital-owned training content in the Carrier Digital Academy, and 100+ live digital trainings (called Digital in 30) by year-end. To increase digital acumen across the enterprise, employees could sign up on the Digital Academy and Carrier Learning Portal. In a pulse survey, the program has proved increasingly popular, with a 2022 Success Score of 77 (up from 75 in 2021) and an 86% response rate to the survey.
The topics of these trainings included a variety of tips and trends to keep people up to date with digital culture, including the cloud, analytics and agile methods of working. Employees experienced 700 learning hours directly from digital Communities of Practice and saw 25% growth meeting over meeting.
The Digital Academy, which hosts 85+ instructor-led training, also has experienced growth. After 13,000+ learning hours in Q1, that number doubled in Q2. A survey about the transformation in 30 webinars showed an overall 82% positive response rate from survey responses for all sessions from Jan.-May 2022.
Employees also had options to break into smaller groups and have hands-on learning experiences. With an eye to the future, the company has paved the way for a flexible slate of training to prepare Carrier’s people for whatever comes next.
Congratulations to the Carrier team!
Tyson Foods with Ketchum
Beating COVID-19: #TysonTogether
Ketchum changes minds around COVID-19 vaccination for Tyson Foods
Beating COVID-19 required reaching out across philosophical, religious and cultural barriers for the Tyson Communications team at Ketchum. With Ketchum’s multi-pronged approach, Tyson vaccinated 96% of its workers and was able to keep America’s food on the table. For its efforts, Ketchum has been honored with Ragan’s Platinum HR Award in the Employee Communications category.
While families at home hunkered down for an uncertain length of time as COVID-19 swept the country and isolation rules were uncertain, the workers who provide food for the nation still needed to go to work. To do so, Tyson Foods employees needed to be vaccinated.
“We … were putting our business at risk. But getting vaccinated is the single most effective tool to protect (team members), their families, and our communities,” said Tyson CEO Donnie King.
The company needed to get half of its employees vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021. Meanwhile, 37% of agricultural workers (a similar profile to Tyson’s workforce in general) were anti-vax, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study at the time. The Tyson Communications Team at Ketchum needed to make a difference.
So, the communications team took a multi-pronged approach. First, they organized 400-plus onsite vaccination events, booster clinics and listening sessions. These in turn were supported by guest speakers and physicians, social media promotion and in-plant signage tailored to the population of each specific plant.
The team also utilized the Tyson employee app, digital signage, a sweepstakes drawing, and testimonials from other employees. Town halls and 500+ individual or group conversations with senior leaders and outside medical experts were broadcast across the organization. The communications team leveraged Chief Medical Officer Claudia Coplein and senior leaders at key plants with low vaccination rates. An intranet hub let employees look at vaccination results and resources. The team also made sure to get Tyson’s largest unions on board.
Finally, the communications team successfully brought in earned media opportunities to spread the word and keep the messaging consistent. A prominent New York Times reporter spent several days at Tyson HQ and plants working on two exclusive stories, one of them a front-page article about the campaign. Ketchum’s Tyson Communications Team efforts both helped keep workers safe and improved Tyson’s reputation for health and safety in a time of crisis.
With the Beating COVID-19, #TysonTogether campaign, Tyson achieved a 96% vaccination rate, meaning 60,000+ people received the vaccine from the employer. The White House cited Tyson’s efforts as a success.
Congratulations to the Ketchum team!
Project Future Fit
HSBC offers employees a wide variety of options for learning channels in Project Future Fit
Skilling and re-skilling projects stretched across seven countries as HSBC prepared its employees for the future. Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award in the Learning & Development category goes to its nine-month effort across the organization.
HSBC Global Service and Technology Centres created Future Fit as a flagship program for creating a future-forward workforce for the high-end banking and technology solutions organization. It needed to work with HSBC’s transition to 100% remote working, which replaced classroom learning after August 2019. The company needed to be able to upskill/reskill at least 40,000 employees remotely while keeping the focus on practical work skills and preparing for the future.
Rolling this project out involved careful organization. The project needed to be broad enough to apply to employees across seven countries, while allowing employees to build the same skills in the ways best suited to their style of learning. With multiple methods of accessing the information, employees could choose which worked best for them: virtual sessions, learning platforms like degreed, LinkedIn, podcasts, videos and more.
Each Future Skills working group created design and employment plans month-by-month. They also released calendars for every month to increase buzz, with scheduled events such as every Wednesday being dedicated to a particular topic. With digital transformation in mind, the team was able to reach employees where they were and secure skills they’ll need for bright days ahead, whatever the future brings.
The Project Future Fit team was doing something never seen at this scale in the company. The nine-month-long campaign took a team of 38 people wearing multiple hats. As a result, attendance at the learning sessions was 8 times higher than the goal.
In the end, 144,748 people attended classes, with 68% attending at least twice. Employees gained 12,380 skill accreditations at an average of four hours of learning per employee. The team also organized 50 industry expert speaker sessions and masterclasses attended by 37,000 colleagues. To keep people feeling entertained and accomplished during the reskilling, the team created gamified and game-based solutions covering 3,000 learners.
Congratulations to the HSBC team.
Bring it Baystate! Employee Referral Campaign
Baystate Health doubles the number of employee referrals during the pandemic
The Bring it Baystate! recruitment campaign welcomed both current and new employees. With concise messaging and a strong incentive, Baystate Health bolstered the workforce and gained Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award in the Recruitment category.
Being a health care worker during COVID-19 was one of the most perilous experiences a person could have. Both the pandemic itself and the risk left some staff populations in tatters, with normally in-demand health care positions now desperately sought after. For Baystate Health, doubling employee referrals in half a year was a matter of using the right incentives and good organization.
The goals of the campaign included building general employee pride and morale. For that, the team could take advantage of Baystate Health’s Forbes Best-in-State Employer designation to build employee pride.
First and foremost, the team put financial incentives in place for new employees and the established ones who referred them. Urgent openings such as critical care nurses, PCTs, phlebotomists, ambulatory nurses and more came with referral bonuses of $1k-$3k. There was also a monthly drawing for $100 pulled from the pool of employees who had referred new hires, with a $10k grand prize up for grabs by the end of the campaign.
Spreading the word about both the need and the opportunity required consistent messaging across Baystate Health’s internal and external websites. The webpage, flyers and other collateral all spread the word. A new page on the career site with a memorable URL hooked into the overall recruitment campaign.
To keep existing employees engaged and excited, the team put together a podcast with the talent acquisition director, held employee info sessions, engaged business resource diversity groups, and used other existing employee channels. The company thanked participating employees, whether their referrals were hired or not, with coffee gift cards and employee spotlights. The team also made sure to take advantage of senior leaders’ social media influence to promote the Forbes designation and career site.
Through these and other methods, the team helped more people Bring It Baystate! to bolster the organization’s expert health care community. Between September 2021 and March 2022, the organization hired 248 new people through employee referrals.
Congratulations to the Baystate Health team!
SevenRooms Talent Campaign
Giving employees time for self-care sets SevenRooms apart
Two weeks of paid time off at the start of a new job is just one of the remarkable ways in which SevenRooms commits to extraordinary rewards and benefits. The SevenRooms Talent Campaign caught the attention of the 2022 Ragan Platinum HR Award in the Rewards & Benefits category.
Hospitality platform company SevenRooms emphasizes self-care by giving employees control of their own time and encouraging them to show up as their diverse, authentic selves. It believes that people are people, not assets or resources indebted to a company.
In January 2022, SevenRooms introduced a remarkable yet seemingly obvious grace period for new employees. Every new hire gets their first two weeks of employment as paid time off to ease their transition and have time in their life for whatever matters most to them. All of the new employees have participated in this Fresh Start program since it was introduced in 2022.
To reach SevenRooms’ diversity, equality and inclusion goals, the company partnered with Yardstick Management, the nation’s leading Black-owned management consulting firm for organizational strategy, talent acquisition and DEI. SevenRooms also reexamined the hiring process with unconscious bias in mind: The company connects prospective employees with a variety of future team members during the interview process, encouraging them to see what it would be like to work there in an honest and transparent manner.
New manager training also has been carefully examined and reinvented, with monthly lunch-and-learns with industry speakers and internal cross-training, on-site product training, and mentor-mentee pairs during onboarding.
SevenRooms’ dedication to self-care also manifests in some remarkable benefits. All employees are required to take vacations for consecutive days at least twice a year, with certain milestone years set aside for one-month sabbaticals. Employees also get recharge days once a month, a $150 monthly stipend to be used for anything from student loans to travel to fitness, and a $150 quarterly stipend to dine (in or out) at a SevenRooms client.
Congratulations to the SevenRooms team.
Bospar: uncompromisingly dedicated to Employee Empathy
Flexibility, support and perks help Bospar support its 100% remote workforce
Bospar gets the spotlight in Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award for the Talent Retention category due to its solid, successful plan to recommit to employee empathy. Meeting people where they are and encouraging employees to play to their strengths are two of the many strategies that help Bospar keep good workers happy to work.
For Bospar, keeping people on the ball and happy at work at the same time comes down to stated ideals and tangible perks. One key element is that, since well before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bospar has worked 100% remotely.
“I am grateful to work at Bospar, which truly values its employees and allows for the flexibility of working from home so I can still manage all the craziness that is now my life,” said one employee, a working mother. “I feel supported by leadership and my coworkers.”
Bospar principals wanted to talk about the “elephant” in the room. Industry turnover, kept high by long working hours and employee exhaustion, was a problem. The solution? Commit to employee wellbeing in a multi-year program.
The program includes each employee getting assigned part of a mentor-mentee program, with the mentor’s job being to support the mentee if their work becomes overwhelming. Entry-level perks such as the opportunity to fly to a special event, like an awards show, trade shows or team dinner, let employees get the chance to see they’re truly supported by the agency and encouraged to take part.
Other tangible benefits include medical, dental, and eye insurance coverage, paternity leave, 17 holidays, paid PTO, sick days decided individually as opposed to agency-driven, paid volunteering days, and self-care monthly stipends for every employee, totaling up to $1,200 for each yearly. Home phone, internet and mobile monthly bills also are paid by the agency, totaling up to $2,400 per employee per year.
Bospar’s efforts have led to the agency being named a 2022 Financial Times Fastest 500 US Growing Company and consistently named a ‘best place to work’ with some of the highest employee retention rates in the tech boutique PR agency space.
Congratulations to Bospar!
PeopleAdmin's Applicant Tracking System
Shaped for the world of higher education, PeopleAdmin finds its niche
Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award in the Tech category goes to PeopleAdmin’s Applicant Tracking System. Its custom focus, candidate sorting tools, digitized employee referrals and more set it apart.
Higher education faculty recruitment is a niche that requires unique solutions. Built exactly for that need, PeopleAdmin’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has made a significant difference in higher education across the country.
“With [ATS], we’re able to better focus on diversity and inclusion,” says Matthew Finn, assistant director of faculty administration at Emerson College. “We have access to run reports and data from PeopleAdmin to help pinpoint where we are, faculty-wise, with diversity. Our vice president for diversity and inclusion is able to run EEO reports from the applicant pools and work with the search committees on a robust and diverse recruitment plan.”
ATS “streamlined” its process and helped people work more efficiently with each other, Finn adds.
The experience starts with job alerts, which let institutions engage with applicants earlier than before in the process. It is designed to let them express interest in job categories and positions while reducing the work HR has to put into manual outreach.
Another big feature: the system allows for sorting candidates into pools based on what positions they have applied for. That makes things easier for HR, too, since it gives them a steady stream of qualified names.
Other notable features include digitized employee referrals, marketing by specific position types, conversational AI for communication with candidates, job alerts, integration with job boards and social media, and search committees.
“PeopleAdmin is really tailored toward educational institutions, which means we have a partner that understands that,” says Carmen N. Sirizzotti, associate director of human resources at University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Linn-Benton Community College recently upgraded to the ATS to modernize a cumbersome opportunities page, too. Focusing on one niche with unique needs has helped PeopleAdmin create a truly effective product.
Congratulations to PeopleAdmin and its ATS!
Proofpoint Global Wellbeing Program
Proofpoint and Espresa team up to promote employee wellbeing
Cybersecurity organization Proofpoint’s Global Wellbeing Program keeps employees mindful and on the move. Its mix of technology and human interest netted it Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award for Wellness.
The COVID-19 pandemic required everyone to take a new look at the way they manage self-care at work and at home. At Proofpoint, the organization knew it would be key to leverage its online employee engagement platform from Espresa as people started to work from home full time.
Proofpoint provides a variety of employee wellbeing and engagement groups through both Espresa and the internal platform SharePoint. For example, the Mental Wellbeing group encourages meditation, yoga and resilience workshops and mindfulness activities and art classes. It also features a collaborative playlist where employees can share the music that helps them relax and live in the moment.
The Social Wellbeing hub allows people to learn languages for fun to keep their minds engaged at work. The connected Peer Recognition portal receives over 300 submissions each quarter. Espresa also allows employees to maintain and learn more about opportunities in financial well-being with consultations, webinars and financial services.
Proofpoint recognizes that well-being is about both physical and mental health. The Physical Wellbeing hub includes exercise suggestions and cooking classes. Recently, over 200 employees participated in the “Move for Your Heart!” challenge, which offered gift cards as prizes for people who recorded daily exercise on a heart rate monitor.
Today, Espresa is the heart of a permanent employee well-being program at Proofpoint. It offers classes on mental health courses (mindfulness, resilience, meditation), nutrition and sleep health coaching, financial well-being support, and a full suite of programs for employees’ children. Each of the 4,000 employees can access over 40 offerings to support holistic wellbeing.
Congratulations to the Proofpoint and Espresa partnership!
Jordana Coppola guided OTJ Architects into a bright future
From playing her guitar in meetings to putting down roots in new company locations, Jordana Coppola has had a direct impact on the way OTJ Architects thrives. We’re proud to name her the recipient of Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award in the Coach/Mentor category.
As Chief People Officer at OTJ Architects, Jordana Coppola knows how to make connections. OTJ has expanded exponentially during her tenure there, growing from 77 to over 185+ people. From starting out with one location, the organization also laid more groundwork to reach its current size of nine locations. Retention rates also have been stellar under her leadership, at 97-99% since she joined in 2016.
OTJ Architects’ Glassdoor rating also has risen dramatically in the last few years, rising from 3.2% in 2018 to 4.2%; higher than its competitors. Coppola hits the sweet spot between making the company a better place to work and saving money as efficiently as possible. She oversaw a change from company-paid, long-term disability benefits to a new vendor offering 15%-20% more coverage. Her overhaul of the employee referral system encouraged word-of-mouth hires, thereby letting the company get rid of expensive recruitment fees. As a result, 90% of OTJ’s newest staff members in the last year came from internal referrals.
Her efforts saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars across the board, too. How did she do it? She focused heavily on contract negotiations and systems for optimization, examining where administrative tasks could be removed. She also researched and implemented HRIS systems and bought recruitment inside the company.
“Jordana [Coppola] is someone who finds time to make sure team members, of all levels, are thanked for their hard work, recognized, and celebrated,” said Laura Kennington, Chief Growth Officer. “Her contributions and efforts have been a strong influence on our positive work environment and company culture.”
In the space between personal and business life, Coppola played her guitar to raise awareness of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and advocated for IVF coverage under OTJ’s insurance plan. Her cost-saving efforts, volunteer work and commitment to a positive work environment have made OTJ a better place.
Congratulations to Jordana and her work at OTJ Architects!
WELL Health, Inc.
Marissa Morrison steers the ship through challenges with stellar employee retention
As VP of People for WELL Health, Marissa Morrison took practical steps toward providing employees with better benefits and career development. Her transformation and success have gained her the Ragan 2022 HR Platinum Award for Future Leader (age 40 or under).
Marissa Morrison has had a lot on her plate for the last few years. Over that time of great change and new expectations from employees, she’s risen to the challenge with a project to transform WELL Health Inc’s benefits and culture. Her goal has been to create a new culture giving employees what they need in terms of work/life balance and mental health.
To do so, she combined market research with internal research to see what employees wanted. First, she rolled out new health plan options including mental health benefits: Employees could now access mental health support and career coaching. In practice, this means a $0 co-pay for in-network mental health visits and free, unlimited access to Ginger, an integrated mental health care system.
Next, she added new parental leave planning benefits and career development programs. Employees could now take up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave at 100% of base salary for all parents, including adoptive parents. Plus, everyone on one of the company’s insurance plans was allotted $10,000 lifetime credit for a variety of fertility planning diagnostic and treatment services. Parents on leave also would receive 30 days of $30 worth of food delivery, simple leave planning and management with the Cocoon platform, and a generous childcare stipend for their first few months back to work, with unlimited PTO, and flexible work schedules.
As for career development, WELL Health gives each employee an annual $1,000 learning stipend usable for furthering their career education. Currently, Morrison and her team are in the third phase of the Future of Work at WELL Health program, using focus groups with the end goal of creating a company-wide operating agreement for the company’s future way of working. Making sure employees have what they need to thrive both personally and professionally is an ongoing project, but Morrison is on the job.
With her guidance, the company’s Whole-Person Approach to Benefits and Culture had a strong positive impact. And, WELL’s employee retention rate is now 88%. In May of 2021 it was 62%, a notable increase. In addition, 64% of WELL employees strongly agree that they rarely look for another job outside of the company, compared with 55% in October 2021. WELL’s Glassdoor rating has risen to 4.4, compared to an overall rating of 3.7 in May of 2021.
Congratulations to Marissa Morrison and WELL Health!
Brian Christman helps keep a diverse world moving with Transfix
Brian Christman, chief people officer at Transfix, headed up a joint effort to improve diversity across the workforce. For that effort, he is a recipient of Ragan’s 2022 Platinum HR Award for Team of the Year.
Brian Christman has been a critical voice in Transfix’s efforts to improve diversity in its workforce. At the most basic level, the changes have included ongoing education and training for hiring managers, interviewers and employees. The company also has adjusted its benefits to encourage a more diverse workforce including gender-neutral parental leave, mental wellness resources, and a donation matching program for qualified charities of the employee’s choosing. The use of an applicant tracking system promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
Once someone is hired, they find more resources waiting for them. While Transfix already had Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in place, increased focus and investment in them has seen use grow. The company has emphasized making meaningful change based on feedback employees give at regular town hall meetings, fireside chats with executives and employee engagement surveys. Regular compensation audits are performed specifically to root out biases in terms of how much people are paid.
Christman also has reached out to resources and partnerships outside the company while focusing on diversity. Transfix teamed up with Tribe Transportation, a Native American- and woman-owned carrier; Veterans in Trucking, a job site for former armed services members; Leading Ladies of Logistix, a minority-led organization for women in logistics and transportation; SHE Trucking, a non-profit that provides mentorship, community, and education to Black and BIPOC women in the supply chain; Real Women in Trucking, an organization that empowers women in the trucking industry; and The National Minority Women Association in Transportation.
As a result of Christman’s work and his team’s work, almost half (49%) of employees identified as Black, Indigenous or persons of color in the 2021 ESG Report. In addition, 43 of senior executive roles were held by women and two out of six board members are women.
Congratulations to Brian Christman and the Transfix team!
Steering Proofpoint in new directions during a time of change
In a time of great change and difficulty retaining employees in the industry, Sharyl Givens thrived in the most fast-paced decisions. Her care, devotion and effectiveness also earned her Ragan’s 2022 HR Platinum Award for the Leader category.
With the Great Resignation hitting cybersecurity hard, Proofpoint Chief Human Resources Officer Sharyl Givens had her job cut out for her. Yet, she thrived as she had to juggle the interlocking struggles of the cybersecurity industry, the HR industry and the workforce in general. On top of that, she also held strong in her leadership position upon the news of Proofpoint’s acquisition by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.
Throughout, Givens delegated, listened and communicated highly effectively as she both kept employees informed and made changes for the benefit of both the people and the organization. In this time of momentous change, (2021/early 2022) Proofpoint increased its number of employees across North America, EMEA and APAC.
Proofpoint also saw other changes Givens was instrumental in moving forward, like guiding the company’s 4,000 employees through the transition from a public to a private company, and to a permanent hybrid workforce. She also was helpful in keeping everyone on track during the opening of a new office in Córdoba, Argentina, with the specific goals of attracting top talent and achieving exceptional retention rates.
Givens also is the leader of a global diversity and inclusion initiative that enhances Proofpoint’s ability to recruit, develop and retain diverse talent at every level. She supported nine inaugural Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs) with executive sponsorship, semiannual progress updates to Proofpoint’s e-staff, and an ongoing partnership between EIG Chairs and the DEI team.
Additionally, she took the initiative in creating employee incentives, and defining “people-centric purpose.” As part of that effort, she launched a standard whereby employees can “work three weeks from anywhere,” and take quarterly company-wide “wellbeing days off.”
Employees saw this time of profound change as “business as usual.” She turned her considerable talents in delegating, listening and communicating to keep employees up to date on company changes. Weekly town halls and acquisition-specific info sessions allowed employees to ask questions, too. Givens guided her direct reports, fellow executives and Proofpoint’s global employees alike through this time of change.