How Bayer doubled down on employee appreciation during the pandemic

The life sciences giant launched a multichannel worker recognition program to increase the perception of employee well-being, earning a win in the Employee Experience: Employee Recognition or Reward Program category of Ragan’s 2021 Employee Communications & Top Places to Work Awards.

Recognizing a critical need to address employee well-being and appreciation during the pandemic, Bayer launched a multichannel campaign around its 2021 Employee Appreciation Day (EAD) it called “Stop and Thank.”

The campaign, prompted by internal Bayer research in late 2020 and early 2021, showed that U.S. employee sentiment toward the company was trending down on crucial metrics. Employees were initially appreciative of support and communications during the pandemic, but as the crisis showed no signs of abating, email open rates and engagement numbers began to decline. Employees reported they didn’t feel recognized for their work and Bayer was not attentive to overall employee well-being.

In response, ‘Stop and Thank” was developed to boost morale, well-being and employee recognition by using a leader-driven approach to enable and require leaders to recognize their teams. Ahead of EAD, emails were sent to managers and an article about the campaign was published on BayerNet, the company’s intranet. Managers were requested to share recognition of essential workers on a special photo wall on BayerNet, which was also shared on digital signage on work sites. The team engaged U.S.-based communicators outside of corporate communications, and prepped communications to senior leaders based in the U.S. to request their participation.

Because managers play a vital role in recognizing teams, there was a dedicated virtual information session for manager that offered research connecting employee recognition to well-being, and a review of tools and materials available for leaders, including a tip sheet with ideas and resources to help them recognize team members. Bayer used its “Better Because of You” platform for e-cards and small financial rewards for workers in the spotlight. An employee post on Bayer Scapes, the company’s external blog site, showcased the people behind the Bayer brand, highlighting business-critical workers and their managers at the pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Berkeley, California.

To tie the importance of employee well-being and health back to the recognition program, Bayer invited its vendor B Well to share special activities that support well-being via a webinar. Other components of the recognition program included Yammer posts with #StopandThank, and a video by the president of Bayer U.S. with a special message for all U.S. employees.

Some of the successes of the initiative included:

  • The Better Because of You tool resulted in 12,500 e-cards and awards – a 257% increase over 2020’s EAD event.
  • Sixty-four percent of employees in a post-EAD day poll said the events of the day improved their well-being.
  • Pre-engagement communications to the most senior leaders and their direct reports achieved a 74% open rate and 78% engaged read rate. During the pandemic, open and read rates had declined, but rates for this initiative returned to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The initiative inspired business units to create their own events and recognition programs for employees. Global communications in Germany, where Bayer is headquartered, have suggested running a similar campaign next year.

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