Societe Generale US Employees step into the spotlight


"If you see something, say something." Thanks to Spotlight, our new employee recognition platform, that phrase has taken on a new and more positive meaning at Societe Generale in the US. John Fitzgerald, Chief Human Resources Officer, SG Americas, recently provided his insights on the power of peer-to-peer recognition.

Spotlight – an easy way to give props for a job well done

Spotlight, accessible online via desktop or mobile device, shares some similar functionalities with Facebook and Instagram and allows any Societe Generale employee in the US to easily call attention to their colleagues' efforts and achievements, as well as to express appreciation. Recognitions are aligned with the bank's four core values: team spirit, innovation, responsibility and commitment.

People can upload their own videos or pictures to give kudos to a colleague, and fellow employees can add comments to the original post to join in the recognition. Recognized employees and their managers are promptly notified when they've been "Spotlighted."

With Spotlight, we took the best of social media – the ability to share, engage in real time, to tell a story vividly in shorthand, and to amplify each other's sentiments – so that our employees could use it in a positive way. We all know from our own experiences with social media that it is easy – too easy – to focus on the negative and fall into that rabbit hole. However, we ensured an open and transparent forum in Spotlight that we are confident will lend itself toward positivity.

The power of peer-to-peer recognition

What drove us to implement the Spotlight platform was our observation that employee recognition in most organizations is all too often a top-down effort, led by management and shared only among a limited group of people. Recognition may be given too sparingly, celebrating only "big wins"– extraordinary efforts, major deals, or public successes.

Also, in this tight labor market, companies have become increasingly focused on talent retention and have been using recognition to achieve that end. While well-intentioned, many times this results in recognitions that are overly corporate and lack resonance. It does little for engaging employees or improving the overall workplace environment.

At Societe Generale US, our goal was to take employee recognition to the next level by promoting peer-to-peer recognition alongside the traditional top-down efforts. Like any organization, having engaged people is essential to our strategy, and we're always looking for new ways to demonstrate our commitment to them.

Spotlight is one initiative in the bank's People Strategy aimed to create a culture that engages employees and makes them genuinely happy to work at Societe Generale. How we view this is simple. If people could demonstrate their values every day and feel a shared responsibility to spread positivity by actively recognizing one another, then our company culture would naturally shift to towards our belief that "The Future is You."

Adoption of Spotlight by employees – a success!

Of course, we wondered if employees would use Spotlight when it was launched in October 2018. Within two days of its launch, appetite became immediately apparent. More than 50% of the staff had enrolled and there were many recognitions zipping around the bank on desktops and mobile devices. Today, Spotlight's take-up rate remains high with thousands of recognitions sent and growing!

We ensured visibility of the recognitions received by scrolling the Spotlights on our digital signage boards throughout our offices. As a result, "Spotlight" quickly became a verb: "Did you Spotlight today?"

The rapid and broad adoption of Spotlight confirmed our belief that a bottom-up, employee-led recognition tool was precisely what we needed.

Our own "Hall of Fame"

We've also started a milestone recognition program to reward and recognize our staff for their 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-year (or more) anniversaries. Soon these workplace milestones will be recognized though Spotlight with employee's sending virtual anniversary cards. Slawomir Krupa, CEO Societe Generale, Americas, recently hosted a reception to honor our colleagues celebrating 25 years or more service at the bank. The feedback from the attendees was extremely positive and appreciative that Slawomir and the rest of the Americas Executive Committee truly cared to recognize the contributions they have made for the firm. We call this program the "25 Year Club," and it is an annual event for all employees who reach 25 years of service at Societe Generale in the Americas. We like to think of it as our own Hall of Fame.

Getting positive with results

We're receiving the kind of feedback that shows our efforts are paying off. There is positive energy that's palpable across the bank, and we also see it in several key indicators. For example, a recent employee survey showed a significant improvement in how people answered the question, "Would you recommend Societe Generale as a firm?" That same survey confirmed that 83% of US employees are proud to work for the bank.

A tool like Spotlight and the 25 Year Club, in combination with other initiatives in our People Strategy, will certainly go a long way to help us continue enhancing staff engagement and keeping Societe Generale US as a place where our staff want to grow and succeed.