Jacqueline Emes, community investment manager for Tangerine Bank, spent the day of May 29 volunteering to help a Girl Guide camp prepare for the influx of hundreds of girls – but she wasn’t alone.

She was joined by a volunteer crew of her colleagues from Tangerine (formerly ING Direct), polishing up the camp and moving equipment around to prepare for the summer. As the sole person responsible for sourcing all volunteer opportunities for Tangerine and recruiting employees to take part in them, she is always on the lookout for organizations that could use help like this and always looking for ways to motivate more colleagues to come out with her.

“There’s a direct positive impact for us when we’re out in the community,” she says. “It’s helping us show our presence as we are an online bank, we don’t have the same presence as the bricks and mortar banks have.” Plus it just makes employees feel good to give back, she says, and more connected to their workplace. Emes has always used internal digital tools to seek feedback on ways she can improve the program and to spread awareness of her initiatives – the company intranet, email, and since the beginning of May – Nudge Rewards.

The mobile app hasn’t replaced her use of the company intranet, but its complementing Tangerine’s efforts to engage employees. What started as a pilot project for its corporate social responsibility department has proven successful, seeing more than 80 per cent employee engagement rates for sustainability programs, so the bank is now using it for health and wellness, and community volunteerism initiatives. It’s typical for businesses to see engagement rates more in the 10 to 15 per cent range, says Jordan Ekers, vice-president of business development at Nudge Rewards.

Nudge Rewards VP of business development Jordan Eckers presented at May's Mesh conference in Toronto. (Photo: GoToMeeting Canada / mesh conference).
Nudge Rewards VP of business development Jordan Ekers presented at May’s Mesh conference in Toronto. (Photo: GoToMeeting Canada / mesh conference).

“The premise of the business is focused on the tools organizations currently have at their disposal to drive engagement are fairly restricting,” he says in an interview at Toronto’s Mesh conference. “Email, Intranet, posters, none of those communication channels have been very effective.”

Nudge Rewards has been operating for more than three years, but like Tangerine has recently undergone a rebranding. Formerly Greengage Mobile, the firm put out official word of its rebranding June 4, looking to reflect the broadening of its app from corporate sustainability programs to other types of employee initiatives.

“We recognized that companies were using it to run a variety of programs,” Ekers says. “So we made the natural evolution as a business, to nudge people in the right direction.”

Successful pilot leads to wider rollout

Tangerine is one of the first customers of Nudge Rewards and also one of the first to expand use of the app to other types of programs. What makes the mobile platform effective is its ability to send push notifications and monitor analytics measuring employee actions. Metrics such as the number of employees on the platform, how many respond to messages, and how many volunteered for a specific event. Over time, program managers can set a baseline of expectations for their activities.

Emes just wrapped up her first campaign with Nudge Rewards at the end of May. She’s tracking details like how many employees are watching videos on the platform and are actively coming out to participate. She’s also using the platform to collect feedback, sending polls to employees asking what charities they’d want to support and asking for feedback on organized events.

“I’m pretty confident we’re going to see some good numbers about how employees are engaged in activities,” she says.

Tangerine has a split of 40 per cent mobile devices being issued by the company and 60 per cent of employees using their own devices. While it’s not mandatory for employees to install the app on their own device, most have done so, Emes says. Those that do so and start engaging in the activities can collect points and the potential to earn rewards – one recent draw of volunteers awarded $500 to a Tangerine RSP.

“The points are just an extra feature,” Emes says. “We have a very competitive spirit and it definitely drives that as well.”

The points help motivate employees, Ekers says. But what really drives engagement to the app is the two-way communications channel created between employees and those running the programs. Being a mobile platform, it is a proactive platform that reaches out to employees instead of being reactive, waiting for them to log in and research information on their own.

“Employees engaged in these programs have a higher affinity for their organization,” he says. “There is a very powerful relationship that is built by engaging your employees in a variety of social initiatives.”

Nudge Rewards is getting interest from other Canadian enterprises. It’s rolling out with brands like Air Canada, Canadian Tire, and Partners in Project Green, Ekers says, plus some government ministries.

For Emes, she’s organizing more volunteerism opportunities with the platform, including the recruitment of a team of performers for the Unity Charity festival this July in Toronto. Tangerine is the lead sponsor of the urban arts festival that features hip hop artists, dancing, and other performances.

Tangerine is the lead sponsor for Unity Festival, July 23-26 in Toronto.

Emes won’t go on stage herself, but she doesn’t have to – with the help of her colleagues, she’s not alone.

 

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