This article was originally posted at RRN.
CorporateRewards recently launched a new platform called WorkStride, indicating something of a change in direction for the 15-year-old NY-based rewards firm. The welcome message on the CorporateRewards homepage now reads: “WorkStride: Enterprise Recognition, Incentive & Reward Software: Increase the engagement and performance levels of all employees by celebrating their good work and challenging them to be at their best.”
The company, which was recently purchased by the Riverside Company private equity group, has clearly decided to shift its focus from rewards to technology. In a recent interview, Tom Silk, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing, explained the reasoning: “We want to change the conversation from focusing on rewards to how we can use technology increase performance,” he says. “We want to be agnostic on awards and emphasize how we can help organizations improve results. Yes, we provide complete reward solutions, but we believe that technology and proper program design are the key to success.”
How did the company come to the conclusion that a change was needed? “Over the last five or so years we’ve seen that the needs of our clients were requiring us to build a variety of customized features to meet their needs,” says Silk. “So we ended up with a lot of technology with great features, but no central platform we could easily configure for other customers. That required us to step back and realize we would have to move to a software-as-a-service model.”
Having done that, Silk notes, “We had to think about the company. We didn’t want to be branded as a reward company. What we’ve built is so much more than that. We made the choice to become more of a product model. We went through a rigorous process and we focused our attention on helping companies hit their stride, which of course lead to the name WorkStride, a platform to help companies achieve desirable results all in one system.”
Positioning itself as a technology company and a rewards company, Silk says, “we’re used to coming in with a blank sheet and listening. We’re very client-centric, which is why the platform is highly configurable. When it comes to program design, we help clients understand what a great program looks like.”
Every client has exceptions they need to accommodate, he says, noting that his company’s technology is built to accommodate exceptions. “We want different people to use it differently.” Silk explains that the product had three unique elements:
- It’s agnostic on rewards. While the company offers a variety of vouchers and rewards in just about every medium from retail sources, he says WorkStride also accommodates non-monetary games and social engagement.
- The program can support multiple types of programs on a single platform to address wellness, safety, training, recognition and incentive programs.
- The platform focuses on making a clear link between cause and effect so that organizations can see the benefits of their investment.
“I grew up with CorporateRewards,” Silk continues. “At the beginning we focused on rewards and why ours were better. What has changed is that clients are looking for solutions for challenges they come face to face with every day. Rewards are usually just a small part of the conversation. Now it’s about how are we going to help them reach key goals. What that tells us is that the buyer is becoming more aware – that there has to be meat on the bones to their programs.”
Another differentiator, he says, is the buying process. “People are much more informational and are seeking information before they speak. Our marketing organization is about education and sharing information about what we do so that clients can perform.”
As an example, Silk mentions a feature in the WorkStride safety module that enables people to snap a picture and quickly re-route a workplace hazard and potentially get rewarded as well. He says that as an industry the rewards field has the opportunity to grow only if it focuses on achieving results for clients. “If we continue to focus on the rewards, then we’ll be our own worst enemy. If we focus on addressing all of the levers of engagement, there are big opportunities for growth.”
As for the company’s go-to-market strategy, it has corporate clients but also sells through other solution providers. “Partners are a critical part of our strategy,” Silk explains. “We will provide the best technology and rewards, but we can’t be 100% of the engagement program. We’re a foundation. We help our partners fill in gaps in their service offerings to customers.”