Discover the big disconnects in performance management today in the 2024 State of Performance Enablement report.

How Betterworks Customers Elevate Workforce Performance

By Michelle Gouldsberry
May 18, 2023
9 minute read

Organizations increasingly recognize the need to break free from outdated performance management practices and embrace innovative solutions that align with the modern workforce’s dynamics, needs, and expectations. Who better to show you how it can be done than our customers? They are successfully reimagining performance management to promote higher performance, develop tightly-knit cultures, and achieve better alignment and business outcomes.

We recently recognized several of them at our 2023 Empower HR Summit with awards for companies and individuals.

Here’s a look at the transformative power of performance enablement and how customers are harnessing its capabilities to revolutionize their performance management practices and data-driven decisions — from goal setting and tracking to real-time feedback, recognition, and professional development.

People Award: University of Phoenix

Impact Award: Best Western

Strategy Award: Amwell

Results Awards: ATB Financial

Scale Award: Grupo Posadas

The University of Phoenix builds a culture of learning through games

Gamification is a powerful tool for helping employees adopt new work practices. But little did the University of Phoenix know that its monthlong “Fall in Love with Learning” campaign would blossom into a cultural connector and time-honored tradition that tied employees together throughout the pandemic and since it subsided in the United States. 

Begun in February 2019, just before the pandemic shuttered offices, “Fall in Love with Learning” focused on professional development and friendly competition through professional development bingo. Throughout February, University of Phoenix encourages employees to rekindle their love for learning by participating in fun, curated activities designed to help their employees learn and grow. 

It has grown in the past four years and now incorporates the University’s talent development philosophy to, in part, encourage better use of the Betterworks solution, with a focus on goal-setting, peer feedback, and peer recognition. Its 2023 theme centered on feedback and included a Peer Feedback Challenge that asked employees to use the Betterworks Feedback module to request feedback from at least one person before their Q2 Check-in conversation. 

“We believe feedback is a powerful tool that allows our folks to develop greater self-awareness,” says Jeff Andes, vice president of talent management. “Input from peers helps them grow as professionals.”

University of Phoenix followed up its challenge by incorporating a question about the value of the feedback into the Betterworks Conversation module that managers and employees use to discuss performance and development goals. This allowed the university to capture employee insights and gave managers and employees the opportunity to create a Betterworks development goal to implement the feedback.

“We believe feedback is a powerful tool that allows our folks to develop greater self-awareness. Input from peers helps them grow as professionals.”

— Jeff Andes, vice president of talent management, University of Phoenix

A big “thumbs up” for feedback

Participation was “through the roof.” Over 650 feedback requests were made — a 44X increase over the usual number — and just over 75% of employees who requested feedback received it. To ensure best practices accompanied the increase in feedback, the University offered training to teach employees how to write high-quality, balanced peer feedback in the Betterworks Feedback module.

Complimentary activities included a bingo challenge that prompted employees to provide peer recognition in Betterworks to colleagues for demonstrating a core behavior valued by the University.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix continually innovates to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students pursue career and personal aspirations more effectively while balancing their busy lives.

The recipient of the 2023 People Award not only prioritized their people throughout the pandemic, but also built, maintained, and grew a company culture that attracts and retains high performers by putting them first. This includes a focus on learning and development and improving feedback and recognition throughout the organization.

Best Western bats 1000 on manager-employee conversations

Best Western’s technology management division has bumped up its gameplay since partnering with Betterworks in 2018. It started with a pilot program to develop a fluid goal-setting process. Later, it added structured and unstructured manager-employee conversations with Betterworks, which proved to be a game-changer. 

The HR team increased the manager-employee check-in cadence to quarterly from once or twice a year after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from managers and employees. The division’s HR team then connected the Betterworks Conversations module to its employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) by asking employees about their biggest challenges. This practice evolved into more targeted questions that managers could use to start quarterly conversations. Andrew Roundtree, senior manager of human resources at Best Western International, added games and hypothetical scenarios to Betterworks’ OKR (objective and key results) infrastructure to help employees understand how to set effective goals — contributing to a more dynamic process than the previous static scorecard.

“We have a fantastic culture at Best Western. It’s our biggest selling aspect. Implementing Betterworks, and everything working together, helps build the culture. It’s a pillar of our culture.”

— Andrew Roundtree, senior manager of human resources, Best Western International

A win for culture

Incorporating regular, frequent conversations has resonated powerfully: Best Western’s technology management division consistently has near 100% conversation completion rates. If they were a baseball team, they’d be batting nearly 1000. The impact goes well beyond a near-perfect participation record: The division monitors weekly progress toward goals and is meeting its team objectives while still being able to pivot as needed. 

“We have a fantastic culture at Best Western,” Andrew says. ”It’s our biggest selling aspect. Implementing Betterworks, and everything working together, helps build the culture. It’s a pillar of our culture.”

About Best Western

Best Western Hotels & Resorts, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, is a privately held hotel brand with a global network of approximately 4,500+ hotels in over 100+ countries and territories worldwide.

The recipient of the 2023 Impact Award has made the biggest impact on their organization, attributing some of that success to the implementation of Betterworks.

University of Phoenix Case Study

Amwell focuses on maintaining a healthy hybrid workforce  

As a digital healthcare platform provider whose solutions blend in-person, automated, and virtual care, Amwell is all about providing better outcomes. It only makes sense that it would strive to do the same for its remote-first workforce.

The Amwell team has driven growth in collaboration with Betterworks by blending effective OKRs with a performance management program that includes one-on-one conversations, feedback, and ratings. 

Over the past two years, Amwell has increased employee productivity by implementing a structured process that allows managers and individual contributors to check in on business needs and progress continuously. In 2023, it’s adding Betterworks Calibration to provide the ability to calibrate employees fairly.

Amwell has driven business results through a culture of learning and development across the entire organization. It has achieved greater alignment with overall business needs while increasing vital cross-team collaboration and communication essential to driving innovation and future advancement.

About Amwell

Amwell is a leading global digital care delivery enablement platform with a virtual-first working environment. For over a decade, Amwell has powered digital health solutions by connecting and enabling providers, insurers, and innovators to deliver greater access to more affordable, higher-quality patient care. Its customers comprise over 2,000 hospitals and 55 health plan partners with more than 36,000 employers, covering over 80 million patient lives.

The recipient of the 2023 Strategy Award has seen and reacted to the need for performance, communication, and goal setting in their organization and is ready to dominate a hybrid work future.

ATB Financial’s investment in its workforce yields big returns

ATB Financial knows the value of investing in its team members, and it is a top priority. Its vision for performance enablement is to create the conditions for team members to deliver their best work at an individual, team, and organizational level.

“I see empowerment as the combination of an environment of psychological safety — where I’m trusted to make decisions and course correct — and knowing how I can best align to the higher purpose of the organization,” says Michele Steil, director of performance enablement at ATB Financial. “It comes from transparency, and each individual knowing how they’re contributing to the whole.”

ATB partnered with Betterworks to support its vision, launching the platform in March 2022 with a year-end evaluation scheduled conversation. The goal was two-pronged: encourage meaningful year-end conversations between team members and their leaders and collect performance and talent data for calibration purposes. 

ATB saw an incredible 97% completion rate. Its human resources consulting team used this data to conduct calibration conversations across business units that informed data-based decisions on incentive pay along with high-potential and succession planning at the senior leader level and for key roles.

“I see empowerment as the combination of an environment of psychological safety — where I’m trusted to make decisions and course correct — and knowing how I can best align to the higher purpose of the organization.”

— Michele Steil, director of performance enablement, ATB Financial

ATB then introduced its team to the new goal-setting methodology in June 2022. The company used its annual business plan to set the top company objectives. To ease its workforce into the new process, HR partnered with Betterworks to establish learning and user guides on the Betterworks platform and provided OKR writing workshops. As a result, the firm saw 80%-87% of its employees use the goal-setting module throughout the year. The company has continued to provide feedback and coaching to executives to help them hone their goal writing.

As ATB moved to more frequent quarterly conversations, it has seen a fairly steady increase in the number of conversations quarter over quarter and is committed to helping employees acclimate themselves to the cadence. Employee feedback reveals that the quality of manager-employee conversations is better than ever.

Building good habits delivers better performance

In its last employee survey, 91% of employees said they clearly understand what is expected of them, and 87% said they receive feedback that helps them improve their performance. 

Comments from ATB Financial’s executives reflect better clarity, leading to peak performance, better focus and engagement, and more meaningful conversations in which both managers and employees come prepared and ready to engage. 

ATB has also embraced the Betterworks Feedback tool, which has added richness to the check-ins. Streamlining how its teams consistently leverage the tool and the built-in insights have been core to fostering overall team performance.

About ATB

With $58.5 billion in assets, ATB Financial is an Alberta-built financial institution that is a catalyst for economic growth in its province. ATB Financial’s 5,000-plus team members deliver exceptional experiences to nearly 800,000 clients through its many branches and agencies, a 24-hour Client Care Centre, four entrepreneur centers, and digital banking options.

The recipient of the 2023 Results Award illustrates the impact of tying together people and performance programs with goal-setting programs.

HR's Role in Goal-Setting and Strategy Execution

Grupo Posadas transcends a crisis by aligning on goals

Posadas has worked with Betterworks since 2018, establishing an alliance that has grown and scaled with its business over time. Through this partnership, Posadas has overcome the impact of the pandemic in one of the most affected industries — hospitality. Since 2020, Posadas has continuously scaled its business, in part by leveraging Betterworks to support nearly all employees in most of its hotels and delivering on its purpose as a company. 

In 2018, while developing its strategic plan for the next few years, Posadas recognized inefficiencies in its manual processes for performance. It needed a faster, more efficient way to keep the team aligned on its mission to fulfill its strategic plan. Until then, goals hadn’t been clearly defined, and the organization was often misaligned on its most important priorities.

Posadas began the program with just 50 executive committee and corporate strategy team users. The organization adopted a goal-setting framework to support strategic management and execution, using Betterworks as the platform to enable performance and bring its strategic plan to fruition.

Then the pandemic hit, tanking the travel and hospitality industry practically overnight. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic, weekly objectives, then monthly, then quarterly again, helped us keep the company moving, explains Arnando Smeke, head of strategic planning for Posadas. “Everybody worked. Everybody aligned. To us, that is our great history with Betterworks. We can talk about sales or margins or some specific initiative, but these impact the whole company, and I think that’s the most important.”

Finding the path back to fiscal health

What started as the biggest crisis in Posadas’ history has become a great growth story. Posadas has achieved strong fiscal health after experiencing financial losses resulting from the pandemic. 

From its initial rollout to 50 users, the hospitality company grew its program to 550 and now has cascaded strategic priorities to five levels under corporate. Its ability to remain agile and focused with Betterworks has enabled it to exceed its financial goals in the years since. After surpassing 2021 revenue goals, along with recent RevPAR (revenue per available room) increases of over 13%, the company was able to reactivate its core businesses in 2022. In 2022, Hotel RevPAR (revenue per available room) increased 43% year-over-year, 14% higher than 2019. The widespread adoption and prioritization of OKRs by 97% of users was a major factor in helping Posadas consistently exceed business goals.

“Everybody worked. Everybody aligned. To us, that is our great history with Betterworks. We can talk about sales or margins or some specific initiative, but these impact the whole company, and I think that’s the most important.”

— Armando Smeke, head of strategic planning, Posadas

About Grupo Posadas

Posadas is the leading hotel company in Mexico, operating more than 180 hotels under 12 brands — from five-star luxury resorts and boutique hotels to more budget-minded options for vacationers and business travel. Posadas is dedicated to providing guests with consistently unforgettable moments through its world-class service. Daily work revolves around the principle that strong teams comprise committed, talented, and focused individuals.

The recipient of the 2023 Scale Award has demonstrated unprecedented growth, successfully scaling both people and processes while prioritizing advancement with great agility.

To discover more about how Betterworks customers drive growth, engage their workforce, and foster a culture of excellence, visit the Customer Stories section of our website.

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