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Case Study

Remote Work Reimagined: How AMA overcame the Digital Divide and Fostered Connections Through Rewards & Recognition

In the dynamic landscape of remote work, organizations face unique challenges in fostering a sense of belonging, collaboration, and recognition among team members. The American Marketing Association (AMA), a leading professional association for marketers, recognized the need to enhance its remote work culture and sought a solution to address these challenges. This case study explores how AMA successfully implemented Bucketlist to transform its employee engagement and recognition initiatives.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

As a global hub for marketers, educators, and researchers committed to advancing marketing practices, AMA plays a pivotal role. Through networking, education, and professional development, AMA catalyzes excellence, ensuring members stay ahead in industry trends. Serving as a guiding force in responsible marketing, AMA sets standards, conducts research, and promotes ethical practices, equipping members to make a positive impact globally.

We wanted to take our existing culture of feedback and make it tangible. Bucketlist enabled us to do that.

– Jennifer Howell, Director of People and Culture at AMA

Challenges Faced

AMA identified critical pain points in its pre-Bucketlist era. The organization struggled with providing eGift cards, assembling new hire swag, and managing logistics for a fully remote workforce. The need was pressing – to enable a personalized and inclusive experience while making the existing culture of feedback tangible for all employees. Enter Bucketlist! It emerged as the solution, empowering AMA to overcome these challenges and achieve its objectives.

The Solution

AMA’s decision to choose Bucketlist was driven by its ability to consolidate various recognition initiatives into one platform. Bucketlist provided a comprehensive solution, allowing AMA to recognize employee achievements, align with core values, acknowledge team member referrals, celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, and welcome new hires. As a fully remote organization, inclusivity was paramount, and Bucketlist emerged as the ideal platform to facilitate on-the-go recognition and cultivate a collaborative mindset within teams.

AMA established clear goals for the Bucketlist program, aiming to positively impact overall organizational engagement scores. The organization sought to encourage cross-team collaboration and recognition, while simultaneously reducing the manual workload for the People and Culture team. The objective was to create a seamless and efficient process aligned with AMA’s core competencies.

What I hear so frequently is that if someone needs a boost, they will look at the Bucketlist feed and see how engaged the organization is which feeds their desire to give praise and recognition to others.

– Jennifer Howell, Director of People and Culture at AMA

AMA’s Bucketlist Program: How it’s set up

AMA’s Bucketlist program now operates on a monetary system, emphasizing meaningful feedback tied to one of AMA’s six core competencies (i.e. Curious, Courageous, Customer-Centric, etc.)

The program encompasses awards for new hires, birthdays, work anniversaries, team member referrals, spot bonuses, and annual team member awards. Redemption options range from branded swag to charitable donations, with the organization grossing up redemptions to cover associated taxes.

The Program Launch Process

AMA’s implementation of Bucketlist was met with resounding success, thanks to a dedicated implementation team and well-executed training sessions. The program was officially announced at an annual team member summit, generating anticipation and excitement. Continuous training, including onboarding sessions for new hires, ensured widespread adoption. The key challenge – ensuring immediate and consistent engagement – was effectively addressed by seamlessly integrating Bucketlist into AMA’s organizational culture.

Since the program’s launch in September 2022, AMA achieved impressive participation rates. In the first three months, participation reached 100%, maintaining an average of 96% engagement since then. The success is attributed to the organization’s commitment to promoting and integrating Bucketlist into its weekly and monthly routines.

Seeing team members acknowledge people on other teams really makes me happy. It can change the narrative that remote organizations default to silos. When teams recognize the hard work and collaboration of others, it activates more empathy and teamwork.

– Jennifer Howell, Director of People and Culture at AMA

Sustaining Excitement and Engagement

AMA actively promotes Bucketlist usage on a weekly and monthly basis. The “Feedback Friday” initiative encourages team members to reflect on moments of positive impact and recognition during the week. Monthly town halls serve as a platform to remind employees to allocate their points before month-end. The flexibility to provide public or private recognition accommodates varying preferences among staff. This means that there is one less barrier of entry for those who like to keep their feedback private. 

Impact and Changes Observed Since Implementing Bucketlist

Bucketlist facilitated a meaningful connection between feedback and tangible rewards, resulting in more in-depth and constructive feedback. Notably, AMA’s organizational engagement metrics reached all-time highs, with employees citing Bucketlist as a valuable and enjoyable aspect of their experience.

Jennifer Howell, AMA’s Director of People and Culture, expressed her delight in witnessing the positive impact of Bucketlist on organizational culture. The platform’s feed serves as a source of inspiration, showcasing the organization’s engagement and eagerness to recognize and praise each other. Cross-team acknowledgment has dispelled the notion of remote organizations defaulting to silos, fostering empathy and teamwork.

AMA’s COO highlighted the platform’s role in boosting morale during strategic planning, emphasizing how the collective acknowledgment positively influences larger initiatives. The program has successfully contributed to the intended outcomes, including increased employee engagement and retention.

Our aim was to help our team members feel more of a sense of connection to one another and the work being done. This is now a living and breathing wonderful part of the AMA.

– Jennifer Howell, Director of People and Culture at AMA

Achieving Goals

Jennifer Howell affirms that Bucketlist has not only saved time for the People and Culture team but has also strengthened the sense of connection among team members. The living and breathing nature of Bucketlist is reflected in improved engagement survey results, aligning with AMA’s overarching goals.

Beyond the anticipated benefits, AMA team members have leveraged Bucketlist points for various purposes. From team-building experiences during company retreats to supporting charitable causes through the AMA Foundation, the program has become an integral part of employees’ lives. Some have even used their points for personal expenses like vacations, groceries, and everyday needs.

AMA’s successful implementation of Bucketlist stands as a testament to the transformative power of recognition programs in remote work environments. By addressing initial pain points, setting clear goals, and integrating Bucketlist into its culture, AMA has not only enhanced employee engagement but also achieved organizational success metrics. The platform’s flexibility, inclusivity, and seamless integration into daily routines have made it a valuable asset in fostering a positive and connected remote work culture for the American Marketing Association.

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