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Case Study

Empowering Engagement: How First Bank Reached All Time Engagement Highs in Just 3 Months

First Bank

How First Bank successfully used recognition and rewards to boost morale and increase employee engagement across all departments.

With recognition that the whole company can see, employees’ contributions to the overall Bank operations are front and center.

About First Bank

First Bank grew from a single branch in Williamstown in 2007, to 18 branches across NJ and PA in 2020. As of this writing, First Bank has over 200 employees.

Not Your ‘Traditional’ Bank

Banks can have the image of being impersonal… This is not the case at First Bank. 

First Bank employees are trained to put relationships ahead of transactions. Gone are the days of cold-marble floored lobbies that echo every sound.

First Bank customers are greeted by name and with a smile as they walk in the door.

Our Bucketlist revolves around our 3 Core Values: Customer Focus, Integrity, and Outcome Orientation. First Bank employees are trained to exemplify our core values with each customer interaction. This provides the material for Bucketlist recognition.

– Julianne Silletti, First Bank Human Resources Assistant

The Criteria for Recognition Software

1) First Bank wanted to look for new and innovative ways to recognize and reward

employees without it always being bonus focused.

2) The ability for company-wide visibility for recognition.

We didn’t only want the recognized employee to know, but the whole company to know when someone does a great job. The ability to recognize from different departments was really important to us.

– Julianne Silletti, First Bank Human Resources Assistant

Launching Employee Recognition and Rewards Software

Step 1: Core Values

First Bank have 3 company-wide core values; Customer Focus, Integrity and Outcome


After launching Bucketlist recognitions, we noticed that our core values did not encapsulate everything our employees were doing. We added “Above and Beyond” to be able share those recognitions.

– Julianne Silletti, First Bank Human Resources Assistant

Step 2: Custom Rewards

Being a bank, instead of ‘points’ they have ‘bucks’. Each recognition provides ‘bucks’ to the employee to be able to redeem for rewards. In addition to the thousands of rewards provided by Bucketlist, First Bank have a range of custom rewards.

First Bank Marketplace:

  • Variety of branded merchandise
  • Tech items: AirPods, Apple Watch, Bluetooth Speakers
  • Experiences
  • Additional PTO (paid time off)

Step 3: Company Wide Launch

First Bank launched the Bucketlist Rewards and Recognition program via a webinar. This enabled all employees to jump online to see the new program and how it works.

Julianne described the Bucketlist team as “ultimate rock stars” as they helped so much with the program’s launch in October 2019.

The Results Are In

Engagement and Recognition

The launch was a success and within 3 months First Bank had achieved:

  • 75% staff engagement
  • Almost 600 recognitions given

“Employees were able to pick it up really quickly.” – Julianne

Keeping the Morale Alive

With a goal of keeping morale consistently high in a banking environment, Bucketlist has helped First Bank achieve this.

Here are some of the ways First Bank has seen the results:

1) Recognition everyone can see

“You don’t always get to hear recognition directly from employees, but encouraging it through Bucketlist has been amazing for morale all around the company.” – Julianne

2) Boost in morale

“We’ve noticed a big boost in morale. People are engaging more, they’re optimistic and you can see their smiles when the recognition emails comes through.” – Julianne

3) Bringing out personalities

“We’ve been able to see a really fun side of staff as they joke around with funny gifs and emojis. Some employees really take recognition to the next level.” – Julianne

What First Bank Staff are Saying

“The redemption process took maybe two or three clicks and I received my gift card almost immediately… [Our company] have really been enjoying Bucketlist as a whole because it’s a great way to give recognition and thanks in a tangible way.” – Samantha

“The redemption process was super easy and the e-card was emailed to me within seconds of redeeming- so cool! I would rate the program a 10! I love it!” – Jennifer

A Little Bit Extra

First Bank have been impressed with the level of support from the Bucketlist team.

I feel like Bucketlist has become an extension of the First Bank family. They’re always so helpful with suggestions and ideas.

First Bank were blown away with the initial demo and loved how the company values aligned.

After the demo we said, ‘That’s our company, that’s who we need to use for our recognition system.

The Details: How First Bank use Bucketlist for Corporate Recognition and Rewards

  • Recognition integrated into Outlook
  • Staff and managers can recognize each other for living core values and a job well done
  • Points “bucks” handed out with each recognition
  • Ability to claim bucks for rewards
  • Monthly reward redemptions
  • Nominations for employee awards

We were sold on the Outlook integration. We use Outlook daily, and the ability to give recognition with the click of a button was just what we were looking for.

Employee recognition

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