Q&A with Cesar Villa from The Hershey Company

July 10, 2015 Sarah Payne

A couple weeks ago we hosted a webinar with The Hershey Company to share the success of their Hershey Smiles recognition program. You can check out the recording here.

As an added bonus, I recently had the chance to chat with Cesar Villa, Director, Compensation Global Functions, and ask him more about the Hershey Smiles program on its one-year anniversary.

Can you tell me a little bit about your role at The Hershey Company?

I am responsible for defining and building strategies for compensation on a global basis—but acting locally to reflect the local trends and win the marketplace. My goal is to pay and attract premier talent to The Hershey Company and help support our best place to work initiatives.

What did recognition look like before the Hershey Smiles program?

We had disparate programs. We had different employee experiences. Not all managers had access to recognize their employees. We had compliance risks. Essentially, we didn’t have a global strategy for recognition.

What were your goals when you were thinking about consolidating the reward and recognition programs?

We needed to create a global experience, the same experience for every employee. To set a consistent recognition philosophy, we needed to offer the same parameters and the same tools throughout the company.

Why did you choose to partner with Globoforce?

Simply put, it’s the proven experience that Globoforce has in recognition. We interviewed Globoforce’s customers and they said they’ve had great experiences with good coaching and global technology. And one of the most important things is the global approach that Globoforce offers and the easy-to-use technology.

What are high-level results of the program as you celebrate its anniversary? What are you most proud of?

We have 50,000 recognitions—that’s something great. 60% of our population has received at least one recognition and almost 70% of leaders have delivered recognition. So they are really helping to increase the leadership, productivity, and engagement. And I am most proud of the engagement survey, which increased by 11% versus the previous year. We achieved all that in one year.

What has been company leaders’ response to the program?

They say it’s very easy to use. Now they have tools to empower employees and keep them motivated. Giving recognition used to involve a lot of process. Now they can recognition more frequently with less hassle.

How have the employees responded? Any stories?

We interviewed employees in manufacturing plants. One said, ‘I have been here for 25 years and this is the first time that I have received recognition.’ So that’s something impressive. It proves that their ideas count and that their contributions are taken into consideration. They also like having thousands of options in the awards network. For example, they can take their family out to dinner and they can say, ‘I’m proud because my ideas have been recognized and I can share what The Hershey Company has given me.’

How do you envision the program evolving? What are next steps?

We have a great start in the recognition journey at Hershey. So now we are building a roadmap for all our recognition activities, including wellbeing initiatives, sales contests, and life changes and work events. We want to find the correct time to recognize people. As I say, frequent recognition and the small things make big things at the end. When you get married, you celebrate your birthday, you are promoted, and you are recognized for these things in Hershey Smiles, you feel that you are part of the organization and not a number.

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