Employees Archives ⋆ Awards International


Thomas FairbairnAugust 12, 20203min17080

Excellence is international. 

Whether it’s customer experience or business performance, companies are competing in a global market – and international recognition matters now more than ever. 

At Awards International, we pride ourselves on celebrating the finest business talent. At the moment, we do this by running awards programmes in four different countries, and we’re aiming to be in 50 countries in the next ten years! As we expand into more countries, we want to increase the international dimension of our Awards – which is why we’re introducing the Go International campaign.


How can I “Go International”?

If you triumph in a category at one of our regional awards (for example, the UK Customer Experience Awards) you will be automatically entitled to be short-listed* for one of our international events: the International Customer Experience Awards and the International Business Excellence Awards

At our international events, you’ll be able to meet and compete with companies from all over the world – and have the chance to win the highest accolades we offer! 

If you’re an organisation with global ambitions, this is a fantastic way of showing your customers that you mean business! 


When and where are the International Awards?

This year, we’ll be holding both Awards Live ONLINE from start to finish. Without the need to travel, we look forward to welcoming finalists from a greater number of countries than ever before!

We’ve already run three different awards programmes using videoconferencing software, and it’s been an amazing success. In fact, we had 100% positive feedback for our most recent event, the UK Digital Experience Awards. We can’t wait to bring that same expertise to our biggest Awards programmes.

To find out more about Go International opportunities, get in touch with one of our Awards Consultants today!


International Customer Experience Awards: Book a Call

International Business Excellence Awards: Book a Call





Thomas FairbairnJune 24, 20205min37960
The Mona Lisa – a classic example of emotional ambiguity.

I think it’s fair to say that the past few months have been the strangest in my lifetime. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this. This crisis has caused enormous social and economic disruption, as well as many deaths around the world. At Awards International, our deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to everyone affected by COVID-19, both directly and indirectly.

Social distancing has become a way of life, forcing us to act against our nature and keep apart from friends and family. In the world of work, the Zoom call has become the new normal. For those fortunate enough not to be furloughed or even lose their jobs, this has meant huge changes to the employee experience, but I believe that many of these are actually beneficial and will remain in place once this crisis has passed.

Earlier in the year, just before the lockdown started, I interviewed DeAnna Avis from Solus Accident Repair Centres. As part of their customer experience strategy, she stressed the importance of “vulnerability, being mindful, and getting people to open up.” This need for greater humanity and acknowledgment of vulnerability has been a trend in employee experience for some time now. But COVID-19 has accelerated the trend.

On a Zoom call, we are reminded that everyone has a home life. We see many examples of this: it might be the sound of children playing in the background, or perhaps a cat climbing over the keyboard! Although some people might think this is damaging, I think the contrary: we are reminded of the essential humanity of the people we work with and, in my view, this lays the foundation for stronger working relationships.

There is no hiding our vulnerability: the mere fact that we are working from home and “staying alert” is evidence of this. Of course, professionalism matters, competence matters, but the idea that we need to present ourselves as in control 100% of the time seems to be breaking down. I call this concept “emotional distancing”. And I think we’re seeing less of it.

In my view, this is a good thing. In his book Happy, Derren Brown argues that a lot of our insecurities come from the contrast between social and inner selves. When we meet other people, we are confronted with their social self: a well-polished, presentable version of their personality. We then compare that to our own inner self, which can feel a lot less polished! The perception of that gulf, although in reality an illusion, is the source of a great deal of discontent. I think that this crisis has made that gap smaller. Seeing our colleagues in a domestic setting and discussing lockdown mental health reminds us of how similar we really are, and how we all face common challenges.

Having read many judges’ comments from previous Awards, I’ve noticed that this is something they want finalists to discuss. If a presenter gives a 100% positive account of their initiative, judges can often be sceptical. They might well ask a question about the challenges a finalist has faced – and they expect an honest answer. In my experience, finalists that can speak frankly about the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them, are rewarded for this honesty by the judges. There doesn’t need to be a contradiction between facing difficulties and doing great work.

As with many crises in the past, this pandemic provides us with a chance to reflect on our values, and think about the kind of world we want to see when this is over. And in my opinion, a world where we acknowledge our problems is one where we can truly help each other.




Thomas FairbairnApril 1, 20205min21740

With so many people now working from home full-time, new routines are emerging. And although there have been serious economic issues, many companies are displaying great ingenuity in their Employee Experience responses. This technology has been with us for a while – and it’s now being put to the test on its largest ever scale.

Today, we want to do something fun: a multiple choice quiz about your work-from-home habits. Each question covers a key aspect of home working: some of the options are sensible, and some not so much! Check your answers at the end to see if you’re a work-from-home winner.


Work Station

Having the right space in your home for working is essential – but where do you base yourself?

A – My bed is my most comfortable piece of furniture, so of course I work there. 

B – I set myself up on a good-sized table away from my bedroom and sit on a chair that provides good back support. 

C – I sit at my custom-made 18th century writing desk and polish it regularly with beeswax 



When working from home, you’re your own canteen. What kind of meals do you prepare?

A – Nothing too fancy. Yesterday I had a potato sandwich. 

B – A rich variety of healthy meals with plenty of green vegetables. 

C – Roast pheasant and brandy.



This is essential to physical and mental wellbeing. How do you stay active?

A – Does looking for the TV remote count as exercise?

B – I do a run, cycle or home workout several days a week, and make sure to take regular walks as well.

C – Ultramarathons every other day.


Conference Calls

Staying in touch with your teammates and communicating well is critical, but do you approach a call?

A – As long as the small square in shot looks good, that’s all the matters really.

B – As if I was in the office, prepped and ready a few minutes before the call begins.

C – My office is normally too informal; conference calls are a great chance for me to put on my tuxedo!



Without the same structure as an office job, it’s important to keep some work-life balance. How do you relax at the end of a day?

A – Playing Call of Duty: Warzone until the early hours of the morning.

B – Catching up with friends and family, cooking, reading, watching a box set.

C – Reading Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu” in the original French.



What do my answers say about me?

Mostly A’s – you’re probably not giving yourself the structure to thrive as a home worker. It’s important to keep your routine and set some standards for yourself.

Mostly B’s – you’re getting the balance right. You’re staying active, working effectively, keeping in touch with friends and giving yourself the best chance of success!

Mostly C’s – you might be overdoing it a bit. 


We’d love to hear how you’re getting on working from home. If you’ve got any EX stories to share, email thomas@awardsinternational.com and we’d be delighted to feature them on the website.



Thomas FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min18850

It’s important to get your EX knowledge from a wide range of places – above and below ground! Sure, there’s a huge value in listening to influencers and reading academic research. But qualitative, unique perspectives are really important too.

So we’ve collected together some lesser-known EX stories from all corners of the web, from ordinary workers all around the world. In here are examples of great work environments – and things to avoid! Hopefully you find these interesting.


The Email From Hell

“I worked for an oil company, and lived through mass redundancies when the oil went belly up.

They sent out a list of which positions were being made redundant, with numbers for how many people currently held that role and how many they were cutting it to. So if it said ‘Buyers | Current: 4 | Consultation: 3’ you knew that if you were a buyer you’d be under scrutiny and 25% of your team would be gone soon.

I sat at my desk and opened the e-mail. Looked for my position, no redundancy for me. The girl next to me opened hers and saw ‘Her position | Current: 1 | Consultation: 0’. That’s how she learned she’d lost her job.”


Awesome Bosses

“I worked at a radio station setting up and operating the technology for remote broadcasts, and the manager of the station was awesome.

He knew how to do every job in the station and would always be willing to offer help if he was on site with you, but didn’t interfere unless you were really messing up or asked for help.

One time, I forgot my staff pass at a concert and wasn’t allowed in during setup. When I called him asking what to do and profusely apologising, he walked up to the other side of the fence with the same jovial smile he always had and handed me a spare pass through the links. He dismissed my apologies and said mistakes happen.

I moved away and had to quit, but he’s given me sterling recommendation for every resume I’ve submitted since then.”


Enter the UK Customer Experience Awards


Making Company News Fun

“Ten minutes into the company meeting someone’s phone went off playing bagpipe music. But as it got louder we realised it was an actual set of bagpipes playing outside. Before we knew it, the guy marches into the conference room blasting away. After he finished playing, the speaker, who had been playing dumb until now, announced that we had just acquired a small company in Scotland. Best announcement ever.”



Own Devices

“I work at a dispersed mid-sized enterprise which makes stuff everyone reading this probably owns. There is no management structure so-to-say. There is leadership but they’re not so much there to manage people as help steer the organisation directionally and approve large investments. We make our own decisions about what we individually spend our time doing and are free to form teams to investigate and implement new functionality. Salary is uniquely determined by your performance and usefulness to the company (not your boss’ opinion).

Upsides? Zero micromanagement. You will never have someone question why you left at 1pm on a Tuesday. You get to spend a lot of time experimenting and probably do more technical work than peers at other organisations.

Downsides? Decisions can be hard. No bosses means no one saying “you will do X” so you end up having to convince some hold-outs that solution X is better than Y. Policies are hard since who is there to say you MUST follow X policy?

The organisation works great if people feel ownership and just overall do what they’re supposed to do. It breaks down when no one steps up to do certain stuff.”


All That Glitters is Not Gold

“If there’s stuff pointed out there such as for entertainment, I’d be a little skeptical. You’re not paid to chill doing those things, so if they’re actually there to be used for relaxing, there’s a good chance you’re: doing a demanding or stressful job, or some other negative for them to try promote ‘fun’ activities at the workplace. What is a toxic workplace? This is a great example.

Flash offices and tidbits might seem appealing, but after a few months the job often might not be. Focus on whether you’ll enjoy the content of your job. Also bear in mind that above market-rate pay may also be compensating for something.”


If you’d like to see top organisations talking about their employee experience, book your seats today for the UK Employee Experience Awards!

Click here for more EX stories!


Thomas FairbairnFebruary 4, 20203min24450

A competition is only meaningful when the rules are fair and fairly enforced.

An award should mean something special: it’s a recognition of the hard work that’s gone into your commercial success. At Awards International, we ensure that every trophy is assessed to the same high standards, so if you win, you know it was well-deserved.

First of all, we make all our scoring criteria publicly available. We don’t believe in awards being given out by mysterious academies with utterly opaque methods; no, you need to know the standards against which you’re being assessed. Many finalists choose to structure their presentations around these criteria: Objectives, Stakeholder Engagement, Implementation and so on.

Apply to judge at the UK Digital Experience Awards

We also promote the involvement of our judges, so you’ll know exactly who’s assessing each category. Because half your score comes from a live presentation on the day of the Awards Finals, you’ll also have the chance to meet your judges in person. This makes a real difference: it reminds you that our judges are real people who aren’t employees of Awards International!

And finally, every finalist receives a detailed feedback report after the event. This contains your scores, comments from the judges on both your written entry and live presentation, and information on how you performed relative to others in your category. With many other awards programmes, you’ll only find out whether you won. We believe that entering awards should be an educational opportunity, and that those who didn’t win deserve to know how they can improve their entries in the future.

Enter the UK Digital Experience Awards

Apply to judge at the UK Employee Experience Awards

Click here for more Awards International stories


Thomas FairbairnJanuary 22, 20203min20270

At Awards International, we don’t think Awards Finals should be a simple announcement of the winners. With so many professionals gathered under one roof, it’s an opportunity to do so much more.

That’s why everything is still to play for on the day of the Awards Finals: 50% of your score comes from a live presentation. This creates a real sense of competition, but also means there are scores of presentations going on throughout the morning.

Many of these presentations are open to spectators – normally a little over half. The companies presenting are more than happy for you to come in and see them pitch their initiative to the judges. .

If you bring a few team members with you, you can easily see over a dozen presentations in one morning. And these aren’t just keynote conference speeches – these are real businesses talking about the genuine challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. As ServiceNow’s Ian Ashby put it: “It was truly inspirational to see the innovation and quality on show, and gave me a number of ‘nuggets’ to take back to the day job!”

Enter the UK Employee Experience Awards

Beyond presentations, there are numerous chances to network throughout the day. Once finalists have finished presenting, they feel the pressure lift and are in a great headspace to start meeting other professionals. Unlike many conferences, which can be rather niche in their focus, our Awards feature companies from all across the economy – B2B and B2C, public sector and private, SMEs and large corporation. This diversity of companies gives you the chance to hear a wide range of perspectives – and also pick up new business!

Our events have the educational and networking appeal of a conference – plus all the wonders and delights of an Awards ceremony. This combination is what keeps our customers coming back year on year – and we hope to see you at one of our events soon!


For more stories from Awards International, click here

To enter the UK Digital Experience Awards, click here




Thomas FairbairnDecember 10, 20193min24660

At each of our Awards, we offer prizes in a series of categories. They are specially selected to recognise the diverse accomplishments of CX and business professionals.

The best route to Awards success, of course, is having a great initiative. If you have achieved great results, that will impress the judges. But you have to make sure that you’re choosing the right category.

The first step is to figure out if you’ll be entering as an organisation, team or individual. We offer prizes in each of these areas – and you can enter all of them if you wish!






To enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards, click here.


Once you’ve determined if you’re entering as an organisation, team or individual, you need to consider your specific initiative. Have a clear idea of what it is, and what exactly you accomplished. If you’re an organisation, go through the list of categories and see which ones are the best fit. Remember: you can enter the same initiative into multiple categories – but it must be relevant to all of them!

For example, if you’ve been using machine learning to enhance the Contact Centre experience, you could enter both the Contact Centre and Use of Technology categories with the same initiative.

It’s good to figure this out before you submit the first entry, as we offer discounts when you enter multiple categories at the same time. So – have a good idea of all the categories and your preferences before you enter!

If you’re looking for additional advice on categories, you can always check out our Plan2Win document. It contains more detailed information on the Awards, as well as top tips on writing a successful entry!

To win at our Awards, you have to play to your strengths. Good luck picking the category(ies) that are best for you!


To enter the UK Employee Experience Awards, click here

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Rodney LawsSeptember 18, 20199min27610


It’s all but impossible to find any element of business that hasn’t been changed by the rapid pace of technological development, and employee experience is no exception. While the effects haven’t permeated every field (most construction workers haven’t had their roles made significantly easier, for instance), they’ve massively impacted classic office-based jobs, making the typical workday easier and more enjoyable.

Given the importance of employee experience for productivity and staff retention, it’s no surprise that businesses have welcomed this improvement. After all, when employees are happy, it benefits all parties involved. So how exactly is technology enhancing employee experience throughout the world? Let’s run through 8 ways you should know about:


It’s improving the recruitment process

A great employee experience starts with the recruitment process, because when a company hires someone who isn’t a great fit in general, that employee will likely never have a great experience, regardless of how hard everyone tries to make it work. Thankfully, technology has massively improved the recruitment world in numerous ways.

Using big data, companies can review much broader pools of candidates, and even source them through non-traditional channels such as social media platforms. And through the use of smart interview scheduling and even onboarding tools, the best candidates can be given great experiences throughout the final recruitment stages and into their first working days and weeks.


It’s making office life easier

It used to be that a busy office was something to simply be endured, but technology has changed that. Picture the average office worker in a forward-thinking company today: instead of listening to the drone of their colleagues, they can wear noise-cancelling headphones to allow them to focus (and even use a company-provided Spotify account to listen to music). And then there are the conditions — an IoT-enhanced office can have regulated temperatures.


It’s allowing flexible remote working

While office life is getting easier, of course, it’s also getting less common. Remote working has steadily gone from a nice (but impractical) concept to a conventional reality. The truth is that most employees really don’t need to work from company offices, and can be just as productive (if not more productive) while working from home — all while doing away with commuting. The same is true of adhering to the 9-to-5 schedule. Using cloud software solutions, employees can race through their workloads no matter where they’re based.


It’s bolstering communication

Isolated office-based employees and remote working in general wouldn’t be viable if it weren’t for the ease of modern communication. Communication is key, and with tools like Slack and Skype, colleagues can stay in close communication from anywhere and at any time — and then there are project collaboration tools (like Invision) that make it easier to pool expertise on specific tasks.


It’s allowing custom automation

The working world is full of repetitive tasks that soak up time: data entry, regular updates, inventory checks, etc. What’s great about software across the board is that it’s getting quite sophisticated with allowing ad-hoc automation sequences, and it’s saving massive amounts of time: Shopify businesses alone have saved over 9.2 million hours of productivity through process automation, and there’s plenty of progress yet to be made.


It’s supporting HR departments

Human resources is as vital a department as ever, but there’s so much to factor in that HR professionals can struggle with getting everything done manually. Using dedicated HR suites, they can not only get their jobs done more easily (enhancing their employee experiences), but they can also free up more time to help out other employees, enhancing their experiences.


It’s enhancing training programs

Staying static in one position isn’t something a good employee will accept in the long run. They’ll want to grow, develop, change, and have fresh opportunities to do new things. To keep them happy, and to enhance their workplace value, employers must invest in training. The problem with training programs, though, is that they can be somewhat generic.

The solution? Tech-enhanced training that offers new opportunities and smarter courses. Employees can engage with training materials on mobile devices at their leisure, customize their experiences to get the best results, and seamlessly share their progress with others.


It’s gamifying performance tracking

What motivates you to work hard? Is it a sense of dedication to your company? A commitment to being the best you can be? Or is it a desire to outperform your colleagues and show your dominance? It isn’t a trick question, because each answer is viable. Whatever drives you, though, technology is making it easier to challenge yourself.

Digital analytics can easily show you how you’re getting on relative to your colleagues, or relative to yourself in previous months. They can even show you your value to the company if configured for that purpose. You can then be driven by your eagerness to play that competitive game — to battle towards your selected targets on your own terms.


With every fresh technological innovation, the options for creating better employee experiences expand. Any company that wants to retain its best employees needs to be aware of all the benefits we’ve looked at, and take advantage accordingly.

To read more articles from Rodney Laws, click here

Fore more Awards International stories on employee experience, click here


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 4, 20195min39930

IBM Employee Experience Index How do you quantify the employee experience? That’s what the boffins at IBM have been considering, and the results are fascinating.

You can view the whole text of their Employee Experience Index here.

As we prepare to launch the UK Employee Experience Awards 2020, we want to share the key findings of the report with you. Here’s what we made of it.


It’s really not about table football

Of course, workplace environment matters, but companies should not think that providing flashy perks, pinball machines and artisan coffees constitutes a fulfilling employee experience. In fact, those perks can be used to disguise an unhealthy work culture or other defects in the employee experience.

For IBM, there are five key dimensions to EX:

  • Belonging
  • Purpose
  • Achievement
  • Happiness
  • Vigour

Combining these dimensions to create the Index, IBM shared some interesting results.

Better EX means better, longer-lasting work

IBM conducted a survey of 23,000 employees in 45 countries to see how these factors contributed to a better experience. They also present compelling evidence that higher scores in these five dimensions leads to better work performance, higher discretionary effort, and greater levels of retention. When you look at the results of those with the top 25% highest EX index scores, and compare them with the bottom 25%, you can see the difference in performance.

  • 96% of positive EX workers had good work performance, compared to 73% of those with negative EX.
  • 96% of contented workers put in more discretionary effort, compared with just 55% who had negative EX.
  • 21% of positive EX workers intend to leave their place of work, compared to 44% of those with negative EX.

Feedback, environment and meaningful work also crucial

IBM Employee Experience Index - collaboration In some management philosophies, a notion persists that it’s counter-productive to give employees positive feedback. The evidence does not support this. In fact, just 40% of workers without consistent feedback report a positive employee experience. For those whose managers take the time and effort to give specific, actionable feedback, the EX score jumps to 83%.

Good relationships with colleagues are also crucial. When employees say their coworkers help them out when needed, 77% report a more positive employee experience, compared to 35% working in environments where help is not forthcoming. So it looks like cutthroat work environments don’t bring out the best in your employees!

The work itself must also be meaningful, ensuring ‘that employees’ skills and talents are being fully utilised and there is greater alignment to shared, core values.’ This is especially significant – just 29% of employees who aren’t sure how their work connects with organisational values report a positive experience.

What does this mean for businesses?

This report was very clear in its findings. Almost every factor made a significant difference to those in the top and bottom quartiles, sometimes as much as 50%.  This large variation can be explained by the fact that some companies are involving their employees in decision-making, giving them quality feedback and creating an environment in which workers help each other.

This isn’t just a question of personal and professional fulfilment: better EX policies make a substantial difference to work performance and cut down the costs on recruitment. Put simply, good EX makes better business sense.


For more Employee Experience stories, click here

Entries for the UK Employee Experience Awards 2020 will open shortly. In the meantime, book your seats the UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Business Awards