How Upwork Leverages Rewards to Drive Team Member Advocacy

  • author

    Chelsea Legendre

  • posted

    Jul 19, 2022

  • topic

    Employee Rewards, Case Studies

How Upwork Leverages Rewards to Drive Team Member Advocacy

Supporting a global hybrid workforce is no easy feat. With 75% of its workforce globally distributed, Upwork not only wanted to foster camaraderie and a sense of belonging for all team members, but also encourage everyone to engage with and share the company’s content. The solution: launching a team member advocacy program.

Upwork is a work marketplace that empowers and connects professionals who want to innovate and grow their freelance careers with organizations that want to innovate work and grow their businesses. Named to the 2022 TIME100 Most Influential Companies list, Upwork knows how to turn its team members into loyal brand advocates.

Rewarding at a Global Scale

When Upwork created its employee advocacy program in 2017, it wanted to incentivize team members to share Upwork content on their own social media platforms. But with an international workforce, they were facing a challenge to find a platform that could help with international fulfillment and delivery.

“We selected BHN Rewards specifically because of its huge international component … 75% of our workforce is distributed globally outside the U.S. The most important part of how we do rewards is that everyone has equal choice and equal opportunity for the reward,” says Kirsten Agnello-Dean, Social Media Manager for Upwork.

Upwork incentivizes its hybrid workforce of 2,500-plus team members to share company and industry news, while also helping them build their own professional brand. Each time a team member shares a post, they are entered to win one of six gift cards in a monthly drawing. 

In 2021 alone, Upwork ran over 20 different campaigns within BHN Rewards. Agnello-Dean uses special incentive programs to encourage more participation when Upwork wants increased views on a specific campaign. 

Rewards Management Made Easier

When your job includes managing a social media editorial calendar with over 300 posts across platforms every month — on top of effectively running a team member advocacy program — rewards should be the simplest part. 

BHN Rewards is “easy to use, the UI is easy to navigate, I haven’t had any tech issues, and no one has reached out about not being able to redeem their rewards,” Agnello-Dean says.

With BHN Rewards’ dashboard and campaigns manager, Angello-Dean can keep track of which campaigns are running, how many rewards have been redeemed, and if there are any refunds available. 

Since Upwork’s incentives program falls under the communications team, another critical part is branding. Agnello-Dean can embed the Upwork branding throughout all the digital reward campaigns she runs. Team members immediately know where the reward is coming from.

Giving Back Through Rewards

As a part of every campaign, Upwork likes to include e-donations as a reward option. “Upwork is a mission-driven company, so we love being able to give back and offer that as a reward choice for our teams,” says Agnello-Dean.

When participants receive their reward email, they can choose to donate the reward value to charity or select a digital gift card of their choice. By highlighting donation options, Upwork is giving back to their community and the causes their team members care about. 

A Participation Rate of Over One-Third 

Upwork sees over one-third of its workforce participate in the social sharing program every month, which is above benchmark standards for a program of their size and industry. Team members share more than 29,000 posts monthly, generating 38,000 impressions and an earned media value of over $531,000!

Agnello-Dean also ran a survey asking for feedback on the employee advocacy program and found that team members reported being “very happy” with these efforts. “People love the rewards, and overall, there is positive feedback on the whole program,” she says.

Because Agnello-Dean makes the advocacy program fun and incorporates rewards, participants are not only willing but excited to share Upwork’s posts!

To learn more about Upwork’s advocacy program with BHN Rewards, watch our on-demand webinar recording.

about the author
Chelsea Legendre

Chelsea is a multifaceted marketer with nearly 10 years of experience spanning strategy development, product marketing, and content. She now focuses on customer engagement and success.

Chelsea is a multifaceted marketer with nearly 10 years of experience spanning strategy development, product marketing, and content. She now focuses on customer engagement and success.