Putting It All Together

Versatility the driving force behind online support system.

THE most valued employee is often the most versatile. The more job tasks you can perform well, the more appreciated you are by your company. This notion also applies to computer programs.

AllStarRewards Inc. provides a customized online support system that can meet your communication needs, fulfill your MSDS requirements, manage your online training, and simultaneously track the components of an integrated, point-based incentive program.

Communication
At the heart of the AllStarRewards system is a basic communication and information management tool. Upon logging in, your employees will see up to five panels consisting of clickable buttons customized to your needs. The buttons an employee sees are configured based on his/her individual log-in information and location in your pre-set organizational communication chart.

To keep costs low, AllStarRewards designed the program as a template, but the company makes every effort to individualize your site through the incorporation of your company logo. "Most company employees access the system through the company's Web site, so we try to make it look branded," explained Dennis Downing, president of AllStarRewards. "This system will never be done because we're constantly updating and adding new features based on customer requests."

Numerous requests have led to the inclusion of an employee data center or database of personal information. Employees can easily update their own information, and changes are automatically sent to the human resource department.

To facilitate management and employee communication, the system also includes a vertical messaging system called cMail. Ideal for employees without personal e-mail accounts, this feature is designed to allow e-mail communication between managers and employees while eliminating the lost productivity and other problems associated with employee-to-employee e-mailing.

Other communication features often requested include various text boxes that supervisors can quickly update with information such as work schedules, weather conditions, and meeting times; a scoreboard for employee recognition; and a suggestion management system that tracks employee suggestions. "The biggest advantage is that every step of the way, the employee knows where his suggestion is," Downing said. "It keeps employees from feeling like the company doesn't care."

MSDS Manager
Because most of its customers are faced with the daunting task of MSDS management, AllStarRewards has incorporated a Web-based MSDS management feature provided by MSDSonline. MSDSs are organized alphabetically in a virtual file cabinet or old-fashioned library card catalog, objects with which the company feels users are particularly familiar. "Some of our customers are or have employees who are unfamiliar with the Internet and its jargon," Downing explained. "We needed a system they could relate to, so we tried to make everything very visual."

MSDSonline updates its database with the most current MSDSs and notifies a manager at your company of the change. However, the manager must activate the new MSDS so it can be viewed through the AllStarRewards system.

Online Training
One of the most sought-after features of the program is an online training management system that allows companies to present customized online training to their employees, using their own training content and resources. The system enables you to combine PowerPoint slides and related audio recordings--which also can be converted to Flash-- into short, interactive training segments.

Users can determine in what order an employee does the training segments and create related quizzes an employee must pass to move on. Training can be configured specifically to the job of a particular employee based on his/her log-in information. Employees with more experience may appreciate a pre-test feature, which saves time by allowing them to move on to more advanced presentations.

Integrated Rewards
Unlike other company Web sites that employees often don't know exist, the AllStarRewards system features a reward program that can be integrated throughout the site, encouraging its use. You can allot point values to everything from reading a memo or updating personal information to submitting a valid suggestion or completing training. Points can later be redeemed for awards valued up to $500.

The system keeps track of the points an employee earns while logged in and stores a point total in the Bank. Accessible by a button on the home page, the Bank looks like an ATM and allows the employee to check his or her point balance, view recent point transactions, and set award goals. To spend points, employees click on the Rewards button. The Rewards page resembles an elevator, with each floor button corresponding to an item category. When employees find an item they like, they can buy it if they have enough points or can make it a goal. The system sends employee point redemption notices to the purchasing department for approval, and employees usually receive their rewards within seven to 10 days.

Downing said the Web-based system's accessibility also has enabled families to participate in company incentive programs by giving them a voice in reward selection. "This provides extra motivation because a person will quit on his own goals quicker than the goals of his family," he said.

Even with cute elevator and ATM graphics, the AllStarRewards system does not look as good as most custom-designed Web pages and can even appear overly simplified. But by meeting numerous business and safety needs with one package rather than several, the system is simply rewarding.

This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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