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17 July 2018
press release

BOSTON –– (July 17, 2018) — Global employee engagement company Reward Gateway announced today that it has acquired Brand Integrity, a 15-year-old employee engagement specialist operating from Rochester, N.Y.

The addition of Brand Integrity’s operations more than doubles Reward Gateway’s U.S. team and adds new clients committed to employee engagement, including Rite-Aid, Constellation Brands, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. These leading brands now join Reward Gateway’s existing global client roster, which includes IBM, McDonald’s, Unilever, and Samsung.

The combined group will operate under the Reward Gateway brand and be one of the largest employee engagement software businesses in the world, with over 400 staff servicing 1,800 clients and 4 million end users globally.

Doug Butler, CEO at Reward Gateway, said, “We’ve been investing heavily in the U.S. market since we established our Boston headquarters earlier this year, and this acquisition underlines our commitment. Brand Integrity has an excellent team, product set, and great client relationships, resulting in employee engagement scores three times the global average. We couldn’t be more excited to be working with the Brand Integrity team to bring our broader product offering and support resources to their clients and their in-depth knowledge and winning service formula to ours.”

Gregg Lederman, founder and CEO of Brand Integrity, added, “This completes a two-year search for a new home and partner for us. We met many companies and were fortunate to have several offers, but the fit with Reward Gateway was absolutely the best. I’m truly excited to experience the next chapter with our clients and employees.

Gregg Lederman will join the Reward Gateway Executive Board as president of employee engagement, supporting strategic platform, client success, and thought leadership initiatives. He joins another U.S. HR tech veteran, Gene Gainey, who was appointed SVP of sales, Americas, earlier in the year. Half of the group’s executive team is now based in the U.S. Brand Integrity’s 25-person staff in Rochester, N.Y. will work alongside Reward Gateway’s Boston-based team to serve the U.S. market.

The deal value was not announced but comprised cash and stock. Clearsight advised Brand Integrity in the Transaction. To learn more visit www.rewardgateway.com/blog/brand-integrity-acquisition.

Reward Gateway Key Facts

Reward Gateway is a London-based HR tech firm that was founded in 2007, with offices in the U.S., Australia, U.K., Macedonia, and Bulgaria. It was acquired by Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners in July 2015. The company has 1,800 clients and 400 employees.

About Reward Gateway

Reward Gateway helps more than 1,800 of the world’s leading companies, in 23 countries, to attract, engage, and retain their best people with an employee engagement platform that brings employee benefits, discounts and perks, recognition and reward, employee well-being, employee communications, and employee surveys into one unified hub. Clients include American Express, Unilever, Samsung, IBM, and McDonald’s. For more information, please visit www.rewardgateway.com.

About Brand Integrity

Brand Integrity is an employee engagement technology and consulting company that helps businesses build the right environment for employee engagement, driving measurable and sustainable culture change. While just 33 percent of the national workforce is engaged at work, the average among Brand Integrity’s clients remains at 91 percent. Since 2002, the company has helped hundreds of clients across 25 industries disrupt the way they approach employee and customer engagement to enable them to overcome barriers, reduce turnover, and become more profitable. For more information, visit www.brandintegrity.com.


Gallup estimates the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees in the U.S. who are not engaged or actively disengaged to be between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year. So, leaders understand that it makes good business sense to leverage the power of employee recognition if it is a path to improved employee engagement. But what about employees?  How do they feel about employee recognition? We decided to find out by asking our clients’ employees directly.  Check it out!

Having misunderstandings or interpersonal issues in the workplace isn’t bad or unusual. In fact, how misunderstandings are managed can actually create a stronger, healthier culture. But, we know that not everyone is comfortable holding necessary conversations. If that’s you, then use these simple tips and techniques to take holding necessary conversations to the next level. Feel free to share this resource with others in your organization and ask them to identify the tips that would be most helpful to adopt moving forward.


1. Keep it focused. Find five to ten minutes with the employee that will be uninterrupted.

2. Make it private. Your feedback will be better received when others aren’t watching.

3. Keep it short. The entire conversation should take less than 10 minutes. Remember that this is about delivering feedback to someone’s whose actions are not aligned with the company experience. It is not the time for them to defend or justify their behavior.

4. Get ready. Script the conversation ahead of time using the Necessary Conversations tool. Rehearse your talking points so you aren’t reading from the tool during the conversation.

5. Be cool. Deliver your message calmly and objectively. Avoid letting personal emotion influence your body language or tone of voice. If you are angry, wait to have the conversation until you have calmed down.

6. Be timely. Have the conversation within a couple of days of witnessing the event.

7. Examine your motives. Will it benefit the team/customers? Great. Just make you feel better? Stop.

8. Keep it casual. Instead of scheduling a meeting, ask the employee for five minutes of their time. Start with something such as:

• “There is something that has been bothering me and I want to be able to talk it through. Is now a good time?” Or, “Can I talk with you about a recent conversation we had?”

• If the employee says no, ask, “Do you mind if I ask another time?”

• If the employee says no to that, fine, they probably already got the message.

9. Give the employee the benefit of the doubt. Add a statement such as one of the following:

• “I appreciate that you are overwhelmed [Or: you have a lot going on], and I don’t know if you are aware of how you have been coming across. Can we talk about what I’ve [seen/heard] and my concerns about the impact it might be having on you and others?”

• “There is a lot that we are doing really well, but we want to take our team to the next level in being more [efficient/effective]. Based on that, there is something I’d like to address with you.”

• “I don’t think you meant to come across this way, and I wanted you to be aware of how you are being perceived.”

10. Regularly recognize great work so the relationship is already in place to make coaching more natural.

11. Think of the conversation as about coaching, rather than correction.

12. Schedule regular one-on-ones with your team to allow you opportunities for coaching before trends have escalated.

Click here to download your Holding Necessary Conversations Best Practice Guide!

Gregg Lederman

In the years ahead, an unprecedented four distinct generations will be working together at the same time: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z.

Similar to millennials, Gen X, and boomers, Gen Z will want and expect growth opportunities, good managers who care about them, and jobs that are well-suited for their talents and interests. In addition, what’s been highlighted over the years that seems to matter most and differentiate millennials will also be of utmost importance to Gen Z-ers: meaningful work, frequent communication, and technology that fosters collaboration.  But, there are a few nuances in terms of what Gen Z members will want and expect from a work environment, including:

1.     Want safety and stability: These young people grew up through the Great Recession which means they may have witnessed the stress, worry, and financial setback their parents faced. They may end up being even more motivated by job security and money.

2.     Desire independence: Some researchers speculate that these young folks prefer to have office space to themselves, rather than an open, collaborative workspace. This surprised me at first. But then I began to think about how much time kids today spend “being social” while alone, as they communicate via a variety of social sites that bring individuals and groups together. In my opinion, this is the most fascinating prediction to watch out for.

3.     Expect to have to work hard: While millennials are known for collaboration, we may find this up and coming generation may be less focused on teamwork. They are accustomed to working on their own and even desire doing so. We may find they want to be judged on their own merits, rather than those of their team. According to a study by Enactus, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world, 77 percent of Gen Z feel they will need to work harder than previous generations. All generations are told they need to work hard. But this one might hear it a little bit more.

4.     Prefer face-to-face communications: The previously mentioned study by Enactus found that 53 percent of Gen Z say they prefer in-person discussions over instant messaging or email. This might be due to the negative attention they’ve seen millennials receive for their reliance on technology, or because the technology they’ve grown up with (Skype, Snapchat) has allowed people to communicate with a full range of sound and motion, instead of just text. Regardless, be prepared for regular in-person meetings with your Gen Z employees to discuss their projects as well as their professional development.

The next decade will prove to be an interesting one as the four generations begin to coexist together at work. It’s important to keep in mind, these generations are still more alike than unalike with respect to what they CRAVE:  they want leaders to show them respect, help them see how their work has purpose and meaning, desire strong, healthy relationships, especially with direct supervisors and managers.

About Gregg Lederman:

Gregg Lederman is a New York Times bestselling author and expert on employee engagement. His newest book, CRAVE: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday™, is due out in September of 2018.

“Lying on the gurney in the ambulance, I had no choice but to accept my fate…What I did not expect was my manager to join me in the ambulance for the ride to the hospital. I was vaguely aware that she was standing outside the ambulance when I was getting loaded in. I thought I saw our Corporate VP of Sales and Marketing, outside as well.”
Read how Dennis Rothwell, an employee from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (a Brand Integrity client), gained life-saving support from managers and leaders who truly live the company’s values. 


Dennis Rothwell

Fall of 2017 had just begun. Changes were coming — I could feel it in the air. And I don’t mean just the change in seasons from summer morphing into fall, of green leaves turning brilliant shades of orange and red, and warm days transitioning to cooler temperatures.

Having asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, I find it easier to breathe in the fall. I was looking forward to breathing a little easier after the long, hot summer that featured lots of rain.

At work, I was gearing up for another open enrollment period. This is the time of year when companies choose the health insurance they are offering their employees. It always brings many new changes, challenges, and exhilaration for me and my colleagues in the Sales and Marketing department at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Letting Pride And Stubbornness Get The Best Of Me

As I sat home doing what I usually do on Sundays — watching football — I suddenly noticed that I was having difficulty breathing. Grabbing my inhaler, I took a few puffs, only to realize that my fast-acting Inhaler wasn’t acting fast. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t acting at all.

For a while, I kept telling myself that if I just relax on the couch, I would soon feel better. As time went on, though, I wasn’t feeling better — I was feeling worse. Pretty soon, I could barely breathe. It wasn’t long before I was sweating and hyperventilating.

Finally, I had to admit to myself that a trip to the emergency room was in my very near future. To do that, I needed to get dressed. I was NOT going in my skivvies.

When my wife noticed the challenge I was having getting dressed, she offered to call the ambulance. “Nooooo, don’t call the ambulance,” I wailed. “I can make it to the car.”

It was pride, or foolish pride and stubbornness, getting the best of me. I didn’t want the neighbors to see me being hauled off in the ambulance.

“911. What Is Your Emergency?”

Ignoring my protest, my wife did call an ambulance, which prompted cries along the lines of, “Oh dear God! They’re coming to take me away.”

Thoroughly embarrassed, I arrived at the emergency room of my local hospital, where my diagnosis was so bad that it prompted a transfer to Crouse Hospital. I had a pneumothorax. In layman’s terms, I had suffered a collapsed lung due to an abnormal collection of air between the lung and the chest wall.

The treatment sounded simple enough. The medical practitioner informed me they would insert a chest tube to inflate the lung and remove fluid and air.

“Oh goodie,” I thought. “I’ll be home in no time and be able to catch the Sunday night game.” Well, I did catch the game, but it was from my bed at Crouse Hospital.

Patient Versus Patience

Patience is a quality which shows that a man or woman is tolerant and has the capacity to endure pain or suffering. Patient is a word that is used for sick people.

Being a good patient requires patience. Neither one describes me. I am a horrible patient with little or no patience. After spending four days in the hospital, I was so ready to go home. My condition had improved, my lung was inflated again, and I was anxious to be discharged.

The day of my expected return home, I tried hard to be forbearing. But by 3 p.m., I still had not received my promised discharge papers. As I said, I am not a good patient and have little to no patience.

I ended up yanking out the intravenous cord attached to my arm and storming out of the hospital. I told the nurse to mail me my discharge papers. My wife was not amused.

Who Says Friday The Thirteenth Is Bad Luck?

I did manage to recover enough of my strength to return to work a week later. A few days in, on Friday the thirteenth (which meant nothing to me, as I am not superstitious), I had scheduled a one-on-one with my manager.

Suddenly, I was not feeling right. Again I was having shortness of breath and starting to sweat. My fast-acting inhaler once again was not acting fast. I had seen this movie before.

I asked my manager if we could reschedule our meeting because I was not feeling well. I just wanted to get in my car, go home and lay down.

Thankfully for me, she would not let me go, insisted I did not look well and thought to call the Emergency Response Team. Again I howled, “Nooooo! Not that,” to no avail.

Dismissing my protests, the Emergency Response Team and my co-workers convinced me to stop being stubborn and get to the hospital. “Here we go again! I get to have another ambulance ride. Yeah me,” I thought wryly.

Taking Corporate Culture To A Whole Other Level

Lying on the gurney in the ambulance, I had no choice but to accept my fate. Deep down, I knew that the trained and experienced people at Crouse could help me in spite of my stubbornness.

What I did not expect was my manager, Vaia Spasevski, to join me in the ambulance for the ride to the hospital. I was vaguely aware that she was standing outside the ambulance when I was getting loaded in. I thought I saw Todd Muscatello, our Corporate VP of Sales and Marketing, outside as well.

Pulling up to the hospital as if through in a fog, I finally arrived in the emergency room. The diagnosis was a collapsed lung again. I was not surprised.

What was surprising was seeing Todd and Vaia standing outside my examining room. I am still not sure how Todd got there so fast. I’m beginning to wonder if he was driving the ambulance. The two of them waited there until I went in for surgery and my wife arrived.

All’s Well That Ends Well

The successful thoracic surgery I then underwent included a procedure to prevent air from getting between my lung and chest cavity. At this point, I no longer felt any sense of embarrassment, as it was only my wife there seeing me at my worst.

At least that feeling of relief lasted until Mark Muthumbi, Regional VP of Sales and Marketing at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, showed up. Could it be possible that the people I work with day in and day out are so concerned with my well-being?

It took some time, but I did come to realize that many of my co-workers cared about me and were concerned about me. That convinced me to be a better patient and have more patience. This time around, I allowed myself more time to convalesce and heeded the advice to take my time returning to work.

When a minor setback occurred a couple of weeks into my recovery, I didn’t stubbornly try to ride it out by convincing myself to just rest and give it some time. I used the opportunity to call our telemedicine provider, MDLive, which saved me the trouble of making a separate doctor’s office visit.

Today, I’m thankful to be back at work. I realize that the outcome could have been a lot worse if not for the actions of my wife and my co-workers. I thank them all for their concern and well wishes. They didn’t just do it any way; they did it the “Lifetime Way,” the cultural mantra that we live by at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

What Have I Learned From This Cautionary Tale?

Here are some things I’ve learned from my experience:

  • Be aware of what’s going on with your body. Pay attention to the smallest of signs that can point to something bigger going on.
  • Be more proactive when it comes to health issues. Don’t just dismiss them, thinking that another day of rest and recuperation will make things better.
  • Embarrassment, pride, and stubbornness will not help you in a medical emergency. You have to ditch all three of these and allow yourself to be put in a vulnerable position to get to the bottom of a health issue.
  • There are people outside of your immediate family who genuinely care about you.
  • Telemedicine is an awesome healthcare resource that can help in a myriad of situations.
  • Have more patience, especially if you’re a patient.

Click here to view the complete article on A Healthier Upstate’s website.

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