The Stevie Awards Blog

Affordable Benefits for Small Businesses? RewardJet Makes it Possible.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jul 30, 2019 @ 11:18 AM

Generous employee benefits can be very attractive to sought-after talent, and these benefits can also keep employees happy and satisfied at work. For smaller businesses, though, providing them is easier said than done.

This challenge often forces entrepreneurs, freelancers, and gig workers to avoid businesses that aren’t able to take on those responsibilities. However, there’s something many of those companies don’t know: They can afford benefits that rival those offered by Fortune 500 companies; they can become RewardJet members.

RewardJet was the dream of two partners who wanted to help hardworking entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs themselves, they saw a huge, underserved market and an opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of millions.

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Look and You Shall Find

The future looks quite bright for RewardJet as new partnerships will see them expanding globally over the next two years. From two men with a dream to a multinational platform, RewardJet is poised to change the world of company benefits.

“One founder’s wife works for a Fortune 500 company,” says cofounder Kevin Dory, “and the perks she gets through her company are often not nearly as good as the ones we offer through RewardJet.”

The founder and his wife realized how good these offers were when they planned a weekend getaway to Miami and were able to save hundreds of dollars on their hotel room, which wasn’t bad for a short trip.

RewardJet is not, however, just another perks site offering discounts. They want small businesses and independent workers to feel as if they have the power of thousands of people in their corners, even if they’re only a team of two.

“RewardJet advocates for the millions of people who drive our economy yet still don't have health care, retirement plans, or any of the other perks and benefits large companies offer.”

Trying to Fulfill All Kinds of Needs

Employees and employers are increasingly searching for personalized perks and benefits, but millennials and Gen X customers don’t always look for the same thing. These kinds of changes in workforce demographics require employees to adapt and to adjust their benefit offerings constantly.

“What we are really passionate about is the ability to provide access to health care for a huge number of people who otherwise would not have health insurance,” says Dory. “This is life changing, and this is why we exist.”

The company offers a wide range of health services, which start at $10 per month for a single person and go to less than $90 per month for fully ACA-compliant health insurance. Depending on the plan selected, the individual will have access to over 900,000 providers and will get a real prescription drug plan (not a discount card), with only a $10 co-pay for generics and huge discounts on brand-name drugs.

RewardJet also recently teamed up with Goldman Sachs to make it easy for members to save for retirement.

Small businesses across the United States can now make the decision to offer benefits and, most importantly, can choose the offerings that are desirable for potential new hires.

Sara Wolkwitz, Vice President of Partnerships at RewardJet, recently won the Bronze Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award for Women in Business?

Request the entry kit

Tags: health care awards, business services awards

Real Estate Offers within One Day? Tech-Oriented Firms Hope to Upend the Home-Selling Process

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 @ 09:12 PM

For a lot of consumers, owning a home is the ultimate symbol of freedom, affording you the opportunity to customize to your heart’s content.

When it’s time to sell, though, real estate ownership can start to feel like the exact opposite of freedom. Suddenly, many find themselves preparing for countless showings while waiting for offers and potentially making last-minute renovations to lure buyers.

Offerpad is among a crop of U.S. companies trying to fundamentally change that process. The firm, which is based in Chandler, Arizona, USA, allows home sellers to upload information about their properties, including optional photos. Home sellers then get their purchase offers within 24 hours. The company bases its pricing on a custom algorithm, which compares the home against similar properties that recently changed hands in the area.

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After the customer signs the necessary documents online and Offerpad conducts a home inspection, the seller is ready to set a closing date. According to the company, it can close in as little as 10 days or as many as 90 days. Clients don’t have to worry about showings or open houses, and they don’t have to make any headache-inducing concessions to buyers.

“Traditionally, selling or buying real estate is wrapped up in so much hassle that people often avoid it altogether,” says Offerpad spokesperson David Stephan. “By making it easy, Offerpad hopes to eliminate the stress from people’s milestone moves.”

Support from Venture Capital

Offerpad, which real estate veterans Brian Bair and Jerry Coleman started in 2015, is part of a growing group of companies trying to use technology to reshape the market. So-called “iBuyers,” such as Opendoor and Zillow, are using proprietary pricing algorithms to purchase and to resell homes, and the national brokerage firm Keller Williams is set to launch its own home-buying operative in May.

In the case of Offerpad, Stephan says the company is trying to appeal to people who are disillusioned with the more conventional home-selling approach.

“Real estate doesn’t need to be the frustrating, messy ordeal it’s been for decades,” says Stephan. “With our service, home sellers and buyers now have the better option of closing and moving at their convenience, without the hassle.”

Unlike older companies that paid cut-rate prices for mostly dilapidated housing, iBuyers serve a more mainstream client base. There is a flip side to the convenience they offer their customers, though. With Offerpad, for example, home sellers pay a service fee between 6 and 10 percent, which is higher than what traditional agents charge. However, once the home is sold, the company pays for any concessions to the buyer, as well as maintenance and other associated fees.

To date, iBuyers represent a small part of the residential real estate industry. Opendoor purchased just over 11,000 homes in 2018, and MarketWatch estimates Offerpad bought roughly 3,600 properties last year. The firm hasn’t officially confirmed that number, but whatever the actual amount, it could soar soon, especially with an influx of cash from venture capital and other funding sources. As of March, Offerpad, which garnered five Stevie® Awards this year for customer service and sales, brought in a staggering $975 million in equity and debt financing. The company doubled its home purchases in each of the past two years and is looking to expand on the 12 cities it currently serves.

For Stephan, the sky’s the limit when it comes to algorithm-based home purchasing.

“The world of real estate is rapidly changing,” he says. “Offerpad is at the forefront of its transformation, defining the modern approach to buying and selling a home. In the future, we’ll likely see this approach adapted in markets throughout the world.”

Tags: tech awards, real estate awards

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers Public Voting Now Open

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 @ 08:50 PM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, announced today that the public voting in the Employer of the Year categories for the fourth annual competition is now open through August 12. The Stevie Awards for Great Employers honors the world’s best companies to work for and the HR teams and professionals, HR achievements, new products and services and suppliers that help to create and drive great workplaces.

The final entry deadline has been extended through Wednesday, August 7. There are no extra fees for entering through the extended deadline.

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Stevie Award winners in the 35 Employer of the Year categories will be determined by a unique blending of the ratings of professionals and the votes of the general public, and the scores of industry experts.  Nominees in these categories may encourage their employees, customers, fans and followers to vote for them.

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

The public may vote for the nominees in these categories on the Stevie Awards website.

Categories to be voted on include:

  • Employer of the Year – Accounting
  • Employer of the Year – Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Employer of the Year – Aerospace & Defense
  • Employer of the Year – Automotive & Transport
  • Employer of the Year – Banking
  • Employer of the Year – Business Services
  • …and many more

More than 100 professionals worldwide, working on several juries, will determine the Stevie Award winners. Finalists will be announced on August 15. Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced at a gala event in New York City on September 20.

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers Final Deadline Extended through August 7

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 @ 10:12 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, announced today that the final entry deadline for the fourth annual competition has been extended to Wednesday, August 7. The Stevie Awards for Great Employers honors the world’s best companies to work for and the HR teams and professionals, HR achievements, new products and services and suppliers that help to create and drive great workplaces.

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“We’ve received so many requests for individual deadline extensions that we’ve decided to extend the deadline for everyone,” said Stevie Awards president Michael Gallagher. The original final deadline was July 17. Gallagher emphasizes that no additional late fees will be charged for entries submitted through August 7, and late entries will not be penalized in the judging process. All organizations now have three more weeks to prepare and submit their entries.

Request your entry kit here

All individuals and organizations worldwide—public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small—may submit nominations to the Stevie Awards for Great Employers. The 2019 awards will honor achievements since the beginning of 2018. Entry details are available at www.StevieAwards.com/HR.

Stevie Award winners in the 35 Employer of the Year categories will be determined by a unique blending of the ratings of professionals and the votes of the general public. Public voting will open on July 23.

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers will recognize achievement in many facets of the workplace. Categories include:

  • Employer of the Year
  • HR Achievements
  • HR Individual Awards
  • HR Team Categories
  • Solution Provider Awards
  • More than 50 New Product & Service Categories

More than 100 professionals worldwide, working on several juries, will determine the Stevie Award winners. Finalists will be announced on August 15. Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced at a gala event in New York City on September 20.

Tags: hr awards, Human Resources Executive of the Year

Food Banks Continue to Grow as the U.S. Economy Recovers

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 @ 03:38 PM

In Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, mom Brittany is forced to choose between new shoes and a proper meal for her two young boys. Eight hundred miles away in El Paso, Texas, United States, a navy veteran named Priscilla is left out of the workforce because she can’t afford childcare for her preschool-aged daughter.

Meet two of the millions of parents across the United States who are struggling to provide the basic necessities for their kids, even as the economy looks, to outward appearances, like the picture of health.

During the first quarter in 2019, the economy grew at an annual pace of 3.2 percent, which was its best start in years. The job market has shown similarly impressive results, with unemployment dropping to just 3.6 percent in April.

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Yet the turnaround is leaving an alarming number of Americans behind. These people are either struggling to find work or are forced into low-paying jobs that can’t even cover life’s basic necessities. As a result, nonprofits like Feeding America are busier than ever and are giving poverty-stricken households a desperately needed helping hand. Feeding America is a network of 200 food pantries.

Last year, the company, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, provided meals to 46 million adults and children. The organization estimates that one in eight people struggle with food insecurity or the inability to obtain enough food to maintain a healthy, productive lifestyle.

“Some might believe there’s a hunger crisis in other parts of the world—not in America,” says Allison Weber, a Feeding America spokeswoman. “However, the fact is that 40 million people face hunger in the United States. That’s more people than the entire population of Canada.”

A Lingering Challenge

Several factors contribute to the problem of undernourishment.

“High housing costs, rising food prices, and unexpected expenses have left millions unable to stretch their dollars far enough,” says Weber. “Sometimes they can put a warm meal on the table after a long day, and sometimes they go to bed hungry.”

Despite the recovery after the 2007–2008 financial crisis, food insecurity rates held steady through 2014.

“Only in the last few years did they [food insecurity rates] decline," Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told USA Today in April. “The levels today are still higher than they were in 2007. While in many dimensions the United States recovered from the Great Recession, the most vulnerable among us still haven't recovered.”

According to a 2019 Feeding America analysis, children are disproportionately affected, especially those in rural and southern parts of the country.

“There isn’t a single state or county in America free from child hunger, and it is within our collective power to change that and to ensure today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,” Kate Leone, chief government relations officer, said in a statement.

In the meantime, groups like Feeding America, which recently picked up a Silver Stevie® Award for Best Annual Report among nonprofits, have had to fill in gaps in order to address the food shortage.

Interested in winning publication awards like Feeding America? Request your entry kit for The 2020 American Business Awards® to begin.

Request the entry kit here.

Nonprofits Forced to Step Up

A retired businessman named John van Hengel started the idea of food banks in the late 1960s. While volunteering at a soup kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, van Hengel met a desperate mother who was forced to rummage through trash cans in order to obtain food for her children. He recognized that, instead of throwing out excess food, there needed to be a place where it could be stored and distributed to those in need.

Van Hengel established the nation’s first food bank in his home city, and by 1977, he saw the creation of similar facilities in 18 cities across the United States. Two years later, he founded a national organization called Second Harvest, which eventually became Feeding America.

With food insecurity continuing to affect a large segment of the population and with government support at risk, Weber says the undernourished might have to rely on Feeding America and similar organizations even more.

“Federal programs that bridge the gap for people facing tough times are under threat,” she says. “More and more, nonprofits and individuals are being called upon to support people in need.”

Tags: annual report awards, nonprofit awards

Take Care of Your Payment Blues with BluePay

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 @ 10:31 AM

The payment environment is becoming more diverse as many vendors are able to offer different methods for payment solutions. BluePay, a provider of technology-enabled payment processing for merchants and suppliers of any size, offers fast and secure payment processing solutions to fit every business’s needs. The leading single-source payment technology from BluePay has been helping businesses for over 15 years by streamlining functions, reducing operating costs, and increasing revenue. This is why they’ve won the Gold Stevie in the Best Product or Service of the Year category, a Silver Stevie for Company of the Year, and a Bronze Stevie in the Customer Service Team of the Year category.

Pleasant Paying

Being a payments technology company means staying ahead of the curve by developing solutions for new ways to pay like Apple Pay, PayPal, and wearable technology to purchase goods and services with ease. Jennifer Seebock, Marketing Coordinator at BluePay, says their merchants grow their businesses by offering the services they need to attract new customers.

"Through point-of-sale, online, mobile, and software integration, we proudly serve over 47,000 merchants and process $14 billion in transactions annually.” BluePay is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, with offices in Chicago, Maryland, New York, and Toronto.

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Recognition

Receiving payments online can be risky business as technology advances and electronic theft becomes more complex. Seebock relays why BluePay takes this seriously and considers winning awards as a way to celebrate hard work and genuine innovation.

"Winning Stevie Awards benefits our entire organization and provides opportunities to tell the world BluePay is a great company and offers leading products and services."

She goes on to say prospects are more inclined to choose their company for payment processing knowing they are recipients of such prestigious awards. The awards provide a sense of confidence for their merchants, partners, and financial institutions.  They also increase brand awareness.

"We have a goal to increase our brand awareness through award recognition, and the Stevies were on top of our list."

Charitable Culture

BluePay believes one of their differentiators is their company culture. They recently raised funds for U.S. servicemen and women through the Wounded Warrior Project. The president of the Canadian division is doing the Race Across America (RAM) with Team True Patriot Love to raise funds for the Canadian Armed Forces. Seebock details how they donate time and efforts to important causes.

"We recently implemented a program for charitable time off and corporate donation matching to encourage our team to give more to their communities. For over eight years, we have contributed a percentage of our profits to the Chicagoland Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and have "pink" parties in October."

Frictionless Service

BluePay also engages in fun activities like Blackhawks games, Bulls games, golf outings, summer picnics, and off-site meetings to encourage creativity. With a common goal to be the leader in payments technology, all their teams work closely with "Voice of the Customer" surveys and formulate teams to address concerns or bridge the gaps in their processes to make working with BluePay frictionless.

"We’re proud to have a high-performing workforce delivering outstanding services and solutions."

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Interested in winning a Stevie Award for Best New Product or Service? Or maybe for Customer Service?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: customer service awards, new product awards

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