Spotlight On: JetBlue’s Employee Recognition Program

Undoubtedly JetBlue is an innovator amongst airlines. While larger competitors like Delta and Southwest seem to constantly face tumultuous situations and customer dissatisfaction, JetBlue has emerged as the underdog that still knows what it is to provide superior service to customers.


A big part of that service likely stems from their corporate culture, strong reliance on employee training and innovative concepts like their employee recognition program. JetBlue is a living example of a concept we reinforce time and time again – happy employees make for happy customers.

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The Lift Program

JetBlue has a structured and formalized program to recognize employees for their contributions.

Launched in 2012, the program is called “Lift,” and after the rollout the company saw a tremendous increase in satisfaction amongst employees—88 percent after just four months.

The program, enacted in partnership with Globoforce, not only improved employee satisfaction dramatically, but it was also a way for the company to reach a very globally dispersed workforce and enrich not just how recognition is provided to employees, but the total experience.

How JetBlue Uses Lift

There are a couple of key ways the Lift program is used. Primarily it is used to implement a culture that’s focused on high performance levels.

This impacts how the company manages to continue to excel in the level of customer service it provides, even as part of an industry that seems to otherwise be floundering in this respect. Ultimately it is a recognition program that’s all about shaping the behavior of employees through a reward system.

The Lift program is also a great way to identify high-performing employees and use that information for not only things like promotions, but also as a tool to shape overall company policies and training. Lift utilizes a large-scale system of data collection that lets the company see what the best employees are doing differently and that data then becomes actionable for the company. They can do things like look at shared characteristics between high performers and use these as guiding factors in the hiring process, and also develop training based on what these employees are doing.

Components of the Program

So what are some of the ways Lift is innovative and unique compared to other corporate recognition programs?

  • According to JetBlue’s VP of Crew Relations, there are two primary ways Lift is different from other similar employee recognition programs – for one, rewards occur in real-time and two, all employees can see the rewards. The Lift program operates as a social app in which not only are recognitions viewable by all employees across the globe, but their fellow team members can contact them and offer congratulations and rewards for a job well-done.
  • As opposed to something like annual employee performance reviews, since the Lift recognitions happen in real-time they tend to be a more effective way to influence behavior over the long-term and encourage continual high levels of performance.
  • Due to the social nature of the recognition it also creates a sense of competition amongst employees, which is a great driver of behavior and positive change in the workplace. The competition doesn’t become cutthroat, but instead it’s more of a positive example that encourages and inspires employees.
  • Finally, the recognition program is very accessible. As mentioned at the start of this post, JetBlue has employees around the globe so accessibility is an absolutely essential component of Lift. Employees can access it through their computer as well as their smartphone and tablet, and there’s also an app that employees can download.

What do you think about JetBlue’s innovative approach to employee recognition? Are there takeaways that can applicable to businesses of all types and sizes?

December 23, 2014   Updated :December 23, 2014   employee recognition, jetblue   

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