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Recognising Rockstars: How TikTok Uses Public Recognition & Rewards To Build An Innovative Culture That Grows With Its People

What started out as a video sharing app solely unique to the Chinese audience is now one of the most popular social networking platforms in the world. You guessed it—we’re talking about TikTok. Since its global launch outside of China in May 2017, the short-form mobile video technology company has gone, well, viral - hitting its first billion users recently in just slightly over two years.

Alongside the growth of its user base, TikTok has also opened offices in key satellite cities around the world including Singapore and Jakarta, hiring over 10,000 team members within the Southeast Asia region alone. With global offices across 126 cities, employees have more chances of interacting with culturally-different co-workers from across the globe.

The Challenge that Comes with Remote Teams

From different perspectives to increased productivity, it’s no question how working with multicultural teams can bring about a plethora of benefits for employees. But such diversity in cultures, locations, and fast-paced work could also make for challenges in terms of fostering belonging, collaboration and employee engagement across the company—especially for those working remotely.

With the lack of connection and little to no opportunities for face-to-face interactions, it’s easy to get lost in the pace of it all. Building a company culture that thrives is also more difficult when your entire team is scattered all over the globe.

Coming together with ByteStyles

Tiktok Use Case - Great Place to Work
Source: TikTok

You’d think that larger companies would struggle the most when it comes to building a culture of recognition in the workplace. While this may be true, that certainly isn’t the case for this leading tech giant.  

TikTok’s leadership team makes a continuous effort to help all 60,000 of its global employees to live out their core values in their daily work lives. This is likely why despite its relatively young age, TikTok has become a top company for tech talent and has developed a reputation for having an innovative company culture, with its US, UK and Singapore offices certified as a Great Place to Work®.  

That’s where TikTok’s set of core values known as ByteStyles comes into play – helping to ensure that everyone, regardless of culture, country or language, is on the same page when it comes to company culture. These values are:

• Aim for the Highest

• Be Grounded & Courageous

• Be Open & Humble

• Be Candid & Clear

• Always Day 1

• Champion Diversity & Inclusion

Employee Recognition, in Action at TikTok

Before 2021 came to a close, TikTok kickstarted their first-ever peer-to-peer recognition program in Southeast Asia and celebrated the year-end with the ByteDance Rockstar Employee Awards. This initiative is a simple yet powerful display of how effective recognition programs can be, regardless of company size and growth stage.

From being recognised by your teammates through nominations to receiving unique rockstar at-home swag bags, the event has proven to be a major success for the company and a great example that all startups can learn from.

TikTok’s Culture and Employer Branding Leader, Jamie Anne Ysrael shares how PraisePal has played a part as their official Workplace Recognition & Rewards platform. Looks like bringing remote employees and creators from across the world is possible after all.

“Making our people feel appreciated and recognized for inspiring creativity and living out our values every day makes it all worth it!” — Jamie Anne Ysrael, Culture & Employer Branding Leader at TikTok

TikTok Use Case - Jamie Anne Ysrael
TikTok’s 1st peer-to-peer recognition program in SEA featuring PraisePal, which was rebranded from RewardNation. Source: Jamie Anne Ysrael

Encouraging Mission-Driven Behaviour By Recognising Rockstars

ByteStyles aren’t just six good-to-have commandments on a TikToker’s onboarding document on Day 1. Yet it isn’t easy for a fast-growing company to constantly educate employees on positive workplace behaviours, and help them put these company values into daily action.

TikTok achieves such success with remote productivity tools like PraisePal, which uses a simple points-based system to publicly recognise and reward employees who exemplified these values.

Sample Recognition Message on PraisePal
Sample recognition message on PraisePal platform. Source: PraisePal

Employees that have personified and exemplified ByteStyle values are nominated as RockStars, with their achievements published as a message on PraisePal’s public recognitions feed. Not only does this mean more to the employee, knowing that their contributions are seen and valued by the company, but seeing those values being celebrated also provides a reminder to other team members to put them into practice.

Increasing Recognition Impact With Meaningful Rewards

We hear that one thing that unites TikTok employees is their undeniable love for TikTok swag (well, who wouldn’t really?)

Along with their public recognition messages, the RockStars who championed ByteStyle values also get reward points credited into their PraisePal account. These points can be exchanged for very tangible rewards, with thousands of Company Rewards & Gift Card options available for employees worldwide.

TikTok Use Case - Official Store Merch
Source: TikTok

Employees can choose from customised company rewards that even money can’t buy - including highly-demanded TikTok swag such as #TikTok totebag, TikTok-branded hoodies, and earphones.

TikTok really means it when they have ‘Champion Diversity & Inclusion’ as one of their values. Beyond just company rewards, employees can also turn their reward points into digital gift cards from top brands worldwide - no matter where they live or work, or what their lifestyle needs and preferences are. From food vouchers to discount codes on your favourite online stores, you name it.

TikTok Use Case - Gift Card Rewards
Global Gift Card Reward options on PraisePal platform. Source: PraisePal

Making It Happen With A Career At TikTok

Scaling global workplace culture, whether it’s a team of 60 or 60,000 is never easy. But when you have a clear mission driving your organisation like ByteStyles, together with a system like PraisePal that provides the ability to consistently recognise good cultural practices and applications, it does make things a lot smoother.

Beyond just a top-down recognition, employees are also able to acknowledge and recognise the application of ByteStyles by their co-workers and say thank you with points, allowing team members to be better acquainted and bond.

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