Case Study

Case Study: Target Group creates a recognition scheme compatible with a hybrid workforce

uploaded on 22 March 2023

Recognition can be a powerful tool to encourage employees to give their best at work. Target Group wanted to create a more dynamic form of recognition that would give its employees a stronger sense of how valued they are. Its Best Companies score increased 0.11% in the year after the scheme was launched.

Recognition drives employee experience in a hybrid workforce

Employers are having to rethink employee experience for a hybrid workforce. How can managers support staff moral and encourage them to give their best work when they might not see them in person or on a regular basis? How can we keep company culture alive and communicate our values to new joiners?

These are questions Target Group had to think through while redesigning their colleague Recognition scheme at the same time the UK went into pandemic lockdown.

Today, at least 95% of Target colleagues work from home and Target is reaping the benefits of a scheme designed with hybrid in mind in terms of colleague engagement and moral. Here’s how this provider of financial support services created a hybrid-compatible recognition scheme.

Valuing employees at Target Group


Target Group has around 1000 colleagues, who provide a range of support services to the financial services sector.  Success is driven by the companies’ strong customer service ethos which is dependent on each colleague understanding how their actions contribute to the success of the company and that their contribution is seen and valued.

Target Group’s previous recognition programme had several limitations. The manual scheme was time-consuming for the People team to administer. The length of time between giving, approving, and receiving recognition, diminished the impact of the act. Unmoored from the business strategy it wasn’t driving desired business outcomes. 

Where a financial reward was attached to a recognition, it was given in the form of a physical voucher which colleagues found limiting. The requirement to record and store vouchers in the office and distribute to other office locations across the country presented a significant risk to the People team. Unintentionally, the drawn-out process left colleagues feeling frustrated rather than valued.

Armed with the knowledge that employees say recognition is the most important driver of great work, Matt Davies, Chief People Officer at Target Group, set about reviewing its recognition programme in 2019 to understand how it could be improved.

Delivering recognition faster and smarter


“From speaking to colleagues, it became clear they would engage more with recognition if it aligned better with their experience as online consumers and use of social media. We wanted to be able to give recognition to a colleague in any location for an act of good work in the moment it takes place. 

Similarly, in cases where financial reward is attached to recognition colleagues wanted it to be easy for the recipient to access and spend. As confusion and delay undermine the authenticity and impact of recognition.

From a business perspective for recognition to drive good work it would need to be given for a specific act or behaviour linked to a business objective or achievement.  In order for that to happen, there needed to be a clear line of sight between the values and behaviours that drive success across the business. 

To help colleagues understand how their actions contribute to the wider purpose of the organisation, the recognition programme would need to focus on both big and small achievements.

An everyday thank you helps build trust and rapport between colleagues and encourages more of the same behaviour. Recognising big achievements helps colleagues see how they’re contributing to the team, department, and company success.  Having the ability to recognise both big and small achievements is key to ensuring colleagues feel they’re valued.

Where financial reward is linked to recognition, Target Group was clear that the reward should be commensurate to the action, behaviour, or achievement. Both reward and recognition would need to be given equitably and consistently to keep colleagues engaged.

The business needed a self-service model to free-up time spent on administration, streamline operational services, and reduce risk.

These considerations gave us a clear rationale to move recognition to an online platform and an understanding of what we needed the platform to do to meet business requirements and enhance colleague experience.

The recognition platform is intuitive and can be easily accessed through the company intranet, via single sign on. Colleagues can give or receive recognition without the need for manager approval. You just need to select the colleague, company value, and include a comment.

We branded the platform “My Recognition” in line with our suite of EVP tools to make it clear it was part of a strategic approach to support colleague experience.

Through a mix of communication and training we helped managers understand how they can use recognition as a tool to drive success across their teams. We give each manager a quarterly reward budget to give at their discretion, giving them the flexibility to celebrate contributions at any time.

Financial reward is delivered electronically, allowing colleagues to choose between eGift or Gift Cards so that they can spend in store or online at over 100 top retailers.

Hitting the target


“We use the Best Companies scorecard to validate colleague engagement. In the first year after the scheme was introduced, we had increased our Fair Deal score by 0.11%.

Colleague engagement with recognition has significantly increased. Since launching the scheme over 9,000 colleagues have received recognition and over half of those received a financial reward, totalling over £83,000.00.

Colleagues find the platform easy and intuitive to use and love the fact they can redeem their financial reward at over 100 top UK retailers.

We are using extensive management information from the dashboard to identify learning hotspots and good performance both at the individual and team level to share across the organisation.

From a corporate perspective we’ve reduced the financial risk the old process presented and reduced the operational burden on the People team.  We can implement upgrades ourselves which means we’re not tied into costly SLAs and keeps the annual cost competitive and predictable.”

Recognition in a hybrid workforce 


In a hybrid workforce an online recognition platform is proving more important now than ever.

Working remotely can often put barriers in the way to easily thank colleagues for their contribution. However, that’s not the case here. The online recognition system enables managers and colleagues the ability to recognise and show gratitude at any time.

In addition to recognition, it has also helped colleagues feel more connected. The system has been configured so that colleagues can celebrate birthdays, long service milestones and many other major life events together, while being apart.

Gratitude and connection underpin our culture and My Recognition helps keep the culture alive for existing colleagues and brings it alive for new joiners who have never worked in a Target office.

We are constantly finding new ways to use My Recognition to drive our strategic people goals. Already down to 8%, we aim to close our gender pay gap by 2025 and that means making sure we have a strong pipeline of female talent being developed for promotion. Colleagues use the platform to encourage, promote and celebrate the achievements of female colleagues. In turn this has created a culture where women feel encouraged to go for promotion opportunities.

Hybrid has changed the way in which Target Group operate and whilst colleagues may be geographically separated, they’ve continued to champion gratitude. The recognition system will continue to encourage actions and behaviours that drive business growth.

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