5 min read

Recently, we welcomed Lucy Light, Reward & Global Mobility Partner at Heineken for a live chat with our team to discuss how to create a culture of appreciation and become a preferred employer through innovative reward and recognition. 

Heineken is a global organisation famously known for its beer, however it's also known globally as a leading pub, cider and beer company owning many well-known brands, including Strongbow and Foster’s.

The geographically-dispersed workforce comprises office-based support roles, field-based colleagues, and operators in the breweries, so the organisation has a very diverse employee base.


During the webinar, I discussed with Lucy how she and her team designed a relaunch of its employee recognition program and her best advice on how others could approach new ways to reward and recognise staff.

Here’s a snapshot of our conversation, plus a look at exclusive questions Lucy answered from the audience after our discussion was over: 

Q: Why was there a need to "relaunch” your recognition program?

Lucy: Before we partnered with Reward Gateway on our recognition relaunch, we recognised colleagues annually – with 40 prizes of $2,000 AUD available. While this may sound ok on the face of it, with a population of 2,400, less than 2% of our total workforce were formally recognised each year. 

We have an annual engagement survey and only 20% of our colleagues answered positively to the question “I receive recognition when I do a good job.” Upon reviewing colleague comments from the survey, they were requesting a number of different things:

 1. Recognition throughout the year
 2. More appreciation for going the extra mile
 3. For recognition to be managed consistently and fairly
 4. To be able to share and celebrate success across the company

Q: With those challenges in mind, what objectives were you trying to hit with your new program?

Lucy: We set out to develop a new, modern employee recognition program that was flexible and innovative, with a number of objectives:

 1. To move away from the large awards for the few, to smaller awards for the many
 2. To make recognition more timely, rather than once a year
 3. To allow a fair chance for everyone to be recognised
 4. To give local ownership of recognition
 5. To maximise the value from our budget

Q: So what does recognition look like for Heineken managers and employees now? 

Lucy: We named our recognition program “BREWards and Recognition” and partnered with Reward Gateway to house the different layers of reward and recognition so more employees could participate in our recognition offerings. 

We developed a mix of monetary and non-monetary awards with Heineken-relevant names and tiles, including:

  • Our Cheers! instant awards of £50.
  • Inspiring People Awards, known as IPAs, which can be monetary rewards from £$200-$2,000 AUD, or creative rewards such as a day off work or a dinner at one of Heineken’s pubs. The functional leadership teams review nominations on a regular basis and agree which level of IPA to issue.
  • Non-financial eCards for peer-to-peer recognition.
  • Long-service awards to recognise colleagues with 25 and 35 years' service - giving them a specific value to spend on the rewards platform.

2019_Heineken_Tablet Mockup_UK2

The team developed guidelines, how-to videos and training materials to support all three groups of platform users: employees, People Managers and Recognition Champions (ambassadors). This included examples of recognition awards at all levels to help achieve objectives of fairness and consistency.

Read the full Heineken success story to learn how to create a culture of  continuous recognition»

Q: Budget seems to be a tricky discussion point. How did you manage your own recognition budget planning so you don’t “run out” of budget when you reward employees?

Lucy: We set budgets per business area at the start of the year - while some business areas have almost spent their budget; the system won't let them exceed the limit set. They will receive another budget for 2020. 

The budget is set at $100AUD a head (regardless of employee grade), and enables business areas to recognise many more people.

The budget is split into two pots: Cheers Instant Awards of $100 AUD; and the IPAs (nominations process with awards ranging from $200-$2,000 AUD).

Q: How do you determine what kind of rewards programs are appropriate for your employees in terms of demographics and company culture?

Lucy: We used the feedback from colleagues (there was lots of it!) to determine our approach. We moved away from big annual awards; to more everyday recognition in the form of eCards and Cheers $100 AUD awards (while also facilitating the big awards through our IPA program). 


We also had to work within our budget parameters; but have found that money can go a long way when you introduce variable types of awards. 

Q: When it was time to launch, how did you make sure your launch was impactful?

Lucy: We developed program launch communications - this included many mediums in order to reach our diverse workforce: emails, daily posts on our social media, posters and standees, computer screensavers and television plasma screens, text messages and our monthly business updates, as well as physical Thank You cards and Cheers! Instant awards for issuing at the breweries. 

We had 13 Recognition Champions representing our business functions. Also supporting the launch were our HR Business Partners and our People Cabinet.

Q: How do you manage the admin and the approval of the awards?

There is a Recognition Champion for each business function who collates the nominations on a regular basis and then shares with the leadership team. After the awards have been decided they then issue the awards on the platform. 

I send quarterly statistics on the program to our HR Business Partners and HR leadership team to prompt and encourage!

Q: And how has the program succeeded? 

Lucy: Since we launched the scheme, almost 2,000 eCards have been sent; over 400 Cheers! Awards have been issued and there have been 300 IPA nominations

What’s more is that across each of our three types of recognition, there are significant increases quarter over quarter, with the level of activity growing and showing no signs of slowing down!

Thanks, Lucy, for your time on our recent webinar! To check out what's happening next, don't miss our events page. If you're interested in a reward and recognition program with Reward Gateway, feel free to reach out to one of my colleagues to learn more: Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Megan Wiseman

As the Head of Client Success for our Enterprise and Corporate clients, Megan leads a team of talented Client Success Managers who work hand-in-hand with their clients to help them reach their unique business goals through best practice, support and strategy.

Head of Client Success

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