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Recognition takes centre stage at Shop Direct


A peer-to-peer recognition scheme is boosting engagement at multi-brand online retailer Shop Direct

Allowing employees to reward each other can be an effective engagement tool, according to Colin Watt, group director of employee relations and engagement for multi-brand online retailer Shop Direct.

“We wanted to embed recognition in our engagement strategy because staff feedback told us we weren’t celebrating success very well,” Watt told HR magazine. “Everybody has taken it to heart. Now we could never imagine not having a recognition scheme.”

Shop Direct, which owns brands such as Littlewoods and Very, has implemented an online recognition system called Shine, which allows employees to nominate colleagues for their good work. Each staff member receives £5 per month, (£10 for senior leaders) to give to colleagues they see doing work that is aligned to company values, or for going above and beyond.

Watt said Shine has become part of day-to-day work. “We’re a fast-moving organisation where decisions are made quickly and you have to collaborate,” he said. “The fact people can take time out to say ‘thanks’, to recognise the values at play, is really cool.”

Since the launch of Shine over a year ago, the average number of recognitions per month is more than four per person. Employees have pledged more than £200,000. “There aren’t many companies that allocate that amount of funding,” said Watt.

Shop Direct’s strategy is reinforced by data from Oracle, which found 30% of UK workers said their peers have the most positive impact on how engaged they feel. Only 3% said HR has the biggest positive impact on their engagement levels.

Watt said for a recognition scheme to be successful the whole organisation must welcome it. “As a standalone HR vanity project it wouldn’t work,” he said. “You’ve got to have things you can hang recognition on, that are meaningful for the organisation. For us that’s our values and purpose.

“It’s been totally embedded in the business, because our colleagues talk about those values and purposes every day.”