Take a closer look at how Shop Direct revamped its recognition strategy during a big transition.
By Christa Elliott
Today, Shop Direct is a multi-brand, online retailer serving the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company’s 4,700 on and ofﬂine employees successfully ship more than 50 million products every year, but its digital success was a long time coming. Only after transitioning to an online platform and rethinking the way that it recognised its workforce was Shop Direct able to meet its full potential and become the retail success that
it is today.
Shop Direct was born from the iconic British retailer Littlewoods—a company founded more than 80 years ago when mass-market retailing was in its infancy. Although Shop Direct became a brand well-loved by consumers, the shift to online shopping and marketing over time meant that the U.K.-based retailer had to adapt alongside industry developments or risk becoming obsolete.
Every change to the market put them a little further behind the curve, and by the early 2000s, Shop Direct found itself ﬁghting for survival. It needed to ﬁnd a way to successfully transition the business from catalogue-based shopping to an online retailer. Amidst these struggles, Shop Direct also had many frustrated employees who felt that they were not getting recognised for their hard work in a consistent and fair way.
“There were some great pockets of best practice, but for others, this lack of ‘fairness and consistency’ led to colleagues feeling undervalued,” Colin Watt, Shop Direct’s director of colleague engagement, relations, and people services explains.
The challenge, he says, was to develop a recognition scheme that could accommodate all 4,700 workers across multiple sites and shift patterns, from office-based colleagues and customer service representatives to those working in the warehouses. The scheme needed to be digital, easy to use, and incorporate a consistent reward strategy. It also needed to have clear ties to the company’s purpose— to “make good things accessible to more people”—and its values.
Shop Direct’s leadership knew that in order to foster better relationships with their customers and strengthen the business as they transitioned to digital, they needed to ensure that their employees were aligned with the company’s purpose. After assessing the company’s requirements, Shop Direct turned to recognition provider Achievers to help them revitalise their recognition programme.
Achievers Employee Success Platform™ Solution had the benefits of scalability and a digital focus—both of which were important in implementing recognition at a soon-to-be digital company of Shop Direct’s size. The global recognition company could offer a robust yet easy-to-use solution to support their employees during the transformation to a digital company.
“The Achievers platform enabled us to embed recognition across our disperse workforce quickly,” Watt says. “The peer-to-peer recognition within the scheme also allows colleagues to acknowledge and reward each other, making this highly effective.”
In fact, since the company implemented the Achievers recognition and rewards solution in July 2014, the clearest indicator of success has been their “Shine” programme’s high level of adoption. Shop Direct employees have sent more than 355,000 recognitions since Shine was launched, with individual users sending an average of 7.6 recognitions each month. The company’s people leaders have also seen a distinct improvement in employee alignment to Shop Direct’s core values.
To address the pain point of inconsistent recognition, Achievers worked with Shop Direct to develop the “Quarterly Superhero Campaign”—an awards-based, peer-to-peer-driven campaign that generated a lot of buzz among employees. Internally, awards given have increased from eight to 1,000 annually as a result.
“The fact that colleagues take time out to say thank you and recognise behaviour aligned to our values with the Achievers platform shows that it works across the business, rather than being a stand-alone, HR vanity project. It has been totally embedded in the business because our colleagues talk about our values and purpose every day,” Watt says.
Thanks to Shine and its associated initiatives, Shop Direct’s engagement survey has seen a 17 per cent increase—from 67 per cent in 2010 to a world-class 84 per cent in 2017. Shop Direct has also received external praise for their innovative employee recognition strategy, and it won ﬁrst place in the Employee Recognition and Reward category in the 2016 U.K. Employee Experience Awards.