Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Most effective motivation or incentive strategy

Merlin Entertainments, Merlin Global Recognition Schemes: Star and CEO Award Plan

Merlin Entertainments impressed the judges with its introduction of two global motivation and recognition schemes for all staff after rolling out new company values across the business. The new schemes replaced more than 20 previous ones, which were owned at a local level, and recognised different employee behaviours as well as providing differing rewards depending on the location or attraction.

Debra Corey, group compensation and benefits director, said: “The thing that made it different is how we took so much diversity and so many different schemes, and somehow pulled it into something that everyone loved.”
Star, the new global recognition programme, recognises staff who live and breathe the organisation’s values.

Employees nominate colleagues they think should be recognised, and a star-of-the-month award is made. All nominations are immediately visible on the Star global online platform.

Under the CEO Award Plan, employees are given company shares for long service, outstanding performance, excellent customer service and contribution to charitable causes. Nominations can be made via an online system.
Sam Owens, corporate HR manager, said: “It is like it has always been there. Everyone is fully engaged with the scheme. We have 90 attractions and 30 different languages. From a global perspective, for everyone to embrace it multiculturally is really satisfying.”

The schemes were communicated in fun, creative ways, such as having members of the HR and benefits team dressing up in ‘star’ costumes.

Merlin exceeded its objectives to encourage recognition. The Star programme received more than 36,000 nominations, exceeding the original goal of 20,000, while in its first year, the CEO Award Plan attracted more than 1,000 employees, compared with the original goal of 700.

One judge said: “I was smiling when I read this entry.”


Marks and Spencer, Spotlight, Employee of the Month and The BIG Idea
These schemes were introduced after staff feedback showed employees wanted to be listened to and more involved with the business. Each programme aims to inspire staff by providing timely, meaningful reward and recognition applied consistently across the business.


American Express, RewardBlue
This programme allows the firm’s 60,000-plus staff to recognise colleagues across all levels, business units and countries. Leaders and employees can send each other an e-thank you or nominate their peers for financial awards, which can be used to redeem merchandise or gift cards.

BSkyB, Believe in Better Awards
This entrant rebranded its recognition scheme to maximise impact. The branding now incorporates previous award winners. Other factors were: CEO involvement in agreeing the list of winners and presenting top awards, and managers to present crystal awards to recognised staff.

Computacenter, Excellence in Action, entered by AYMTM
This scheme allows staff to acknowledge colleagues’ hard work. All nominated staff receive a personalised e-thank you card. Nominations are sent to an online judging panel to approve and decide the appropriate level of award.

O2, Spirit, entered by AYMTM
This scheme aimed to educate and excite O2 sales staff about the products they sell. It focused on understanding specific smartphones during seven weekly missions and awarded prizes in an online interactive game.

Whitbread, Incentives for All
This scheme aligned core elements of reward for all staff, ensuring fair pay rates and incentives related to specific roles. Site managers, for example, can earn up to 100% of salary.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012