Merlin Entertainments Group aligns global recognition schemes

One of the biggest challenges for Merlin Entertainments Group when creating a global recognition scheme was securing the buy-in of the heads of HR across its business, which spans 21 countries and four continents.

Samantha Owens, corporate HR manager at Merlin, says: “Each head of HR already had schemes in place that worked well, so it was about getting their buy-in. The other challenge was how we communicated the scheme.”

To optimise the buy-in of each manager, Merlin involved them in scheme design and, once the plan was launched in April 2011, each head was then allowed to take local ownership, which means each of them can decide how to communicate and run the scheme in their own country.

The objective of Merlin’s scheme, the Star Awards programme, was to create a single recognition tool spanning its global business. “The attractions globally either had their own recognition scheme that they were running locally, and that was branded locally, or they didn’t have anything at all,” says Owens. “The whole aim was to create one harmonised global programme, but also to ensure we were being consistent.”

The online programme, created by motivation scheme and event provider MotivAction, features a profile for each employee through which they can send virtual stars to colleagues at any of Merlin’s 94 attractions, seven hotels and two holiday villages in recognition of them excelling in their role.

The system automatically emails star recipients to notify them about the recognition, so they can log onto the system to see who nominated them for a star and why.

Attraction managers review the stars sent to their employees each month and identify a star of the month, who receives £25 as a thank-you for their efforts, and a runner-up, who receives £10. But financial rewards depend on the country in which the programme operates, so some winners will simply receive a certificate and a badge.

“Some countries, such as Denmark, don’t give money for cultural and tax reasons,” says Owens.

More than 150,000 stars have been sent through the programme since it began in 2011.