At its heart, Brakes has two passions – food and service – and it’s these passions that have made it the market leader in foodservice in the UK. From locally-sourced to globally-sourced, and from specialist culinary ingredients to fully-prepared meals, Brakes sources and supplies a broad range of fresh, ambient, chilled and frozen foods. Through an extensive network of distribution hubs and satellite depots (and a fleet of over 2,000 vehicles) they deliver more than one and a half million boxes of food to over 200,000 customer sites every day. To maintain their reputation as a truly customer-centric business with an unrivalled service ethos, Brakes needs absolutely the best people in place right across the business, from sales operatives to truck drivers. Brakes’ people are the lifeblood of the organisation.
To engender a sense of pride in the business and to celebrate the everyday successes of Brakes’ people a defined employee recognition programme was conceived and, after a period of meticulous planning, the Special Thanks And Recognition (STAR) Awards were born.
Previous recognition programmes at Brakes had failed to achieve the desired traction – only 46% of warehouse workers and drivers believed that the company celebrated success. One programme the Team Player Award had attracted just 28 entries in the previous quarter and with numerous other discrete, local initiatives in place, recognition at Brakes lacked definition.
It was vital, therefore, that the Star Awards really captured the imagination of Brakes staff from day one. The theme for the campaign centred around the notion of Star Spotting and invited everyone in the business to get involved and nominate a colleague; someone that had perhaps gone the extra mile, made an impact, or done something out of the ordinary. A multitude of different graphic stars peppered the designs reinforcing the important point that everyone is different, everyone is unique, but that everyone is a potential star.
With over 7,500 (largely warehouse based) people across the UK and Ireland, disseminating information through the business is managed through a network of Communications Champions. In the first instance it was important that these leaders fully understood the ambitions of the programme. To do this we created a simple toolkit – a single resource containing all they needed to know: information on how to spot a star, the nomination process, key dates, monthly prizes, real life examples, a comms plan etc. This ring bound resource quickly became the Star Awards bible.
The awards launched with a series of bold posters featuring portraits of real life employees. A distinctive campaign identity and down-to-earth tone of voice was quickly established and applied to a range of communications including ballot boxes, nomination cards and a special edition of Brakes People newsletter. To ensure that we reached all employees, a short leaflet was posted out with monthly payslips.
Making a big visual splash from the outset ignited the campaign and soon nominations were coming in thick and fast. Monthly winners for each depot and function were identified with the top 50 selected for consideration for the inaugural annual awards.
A key objective for the Star Awards was to embed Brakes’ values in the business and reward those who actively demonstrate actions that support those values. A real positive from the whole campaign was the way in which staff really tuned into this and there was a real quality to the nominations, as well as some impressive numbers. Celebrating success was fundamental. All 50 star nominees were put forward for the annual CEO Star Award and the democratically voted People’s Choice Award. We travelled the country taking beautiful portraits, interviewing each of them, and generally making them feel like superstars.
We devised a mechanism whereby people could vote for their favourite Star based on a short description of what they had achieved. Names were kept secret to ensure that people were making objective decisions based on the facts before them, rather than just voting for their mate Dave in the warehouse. Amazingly we collected over 2,500 votes (more than a third of the workforce) and in scenes reminiscent of a particularly tight General Election count, we eventually identified the People’s Choice winner.
The Star Awards ceremony was held at Milton Keynes football stadium, with all nominees invited to what was a gala evening of rewards and recognition. Staging incorporated super-sized portraits of the nominees with a starry theme to the table dressing and menus. The awards themselves were preceded by a short introductory film, shot and edited by Playgroup, that set the celebratory tone. There were plenty of cheers from the crowd as they spotted colleagues. Big congratulations to winners Judith Poulter, who received the CEO Award, and Clive Twitchett who topped the People’s Choice poll.
To perpetuate the Star Awards and encourage ongoing participation, we created a beautiful bound notebook which includes portraits and inspiring quotes from all 50 nominees. The notebook was given to all 7,500 employees and acts as a constant reminder of this important recognition programme.
Beyond giving staff the opportunity to be recognised by their managers and peers, the Star Awards have acted as a catalyst for new ways of working at Brakes. A real win for Brakes, their people and ultimately their customers.
It’s time to start star spotting again…
© Copyright Playgroup Terms