engage your workforce

Smart & Final: Effectively Engaging 10,000+ Employees

How do you effectively engage over 10,000 employees? This was the challenge presented to Smart & Final, a major chain of warehouse-style food and supply stores. Smart & Final has over 10,000 employees and approximately 211 stores in 5 states. Their previous employee recognition strategy consisted of a ubiquitously disliked service awards program that was perceived by employees as being impersonal and demotivating. This type of employee experience was unacceptable and something had to be done about it. The Smart & Final team took on the huge task of overhauling their employee recognition strategy and finding a new way to boost employee engagement across the entire organization.

With 66% of HR leaders currently updating their employee engagement and retention strategies, Smart & Final is not alone. Companies worldwide are finding immense value behind putting more time and resources into employee recognition and engagement programs. For starters, 60% of best-in-class organizations have stated employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance and 50% of HR leaders said that an increase in employee recognition would boost employee retention. If that isn’t enough, a 1% increase in employee engagement equates to an additional 0.6% growth in sales for companies.

Businesses share why employee recognition and engagement matters

It’s a no-brainer why so many companies, such as Ericsson, Rogers, and Availity are jumping on the employee recognition and engagement wagon. Smart & Final wanted to make sure their new HR strategy would hit employee recognition numbers out of the park. And that’s exactly what they did. After Smart & Final implemented its new Spotlight program with Achievers, they saw stronger employee alignment, activity rates, and revenue. The business impact was significant with amazing results, including:

  • Increased monthly recognition activity at 11 times the normal average
  • More than 43,000 recognition moments in one month alone
  • Sales grew 1.1% on average
  • 96.8% of employee recognitions were sent without points attached, making the cost virtually free

Joe Tischbern, Manager of Learning and Engagement at Smart & Final, has seen a shift in perspective from executives on employee recognition after kicking off Spotlight. In our customer testimonial video, he shared:

“Some of our executives were skeptics when we started this. They’re no longer skeptics because they see the impact that a recognition they give has on the hourly associate working in the store. Our CEO himself has said that he’s seen the difference. He’s seen the fact that when he has the opportunity to recognize people, he sees a change in their behavior.”

Not only did Smart & Final’s new employee engagement strategy convert recognition naysayers into believers; sales numbers, employee happiness, and customer satisfaction all improved. Tischbern further shared:

“Sales actually increased during the process because associates were excited. There was a better attitude. The customers were more excited because our associates were more excited.”

Smart & Final’s Spotlight program successfully increased employee engagement across its entire organization. With only 13% of employees engaged worldwide and disengaged employees costing organizations between $450-$550 billion annually, it’s important to address the current state of employee disengagement sooner than later. Avoid high turnover rates and unnecessary costs by re-evaluating your current employee engagement strategy today. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How are you currently engaging employees? Is it working?
  2. Are you successfully measuring employee engagement at your company?
  3. Would you consider your company culture positive or negative?
  4. How often do employees recognize colleagues at your workplace?
  5. Are your employees overall happy at work?

If you are unsure how to answer the questions above or unsatisfied with your response, it might be time to join the 66% of HR leaders who are updating their employee engagement and retention strategies. Follow in the steps of Smart & Final and start making a change to create an unbeatable impact on employee engagement.

To learn more about Smart & Final’s Spotlight program and HR success, download Smart & Final’s case study.

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If you’d like to learn more about another employee engagement success story, check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Senior Editorial and Social Media Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.





Employee Recognition

Trend alert: Employee recognition is hot and lapel pins are not

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but a lot of employees think sporting a company lapel pin is about as “in” as wearing socks with sandals. There are much better ways to reward your employees and reinforce your brand besides just handing out tchotchkes.

Companies today are getting extremely competitive when it comes to culture and perks. Does your employee engagement strategy reflect what employees truly want and even expect from their employers?

What’s out? Passé trends include:

  • Ad hoc and disconnected recognition
  • Hierarchy
  • Annual or semi-annual feedback & bonuses

What’s on-trend today is:

  • Collaboration and bottom-up communication
  • Cross-team recognition
  • Tailored but fair rewards

Modern recognition strategies are necessary to win in today’s competitive business landscape, and these strategies must be transparent and advanced – just like the modern workplace. Evolving your engagement strategy reaches beyond what’s “on-trend” and extends to the bottom line. We curated this list of ten reasons why you need to replace the lapel pins with real-time recognition:

  1. Create better shareholder value.
    Recognized employees will work harder to satisfy your customers, which has a direct effect on your organization’s stakeholders.
  2. Align employees with business objectives.
    This reinforces the right behaviors and makes recognition more purposeful.
  3. Get employees engaged.
    Recognition solidifies employees’ emotional connection with your company.
  4. Celebrate individual accomplishments.
    While team recognition is important, employees want to feel that they have made an impact at an individual level too.
  5. Employees will work harder.
    80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance.
  6. Maximize retention rates.
    Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations.
  7. Leverage your greatest resource.
    Recognition is the easiest and most meaningful way to motivate your people.
  8. Become more productive and profitable.
    Organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive and 40 percent more profitable than organizations with low engagement levels.
  9. Develop your future leaders and motivate them to stay.
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better.
  10. Reinforce positive behaviors.

When great work is recognized, it’s repeated.

Wonder what other recognition styles are in this season? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to find out!