The Co-op celebrate colleague loyalty with new Career Celebration scheme


The Co-op is a brand we all recognise and is made up of a diverse set of businesses including 2,500 grocery stores, funeral care, insurance and legal services.

Employing almost 70,000 people, just over 50% of its workforce has worked for the organisation for at least five years, some significantly longer.

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Over half of the Co-operative Group’s workforce has worked for the organisation for five years or more. Keen to recognise this loyalty, the Co-op wanted to personally reward each of its colleagues’ work anniversaries. The Co-op appointed TerryberryReward to create a bespoke, online reward and recognition solution, to ensure all its employees’ work milestones are celebrated and their commitment rewarded by line managers.

The Challenge

Having successfully introduced an employee reward scheme for long-service back in 2010, the scheme had been well received throughout the business, and it had a positive impact on staff morale.

However, with such a large and widely distributed workforce, it was often difficult to mark these anniversaries effectively as line managers were unaware of when they were or how to celebrate them. The Co-op also needed its rewards scheme to be digital, to make it easily accessible for the entire workforce.

The Co-op decided to look for a rewards partner to create and manage a new, innovative online scheme.

Jane Walapu, colleague recognition programme lead at the Co-op explains:

“Our existing rewards system had worked well over the years, but we were keen to extend its reach and make it easier for our colleagues to access it, alongside empowering our line managers to celebrate their team members’ career milestones.”

The Solution

Following a competitive tender process, the Co-op appointed employee rewards and recognition specialists, TerryberryReward, who created and now host the new Career Celebration scheme. The bespoke solution, which went live in early 2020, is designed to celebrate Co-op employees from their first year of service through to retirement.

Based on Terryberry’s online 360 Recognition Platform, the scheme automatically enrols all Co-op colleagues, and each individual employee is celebrated as soon as it hits a work anniversary.

Career Celebration recognises Co-op staff from their first-year anniversary to their fourth with a congratulatory email. Then at five or ten-years they are rewarded with a unique Co-op long-service reward badge and certificate. After 15 years of service, and then at further significant milestones, colleagues receive an Aspirations Reward Points gift card; they can redeem this on Terryberry’s online platform, on a range of luxury items including experience days, watches and jewellery, perfumes, electrical items, or homeware.

As part of its research into setting up the new rewards scheme, Terryberry identified that the Co-op’s colleagues valued timely and personalised recognition from their line managers. The Career Celebration scheme encourages the Co-op’s line managers to acknowledge their team member’s loyalty to the business at the various stages of their careers, in a personal and meaningful way. The platform ensures all line managers are copied in on celebratory emails or notified if a significant anniversary is approaching.

Line managers know their team members best and they can choose how to celebrate their colleagues with either a more intimate or public award presentation. To ensure each colleague receives the personal recognition they deserve, line managers are encouraged to personalise the presentation by telling the individual’s ‘story of their life at Co-op’ and acknowledging their achievements and how much they are valued. Sharing this success over social media is also encouraged.

The Result and Benefits

The new scheme has been extremely well received by the Co-op’s workforce and the organisation has witnessed a real morale boost among staff as they help celebrate their colleagues’ careers. It’s hoped that the scheme will help encourage even more colleagues to enjoy a lengthy career with the organisation.

Jane Walapu, colleague recognition programme lead at the Co-op:

“Being able to involve our line managers more directly with our long-service awards scheme is a real game changer for us. It’s an effective way of ensuring they are aware of their colleagues’ career milestones. We know that it’s this recognition from our managers that makes our colleagues feel most valued.

We were really impressed with Terryberry’s collaborative and creative approach in coming up with a solution that works so effectively for us. The team really took the time to understand our business and what’s important to us and came up with a creative solution that is already having a really positive impact on all our colleagues.”

Frances Chant, Colleague Recognition Co-ordinator at Co-op:

“Our colleagues are really embracing the scheme and it’s been great to receive such fantastic feedback. The award presentations are celebratory events, and we are seeing a real buzz over social media about them. It’s also great to see pictures of our long-serving colleagues enjoying the gifts they’ve chosen with their vouchers.

But what’s been really amazing to see is the excitement over the Career Celebration badges we’ve been awarding to those who’ve worked with us for five years or more. These are much coveted items and we’re delighted to see our colleagues wear them with such pride.”

Career Celebration Award Examples: