Strategic employee recognition program unites team members at a global pet retailer

How an energetic initiative across an organisation tapped into the shared passion of staff to create a better experience for them and their (two- and four-legged) customers.

pet store employee with beagle

At a global pet retailer, all sales staff share a passion for connecting with pets and pet parents. But with sales staff spread across retail stores, corporate headquarters, a call centre and distribution centres, the company was struggling to find a way to meaningfully connect all team members to a shared purpose and vision. 

The company wanted a stable and experienced team to manage their global needs. One that could drive best-in-class, viable and continuous employee recognition and reward offerings while creating value-added services to support their operations and control costs.

Merging under one brand and one platform was the key

A centralized platform creates a culture of recognition.

Our client looked to ITA Group for help. As conversations began, we held a visioning session to clearly define the strategy for their staff. Using our experience and expertise in creating solutions for diverse job functions, we collaborated with our client to establish a strong program brand that would connect with staff regardless of role, provide a centralised recognition platform and support ongoing engagement through a mixed-media communication campaign.

The result was PlayUp, a fun, energetic initiative that tapped into the client’s brand and their staff’s love of pets while also encouraging recognition for those playing up in our client’s core values.

Scalable, optimised employee recognition and rewards meet our client’s needs

Years-of-service award pins publicly promote loyalty.

Years-of-service award pins publicly promote loyalty.

To build excitement for PlayUp among staff, locations received printed materials to display in their workspaces. Leadership was given tips for talking about the program and recognising their staff in a way that would build authentic relationships. We also reintroduced a years of service program that had been on hiatus and handled the logistics of shipping materials to over 1,600 locations. And with back-end report flexibility, any individual store reporting needs were met as well.

Together, we consolidated multiple disparate programs to offer various types of recognition all united by their core values, including:

  • Peer-to-peer recognition
  • Manager recognition
  • Nomination-based awards
  • Years of service awards
  • Grooming salon recognition
  • Contests and incentives

Positive impact drives continued growth

Robust dashboards ensure reporting needs are met.

Just months into PlayUp’s first year, the client saw such strong levels of engagement, they wanted to extend PlayUp even further. They looked to us for creative, strategic ways to grow the program, allowing us to conduct field research where we met with managers and staff at retail locations to better understand their motivations and challenges.

With these findings and our continued data-driven program optimisation, we’re helping our client deliver on their business objectives and show appreciation for all staff across their organisation as they continue to develop a culture of recognition.

AU$17M + saved by improving retention of new staff



of staff have received a recognition (that’s 40,950 people!)


of leaders have issued recognition


recognitions given in year one


greater retention at 3 months for new staff who are recognised at least once

Recognition is so important, and I am so excited not just to get this platform in place, but to do it with your company. Everyone on your team has been so wonderful, and I wanted you to know what a positive experience this partnership has been for our whole team and how excited we are for what is to come.

Compensation consultant