Topic: Employee Recognition


BHP: Propelling Positive Change Through Employee Recognition

Mining & Resources






of employees have received recognition in year one


recognition moments in year one

*BHP won the 2022 Influence Greatness Breakthrough Award for Perpetual Improvement

A world-leading resources company, BHP’s purpose is to bring people and resources together to build a better world. With over 37,000 employees in 16 countries, one of the ways they’ve been able to propel positive change throughout their business is with employee recognition.


Recognition has always been part of the BHP culture and their organizational philosophy. Recently, the company implemented their BHP Operating System to foster continuous improvement and shift the mindset of their workforce to think about how they could do things better with incremental improvements. They wanted to create a culture that empowers all employees to bring their best every day, and own the ability to make their work safer, easier, and better.

They turned to recognition to help enable this new mindset of change. “Our employees are at the heart of what we do, who we are, and how well we achieve outcomes,” says Jad Vodopija, Chief People Officer. Whether it’s celebrating careers, efforts, or big and small achievements, recognition moments bring teams together and help them learn from one another.

As BHP and O.C. Tanner have been partners since 2008, they turned to O.C. Tanner to support them with expanding their recognition solutions across the organization globally. “O.C. Tanner has helped us build recognition as a key facet of the way in which we do business,” says Jad.


BHP launched their new global recognition program “Big Thanks” in 2020. The global program allows employees to recognise one another for their day-to-day efforts and great work, and also includes a physical kit with thank you cards they can use to recognise their offline workers for safety, innovation, and productivity.

To make Big Thanks accessible to their entire workforce, BHP also has a separate program in Spanish for their South American businesses called “Muchas Gracias”, including offline tools for their front-line workforce. They also regularly give group point deposits to all employees to recognise achievements, whether it’s safety and productivity during the pandemic or at the end of a financial year to recognise company performance. “For us, having a simple globally-consistent program was really important to help engage everyone and be on the same page of appreciation,” explains Kirrily Lansdown, Head of Global Reward.  

Employee careers and retirement are also recognised through BHP’s service award program, which includes a custom Yearbook and beautifully crafted custom pins. These pins have stories behind them that represent significant aspects of BHP’s history and identity—where they’ve come from, connection to growth, and where they’re headed. From the trucks they use every day to the tools invented by BHP employees, the symbols, and their stories, really resonate with employees. “Everyone gets a hard hat saying welcome to BHP, so they really feel connected to our business from day one,” says Kirrily.  

Launching a new global recognition program across 16 countries with an incredibly diverse set of employees was no easy feat, especially as 85-90% of their workforce is offline and working at a mine site. It required a robust change management strategy and a comprehensive communication plan. They utilized a launch kit to ensure every BHP employee was equipped from day one of the global program launch with the knowledge and tools to give personal recognition.

BHP’s CEO and executive leadership team empowers employees at every level to use Big Thanks. Their senior management teams often acknowledge the efforts of their workforce in meetings and presentations. “Our leaders really got behind Big Thanks and pushed it throughout our organization and were the key to driving how we were going to embed a culture of appreciation throughout our workforce,” says Kirrily.


  • Have a great partner to help support and drive recognition at your organization.
  • Engage your leaders and explain the “why” of recognition.
  • Embed recognition into your culture.
  • Understand the cultural nuances across the organization and ensure recognition is fit for purpose in each area of your business.
  • Have a robust change management and communications strategy.
“Big Thanks has helped us call out phenomenal creativity, innovation, and a thousand of the small incremental improvements that have really helped propel this organization forward.”
—JAD VODOPIJA, CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER                                    


So far 72% of employees at BHP have received recognition through Big Thanks and the program has seen significant activity in the first year with over 130,000 recognition moments. Both Big Thanks and Muchas Gracias have been established as consistent platforms for all recognition activity globally, and both are now achieving momentum.

“We’re empowering our people by celebrating the moments that matter and helping them strive for continuous improvement and productivity,” says Kirrily.

Recognition has also helped BHP strengthen an inclusive culture, unifying their diverse population. The ability to recognize the contributions of all types of employees—in different levels, lines of businesses, countries, and roles—reinforces BHP’s culture and enables them to fulfill their purpose of changing the world.

“For us, recognition has always been part of our DNA, and Big Thanks has enabled us to reach every single employee across the organization. It’s become a hallmark of moving forward to make us better and stronger,” says Jad.

Outcomes are everything
We’d love to share what we’ve helped BHP and thousands of other clients achieve. Reach out to us to start your employee recognition journey.

related Resources

Insurance Company: Elevating Culture with Recognition

See how one insurance company elevated their recognition programs from good to best-in-class.

ICF: Making the World a Better Place, One Recognition Moment at a Time

See how recognition can predict turnover at ICF.

Sustainable Workplace Awards

Learn how O.C. Tanner incorporates sustainable practices into the sourcing and creation of custom symbolic awards for recognition moments that help both people and our planet thrive.