Topic: Employee Recognition


BlueScope: Moving the Needle on Employee Appreciation and Connection

Asia Pacific (APAC)


employees and contractors


operational sites and offices across Australia


overall uptake of the initiative in nine weeks

In 2021, after a strong financial result, BlueScope sought to go beyond salary reviews and bonuses to show employee appreciation for the resilience, passion and purpose shown by their people during the pandemic. Within a tight timeframe, BlueScope worked with O.C. Tanner to implement a custom employee recognition initiative that resulted in a 95% uptake and widely positive responses from employees.

As Head of Rewards at BlueScope Australian Steel Products, Nikky Ray has over 15 years of global experience in leading the remuneration and benefits function including rewards transformation through strategic thinking and continuous innovation. During her time at BlueScope, she has implemented many improvements and initiatives across rewards processes and is passionate about creating exceptional employee experience and best practice reward programs.

Challenge: Showing employee appreciation in an impactful way

In July 2021, when reviewing the remuneration budget, Nikky sought to do something to recognize employees that went beyond salary reviews and bonuses. Despite a range of challenges during the pandemic, including supply chain issues and the overall impact on employee wellbeing, BlueScope was experiencing record results and employees had shown unwavering passion and purpose.

BlueScope wanted to find an impactful, heartfelt way to show employee appreciation for their Australian workforce to celebrate what the business had achieved as a team, unify their people, and reflect their vision, values, and purpose.

Nikky and her team sought something beyond BlueScope’s existing recognition activities and this “thank you initiative” became a high priority.

“At BlueScope, we were looking for a way to recognize and reward our Australian Steel Products employees for their amazing contributions to the organization, our customers and to the communities we serve, in what was really a challenging year. We were able to roll out what turned out to be one of the largest ever online gift card initiatives in the country. A simple online platform featured a large range of gift cards to redeem, along with options to donate to two of our nominated charities. The website was tailored specifically to reflect our brand with personalized messages from myself and the Chief Executive recognizing and thanking our people for their efforts. Thank you, O.C. Tanner, for creating such a great online experience.”
 —REBECCA ROBERTS, GM PEOPLE, BLUESCOPE                                    

Solution: A combined virtual and physical recognition solution

Within weeks, Nikky and her team worked with O.C. Tanner to design and deliver a recognition initiative in December 2021 to BlueScope Australian Steel Product’s (ASP) 8,000 employees and contractors.

The initiative comprised a BlueScope-branded online portal that featured messages of appreciation from the ASP CEO and General Manager of People, along with the opportunity for every Australia-based BlueScope employee to select five gift cards from a range of leading retail and lifestyle options (or provide a donation to charities aligned with BlueScope).

O.C. Tanner and BlueScope co-developed the online experience, creating communications that highlighted key recognition messaging, encouraging employees to reward themselves or support a charity.  

Leaders were provided with guidelines and messaging to ensure awareness and utilization would be high, and the full impact of the initiative would be felt. BlueScope’s HR community also played a significant role, consistently promoting the initiative and the message of appreciation and providing support on the ground to employees working on site.

It was essential to Nikky and her team that the recognition focused on thanking everyone, including contractors, labor-hire, cleaners, security guards, and a small handful of employees outside Australia. Accessibility and inclusivity were critical; Nikky and her team ensured the online portal was supported by a physical thank you card for those with limited computer access.

“The initiative's success was not so much in the design or the tool. It was more in the delivery. It was so stakeholder heavy because we were delivering a message to every employee, where every employee and manager would be impacted, so we had to make sure every aspect of the messaging was 100% aligned.”

Results: A small token of employee appreciation with a big impact

BlueScope received a tremendously positive response from all employees and contractors, who gratefully accepted the initiative as a genuine way for the company to appreciate and recognize their hard work and resilience.

Nikky and her team were thrilled with the response from their people, having had employees respond directly to them, noting how touched they were. They saw a 40% uptake of the initiative within seven days of implementation, and 95% of all employees and contractors rewarded themselves with a selection of gift cards within nine weeks.

The Australian team has seen a powerful impact from the program, helping to move the needle on their internal people strategies. There has been a ripple effect within BlueScope, with other global offices seeking to learn more about the employee appreciation initiative.

The critical success factors were:

  • Consistent delivery across a broad workforce
  • The ease of the online experience in selecting a gift
  • The people-centric messaging connecting the recognition with the BlueScope purpose

For BlueScope, it wasn’t the monetary value of the award that had a significant impact. It was about acknowledging the challenges their employees faced and recognizing and appreciating every employee for the resilience they demonstrated in overcoming these challenges together. Employees were the inspiration for this program.

“I've heard some lovely stories from our people. A young female cadet was so happy to receive $250 gift that she bought a purse and expressed her joy saying 'thank you' to BlueScope at checkout. Our security guards did a cartwheel flip to express how happy they were to feel included.”
—NIKKY RAY, HEAD OF REWARDS, BLUESCOPE                                    

Key Statistics


uptake within seven days of implementation


overall uptake of the initiative in nine weeks


of redemptions were donated to charity ($33,550)

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