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National Grid

How does a multinational organization keep people performing at the highest levels?

The last few years of extreme weather have put a spotlight on the heroic efforts of National Grid’s employees. When the power goes out, they work round the clock to get the lights back on and the gas flowing. But even when there are no major emergencies, keeping gas and electricity running technically and commercially is a huge achievement.

How does National Grid sustain a high-performance culture? It has engagement as a strategic priority. And it provides tools that reinforce what matters most: safety, operational excellence, customer service, and innovation.

The challenge: provide practical resources that actively drive engagement and create a culture of appreciation. Engage the hearts and minds of employees with an organization-wide recognition solution that brings together teams, locations, and geographies.


Following several years of mergers and acquisitions, today National Grid owns and manages grids to which many different energy sources are connected. In the United Kingdom, it runs systems that deliver gas and electricity throughout the country. While in the Northeastern United States, it provides power directly to millions of customers.

With multiple programs and cultures co-existing, leadership teams wanted to consolidate and create a recognition framework under one brand.


A team was assembled with the collective goal of creating a global recognition strategy that aligned employee behavior and effort to National Grid’s objectives and core values. This would provide a centralized system with consistent tools across locations.

Selecting O.C. Tanner for it’s strategic thought leadership, innovative technologies, and fun creative—the National Grid ‘appreciate’ program was launched in April 2012.

Now, employees send animated thank you cards and badges to each other. Awards are given to those who go above and beyond, with nominations approved by managers and presented in front of the team. The careers of employees at year one, five, ten, and above are celebrated with an award and a certificate personally signed by National Grid’s Chief Executive. Finally, the best of the best are honored with a Chairman’s Award presented at an annual banquet.

To inspire and call employees to action, a “rally cry” was created. Creative communications—targeted emails, posters, digital signage—supported the launch and continue to push program adoption. Engagement champions work with team leaders to share best practices and highlight top users of the system.

Pre-launch manager and leader training was conducted in both UK and US locations and appreciation quick guides were provided to employees. Finally, to further track business and cultural impacts, a measurement plan was put in place.

Since launch, National Grid employees have experienced more than 30,000 appreciation moments.


  • Since launch, National Grid employees have experienced more than 30,000 appreciation moments.
  • A survey of award recipient’s revealed 97% felt the presentation was personal and sincere and 95% felt the presentation connected their contributions to company values.


  • Developing a sustainable recognition strategy requires long-term commitment to the journey.
  • Seeing appreciation as part of day-to-day and performance management elevates the importance and impact.
  • Investing in training and broad communication outreach—through all mediums—are critical elements to program success.

“This is a strategic business tool and not an HR initiative. Through ‘appreciate,’ we now have a single platform with the flexibility to be applied in different parts of what is a complex business.” —Iain MacKinnon, Global Reward Manager

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