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A decentralised recognition policy: GroupM NL’s approach

By Silke
04 Oct 2023

As an HR manager, you don’t need us to tell you that employee recog­ni­tion and appre­ci­a­tion is crucial for the success of your organ­i­sa­tion. But how do you go about that? The answer lies in your recog­ni­tion policy. This powerful tool acts as your secret weapon, a guide that clearly explains the when, how and why of recog­ni­tion. The extent of these rules varies from organ­i­sa­tion to organ­i­sa­tion. But one thing’s for sure: your recog­ni­tion policy can make the difference between being merely good and extremely successful.

The pre­dictabil­i­ty you gain from a uniform approach also makes budgeting easier. Plus it ensures con­sis­ten­cy. You’ll never have a positive influence on the motivation, engagement and happiness of your employees if you show your appre­ci­a­tion for your teams in different ways for the same occasion.

But how do you implement a recog­ni­tion policy with impact in an organ­i­sa­tion with a range of different depart­ments or teams? We spoke to Mandy Stoop, HR & Recruit­ment Specialist at GroupM NL, to understand how they approach this.

In the past, you would get, say, 200 euros for your birthday in one office, and 50 euros in another, which of course doesn’t make much sense.’ – Mandy Stoop

The challenge

GroupM NL is een groot medi­a­bu­reau met ves­tigin­gen in Eindhoven, Sittard en Amsterdam, en telt meer dan 1000 werknemers in 8 onderliggende entiteiten. Vroeger waren dat ook effectief allemaal aparte eilandjes, maar nu zijn we in Nederland allemaal één GroupM geworden en moet je dus meer sam

GroupM NL is a large media agency with offices in Eindhoven, Sittard and Amsterdam, and over 1,000 employees in 8 underlying entities. In the past, they all functioned as separate islands, but now we’ve all become one GroupM in the Nether­lands, which means you have to work together more and join forces,’ says Mandy Stoop.

This coming together
was also the perfect oppor­tu­ni­ty to re-examine their moments that matter’. Because all these different entities had also led to a fragmented recog­ni­tion policy.

Mandy: In the past, you would get, say, 200 euros for your birthday in one office, and 50 euros in another, which of course doesn’t make much sense. We thought it was important to harmonise this too: you don’t want your employees to be frustrated because of dif­fer­ences in terms of recog­ni­tion, and we think it’s really important that we demon­strate that we’re a good employer.’

The logistics of it was also a real hassle: HR had no control over what was being ordered, the cost centres were unclear, you had to tread carefully with GDPR when passing on employee data to each other, and so on. 

To remove the complexity of the fragmented policy, GroupM NL decided to work on a uniform, decen­tralised recog­ni­tion policy. More than 200 team leaders within the organ­i­sa­tion took on the respon­si­bil­i­ty for its practical imple­men­ta­tion.

The solution


When you use a decen­tralised recog­ni­tion policy, the centrally created guidelines are put into practice by the team leaders. And HR is able to keep their finger on the pulse through those team leaders. Because they know best what’s going on as well as the pref­er­ences, per­son­al­i­ties and tastes in their team.

When big and important decisions are being made, GroupM NL also involves their Chal­lengers Group. Mandy: This is a group of around 15 employees who come from all over the organ­i­sa­tion. They form an important sounding board, which has certainly helped us to support changes like these.’

Kadonation Select

It was this group that chose Kadonation Select as a platform to help shape and manage their recog­ni­tion policy. More than 200 team leaders now use the platform and the policy was rolled out without any problems. Kadonation has helped us 100% to maintain unity in our work culture.’

HR holds the reins
and defines the boundaries of the policy within the gift platform Kadonation Select. Budgets are configured per occasion and approval flows. We never used to have a birthday policy and the respon­si­bil­i­ties for arranging a gift were very fragmented. Kadonation Select has taken away all that hassle, as it automates this occasion,’ says Mandy.

Kadonation has helped us 100% to maintain unity in our work culture.’ – Mandy Stoop

Moments that matter

Research shows that a gift from their employer makes 7 out of 10 employees happy*. It doesn’t always have to be a big gift – what really creates that warm feeling is the recog­ni­tion of the moment. Don’t forget your personal message!

What are the moments that matter?

  • The classic holidays: 7 in 10 employees receive an end-of-year gift from their employer, but gifts for Sin­terk­laas or Easter are also popular.
    But be careful: not all employees celebrate these holidays.
  • Birthday or work anniver­sary: these days are just that little bit more special than your average workday.
  • A gift on the first day of work or during the onboarding period gives a little extra reas­sur­ance to new employees that they’ve made the right choice. But it’s also important to make off­board­ing a special experience for your ambas­sadors.
  • Personal and work-related milestones: from moving in together or getting married to having a baby, adopting a child, getting promoted or achieving great end-of-year results: as an employer you can certainly show that you celebrate those big moments.

  • What about something different? Don’t forget about those atypical moments. Like a back to work’ gift after the summer, for example, or a present for the company anniver­sary. But also if someone’s been off for a long time or to support them during a difficult period.

Handy features

You also have a much better idea of where your budget is going: the cost centres are clear and at the end of the year we can see exactly what we’ve spent on our moments that matter. There are also no more receipts lying around needing to be processed. All this saves time at various levels within the organ­i­sa­tion.’

Another feature that certainly stands out for GroupM NL is the handy inte­gra­tion with their HR software AFAS. This auto­mat­i­cal­ly imports their employee data and keeps it up to date at all times. Team leaders also get notified via tasks that Simon has suc­cess­ful­ly completed his pro­ba­tion­ary period and we celebrate this with a little thank you’, or they receive sug­ges­tions like why not order a gift for Charlène who has been off sick for more than 2 weeks’.

At the same time, it’s all GDPR-proof. If they want to give me something, they just need to enter my name and send the gift, without any personal infor­ma­tion like my address being shared.’

The result

The biggest gain we’ve made is creating a culture of equality and trans­paren­cy within our organ­i­sa­tion. This has not only led to all of our employees being treated in the same way, but also a sense of belonging and appre­ci­a­tion for everyone, from newcomers to expe­ri­enced team members. As a result, we can proudly say that our recog­ni­tion policy con­tributes to a positive working envi­ron­ment where everyone knows where they stand and feels valued, right from their very first day with us.’

GroupM NL is con­scious­ly stepping away from the tra­di­tion­al holidays.
Not everyone celebrates Sin­terk­laas, Easter or Christmas, so we try to focus on other moments like Valentine’s Day, a work anniver­sary or moving house. We also use Kadonation to organise a little gift during trial periods and onboarding.’

With our recog­ni­tion policy we show that we value personal and pro­fes­sion­al milestones. It’s a testament to our engagement and commitment to making every moment special. That’s why we also celebrate those moments together, or make an occasion out of them. And we also try to be there for our employees during the more difficult moments too. With Kadonation Select it’s all a lot easier.’

Want to hear more? Discover the benefits of Kadonation Select for yourself and try it out for 14 days without any commitment. Or catches.

*Research carried out by Human8 on behalf of Kadonation – 2,000 employees – 2021

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