E.ON UK’s energised approach to employee recognition

E.ON UK’s Performance and Reward Lead Consultant shares how the company has “created an environment of colleague-led, peer-to-peer recognition”

Words by Sophie Parrott

E.ON UK’s energised approach to employee recognition

E.ON UK’s Performance and Reward Lead Consultant shares how the company has “created an environment of colleague-led, peer-to-peer recognition”

Words by Sophie Parrott

While no one goes to work expecting constant bonuses or praise for simply doing their job, it's important to acknowledge that great work deserves great recognition, and any employer worth its salt knows when and how to both recognise and reward employees. Whether this is in the form of a financial reward, opportunities for promotion or progression, or just receiving a simple ‘thank you’ message, it’s important that employees’ hard work and accomplishments are recognised and appreciated.

According to research published by employee engagement software and platform Achievers (2020 Engagement and Retention Report), 82% of survey respondents said that they wished that they received more recognition, while a whopping 91% of employees said that a strong culture of recognition makes them a more attractive firm to work for.

In addition, data from Reward Gateway found that 90% of HR professionals agreed that a good reward and recognition programme can help to drive business results, with 91% agreeing that it has a positive impact on employee retention. As many employers continue to face challenges around attracting, engaging and retaining talent, prioritising reward and recognition strategies will be key now and in the future.

Through our inclusive culture, everyone is empowered to grow, thrive and to be the best they can. Recognition plays an intrinsic part in this.

Hazel Mainwaring

Performance and Reward Lead Consultant

Employee recognition at E.ON UK

For energy company E.ON – which has its UK HQ in Coventry, England – reward and recognition plays a vital role in supporting its 8,000-strong workforce in the UK. MyGrapevine magazine spoke to Hazel Mainwaring, Performance and Reward Lead Consultant at E.ON UK, to find out more about the firm’s strategy, how employees are engaging with peer-to-peer recognition, and how E.ON UK is utilising feedback tools to temperature check the effectiveness of its recognition initiatives.

“At E.ON we believe in creating a culture where everyone feels respected, valued and [has] a sense of belonging,” Mainwaring explained. “Through our inclusive culture, everyone is empowered to grow, thrive and to be the best they can. Recognition plays an intrinsic part in this. Through ‘E.ON Life’, which sets out what we stand for as an employer and what we offer our colleagues, we have created an environment of colleague-led, peer-to-peer recognition: successes are acknowledged, and are underpinned by company values and purpose.”

According to Mainwaring, recognition at E.ON UK comes in several forms. “Aside from a culture of verbal recognition, we have various recognition mechanisms which complement each other and reinforce our ethos of making colleagues feel valued at work,” she said.


‘Buzzing’ colleague-level recognition

“Our peer-to-peer value-based recognition, ‘Buzz’, enables colleagues to thank each other for their great work using e-cards, and line managers are also notified. It’s such an easy way to make sure someone gets recognition for a job well done, which is probably why it’s so popular,” Mainwaring explained.

And E.ON UK is definitely onto something: peer-to-peer recognition is a more motivating force than some might think. An article from employer solutions lawyers DavidsonMorris cited some of the benefits of peer-to-peer recognition, which included improved confidence, strengthened colleague relationships, and helping staff to feel a greater sense of belonging.


Having this collegiate style recognition in place to boost morale is great, but HR practitioners will want to track the benefits of it for the overall company, as well. “13,755 Buzzes have been sent already in the first nine months of 2022 (our workforce is c. 8,000) but our biggest spike is always December when we link e-cards to our charity partner,” Mainwaring shared. “Last year we saw an additional 11,261 Buzzes as a result of this campaign.”

E.ON UK Fact File

  • UK CEO: Michael Lewis
  • UK HQ: Coventry
  • 8,000 employees in the UK
  • E.ON UK: circa 6m customers across Residential, SME and I&C.
  • The company installed the 10 millionth smart meter to Britain's national network in February 2021.
  • E.ON was a partner in the UK’s first offshore wind farm – Blyth in Northumberland – in 2000.

We have created an environment of colleague led peer-to-peer recognition

Do you have any future plans to enhance recognition at E.ON UK?

“Recognition is constantly evolving as we adapt to new ways of working and shifting colleague needs, which affect both the types of recognition and the way it’s delivered. Recognition is definitely becoming more personalised, ‘in the moment’ and digitalised.

“A particular challenge for E.ON is the nature of its employee population. The number of colleagues working as customer services agents, in the field as meter readers or other areas such as street-lighting or EV charging installation, exceeds the number of office staff, so utilising all available colleague channels is key.

“With ESG/sustainability being so intrinsic to our purpose, we are looking at ways to make this more explicit in our recognition schemes,” she added.

- Hazel Mainwaring

Saying ‘YES’ to financial rewards

Yet, ‘Buzz’ is just one example of how recognition is done at E.ON UK. Mainwaring explained that the energy company also has its ‘YES! Awards’ which provide “on-the-spot financial rewards for colleagues who have delivered exceptional performance which meets certain criteria aligned to our values, such as putting customers first, working together or delivering an improvement or innovation. They’re signed off and acknowledged by senior management and are always really well received,” she said.

Again, this recognition is linked back to the firm’s values, but this time the praise is coming from the senior management team; something which data has shown an appetite for among employees. For example, Quantum Workplace & Bamboo HR’s Recognition in the Workplace report found that 52.2% of respondents want more recognition from their immediate manager or supervisor.

In addition to the ‘YES! Awards’, E.ON UK is also employing more traditional methods of communication to celebrate wins and reward staff. Mainwaring explained: “We also use various internal social and news channels such as Connect and Slack, through which successes and achievements are celebrated, and colleagues can post comments too.... Traditional means of recognising individual contribution via our performance management frameworks and reward mechanisms, such as annual bonus payments and performance-related pay progression, play an important role as well.”


Power to employees

The use of payments, line manager recognition and employee-led ‘shout-outs’ is certainly a well-rounded approach. Yet, E.ON UK is not resting on its laurels when it comes to reviewing and streamlining employee recognition.

“We use various colleague feedback tools such as OfficeVibe and pulse surveys to temperature check recognition around the business by asking colleagues to rate statements like, ‘My organisation encourages team members to give recognition to one another’ and, ‘If I do great work, I know that it will be recognised’,” shared Mainwaring.

A wealth of data has shown just how important it is to employees that they feel recognised at work, highlighting why regularly checking staff sentiment in this area is a good thing. 2018 Achievers data found that interesting work (74%) and recognition and rewards (69%) are top factors that keep employees in their current organisation. And if people don’t feel appreciated at work, they might feel inclined to jump ships. According to the data from Achievers, 55% of employees said they planned to switch jobs, with one of the main motivations for wanting this change being a lack of recognition and engagement at their current firm (44%).

Our recognition tools help connect our workforce, boost morale, and ultimately retain talent.

“Our recognition tools help connect our workforce, boost morale, and ultimately retain talent,” Mainwaring explained. “When employees know their efforts contribute to a cause and their hard work is noticed and appreciated, then they feel a deeper connection to the company.

“It only takes a minute to recognise a colleague or team and brighten their day. Being recognised by others, whether peers or leaders, can be meaningful for our colleagues.”

From peer-to-peer recognition, to manager-led recognition and on-the-spot rewards: each one of these mechanisms plays an important role in helping the firm to engage and retain top talent. For those wanting to create a holistic recognition strategy, they might do well to be re-energised by E.ON UK’s work in this area.

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