Breakthru Beverage Case Study

Connecting Employees Through Recognition

Increase in employee satisfaction with recognition
Manager budget usage in the first 4 months
peer-to-peer participation in the first 4 months

"If you are able to say to someone that, 'Hey, you have $50', that's real. As against, 'you have 50 points.' So i think that selecting money as the language, that made it real for people. And I think they are more likely to utilize that than if you were accumulating points."

Kermit Grant
VP of Human Resources

The Challenge

Breakthru Beverage is a leading North American alcoholic beverage wholesaler, which handles distribution of a number of leading brands, including Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, and Baileys. The company has over 7,000 employees working across different locations.

After reviewing the results of their annual engagement survey, the Canadian leadership team agreed that they needed to do more to improve employee recognition across teams at Breakthru.

Up until this point, recognition at the company was managed in-house, with little alignment across different teams and locations. According to VP of Human Resources Kermit Grant:
“We were doing recognition activities, but we were pretty much doing it on an individual market basis. The team out west would have their recognition program going on – not very structured, not very consistent. The team in Ontario, the team in the east, they had different things going. So there was nothing that was consistent across the piece.”
Another challenge was that employees had no way to recognize each other. 
“There was no way for an employee who may want to give out a shoutout to another employee for doing something that helped them out in a problem, that supported them.”
While the company was providing some budget and resources for recognition, the lack of a coherent, structured program was limiting its impact.

The Solution

How Breakthru Beverages ACE their Culture

Create a consistent recognition program across all teams


Introduce peer-to-peer recognition for all employees


Equip managers with budgets for spot recognition

Kermit worked closely with Guusto’s Customer Success team to create a program that would meet their needs.
“I worked with Emma (Wang, Guusto’s Director of Customer Success) initially, and she was great in helping to educate myself, because I've never worked with Guusto before. I think that process was quite simple and she was quite supportive in terms of taking us around the journey, helping to understand what's involved.”
Breakthru’s program combined monetary and non-monetary recognition. Managers were assigned budgets to send Guusto gifts for spot recognition while all team members were given access to Guusto’s Shoutouts feature to send non-monetary recognition to peers. This was particularly important in helping to create a real buzz about the new program across the organization.  
“That peer recognition piece, I think those have certainly created a lot of energy across the business.”