by Alex Palmer | January 31, 2012
When snack food companies Snyder’s of Hanover and Lance Inc. merged about a year ago, forming Snyder’s-Lance Inc., one of the first challenges for the new company was to integrate its recognition program. Working with TharpeRobbins, the company not only streamlined its service incentives, it helped enhance engagement with the new brand throughout the company.

Each side of the company had been offering a traditional program, each with its own vendor, in which associates were recognized every five years for their service with framed certificates, letters of congratulations from the CEO or chairman, and their choice of catalog rewards. 

While the programs were popular, each part of the company had slightly different approaches. In addition to the five-year awards, one of the merging companies also offered three-year anniversaries, which included the presentation of a fine pen to the honoree; both companies offered separate programs for their Canadian and American associates.

The company leadership wanted them to be streamlined under one overall legacy program and to seek ways to more deeply personalize it and connect it back to the newly merged company’s branding. Chris Ceravalo, taking on the title of director of HR strategic initiatives, was charged with devising this new program.

“The objective was to design a single program for both U.S. and Canadian associates that utilized current best practices in service award recognition to deliver to employees merchandise awards at a level that was consistent or better than the previous Snyder’s of Hanover and Lance programs, but at a reduced combined cost going forward,” says Ceravalo. 

As the new program was being developed, Ceravalo tapped a new employee recognition vendor for the company, TharpeRobbins, which worked to enhance the program to appeal to all the sales associates. Working with TharpeRobbins, Snyder’s-Lance developed a program with specific award choices for each five-year service milestone. 

Using benchmark data that ensured that the Snyder’s-Lance program was competitive with other legacy programs, TharpeRobbins worked with its vendors to ensure it was sourcing new merchandise for each level that had not previously been available. Associates were now also allowed to select from lower levels if they desired.

“Recently merged companies present a unique challenge in that you must design a solution that supports the new company direction and initiatives while still respecting the histories and cultures of both previous organizations,” says Brett Tharpe, president and CEO of TharpeRobbins. “Creative designs, communications, and program specifications must reinforce and promote the new, stronger organization.”

To emphasize the changes made to the program, presentation materials were overhauled in order to brand the new program with the new organization. A new logo and the tagline “People Make the Difference” were attached to all program communications and presentation materials. The disposable presentation box that had been used was replaced by a reusable one, along with a new Lucite frame to hold the recognition certificate.

In addition to the five-year increments, Snyder’s-Lance also sought to welcome new associates under the program, as well. A new one-year anniversary program was launched, rewarding each new team member with a small gift. TharpeRobbins then removed cash options from the awards, allowing them to be non-taxable.

Using various media, including email, quarterly videos from the company president, and town hall meetings, the company has been able to generate additional excitement around the program. To ensure consistent presentations throughout the company, a checklist was now included for managers to follow when they award associates.

“A great program design would mean nothing if associates didn’t feel valued through the process,” says Ceravalo. 

Administrative aspects of the program were also streamlined. While before, awards were shipped sometimes months ahead of the actual milestone date, leading to early presentations or misplaced materials, TharpeRobbins worked with the company to shift to a regular monthly schedule that has eliminated these problems almost completely.

By all accounts, the refreshed program has been a huge success, garnering enormously positive reviews from the employees and eliminating many of the administrative challenges of past years. Even better, the new service program has served as the foundation for a broader rebranding effort internally at Snyder’s-Lance. 

“Our new logo has become embedded within our culture as the symbol of recognition for more than just service awards and is at the heart of our winning spirit,” says Ceravalo. “What began as a project to redesign our service award program has turned into the beginning of a companywide recognition platform at Snyder’s-Lance that we continue to develop today.”