“Even when we send a small gift we get messages saying “This really made my day” - it’s proof sending gifts works.” Steph Houston, People Business Partner at Megan’s.
How to make sure your people always feel appreciated
Megan’s Restaurants are probably best known for delicious food, welcoming service and beautifully decorated locations…oh and being 100% dog friendly of course. 🐶 As if that wasn’t impressive enough, it also turns out they are leading the way in employee recognition too.
We caught up with People Business Partner, Steph Houston, to find out how Huggg helps Megan’s make sure their people always feel appreciated.
Hey Steph 👋 - thanks for speaking with us today. Can you tell us a little about the reasons why you started using Huggg?
When I started my role in 2019 I was tasked with establishing an employee recognition scheme and part of the plan was to introduce regular team gifting. We only had five restaurants at the time so sending team gifts was reasonably straightforward but, in what feels like the blink of an eye, that number grew to 17 restaurants and so the logistics became considerably more tricky.
What kind of problems did you encounter?
We were sending gift vouchers for our teams to spend online. The initial problem was I had to carry them with me and hand them out wherever I visited one of our sites. It also quickly became apparent the gift cards just weren’t having the desired effect. Whilst people were grateful to receive them, gift cards just don’t produce the joy that a physical gift does. We tried delivering physical gifts, but it was challenging logistically as team members were not always on shift when I visited their specific restaurant. It just wasn’t feasible to keep doing this as our workforce grew.
Is that when you found Huggg?
Yes. We now have over 500 team members and it’s important for us to be able to gift each and every one of them. We realised to properly implement team gifting at this scale, we were going to need some help. We did some research and decided out of all the platforms we tried, Huggg was the best fit for us.
What in particular made you choose to work with Huggg?
We found most gifting platforms to be really corporate, and that’s just not the image we want to portray as a company - especially when sending something personal like a birthday present. Huggg was the only option that felt like us and had a soul. The choice of gifts is also really important to us and Huggg ticks that box too.
That’s great to hear. What is it about our gifts that you like?
There’s just such a great selection to choose from. There are always new options being added too so we’re not stuck sending the same gifts every time. We like to send for different occasions and with the platform being super user friendly, we never struggle to find something great. Huggg’s Gifts with choice are really helpful as well.
“Most gifting platforms are really corporate. Huggg was the only option that felt like us and had a soul.” Steph Houston, People Business Partner at Megan’s.
On what occasions do you send gifts?
We like to celebrate important events like birthdays and work anniversaries* but we’re also using gifting for employee recognition too. It’s essential that all team members across our sites know we really do notice when they go above and beyond or when they do something that echoes our company’s key values. Just saying thank you goes a long way, but backing it up with a small gift makes the recipient know they really are valued and appreciated.
We certainly agree. Why do you think employee recognition is important?
As a growing business, we want to ensure everyone who works at Megan’s feels part of the positive culture we are building. Our people work hard, but we are part of an industry where you traditionally don’t get much thanks or reward. By changing this, we know we will attract the best people and they’ll want to stay with us. We want to show our teams they really are valued and recognising hard work and celebrating important occasions is crucial to this.
Do you see gifting as an important part of your employee recognition strategy?
Yes definitely. The joy and surprise someone gets when they receive a gift can’t really be replaced with anything else. The aim is for every department to be responsible for their own people and to make rewards and recognition an intrinsic part of our culture. With Huggg we can have a number of different account holders with their own budgets and we will be rolling out accounts to each of our General Managers. This will allow them to send gifts in the moment as well as for those personal moments we can plan for.
What has the response from people who have received gifts been like?
It’s always incredibly positive. We use our internal comms platform to keep in touch and even when we send something small like a coffee, we always get thank you messages along the lines of “This really made my day” - it’s proof sending gifts works.
Even when I get sent something I still get that burst of excitement and happiness so can vouch for its effectiveness.
Do you use your internal comms platform to send your gifts?
Yes we do. One of the reasons we chose Huggg was because the gifts can be sent by SMS, email or via a unique link we can easily share with our team over internal comms. The whole process of choosing and sending a gift takes moments which is great as it was important gifting didn’t take up too much of anyone's time.
You mentioned our Gifts with choice earlier. Are these a helpful option to have?
I love them.Part of what makes receiving a gift special is knowing the sender has put some thought into the present. There are occasions though where you might not know the recipient all that well and so it’s hard to send something you can be sure they’ll like. Huggg’s Gifts with choice solve this by allowing the recipient to choose from a selection of Huggg gifts. We often use this option when onboarding new starters.
That’s a great idea. Lastly, are there any features you’d like to see available in the future?
Hmmm… how about being able to send multiple gifts to one address? When we open a new site we like to send gifts for the team to celebrate so it’d be super helpful if we could do that with Huggg.
Great minds think alike Steph! We are looking to trial that very feature in the near future. Thanks for your time and watch this space.