About The Client

Creative Group is a global performance solution company that designs programs and experiences that inspire clients, employee and channel partners to reach their full potential.

The Challenge

Continuous measurement of the Creative Group recognition and rewards program indicated that it was time to both refresh and elevate the current program due to a change in demographics and program response from employees. The goals developed to meet this challenge were to:

  • Redesign the current program to create renewed excitement and combine its disparate programs onto a single, easy-to-use platform
  • Increase participation by 50%
  • Drive behaviors aligned with the company’s mission and strategic pathways
  • Recognize and reward employees through social recognition

The Solution

Creative Group undertook the following four-step process to develop the new, integrated program, Excelevate. Excelevate was introduced to honor employees who excel and elevate their performance to new heights. Employees were encouraged to become the face of excellence, and also reward someone who exhibits excellence.


The needs of the program were assessed and further understanding was gathered through employee focus groups. We then set objectives to meet the needs that incorporated the employee feedback.

Reward Design

We created award categories for Leadership, Innovation, Peer-to-Peer, and progress toward corporate goals. The internet-based tool provided immediate acknowledgment of award submissions both to the submitting employee and award recipient, as well as to their supervisor. Recipients received custom e-cards providing recognition details as well as notice of the post on the “Faces of Excellence” social wall where all employees could see the posting and “comment/like”.

Two types of incentives could be earned, non-monetary and monetary. Non-monetary rewards were “grats” or paid time off in varying increments. Monetary rewards were reloadable, co-branded, and personalized Reward Discover cards that could be used at over 200 merchants.

Communication & Training

Pre-launch teaser campaign:

  • Employees were asked to submit “selfies” which were used to create the “Faces of Excellence” website
  • Static clings placed throughout the offices as teasers
  • Hand-held mirrors with the copy “Be the Face of Excellence” were placed on employees’ desks


  • Launched at an all-employee meeting
  • Employee Training program was communicated
  • Distribution of pre-loaded Excelevate Reward Discover card


  • Excelevate training classes were held with every employee
  • Virtual and In-person training

Continuous Communication:

  • Excelevate drink coasters placed on employees’ desks
  • Magnetic postcards/photo hangers with details about each award category as reminders
  • Weekly CEO Update newsletter containing updates and recognition highlights
  • Pushout email to employees containing current weeks’ recognition

Measurement & Analysis

Creative Group conducted ongoing analysis and refinement of the recognition platform. Evaluation surveys were sent out and there was a quarterly review of usage reports. Annual feedback and reporting results were also analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness and engagement levels.

The Outcome

The Excelevate program received an outstanding reception by employees, who became more closely aligned with the company’s mission and strategic pathways as a result. Employees were more easily recognized for their contributions to the business and saw the contributions that others were making. The following results were achieved in the first year because of increased employee engagement.

  • 92.4% of employees were participating (more than double the previous year)
  • Employees submitted entries in all of the award categories except one
  • Employees submitted 1,871 total entries vs. 457 entries for the prior 12 months of the previous incentive program.
  • Creative Group had the best sales year in history
  • More positive customer metrics related to service delivery

Best of all, the company saw its best sales year in history with positive customer metrics related to delivery, which is closely attributed to the positive reinforcement the Excelevate program delivered. The program was also the recipient of the Incentive Marketing Association Circle of Excellence, Motivation Masters, and Wisconsin 75 People awards.


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Creating the Face of Excellence

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