Case study
Giant Eagle, Inc.

Improving Engagement Through Recognition

A Forbes Top 100 Privately-owned Company leaned on Compass to rethink their employee recognition program for hundreds of retail locations and beyond.


Giant Eagle is a large, regional retailer with nearly 500 locations offering food, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and more. The organization has approximately $11 billion in annual sales and an employee count of about 32,000.


Giant Eagle’s company-wide engagement survey identified inconsistent and ineffective practices in rewarding and recognizing employees. The organization had recently adopted new core values and was putting strategic resources toward inclusion on the Great Places to Work® list. Giant Eagle engaged Compass to develop a strategy around a comprehensive rewards and recognition program.


Compass first engaged leaders in various banners, regions, distribution facilities, and stores to learn about isolated recognition programs. Compass then aligned behaviors to be rewarded to each of the core values and developed formal, informal, and on-the-spot best practices for rewarding those behaviors. The recognition emphasized peer-to-peer, employee-to-leader, and leader-to-employee options. All Giant Applause program branding, collateral, and training materials were designed and produced by Compass. A train-the-trainer program invited select employees to gain valuable presentation skills and conduct training in the pilot region of over 20 retail locations. 

The Compass team not only took the time to understand our problem, they understood our Company. Compass was not just a consulting firm but a true partner taking a vested interest in our long term success.

A. Kelly McCormick

Vice President Corporate Human Resources

Scope of Work

Reported on the current award program’s low return-on-investment and the deep need for a companywide approach. 

Developed a meaningful recognition strategy and a process to replicate the program across the organization.

Implemented the plan using several technology platforms to facilitate record-keeping and distribution of rewards. 

Trained approximately 15 trainers through this program.


By focusing on rewarding the positive versus punitive action, leaders at all levels saw a notable change in attitudes and activity. The engagement survey showed marked improvement in the category of rewards and recognition among retail employees. Giant Applause was later implemented chain-wide and at the corporate office.