Successful Employee Recognition Programs at the Top Ten Best Places to Work

Date: February 22, 2021
top 10 companies employee recognition

Employee recognition is one of the most effective ways to engage your team, and the companies that do it best outperform the competition.

A happy worker is a helpful worker, and while many organizations understand that conceptually, recent data suggests that worker engagement has a greater impact on the bottom line than many previously thought. 

A recent collaborative study at The Engagement Institute shows disengaged employees cost companies a total of 450 to 550 billion dollars per year.

employee recognition required for unengaged staff

To avoid that expense, these organizations have found employee recognition to be an invaluable tool in improving worker morale — and even productivity. By investing in the lives and goals of their employees and acknowledging their hard work, organizations can inspire their team to give their best, all while improving their bottom line.

Although once thought to be an expensive and time–consuming endeavor, the best employee rewards programs are often cost–effective, thoughtful ways to express appreciation. A little goes a long way in making an employee feel valued, and even the simplest gestures produce big results.

To show you what we mean, let's take a look at the Top 10 Workplaces to see what they have in common. Many of the strategies used by the best are surprisingly doable, and your company may benefit from them too. 

Successful Employee Recognition Programs at the Ten Best Places to Work

The top 10 companies are using some very similar strategies to keep their workers engaged.

  1. Cisco – 93% of employees say that this is a great place to work.
  2. DHL – 95% of employees say when you join the team, you are made to feel welcome.
  3. Hilton – 92% of employees say that their customers would rate their service as excellent.
  4. Salesforce – 95% of employees say they feel good about the ways their company contributes to the community.
  5. Stryker – 91% of employees say management is honest and ethical in its business practices.
  6. Mars, Inc. – 92% of employees say they are able to take time off as needed.
  7. The Adecco Group – 92% of employees say they are given a lot of responsibility.
  8. Mercado Libre – 96% of employees say their facilities contribute to a good working environment.
  9. SAS – 90% of employees are proud to tell others they work here.
  10. EY – 84% of employees say that when you join the company, they are made to feel welcome.

The list might look disparate at first, but it turns out it can be broken down into three very basic needs: purpose, people, and place.

Employee Need 1: Purpose

The stats that asked workers about pride in their workplace, quality of service, and degree of responsibility all point to the same employee need: purpose.

Whether it comes through communicating the company's vision during onboarding, building it into weekly evaluations, or carefully articulating the purpose and culture of the company, workers today need reinforcement that the work they do matters. As Apple founder and digital pioneer Steve Jobs said, "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work." 

Employee Recognition Strategy: Say Thank You

Fortunately, it doesn't take a costly initiative to display to your team that their work isn't for nothing. Incorporating them into town halls, allowing opportunity for feedback, and simply a thoughtful statement that their work adds value is often enough to heighten your employees' mood. A "thank you" goes a long way.

employee recognition and rewards

Not sure how to recognize your workers now that your company's gone remote? Check out these ideas on fostering purpose and culture in a digital environment.

Employee Need 2: People

Amidst all the pursuit of profit and business optimization, one simple reality can go overlooked: employees are people.

The workers putting together your expense reports and marketing strategies have goals and potential, and they're likely to give you more than you ask for if you help them unlock it. The numbers pointing to a need to feel welcome, community contribution, and schedule flexibility all point to a basic human need that all workers have — the need to be seen and valued as human.

Employee Recognition Strategy: Value the Worker, Not Just the Work

Few CEOs know employee recognition better than O2E's Brian Scudamore, who's come up with some of the best recognition programs corporations have seen. In his interview on company culture and leading from the front, Scudamore shares the employee recognition program he's most proud of: the 101 life goals list. Everyone has their bucket list, and Scudamore has encouraged his workers to think through their top life goals, so they and the company can get there together. Examples include 17 employees completing a Tough Mudder race, and paying for the first 10 swimming classes for a worker who had always wanted to learn to swim.

Perhaps helping all your employees check off their bucket list isn't feasible, but taking the time to hear out their goals and guide them toward getting there certainly is. Give them that much, and your workers are sure to feel valued.

Employee Need 3: Place

Going to the same mundane workplace and staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day isn't going to make anyone feel valued — and can even hinder creativity. An office should be a place of professionalism, but would it really be so bad if an employee had a space that made them feel welcomed? The numbers point to the need for a comfortable space, and providing one is easier than you'd think.

Employee Recognition Strategy: An Interactive Space

From game rooms to quiet places, there are plenty of ways to make your office feel more accommodating. One of Scudamore's favorite employee recognition programs isn't a program at all — he just encourages his employees to put something original to them in their office space. Not only does this make workers feel welcome, it gives his company a story to tell and a family feel — both of which make employees feel valued.

personal desk

Just Say Thank You!

Whether it's memberships or mentors, giveaways or gifts, the point to be gained from these Top 10 Workplaces is to value your employees however you can.

Chances are they're not asking for you to roll out the red carpet every time they come to work, but an occasional attaboy never hurt anyone. You can be creative with how you express your appreciation for your team members — our software gives you a variety of ways you can say thank you — but what counts is a sincere effort to show your workers you care. From a business standpoint, you'll be glad you did.

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