Employee Recognition Programs: A Round-Up and How To Build Your Own

Traditionally, employee recognition has rewarded employees by celebrating employee of the month, years of service with the company, or monetary rewards to employees for accomplishments that contributed to overall business success. Now, successful employee recognition programs can include all of that, but they can also have so much more. Employee recognition needs to be a fundamental pillar of your company culture. Successful employee recognition programs positively impact employee engagement, increase employee satisfaction, and improve the overall employee experience.

We've written about different employee recognition examples and ways to solicit positive feedback and shared several employee recognition ideas. Today, we will talk about some of the best employee recognition programs and software platforms your organization may want to implement. Research conducted by Globoforce and the Society for Human Resources showed that, of the organizations that implemented employee recognition programs, more than half of the respondents, 68%, shared that their program positively affects retention and 56% responded that it positively impacts recruitment (56%). 

Considering the positive impact that meaningful recognition programs can have on your company's culture, it's no secret why you should consider implementing an employee recognition program.

A Round-Up of Top Employee Recognition Programs and Platforms

Before you consider creating your own employee recognition program, it's wise to look at some existing recognition and reward programs. It's essential to drive employee engagement and make your employees feel valued, which can significantly increase employee productivity.

Employee recognition programs and software platforms are used by Human Resources departments and businesses of all sizes to reward employees with public recognition, compensation, gifts, or prizes and make recognizing employees an integral part of business success. 

Recognition platforms can automate recognition and rewards for employee birthdays and anniversaries and share the recognition with the entire team. Let's look at some programs and platforms to help you find the right employee recognition program that aligns with your company values and culture.

Bonusly

Bonusly is an employee recognition program that, in addition to fun and engaging ways to recognize employees, says that they "make it easy for managers and leaders to gather, understand, and act on employee feedback with fun, lightweight surveys of all types." Their website boasts of being the "highest-rated, most-reviewed recognition and rewards solution on the market." Naturally, with an employee recognition program that believes people are the most important part of a business, we included them in this round-up.

Bonusly

source: https://bonus.ly/

Key features of Bonusly's recognition program:

We like the unique idea of peer-to-peer recognition with the ability to recognize and reward employees by giving points to one another. Bonusly provides a monthly allowance to employees specifically to promote peer recognition for other employees. They strive to make recognition fun and meaningful for everyone.

Companies who have partnered with Bonusly:

  • Hulu
  • Chobani
  • Ziprecruiter
  • Surveymonkey

Pricing:

  • Starting at $2.70/month per user, billed annually
  • $3 per user/month, billed monthly
  • Custom solutions that include volume discounts for companies with more than 99 employees.

Quantum Workplace

Quantum Workplace, from their website, described themselves as a "human resources technology provider, [who] equips workplaces with the smartest talent solutions so that they can grow and succeed." They boast of creating some of the "earliest employee engagement and performance software" and offer an employee recognition program that celebrates success in real-time, shares recognition across your organization, and provides alerts when employees have been recognized. Quantum shares that you can "tie recognition to key cores and values" by linking an employee recognition post to an individual, team, or organizational goal.

Quantum recognition report

source: https://www.quantumworkplace.com/product/employee-recognition-software

Key features:

We like the focus on linking company values to employee achievements, with the ability to provide alerts to share when an employee has received recognition.

Companies who have partnered with Quantum Workplace:

  • Orangetheory Fitness
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Getty Images
  • Fossil group

Pricing:

Contact Quantum to schedule a demo or get specific pricing information for your organization.

Assembly

Assembly describes itself as one tool for every team, offering built-in integrations to transform "time-consuming manual processes to automated workflows." Striving to put appreciation at the heart of company culture, They offer an employee recognition program that offers nominations for top performers, peer-to-peer recognition where employees can celebrate achievements, and personalized recognition in the form of gift cards and charities that are unique to each employee. Their service is completely free to businesses with less than ten employees. You don't even need to provide credit card information to get started.

Assembly employee recognition program

source: https://www.joinassembly.com/solutions/employee-recognition-rewards

What we like about Assembly's employee recognition program:

We like the automated option for things like birthdays and employee anniversaries, as well as the process for nominating top performers and customized employee rewards like gift cards or donations to specific charities.

Companies who have partnered with Assembly:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Quest Nutrition
  • StubHub

Pricing information:

  • Free, up to 10 members
  • $2.80/member, up to 50 employees (billed annually)
  • $4.50/member, unlimited employees (billed annually)
  • Custom solutions for your unique workplace are available

Blueboard

Blueboard is perhaps the most unique and interesting employee recognition platform we've found. They are toted as the "world's leading experiential rewards & recognition platform." They specialize in giving employees their choice of a "curated, experiential reward." It's safe to say this isn't the norm for employee rewards and certainly is among the most interesting and specialized employee appreciation ideas.

Blueboard Employee recognition program

source: https://www.blueboard.com/platform

What we like about Blueboard's recognition program:

What's not to love? It's a super unique, completely customizable way to recognize employees. Talk about a way to increase employee satisfaction and truly make employees feel appreciated. Blueboard steps beyond the norm of recognition methods and allows businesses to demonstrate genuine gratitude for their employees by gifting them something truly meaningful.

Companies taking advantage of the Blueboard method:

  • GoPro
  • Glassdoor
  • Shake Shack
  • Axon

Pricing:

Contact Blueboard for a demo or to get information on pricing.

Kazoo

In a passionate pursuit to make work better, Kazoo is "redefining the employee experience." They aim to help you build a culture of appreciation. Their employee recognition program allows employees to redeem Reward Points and browse the rewards catalog for whatever they are most interested in, including charitable donations. Kazoo provides trackable data by department, location, job role, or any other field from your HCM/HRIS.

Kazoo employee recognition platform

What we like about Kazoo's recognition program:

Coworkers, managers, and fellow employees can choose to recognize peers by "amplifying" recognition with high-fives, and you can track employee recognition to see how it aligns with your company culture and core values. Employee recognition awards include monetary rewards in the form of gift cards, merchandise, experiences, or charitable donations.

Companies who have partnered with Kazoo:

  • Patagonia
  • Kia
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Hitachi
  • Habitat for Humanity

Pricing:

  • $5.00/month per employee, billed annually (100-250 employees)
  • $4.25/month per employee, billed annually (250-1000 employees)
  • Custom options are available, and volume discounts apply to pricing

Nectar

Providing both top-down and peer recognition, Nectar's employee recognition platform connects with other social tools to allow you to recognize employees straight from apps like Slack or Teams. Nectar allows you to create a company or department-specific employee rewards and create "challenges" that motivate employees to do things that align with your organizational values and goals.

Nectar HR employee recognition

source: https://nectarhr.com/

What we like about Nectar's recognition program:

Everyone in your organization is able to contribute to recognition efforts, and you can set up automation for employee birthdays and years of service milestones. You can contribute to your positive company culture by participating in their awards program and allowing employees to choose from employer-branded swag, gift cards, and more.

Companies that have partnered with Nectar:

  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Heineken
  • MLB

Pricing:

  • A free monthly option with "no caps or limits."
  • $2.50/month per user billed annually or $2.75 billed monthly
  • $3.75/month per user billed annually, or $4.25 billed monthly

Guusto

Guusto understands the importance of a positive culture where employees feel valued and genuinely want to work for the organization. Their employee recognition platform includes a number of recognition programs to help you improve employee retention and increase employee engagement.

guusto employee recognition platform

source: https://guusto.com/employee-recognition

What makes Guusto's way of recognizing employees special:

Guusto offers peer-to-peer recognition, social feeds, and leaderboards to champion your employee recognition efforts. Additionally, they provide the ability to "track your team's engagement, every reward sent, taxable benefits, and core value performance in a single employee recognition platform."

Companies that utilize Guusto's employee recognition program:

  • Levi's
  • Harvard University
  • Marriott
  • Fairmont
  • Toronto Raptors

Pricing options:

  • Free single-user accounts, where you only pay for rewards
  • $1.50/member per month, $150/month billed annually
  • $2.50/member per month, $250/month billed annually

Need to boost employee engagement?

We understand that real people are at the heart of every company, big or small. If you're looking to build leaders who can increase employee engagement and retention, while prioritizing people first, we're here to help.

 Click here to learn more.


Creating An Employee Recognition Program

As you can see, the platforms available to recognize employees and the ways to inspire employees have changed dramatically over the last decade. What started as additional ways to provide recognition to make employees feel appreciated and encourage employee accomplishments has transformed into a focus on putting the employee first. Recognizing the benefits associated with employee recognition leads to an increase in employee productivity, improved employee engagement, and, therefore, higher levels of customer satisfaction. It's pretty simple: when employees feel recognized, respected, and valued, their productivity levels increase, and they are more invested in their work.

So, where do you start if you don't want to invest in an employee recognition program but want to create your own? Perhaps you have new recognition ideas and want to reward employees in a new way. Maybe your human resources team has new ideas for encouraging employees and improving employee engagement. The bottom line is that if you're looking for ideas to retain employees by creating your own recognition platform, here are some tips to get you started.

employee recognition platforms

Your Unique Recognition Strategy

Hopefully, the above recognition platforms provided you with some ideas for what may be most important to your business. However, each organization is going to have its share of unique struggles, whether that be a need to increase employee productivity to better customer satisfaction, motivate employees to prioritize organizational goals, or boost employee performance as a whole. All of these require your organization to have leaders who have the necessary hard and soft skills to encourage employees to set and achieve both personal and professional goals.

So, where do you begin when it comes to implementing an effective employee recognition program? Here are some tips for what's most important to create a successful platform focused on retaining and motivating employees.

Promote peer to peer recognition

As shared above, the most effective employee recognition programs include the ability to provide and receive peer recognition. It's essential to include an option for team members to publicly recognize fellow employees for their contribution to a project, to amplify their public recognition, or to boost them up with points that can be redeemed for rewards, gifts, monetary rewards, or experiences.

Incorporate positive feedback

Positive feedback is a critical aspect of employee recognition. If you want to improve employee engagement and have an effective platform that rewards employees, you'd better emphasize regular, constructive feedback from manager to employee and amongst colleagues.

Make it measurable

Your platform needs to have measurable employee recognition data. It must allow you to compare recognition efforts across departments over specified time periods and track the amount of employee recognition occurring throughout your organization.

Automated service awards

One of the most beneficial things of an employee recognition program is automated systems that track things like years of service and employee birthdays. This automation saves time and can be set up to provide recognition for employees throughout the year, in addition to any employee contributions that can be delivered in real-time.

Integration with internal communications

Your employee recognition program will be even more successful if you can integrate it with internal communication systems like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Office, etc. Each of your employees can receive recognition in real-time, and giving recognition can be simplified and sent as a notification to your entire team.

Determine Your Employee Recognition Objectives

Employee recognition programs aren't one-size-fits-all. Different programs are created with unique employee recognition ideas, incorporate different employee recognition ideas, and each employee recognition program has pros and cons that each organization needs to take into consideration before selecting what will work for them and their employees.

Before you decide what employee recognition program you should implement, do an honest evaluation of what's most important to your organization, and solicit employee feedback to make sure you're putting your employees first. Ask yourself, what matters most to them? What is it that motivates your employees? What will contribute to the highest levels of employee engagement? The most successful employee recognition programs are those that remember that it's your employees who keep the company running smoothly. You need to make sure they're feeling appreciated for the work they put in.

If you need to develop leaders who understand the value of employee recognition, we're here to help. Keep in mind that recent studies show that 79% of employees said that a lack of appreciation was a major reason they left their previous job. How much does an employee recognition program cost? The better question should be, how much can it cost your organization not to implement an employee recognition platform that drives business forward?

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.