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In a competitive job market, employees are paying attention to the little things that can help improve their day-to-day experience.

While many employees have a recognition program at work, 42% do not or aren’t sure if their company has one. The right program can impact satisfaction and retention, making sure employees feel valued, acknowledged and motivated — and help companies stand out in a crowded field. 

77% of employees said they would be more likely to recognize others if their company had a specific platform to do so. This represents a 9% increase from the previous year — possibly a reaction to fewer opportunities for in-person acknowledgment. 

Recognition is essential to an employee’s understanding that they — and their contributions — are valued. When employees receive sincere and specific praise from colleagues, managers and their company, it can lead to better results for the business.


  • 95% of employees said that being rewarded by their company impacts their job satisfaction. 
  • 60% of employees say recognition is more important now than it was prior to COVID. 

How can employers ensure they have the right recognition program in place? 

Make it Personal 

Even with widespread work-from-home measures, in-person was the most preferred, and most commonly given, non-monetary acknowledgment across all categories (peer to peer, departmental, and corporate).

Make it Impactful 

Among monetary recognition, money added to their paycheck, gift cards, and additional paid time off are the most preferred rewards. Gift card preferences:

  • Physical 42% 
  • Digital 31% 
  • No preference 27% 

Empower Peer-to-Peer 

An effective platform should enable positive feedback from colleagues as well as department heads and from the corporate level. 

Just over half of employees have received recognition from their peers. This praise is sought-after by employees, who prefer to be recognized at least a few times a year by their peers. 

Visa® gift cards are the most desired monetary reward for the peer-to-peer category.

Drive Departmental Recognition 

Employees unanimously agree — being recognized by their department has an impact on their job satisfaction. However, there is a gap between how often employees seek to be recognized and how often they actually are. 

  • Although most employees would prefer to be recognized by their department monthly or more, nearly a third are receiving recognition only a few times a year, or even less. 
  • The most preferred forms of departmental recognition are flexible monetary rewards such as paycheck bonuses or Visa gift cards. 

Corporate Recognition Makes a Difference 

Nearly half of employees report feeling more valued at their company when being recognized at the corporate level. 

  • 28% would like to receive recognition at least a few times a year 
  • 20% are actually receiving desired recognition at that frequency 

Most valuable recognition from the company: 

  • 29% Money added to paycheck 
  • 19% Gift cards 
  • 14% Additional time off

Employees pay attention to the full picture when considering new prospects — including recognition programs. When present at all levels, recognition programs can improve business outcomes and promote a positive workplace culture. 

“A company that pushes a community based off respect and caring will keep the employees that will dedicate themselves to that company.” 

— Customer Service Operations Supervisor

Survey conducted May 17-24, 2021 920 US Panel