EBG’s Corporate Programs Division, including Plum Benefits, TicketsatWork and Working Advantage designed a study about employee recognition programs to discover the impact these programs have on employees and workplace culture.  The survey was fielded among 2,120 HR professionals who utilize EBG’s corporate travel and entertainment benefits programs. Respondents represent employers across 38 industries ranging from small businesses to large corporations.

Throughout this report, results have been broken out by companies that do and do not have rewards programs.

Summary of key findings:  

Value of Recognition Programs:

  • 94 percent of HR professionals believe that employee recognition programs help to engage, motivate, recruit and retain employees. However, that number peaked to 97 percent among companies that do have a program.
  • 61 percent of respondents currently provide an employee recognition program. Of the 39 percent of respondents who do not currently provide a recognition program, more than half would consider implementing such a program within the next year.
  • HR reports that employees enrolled in a recognition program are 40 percent more engaged as compared to those who are not.
  • Regardless of whether or not their organization has a recognition program, two thirds of employers place high priority on rewarding employees – rating it an 8, 9 or 10 out of 10.
  • 88 percent of HR professionals stated that their employee recognition programs are closely tied to the organization’s overall values.

Financial Commitment to Recognition Programs:

  • Companies are investing financially in employee recognition programs: Two thirds of companies with recognition programs devote more than $50 per employee annually to awards, with 39 percent devoting more than $100.

Purpose of Recognition Programs:

  • Top reasons identified for rewarding and recognizing employees:
  1. Tenure (86 percent)
  2. Performance (63 percent)
  3. Life celebrations (53 percent)
  4. Retirement (44 percent)
  5. Wellness initiatives (41 percent)
  • The survey also revealed that smaller-sized companies tend to place more emphasis on life celebrations and holiday gifting, whereas medium to large-sized companies focus more on wellness initiatives and peer-to-peer recognition.
  • The survey uncovered that the top five goals of recognizing and rewarding employees are to:
    1. Make employees feel valued (90 percent)
    2. Create a positive work environment (81 percent)
    3. Recognize years of service (78 percent)
    4. Increase employee happiness (73 percent)
    5. Support the organization’s mission and values (65 percent)
  • Based on top goals of recognition programs, it was unsurprising to discover that employers prefer both a personal and shared experience when presenting rewards to employees. The top methods of award presentation are:
    1. Staff or companywide meeting (68 percent)
    2. One-on-one with manager (60 percent)
    3. Email announcement (55 percent)

Employee perception of recognition programs:

  • 65 percent of HR professionals believe that employees feel the program has room for improvement.
  • At 81 percent, HR professionals acknowledged that employees find gift certificates to be the most valued reward followed by dining certificates (41 percent) and movie tickets (35 percent).

Challenges with recognition programs:

  • Companies with recognition programs: 50 percent of HR professionals reported that they have experienced challenges or frustrations with rewards providers on the market noting too expensive, poor quality reward choices and difficult implementation as top challenges.
  • Companies without recognition programs: These employers noted limited resources (57 percent), cost (57 percent) and time (49 percent) as top challenges inhibiting them from implementing a program that rewards and recognizes employees.
  • Smaller companies in particular find the process daunting indicating that they don’t know the options or where to start.
  • Overall, HR professionals are looking for the following in a rewards program:
    • Broader choice of good quality rewards products that include some lower cost options
    • Saves time and resources
    • Cost effective
    • Easy to implement and manage

*Numbers may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding or participant had option to select all that applied.