5 Companies That Have Successful Employee Recognition Programs

Exploring 5 top companies' successful employee recognition programs and their impact on engagement, productivity, and turnover.

July 8, 2024
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Companies around the world are increasingly implementing recognition programs in a bid to not only boost the morale of their employees but also to increase productivity, attract and maintain talent, and decrease employee turnover. Recognition programs can be as simple as praising an employee for a job well done or as elaborate as providing bonuses and trips for reaching company milestones.

Many companies have incorporated these programs successfully and have seen notable improvements in their overall operations and performance. This article presents five companies that have implemented effective employee recognition programs.

5 Companies With Effective Recognition Programs


Google is renowned for its innovative workplace culture and has remained a prime example of the power of employee recognition. Google’s approach to acknowledgment revolves around peer-to-peer recognition. They implemented a recognition program called gThanks which allows employees to recognize each other’s contributions through virtual thank-you notes and public acknowledgments. The approach has been effective in fostering an environment of collaboration, thus driving up productivity while maintaining a low employee turnover rate.


  • Peer Recognition: Employees can send recognition messages directly to their peers.
  • Visibility: Recognitions are displayed on a public platform, fostering a culture of appreciation.
  • Integration: The program is integrated with other internal communication tools, making it easily accessible.


  • Increased Engagement: Employees feel valued and appreciated, leading to higher engagement levels.
  • Positive Culture: The program has cultivated a positive work environment where recognition is part of daily interactions.


Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, prides itself on delivering excellent customer service. The company's recognition program reinforces this commitment. Zappos rewards its employees for going the extra mile for customers through a program known as Zollars. Employees earn Zollars, which they can redeem for various rewards, for demonstrating company values and going above and beyond their duties. This initiative encourages unique customer service approaches and creates a positive work culture where everybody feels valued.


  • Earn and Redeem: Employees earn Zollars from peers and managers, which can be redeemed for gifts, experiences, or donations to charity.
  • Value-Based: The program emphasizes core company values, ensuring that recognition aligns with organizational culture.
  • Flexible Rewards: Offers a range of rewards to cater to diverse employee preferences.


  • Alignment with Values: The program reinforces Zappos’ core values and enhances cultural alignment.
  • Employee Satisfaction: High levels of employee satisfaction and motivation are reported, contributing to low turnover rates.

The Walt Disney Company

Widely known for employee retention, The Walt Disney Company attributes its success to various elements, one of which is its well-structured recognition program. The Four Keys Fanatic recognition card allows Disney's leaders and co-workers to appreciate the staff for delivering exceptional Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. This unique approach of acknowledging and appreciating encourages employees to consistently offer exceptional service.


  • Recognition Cards: Employees receive "Applause-O-Grams" from peers and supervisors to acknowledge their efforts.
  • Service Awards: Milestone achievements, such as years of service, are celebrated with pins, gifts, and recognition events.
  • Spotlight Recognition: Exceptional performances are highlighted through internal communication channels, including newsletters and meetings.


  • Lower Turnover Rates: Employees feel appreciated, resulting in longer tenures.
  • Enhanced Customer Service: Motivated employees deliver better customer experiences, maintaining Disney's high service standards.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines uses the SWAG (Southwest Airlines Gratitude) Points program to recognize employees for their hard work and dedication. Employees earn points for exemplary performance, which they can redeem for a variety of rewards.


  • Points System: Employees earn points that can be accumulated and redeemed for merchandise, travel, and other rewards.
  • Recognition Events: Regular events and ceremonies to publicly acknowledge outstanding contributions.
  • Peer and Manager Recognition: Both peers and managers can award SWAG Points.


  • Employee Loyalty: High levels of employee loyalty and pride in the organization.
  • Operational Excellence: Recognition of outstanding performance contributes to Southwest’s operational success.

Marriott International

Marriott International utilizes a comprehensive recognition program that depends on peer-to-peer and manager-to-employee recognition. The company's Spirit to Serve program allows managers to recognize employees who provide excellent service. Additionally, Marriott has an in-house online social recognition platform, Applause, where employees can appreciate each other, further fostering camaraderie and a collaborative work environment.


  • "Awards of Excellence": Annual awards for employees who demonstrate outstanding service.
  • "Way to Go" Program: On-the-spot recognition for exceptional service, including gift cards and public acknowledgment.
  • Employee Appreciation Week: A week-long celebration with various events, activities, and rewards.


  • Higher Employee Satisfaction: Employees feel acknowledged and valued, leading to job satisfaction.
  • Customer Loyalty: Satisfied employees provide better service, enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Enhancing Company Culture Through Effective Recognition Programs

Effective recognition programs can drastically improve a company's culture, productivity, and overall profitability. The key to their success is ensuring the recognition program aligns with the company's values and mission and is tailored to employee needs. Companies that haven't adopted such programs should consider doing so for the numerous advantages they offer.

These companies demonstrate that successful recognition programs share several common elements:

  • Alignment with company values and culture
  • Peer-to-peer recognition opportunities
  • A mix of monetary and non-monetary rewards
  • Regular and consistent implementation

The companies above have enhanced employee satisfaction and engagement and have reaped the benefits of improved performance and customer service. Implementing such programs can create a thriving work environment where employees feel valued and motivated to contribute their best.

Recognizing and appreciating employees can transform your company's culture and performance. Assembly helps you implement an effective recognition program that aligns with your company values, boosts morale, and drives success. Book a demo and start celebrating your team’s achievements today!


What are the key elements of a successful employee recognition program?

A successful employee recognition program typically includes alignment with company values and culture, opportunities for peer-to-peer recognition, a mix of monetary and non-monetary rewards, and regular, consistent implementation. These elements ensure that the recognition feels genuine, is relevant to the employees, and reinforces the desired behaviors and values within the organization.

How can companies ensure their employee recognition programs are effective?

To ensure effectiveness, companies should tailor their recognition programs to meet the needs and preferences of their employees. Regularly collecting feedback and making adjustments based on this input can help. Additionally, integrating recognition into daily operations, maintaining transparency, and making the recognition process accessible and straightforward are crucial steps. Celebrating both small and significant achievements can also keep employees motivated and engaged.

What are some examples of successful employee recognition programs?

Examples of successful employee recognition programs include Google's gThanks, Zappos' Zollars, The Walt Disney Company's Four Keys Fanatic recognition cards, Southwest Airlines' SWAG Points program, and Marriott International's Spirit to Serve and Applause platforms. These programs focus on peer-to-peer recognition, align with company values, offer a range of rewards, and are integrated into the company culture, resulting in increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

How can peer-to-peer recognition enhance a company's culture?

Peer-to-peer recognition enhances a company's culture by fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect among employees. When employees are empowered to recognize each other’s contributions, it creates a positive and supportive work environment. This type of recognition can improve teamwork, boost morale, and reinforce the company's values. It also encourages employees to take ownership of the recognition process, making it a more integral and natural part of the workplace culture.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered