How To Establish a Culture of Employee Engagement and Appreciation

Employee recognition has been a cornerstone of effective management for generations, but as today’s competition for talent esc...

May 27, 2021

Employee recognition has been a cornerstone of effective management for generations, but as today’s competition for talent escalates, how organizations value their employees is more critical than ever.

As companies grow, this becomes even more of a challenge. Leaders must rethink how they choose to build a culture of appreciation that leads to an uptick in employee engagement and retention.

The data supports this as well. According to a study conducted by employee communications platform Smarp, businesses with high employee engagement are 22 percent more profitable and have 18 percent higher retention rates.

Yet, according to Achievers, an industry-leading employee engagement platform provider, only 20 percent of employees say they feel engaged at work, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. That’s a pretty clear sign that something needs to change.

Why You Need a Culture Shift

From a very early age, we want recognition from those we look up to – parents, siblings, friends, teachers. That continues to hold as we move into the workplace. Employee recognition serves to speak to this ingrained desire, retain top talent, increase employee engagement, and encourage high performance.

If you want to improve employee engagement, start by looking at your culture. A positive culture has a significant impact on employee motivation, while poor culture negatively impacts morale and employee engagement.

Three Elements to Prompt Employee Engagement

While every company, and thus every culture, is different, there are three things any organization can do to create a positive culture of engagement and support.

Promote Transparency and Communication

Creating avenues for open employee communication leads to a cycle of engagement and advocacy. Employees will buy into a culture that promotes transparency and authenticity and will be more willing to advocate for their brand.

By cultivating an open environment for employees to share their stories, you’ll also ensure they feel confident in growing their thought leadership. Whether that’s a regularly-held open forum for teams to give their input on major projects or consistent team-building activities to draw employees out of their shells, a demonstrated investment in their workplace. This investment will provide employees with a sense of pride in their work, which will help them feel invested in what they do.

Provide Support

Employees who feel supported and cared for are more engaged and want to bring their best to the business. Cultivate a culture of support by setting up internal support systems like mentoring and workshops, keeping employees available and accountable for helping one another get complex work done smoothly, and encouraging managers to schedule and prioritize activities that strengthen human connections with employees.

Not only will this build trust among employees, but by building support mechanisms into your daily operations, managers will be able to identify when employees are looking tired or withdrawn and can activate the appropriate support systems.

Express Appreciation

Expressing appreciation is arguably the most effective way to build a culture of employee engagement. A TINYpulse report found that nearly 22 percent of employees who don’t feel recognized for their hard work have been actively looking for a new job in the past few months. Building a culture of appreciation is critical to your success.

There’s no universal program that works for every organization, but there are some elements to consider when crafting an appreciation program.

Specificity and Relevancy

Recognition is more meaningful when it’s tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective. When recognizing employees, please explain what the recognition is for and why their contribution warrants this praise. Specificity encourages continued strong performance.


Accolades that arrive months after the fact aren’t nearly as meaningful as recognition that comes promptly. The longer it takes employees to get recognition for their accomplishments, the less likely employees will see the affirmations as authentic.


Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes that go well beyond cash. Instead of shelling out for a bonus or a raise, consider customized gifts, taking them out for a meal, or other acts that show employees their rewards are personalized to their interests.


Ensure that employees can see their company values them and that their contributions to the success of their team and the company matter. Knowing this connection exists is particularly vital when organizations grow and change; it helps employees build a sense of security in their value to the company, motivating them to continue their excellent work.

In addition to consistent recognition, regularly share news about how your company is striving toward your vision and explain how individual employee goals relate to that.

Final Words

When you focus on crafting a corporate culture of appreciation, support, and communication, employee engagement should naturally follow. The aim is to ensure that employees feel like they’re a part of a strong culture that gives them a sense of belonging and pride. Remember that getting your employees excited about your culture is critical to success, and prioritize crafting employee engagement and appreciation programs. After all, without great people, your company will never thrive!

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.

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Employee recognition 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! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. These one-time services start at $5,000. 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

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