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12 Companies with Best Employee Recognition Programs That are Winning Hearts

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

12 Companies with Best Employee Recognition Programs That are Winning Hearts

So, what makes a company "Great Place to Work”-certified? It’s the gold standard that’s set on parameters used to evaluate employee experience and culture. This in turn is shaped by the employee's happiness and satisfaction at the workplace. Based on this Deloitte survey, while three-quarters of people are satisfied with a simple “thank you” for their efforts daily at the workplace, recognition for good work highly impacts employee engagement and directly correlates with job performance. 

Companies with best employee recognition programs realize the potential of creating meaningful and personalized relationships with their employees. This goes a long way in building a positive work culture and empowered workforce that's set for success. Let’s dive in to see which companies are acing the game with employee reward and recognition programs and keeping their employees happy.

1. What Is An Employee Recognition Program?

An employee recognition program is a formally structured framework of initiatives designed to acknowledge and reward your employees’ contributions at the workplace. Organizations can tailor these programs based on company values, objectives, and business goals to engage and motivate employees regularly. 

The main aim of any employee recognition program is to motivate employees and build a more positive work culture through recognized employees. As humans, we all need validation occasionally to feel appreciated and to know our actions are going in the right direction. 

2. Top Companies With Best Employee Recognition Programs

2.1. Apple 

Apple’s employee recognition program is all about performance. Employees earn rewards not just based on their own performance, but also depending on the financial performance of the company as a whole. The three parameters that everyone is measured on are innovation, results, and teamwork.

Their employee reward and recognition programs provide - 

  • Cash bonuses and stock 
  • Perks like free or discounted products 
  • Time off.
  • Awards based on the time spent at the company 

2.2. Sorry, I was on Mute

Our way of showing employees that we care is a little different. We do it through our sister site Hooray Teams. This fun virtual team building platform offers a wide plethora of engaging hosted games, workshops, and activities for our employees. Based on the employees' performance we give them the opportunity to pick the activity for the entire team. 

Some of our favorites that are part of our best employee rewards programs include; Murder at the Manor for true crime aficionados, Cooking Pasta at home for people wanting to try something new, and a bevy of escape room options for the thrill seekers in our team.

2.3. DHL

DHL is one of the companies with the best employee recognition programs. It has an excellent lineup of engagement initiatives to ensure a happy and motivated workforce. DHL’s employee recognition program also stands out from the rest as it has many components that cater to the remote workforce as well. This allows employees to participate no matter where they are.

Features of their corporate employee recognition programs are - 

  • Employee Appreciation Week: Annual global program of events with a themed focus.
  • Employee of the Quarter/Year Program: Recognizing outstanding team members and broadcasting their accomplishments.
  • Virtual Employee Appreciation Week: Online events featuring interactive sessions and classes.

2.4. Salesforce

On top of our list of the companies with best employee recognition programs is Salesforce who promotes “Aloha”, a positive work culture based on wellness, customer success, innovation, winning as a team, fun, and giving back. The cloud computing organization’s motto is to ensure that the organization is a fun place to work. 

  • Free snacks and beverages as part of their workplace recognition program. 
  • An Internal recognition platform called “Thanks for the Win” (TFW). This platform allows Employees to award each other “points,” which they can redeem for prizes.

2.5. Google

Another popular choice in companies with the best employee recognition programs is Google’s employee rewards and recognition initiative. With a thanks-centric focus, all its efforts are directed toward making employees feel more valued through peer-to-peer recognitions. Co-workers can recognize good work and nominate their colleagues for a bonus program. 

All in all, they have four kinds of employee recognition programs - 

  • Spot Bonus Program: Allow managers to award employees in their project team with a monetary or non-monetary reward 
  • No Name Program: Designed for teams to be rewarded as a collective by executives. 
  • Peer Bonus: Employees can nominate each other for this reward 
  • Kudos: A peer-to-peer recognition program that lets co-workers send each other “Kudos” for a job well done. As they collect “Kudos,” they can then pick rewards from a virtual catalog.

2.6. Nike

As one of the companies with the best employee recognition programs, Nike has to make it to our list. This global sports brand has a dynamic employee recognition program that’s designed to ensure their employees stay motivated and happy. By providing attractive compensation packages that offer family coverage as part of their employee award programs, the organization promotes its value of focus on employee well-being.

  • In-house discounts for products
  • Tuition fee reimbursement
  • Paid sabbaticals
  • Nike’s online employee-formed platform, “NikeUNITED” is designed to provide plenty of leadership and development opportunities to its diverse range of employees.

2.7. Gorilla Glue Company

The Gorilla Glue Company values lie in strength, loyalty, and innovation. Their ‘People Committee’ employee recognition initiatives are excellently designed to provide the right work culture for employees. With a focus on creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to open and frank communication.

Their employee recognition program includes - 

  • Team-building activities
  • Open-ended group discussion
  • Cross-divisional outings. 

2.8. Disney


Disney has over 180 employee recognition programs making it part of some global companies with best employee recognition programs. This legacy company has thousands of employees but has managed to maintain a culture of employee recognition for years.

Some of their most famous employee reward and recognition programs are -

  • Disney Legacy Awards: Employees are nominated by their peers for the award. The winners receive a miniature version of the statue in the Legacy Plaza as a plaque.
  • Disney Legends: The recipients of this reward have their handprints showcased in the Legends Plaza of Disney Studio.   
  • Cast Compliment: In this digital age, anyone can send appreciation to the Disney Cast members with the help of the #CastCompliment. These cast members are then considered for rewards by the leaders at Disney.
  • Spirit of Fred: Named after a long-term employee, this reward is handed out to those who imbue the company values of friendliness and dependability

2.9. Deloitte

Ranked as one the “Most Attractive Employers” in the world in 2020, by Universum, a global employer branding firm, Deloitte knows how to engage and keep its employees happy. The company has a dedicated platform that’s designed to recognize and reward great work that employees have done in different roles. 

  • Leave options 
  • Gifts for professional and personal milestones such as wedding leaves and curated baby gift baskets
  • Service awards

2.10. ALKU

ALKU, a specialized consulting firm has implemented an employee recognition program known as the “Corporate Cup Program,’. This corporate recognition program acknowledges and awards employees who have gone the extra mile while working remotely.

  • Employee recognition award programs
  • A branded ‘T-Shirt Program’ that facilitates peer-to-peer recognition for employees who have imbibed and actioned the company values and principles. These T-shirts have inspiring printed hashtags such as #BeAPro, #PitchYourNiche, and #FollowMyLead.  
  • Another initiative is the ALKU Stimulus Package’ that celebrates and honors top-performing remote working employees.

2.11. Cisco

Voted as one of the world’s best employers on the 2020 Forbes’ list, Cisco has implemented several employee recognition programs that easily make it one of the companies with best employee recognition programs.  All of their programs are designed to ensure long-term commitment to the company which is beneficial for both employees and employers.

  • Connected Recognition Program: Peer-to-peer reward and recognition program allowing employees to nominate coworkers for cash prizes based on exemplary work.
  • Stock Purchase Option: Employees have the option to purchase Cisco stock using up to 10% of their salary to secure their long-term plans.
  • Milestone Commemoration: Celebrating milestones such as first and fifth years with prizes or experiences chosen by the employee.
  • Paid Time Off for Birthdays: Providing paid time off to employees on their birthdays.
  • Discounted Programs: Offering discounted programs for employees globally.
  • Reimbursements for Education: Reimbursing tuition fees, lab fees, and course books from accredited institutes.
  • Team Outings: Organizing outings for teams to foster camaraderie and teamwork.
  • Mind Creativity Initiatives: Supporting initiatives aimed at promoting creativity and innovation among employees.

2.12. Zappos


Zappos, an online retailer’s employee recognition program promotes peer recognition in a unique manner. As a matter of fact, their management style is often even considered polarizing in today's market. 

  • Zollars: Employees can earn internal currency, Zollars, by answering training questions or volunteering. These can then be spent on various items available through an internal company store.
  • Coworker Bonus Program: Employees (Zapponians) can nominate each other for performing well, with recipients receiving a $50 coworker bonus per month. 
  • HERO Award: Recipients, chosen by Zappos' leadership team, receive a $150 Zappos gift card and a cape.

You can also explore our article on how to craft a standout employee of the month recognition letter.

If you are looking for ways to elevate your workplace with employee appreciation programs, dive into our articles featuring the best employee recognition ideas and motivational quotes for employee appreciation to inspire your hardworking team.

Once you’ve taken a look at these examples of how other companies are approaching employee recognition, you might be interested in discovering how you can improve engagement at your business with your own employee appreciation program

Alternatively, find out how to boost morale with no-cost appreciation ideas, and recognition strategies for large companies, as well as employee of the month recognition letters. There are also a number of other ways you can motivate your staff, including through travel incentives, corporate wellness initiatives, and acknowledging employment milestones.

3. FAQs

3.1. What is the best reward for employee recognition?

The best reward to recognize an employee need not be limited to a monetary raise. Employee recognition programs that work include awards, social media shoutouts, paid incentives for travel or meals, or also discounted prices of products and subscriptions.

3.2. What companies use reward systems?

Companies who are looking to build a positive culture for the organization and invest in their employees as long-term assets for the company’s sustainable growth use corporate rewards and recognition programs.

3.3. How effective are employee recognition programs?

Companies with best employee recognition programs are those who have seen a direct correlation between employee recognition and productivity at the workplace

3.4. What are the top 3 companies that come to mind when you think of an employee recognition program?

Disney, Zappos and Cisco are some companies with best employee recognition programs. For a more comprehensive list of employee recognition programs ideas take a look at our article above.

3.5. What are the types of employee recognition programs?

Some types of corporate employee recognition programs are years of service awards, employee appreciation events, peer-peer reward and recognition program, weekly shoutouts on social media and internal company announcements.

3.6. What are the best recognition programs for employees?

The best  employee recognition programs include employee awards programs, peer recognition initiatives, spot bonuses, appreciation events, flexible work arrangements, and personalized recognition.

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