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Employee Recognition Programs Continue Upward Trend to Achieve Organizational Goals

New survey by WorldatWork and ITA Group shows 89% of organizations use recognition programs to motivate and engage workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C., May. 12, 2015 — Recognition programs can be the key to motivating employees and driving organizational results according to a new survey, "Trends in Employee Recognition" by WorldatWork and underwritten by ITA Group. WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association and leading compensation authority, conducted the February 2015 survey of its membership to measure specific types of recognition programs and the impact on the workforce.

Trends in Employee RecognitionEmployee recognition programs remain an important component in the total rewards tool kit, with 89% of organizations having programs in place and with 67% of organizations offering between three and six different programs, with 4.6 as the average number. The average number of programs appears to be trending upward to the 2011 level after dipping to 3.9 in 2013.

"In our talent driven economy, we know organizations that demonstrate employee value and embed a culture of recognition are boosting morale and motivating workers to perform at top level," said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork senior practice leader. Stanley added, "Today, as more companies are beginning to treat employees like customers, recognition plays a role in creating an atmosphere of higher engagement, motivation and overall job satisfaction."

According to the 2015 report, the top five recognition programs have remained the same since 2013: length of service (87%), above-and-beyond performance (76%), programs to motivate specific behaviors (51%), peer to peer recognition (48%) and retirement (34%). (See Figure 12.) Programs to motivate specific behavior continue to be on the rise, jumping to the third-most prevalent recognition program with a 10 percentage-point increase. (See Figure 11.)

Organizations using multiple result-driven recognition programs are experiencing the greatest success. 89% of organizations using 4 result-driven programs are achieving their recognition goals, compared to only 66% of those using only one result-driven program. (See Figure 40.) They also perceive a much more positive impact on employee engagement, motivation and retention. (See Figure 44.) "These findings truly validate our evolution from traditional employee recognition to employee well-being. Our recommendations to clients always include multiple, high-ROI, results-driven recognition programs — this provides the frequent recognition employees want and the engagement that leadership needs," said Rob Danna, vice president at ITA Group.

A few additional highlights from the 2015 survey:

  • Programs that improve biometric indices through wellness initiatives debuts as sixth on the list of top programs offered with 32% of organizations offering wellness programs. (See Figure 12.)
  • A majority of respondents believe their workforces consider recognition programs to have a positive or extremely positive effect on employee engagement (68%), motivation (62%) and satisfaction (70%), but are less confident on the perceived impact on retention (38%). (See Figure 33.)
  • The percentage of organizations that are featuring recognition in attraction efforts, or are sometimes but not always featuring these programs, has increased from 2013. Slightly more than half of organizations do not feature or market recognition (53%) as a benefit in attracting new employees. (See Figure 34.)

WorldatWork conducted similar employee recognition program surveys in 2013, 2011, 2008, 2005, 2003, 2002 and 2001.

*Figure numbers referenced are from the 2015 WorldatWork survey, "Trends in Employee Recognition."

About WorldatWork®

The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork ( is a nonprofit human resources association for professionals and organizations focused on compensation, benefits, work-life effectiveness and total rewards — strategies to attract, motivate and retain an engaged and productive workforce. WorldatWork and its affiliates provide comprehensive education, certification, research, advocacy and community, enhancing careers of professionals and, ultimately, achieving better results for the organizations they serve. WorldatWork has more than 70,000 members and subscribers worldwide; 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies employ a WorldatWork member. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork is affiliated with more than 70 local human resources associations and has offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.

About ITA Group,

ITA Group creates and manages events, incentives and recognition programs that align and motivate your people. In 2013, ITA Group celebrated 50 years of driving passion and performance in organizations. ITA Group is headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa and has operations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and the greater New York City area. Visit us at to learn more.

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