🏆 Bonusly is #1 Again in the Fall G2 Report for Employee Recognition!

Build a Culture of Appreciation Using Recognition

Here’s to camaraderie, productivity, and engagement! Make it easy for your employees to participate in a positive work culture and appreciate each other. Bonusly’s peer-to-peer recognition platform offers meaningful rewards and delivers them instantly.

Improving positive work culture at 3,300+ organizations

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It drives

Employees who receive recognition feel a greater sense of accomplishment.

70% of respondents say Bonusly
improves engagement

It boosts

Recognition makes people feel valued and engaged, which increases productivity.

18% Higher productivity happens in engaged business units*
Source: Gallup

It saves
you time

Automating rewards saves time while ensuring important dates never fall through the cracks.

1.5 Average hours needed to
manage Bonusly each month

Recognition happens in 3 simple steps



An employee easily tags a peer to recognize them for accomplishments.

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Bonusly posts it publicly, which breaks down silos and lets everyone celebrate wins.

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Recipients earn points they can redeem for meaningful rewards.

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Use Bonusly Analytics to guide your teams

Bonusly’s dashboard of people analytics makes it easy to instantly understand the recognition trends happening on your team. You get an unprecedented level of visibility into the connections, participation trends, and recognition frequency across your company. Now you’re well-positioned to keep all your teams on track!

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Explore our customers’ success stories

Becky Cantieri
Chief People Officer
California, USA
Internet services

"Bonusly is core to our recognition program and a thoughtful way to connect the work of our employees to the value they deliver for our customers."

Lindsey Kampmeier
VP of People & Culture
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Restaurant technology

"Bonusly has been a GAME CHANGER. It's quickly become an essential part of our success in working as a distributed team and creating more visibility around small wins!"

Luis Jimenez
People Engagement
Headspace Health
Distributed, United States

"Bonusly Kept Us Together When We Couldn’t Be Together"

Gabi Tofani
Talent Management Lead
40 countries worldwide
Technology recruiting

"We’ve seen a 15% increase in recognition sentiment in our employee engagement survey."

Nicole Pigeon
Customer Support Services
IT Services

"Bonusly worked wonders for team morale during the fast growth and uncertainty of acquisition and the quick move to remote work during the pandemic."

Kate Ciechomski
PM Recognition & New Hire Success
Boston, MA

"Bonusly helped us increase cross-departmental recognition, which has had a major impact on collaboration throughout the company.”

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You just did something amazing at work! How do you prefer to be recognized for it? A shout-out at your company’s next all-hands meeting? Points in your employee recognition solution? A happy hour with your team?

Here’s another question: How do your team members prefer to be recognized?

At its core, employee recognition is the open acknowledgment and expressed appreciation for employees’ contributions to their organization, and it's super important to an organization's bottom line. Recognition-rich cultures have been proven to improve engagement, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. Most organizations have some sort of recognition program…but underappreciation is still a huge problem. Why?

To better understand recognition in the workplace, we partnered with online survey experts SurveyMonkey to field a study delivered on SurveyMonkey Audience. We asked over 1,500 employed adults in the United States about their impressions of recognition at their organization, what it means to them, and how they prefer to be recognized. Our findings highlight the importance of recognition, the cost of missing the mark, and the workplace appreciation gap.

Read SurveyMonkey’s sister report on the connection between recognition and the areas of retention and engagement.

Languages of appreciation in the workplace

Using the concept of “languages of appreciation,” we looked at preferences of giving and receiving appreciation in both personal and professional situations. Grounded in the same framework as the well-known Five Love Languages, the five languages of appreciation are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Gifts. Let's break it down:

  1. Words of Affirmation: Communication of positive personal sentiments Verbal recognition and written compliments work well here!
  2. Acts of Service: Expressive actions that require planning and effort. Offer to help to a coworker with their workload, clear the lunch table, or set up a meeting agenda.
  3. Quality Time: Being with someone and giving them your undivided attention. Great examples include team building activities, group lunches, and volunteering together
  4. Gifts: Something tangible that serves as a symbol of caring. Gift cards, bonuses, and coffee are stellar ideas.
  5. Physical Touch: Appropriate touch perceived as appreciation. High fives, handshakes, and fist bumpsare good examples (remember to ask first!).

For a more detailed explanation, we recommend reading The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White.

Appreciation in the workplace

When asked to choose a primary language of appreciation from colleagues and leadership, results showed a nearly equal distribution for Gifts (33%) and Words of Affirmation (32%), with Acts of Service at 25%.

Surprisingly, Quality Time was chosen by only 7% of respondents as a primary language of appreciation in the workplace. Do we already spend too much time with coworkers? 😛

That might leave you wondering if Physical Touch has a place as a language of appreciation in the workplace. While it may not be the most popular primary language of appreciation in the workplace, Physical Touch does indeed have a place when exercised appropriately.

employee appreciation bar graph

The workplace appreciation gap

This leads us to the appreciation gap. That’s the difference between how people give recognition and how people want to be given recognition.

Most respondents reported that they showed recognition to others in a similar fashion to how they preferred to receive recognition. However, there was a glaring exception: Gifts.

33% of respondents preferred to be appreciated primarily by receiving Gifts. However, only 17% of respondents chose giving Gifts as a way to show appreciation. This may be rooted in employees’ reluctance to spend their own money on colleagues. Employers can help alleviate this friction by purposefully allocating budget to provide more peer opportunities for gifts.

Expressed appropriately, Gifts as a form of recognition could be the key to leveling up your organization’s culture of appreciation. Whether it’s a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, tickets to a sports game, or a donation to a nonprofit of their choice, Gifts can be a powerful yet underutilized language of appreciation in the workplace.

employee appreciation bar graph

How much effort, even with good intention, is wasted in current ways of recognizing and appreciating each other at work?

It’s important to note that everyone views appreciation differently. As leaders and peers, we should acknowledge our own preferences while not dismissing others as insignificant. Do your best to provide tailored, personal recognition.

Appreciation by age and gender

Looking at responses by age, we found that respondents ages 18-29 were much more likely to select Quality Time as a top preference for receiving appreciation. This may be due to generational differences, or perhaps more likely, life stage differences. Camaraderie may be more important as people enter jobs and less important as they progress and focus on family and other areas.

We also found that women were more likely to primarily prefer Acts of Service as a language of appreciation. 27% of women chose Acts of Service as a primary language of appreciation while only 21% of men made the same choice.

employee appreciation bar graph

Appreciation in the workplace compared to appreciation at home

So how does appreciation from friends and family compare to appreciation in the workplace? According to our survey results, appreciation preferences at work differ quite a bit from non-professional appreciation.

We asked respondents to indicate a primary language of appreciation from friends and family. Quality Time was chosen by 50% of total respondents, and Words of Affirmation was chosen by 25%. That’s a massive preference shift in personal vs. professional appreciation, especially when it comes to Quality Time.

Rewards preferences

There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate at work! From work anniversaries to promotions to birthdays, you’re familiar with office festivities. How about celebrating a professional goal?

We asked respondents to choose a dream reward for meeting a goal at work, including:

  • An all expenses paid trip somewhere tropical with your teammates
  • A $600 gift card to the store or company of your choice
  • Dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant with the CEO of your company
  • A dedicated intern for 2 months

Respondents strongly preferred a gift card (44%) followed by a paid trip with teammates (41%).

employee appreciation bar graph

Younger respondents were more likely to choose the paid trip (an experiential reward enjoyed with colleagues) and a dinner with the CEO, while older respondents were more likely to choose the gift card.

Addressing recognition in the workplace

Employee recognition programs

As a quick review, 90% of respondents chose Gifts, Words of Affirmation, or Acts of Service as a primary workplace language of appreciation. There are many ways to recognize employees, and a well-implemented employee recognition program has far-reaching positive effects on an organization. Think about your own organization. Have you built a truly successful employee recognition and rewards program that addresses those languages?

Recognition programs like Bonusly encourage effective recognition and rewards for your team. Consider integrating recognition into your existing communication habits (email, platforms like Slack, or mobile devices) for Words of Affirmation through public peer recognition. Find an intuitive program that allows easy highlighting of Acts of Service as they happen.

Bonusly product

Finally, look for a way to incorporate tangible Gifts in the form of rewards. Bonusly has hundreds of gift card options in its rewards catalog. That means access to popular brands like Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks, Best Buy, and PayPal. Bonusly helps users make the most of travel experiences through Airbnb, Southwest, Hotels.com, and more. Users can even donate to charities or set up their own custom rewards, like having a co-founder lead a team call as a Muppet (yes, that happened).

Appreciation next steps

To take the Golden Rule one step further, we should appreciate others the way they want to be appreciated. How will you use this information to positively impact your organization? The ability to understand appreciation at work pays dividends not only professionally, but into life outside of work as well.

To help you get started, we put together this list of Truly Excellent Staff Appreciation Ideas with not only great ideas, but also the languages of appreciation each one speaks!

Plus, if you want to go a step further, learn how you can start building a recognition-rich organizational culture by touring Bonusly and joining us for a demo.

Want to learn more about the business impact of appreciation and recognition? Read SurveyMonkey’s sister report on the connection between recognition and the areas of retention and engagement.


This poll was conducted online on June 5, 2019 among a total sample of 1,511 adults age 18 and over living in the United States, employed full or part-time. Respondents for these surveys were selected from an online panel where respondents take surveys in exchange for compensation. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.


Ready to take recognition to the next level? The Guide to Modern Employee Recognition provides the foundation of knowledge you need to build and support a culture of recognition in your organization.

This article was co-written with Ben Travis.

To inspire your team is to motivate them to do their job well, enjoy what they’re doing, and feel excited about the direction of your company and their role within it. As a leader, keeping your team inspired is an important responsibility, especially during turbulent or challenging times.

Why is inspiration your responsibility?

When employees aren’t just engaged, but inspired, that’s when organizations see real breakthroughs. Inspired employees are themselves far more productive and, in turn, inspire those around them to strive for greater heights.
Eric Garton

Unfortunately, 42% of employees don’t feel their leadership is contributing to a positive company culture. And get this: there is a 70% difference in culture quality between companies with poor and fantastic team leaders. When employees are uninspired, disengaged, and unfulfilled, chances are high they’ll start looking elsewhere.

The good news is that inspiring employees doesn’t need to be daunting. Here are some fresh ideas to start with.

How leaders can inspire your teams

1. Challenge them more often

Believe it or not, your employees want to be challenged. Performing the same mundane tasks day in and day out can grow old quickly. That’s why 83% of employees who are given opportunities to take on new challenges say they’re more likely to stay with their employer.

Communicate with your employees to find out how challenged they feel. Are they struggling to meet organizational requirements? Are they reaching their own personal objectives? Do they need more demanding goals? Do they have too much on their plate?

Inspire every week: Start an intrapreneur initiative, and allow each team member time each week to work on a “passion” project related to the business. This may be work that inspires them more than their day-to-day job and could also lead to new learnings, product ideas, or even revenue streams.

Lightbulb emerging from red box

2. Rethink technical training

Many teams, especially technical ones, require recurring training—but if conducted poorly, such trainings can be anything but inspirational.

Too often I find that managers impose training on people, and people like the training, but it’s not necessarily what they need. Ask, what would you like? What would make a difference to you? If we use a retrospective from your most recent project, what do you want to improve?
–Kellye Whitney, Anatomy of a Modern Day Technical Training Course.

Re-think training opportunities by identifying topics: what does your team want to learn about, and what do they need to learn about?

Consider splitting the training into two sections: 70% hands-on and 30% theory. This format often helps teams better grasp new concepts and apply the subject matter beyond the lesson or training’s application, all while feeling more inspired to keep learning and applying their new skills.

Inspire every week: Identify training opportunities, and discuss opportunities your team can learn more each week. Keep these ideas in mind as you demo a new product feature at all-hands meetings or dive into a fresh marketing initiative.

Man looking out over books

3. Publicly recognize their work

Public employee recognition is one of the best ways to inspire your team because it has a far-reaching inspirational impact:

  • 70% percent of employees say that motivation and morale would improve 'massively' if managers said thank you more.
  • Happiness raises business productivity by 31%.
  • Recognition increases employee engagement up to 60%.
  • Companies with a “recognition-rich” culture have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than companies that don’t.

Inspiring your team with recognition also provides an important link to specific actions and their positive effects on an organization.

Inspire every week: Recognize members of your team at least once each week, whether it’s in your regular team meeting or another type of public forum.

Shining trophy

Inspire your team every week

Don’t let your team get into a rut. Use these ideas to keep employees inspired, engaged, and connected, making sure they’re challenged and feel appreciated. When your employees feel inspired, everyone wins.

What does it mean to feel welcome? While everyone has a different answer to this question, feeling welcome boils down to feeling understood—that others recognize you, empower you, and accept your place in the group.

When your organization helps employees feel welcome during onboarding, you’re creating conditions that can lead to deep emotional connections. These connections help form a foundation of trust that can improve employee engagement levels, remove barriers to collaboration, and lead employees to a long and productive tenure with your company.

--> Start here: Download the ultimate employee onboarding checklist that we use here at Bonusly!

The importance of first impressions

One of the biggest barriers to a mutual understanding is how our brains are wired to form first impressions. Research from Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov found that we form first impressions about trustworthiness, likeability, and even competence mere milliseconds after seeing someone’s face for the first time. He explained this phenomenon by noting that the brain treats first impressions like a fear response, processing it in the amygdala (threat center) instead of the frontal lobe (rational thought).

welcoming employee

In other words, the same impression mechanisms that helped our ancestors avoid leopards now lead us to avoid job candidates in leopard print.

Of course, the same mechanics determine the impressions employees form during the recruitment process. They decide whether your workplace environment is welcoming, indifferent, or hostile. These first impressions are one of the reasons that hiring is the first step to effective onboarding.

Completing the new employee welcome

Thankfully, first impressions aren’t the only impression. The first few days and weeks send a powerful message about what new employees will experience with your company—not only through the messaging of the official welcome meeting, but what they see, hear, and do during working hours. These experiences either confirm or undermine the impressions new hires form during the hiring process, and can determine the strength of your employee welcome.

This pattern becomes evident in a list of the reasons new employees quit their jobs within the first six months as found in an onboarding report from Zippia:

  • They didn't get enough training
  • The work wasn't clear
  • They felt underappreciated
  • They felt neglected
  • They felt overwhelmed

These employees accepted a job that gave them the right impression—a workplace that offered fulfilling work they were qualified to do with competent management, complete training processes, and the chance for recognition and advancement. When the onboarding process didn’t confirm these impressions, they left.

How do you avoid this outcome in your onboarding process? The first step is to understand the two types of impressions your new hires want to confirm during their first days and weeks with your company.

--> Start here: Download the ultimate employee onboarding checklist that we use here at Bonusly!

Two important impressions for your new employee welcome

Harvard Psychologist Amy Cuddy studied first impressions for more than 15 years. She found that people judge you on spectrums that she labeled warmth and competence:

  • Warmth: This impression determines how much new employees feel they can trust the people in your company, including their manager, co-workers, and company leadership.
  • Competence: This impression determines how much new employees respect the capabilities of their new company and the people in it.
employee coffee

Cuddy’s findings show that while both of these impressions are important, they also need to happen in order. An impression of warmth leads to an impression of confidence. As she put it in an interview with Business Insider:

"If someone you're trying to influence doesn't trust you, you're not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you've established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat."

Put simply, the welcome comes first. Any company can say that they’re competent. But for employees to believe that your company is competent, their experience needs match expectations. A powerful impression of warmth opens the door for your organization to continue demonstrating your competence and meet these expectations.

Employees may never have all the information on the company’s strategy, and even the best-connected company can’t fully understand all the nuances of each employee’s daily experience. However, when the company recognizes new employees’ potential and provides them with the support they need to become completely competent in their new role, it paves the way for mutual trust, improved engagement, and better results.

Here are a few strategies for creating these two key impressions in your new employee welcome:

1. Provide a warm employee welcome

Remember what it’s like

When you’ve been with a company for years, it can be hard to remember what new employees go through on their first day. There are several pieces of information your current employees take for granted that are essential to transmit to new employees to keep them from feeling like outsiders.

These include:

  • Team vocabulary terms—names of regular meetings, software programs, employee groups, conference rooms, etc.
  • Your company’s neighborhood—as you put together your welcome packet, be sure to include a guide to the local area with suggestions on nearby restaurants, cafés, banks, and gas stations.
  • An outline of the first day—guide new hires through what they’ll learn, who they’ll meet, and what they should expect to accomplish.
employee meeting

Connect with culture

Leaving a new employee with empty hours after an impressive welcome presentation is a little like creating a Potemkin Village: a good show with nothing behind it. While work can’t stop every time a new employee comes onboard, it’s important to provide time and resources for their new team to introduce your culture in full—demonstrating how you work, interact, succeed, and celebrate.

Consider the following ideas for connecting new employees with your culture:

  • Introduce your company values—reemphasize how your company lives its values during day to day operations.
  • Auto-enroll in recognition software—including a bonus from a peer-to-peer recognition program (like Bonusly) on the first day can provide a first-hand demonstration of how important recognition is to your organization.
  • Go to lunch—facilitating a team lunch with a new employee gives them time to break the ice without worrying about interrupting important work.
  • Celebrate on the company level—recognizing all new employees during a company-wide meeting, happy hour, or initiation helps broaden new employees’ connections.
employees hanging out

2. Provide a competent employee welcome

Do the prep work

A new employee won’t be enjoying the new culture or diving into new responsibilities if they’re standing at an empty desk waiting for IT to come with their computer and chair. Creating and following through on a new employee checklist removes distractions from the important trust-building activities of a new employee’s first day.

Here are some important entries on this checklist:

  • Compliance pre-boarding
  • e-Signatures collected before first day
  • Provide new hires with start time and directions
  • Workstation prep
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Internet connection
  • Computer/computer accessories
  • Software and permissions
  • Auto-enroll in recognition software
  • HRIS information
  • Confirm correct personal information
  • Provide self-service benefits information
  • Guide to financial/health benefits—invite your providers to monthly (or quarterly) meetings to give new employees expert advice on these often-complicated benefits.
  • Guide to social media—in a connected world, teaching your new employees how to represent your company on social media sets clear expectations and provides further development for your employer brand.
  • Company culture follow-up—after your new employees have experienced your culture, give them a chance to ask for any clarifications on your values or their processes

Take your time

Completing the onboarding process will take more than an employee welcome meeting on first day. New employees will need additional context to fully understand how things work in your organization, and that context comes after their first few days on the job. One software company recently expanded their onboarding process from a single meeting to four weekly meetings held throughout the first month, based on employee feedback.

employee working at desk

Consider including these in-depth topics in your long-term onboarding process:

  • Guide to financial/health benefits—invite your providers to monthly (or quarterly) meetings to give new employees expert advice on these often-complicated benefits.
  • Guide to social media—in a connected world, teaching your new employees how to represent your company on social media sets clear expectations and provides further development for your employer brand.
  • Company culture follow-up—after your new employees have experienced your culture, give them a chance to ask for any clarifications on your values or their processes

Managerial support

Throughout the onboarding process, managers need to have the time and support to provide new employees with regular one-on-one meetings. Developing open communication during this process gives employees a psychologically safe space to ask questions without feeling incompetent or that their job is at risk. Managers can also establish a pattern of performance management and verbal recognition as they continue these conversations.

 --> Start here: Download the ultimate employee onboarding checklist that we use here at Bonusly!

Make your company a welcoming place

Welcoming new employees with effective, extended onboarding processes shows them that your organization trusts and respects them. When you give new employees the knowledge, training, and recognition they need to do their best work, you confirm their positive impression of your organization, paving the way for employee engagement and success.

--> An effective, powerful way to welcome new employees is to recognize them from day one. To learn how recognition-rich cultures build connected, motivated, high-performing teams, schedule a demo with a Bonusly expert.

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