Topic: Employee Recognition


How Recognition Can Help You Be an Employer of Choice

Insights from

Updated on 

February 12, 2024

Becoming an employer of choice earns companies placement on prestigious lists like Great Place to Work, Best Companies to Work For, and People’s Companies that Care. It is the result of creating a workplace culture that attracts and retains top talent and enables all employees to thrive at work.

While there are many characteristics that lead to an organization becoming an employer of choice, employee recognition is an important one. Continue on to learn how recognition can help you become an employer of choice.

O.C. Tanner is proud to have 30 clients on the current Fortune 100 Best Places to Work For® list.

What is an employer of choice?

An employer of choice is an organization that stands out from other potential employers because of its great employee experience, benefits, and company culture. It’s a company that draws qualified and excited candidates because of its stellar reputation as a great place to work.

You don’t have to have extravagant perks to become an employer of choice. Providing employees with things like purpose, opportunity, and appreciation can make a big difference.

Why does an organization want to be an employer of choice?

The top benefit of becoming an employer of choice is finding and keeping employees in a competitive labor market. It’s easier to attract and retain top talent when potential employees seek your organization out for employment because of your great work culture and your stellar employer brand.

As an added benefit, when employees are happier at work you’ll see higher employee engagement and productivity, which leads to better business outcomes and long-term growth as you retain talented employees.

What makes a company an employer of choice?

Many organizations focus on 3 things in their quest to become an employer of choice: perks and benefits, the employee experience, and workplace culture.

  1. Having comprehensive benefits packages (health insurance, paid time off, family care benefits, retirement, etc.) is crucial to becoming an employer of choice.
  2. Day to day employee experiences are important too—companies should offer employees development opportunities, a caring working environment, and flexible working hours to promote work life balance.
  3. To maintain an employer of choice reputation, you’ll need to create a workplace culture that provides employees with what they need to thrive at work. This means strengthening 6 essential elements that determine employee decisions to join, engage with, and stay with an organization. We call these Talent Magnets.
O.C. Tanner’s Talent Magnets that attract top employees to an organization: Purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing and leadership.

1. Purpose.

Helping employees feel connected to the organization’s purpose and understand how their jobs contribute to it.

2. Opportunity.

Giving employees the chance to develop new skills, contribute to meaningful work, feel challenged, have a voice, and grow.

3. Success.

Enabling employees to find success at the individual, team, and organizational levels, and be publicly celebrated.

4. Appreciation.

Recognizing and appreciating employees for their efforts, contributions, and great work.

5. Wellbeing.

Caring about the employee as a whole—their physical, emotional, social, and financial health—and helping them feel included, connected, and balanced.

6. Leadership.

Providing mentoring, coaching, and inspiration that allow employees to succeed.

By strengthening these Talent Magnets, organizations can create cultures where employees are connected and find fulfillment at work. These are the types of cultures where all employees, especially top talent, want to work.

“Employers of choice provide feedback to employees about their performance…regularly. One of the most powerful forms of feedback is employee recognition. For an employer of choice, recognition is regular, targeted to real successes, and used to reinforce positive, desired behavior.”
Great Place to Work

What role does employee recognition play in becoming an employer of choice?

Employee recognition can help with becoming an employer of choice because all employees want to feel seen, valued, and appreciated.

A whopping 79% of employees leave because they don’t feel appreciated but companies with recognition programs see 31% lower turnover than companies without.

Organizations that do recognition well will have no difficulty attracting, engaging, and retaining talent.

Recognition also helps bolster all six Talent Magnets:

  1. Shows how an employee’s contribution and accomplishment furthers your organization’s purpose (improves purpose 7x)
  2. Demonstrates how employees have grown in their skills and abilities (strengthens opportunity almost 13x)
  3. Showcases employees’ individual successes (improves success close to 14x)
  4. Builds belonging, inclusion, and connects employees to their teams and the organization (increases wellbeing 2x)
  5. Communicates peer, leader, and organizational appreciation (increases appreciation 7x)
  6. Strengthens connection to leaders when leaders give recognition (improves leadership almost 10x)

What does effective employee recognition look like?

Effective recognition is frequent, personal, and integrated into the employee experience.

Highly integrated recognition increases the odds of:

  • High engagement (+784%)
  • Thriving culture (+648%)
  • Employee attrition (–29%)
  • Employee burnout (–80%)
  • Promoters on the eNPS scale (+95%)
  • Feeling belonging (13x) and inclusion (4x)

When recognition is integrated into your company culture, total rewards benefits package, and the everyday part of the employee experience, it is a powerful strategy to help your organization become an employer of choice.

“[Recognition] is the greatest retention tool in the world.” —Russell F. Cox, President and CEO, Norton Healthcare

Whether you have a simple employee recognition software or a more robust employee recognition program like O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud, regular recognition communicates to team members that:

  • The organization cares about employees
  • Employees are doing great work
  • What they do matters
  • Each individual employee belongs at your organization

Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization that prioritizes this?

Effective employee recognition:

  • Recognizes a variety of accomplishments, from extra effort to above and beyond work to celebrations for a work anniversary
  • Has senior leader support and the appropriate amount of resources
  • Includes a variety of tools, ways, and reasons to recognize
  • Empowers all employees to give and receive recognition
  • Is integrated into workplace culture and the everyday employee experience

Examples of employers of choice

Here are some examples of companies whose employee recognition efforts make them an employer of choice and help them land on the Best Place to Work list, year after year.

Capital One

Capital One successfully integrates recognition into their employees’ everyday experiences and flow of work. By doing so, they merge technology with humanity to build belonging and fulfillment for their people.

“The power of recognition and appreciation can impact engagement. It impacts attrition, it impacts net promoter score. There is a business return when you do it the right way.” —Kelley Lynch, HR Director, Capital One


KPMG uses recognition and practical empathy to help employees feel and do their best at work. They promote empathetic work practices and appreciation to build a culture where employees find achievement, mastery, purpose, and fulfillment.

Dow Chemical

Dow uses recognition to build a workplace culture known for attracting and retaining the best talent in the world. They continue to win the loyalty and innovation of employees across the globe, despite an ever-changing and evolving talent landscape.

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)

Service is at the heart of everything NFCU does, including employee recognition. When  employees recognize one another, it creates a strong culture that lifts all team members up and connects them to the company’s mission.

“Celebrate You is just one of the many ways we recognize our employees for how well they serve each other and our members. You can see just how strong Navy Federal’s culture is by the way our team members lift each other up and seeing that puts a smile on my face.”
Holly Kortright, Chief Human Resources Officer, Navy Federal Credit Union

Find a recognition partner to help you become an employer of choice

related Resources

The Power of Employee Rewards: Strategies To Motivate and Retain Your Employees

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6 Reasons To Choose O.C. Tanner for Employee Recognition (in the Words of Our Clients)

Transform your company culture and recognition strategy by choosing O.C. Tanner, the most experienced employee recognition partner in the industry.

Bring Recognition to Life with Internal Recognition Champions

See how recognition champions build momentum and make recognition part of your culture. Learn how to create an impactful champion network.

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