Topic: Employee Recognition


How 5 Large Companies Build Community through Recognition

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Updated on 

May 22, 2024






Employee recognition is a cornerstone of work culture. As the competition for talent escalates, and employees increasingly keep their options open, making sure your people feel valued is more vital than ever.

Strategic employee recognition is now one of the most relevant tools to motivate, engage, and maintain your workforce. Everyone’s life work is the work of a life. And individuals need to feel valued for the days, weeks, and years they contribute to an organization.

But how do you show someone you care? Especially at work?

Here are the stories of 5 top companies and how they intentionally use employee recognition to connect with their people, improve fulfillment, and build outstanding work communities.

Capital One

Capital One knew they wanted to synthesize data, technology, and humanity in their company’s recognition efforts.

The company took an inventory of all their associate recognition programs and gathered feedback from business units to learn best practices and what they needed. Armed with concrete data, the team crafted a recognition strategy specific to their people.

Capital One worked with O.C. Tanner to create ONEderful, a recognition program powered by Culture Cloud and personalized research from their company.

“It’s such a good partnership,” says the HR Director. “Both our companies have gone through this transformation to think not just about a specific technology, but what is the recognition experience we want to create? How do we make it an experience for our associates? We bounce ideas off each other, we often test things … it’s a true partnership.”


When ONEderful launched, it gave associates the ability to recognize each other for all types of great work. It consolidated the number of recognition programs and provided a consistent recognition experience in one platform.

The program is designed to meet employees where they are. It integrates with multiple platforms to ensure it’s easy to use and people can recognize seamlessly when great work happens.


A high percentage of Capital One employees are using ONEderful, fueling success for associates and impacting their culture to drive business outcomes:

  • 75% of associates in 145 different business units have been recognized through the program.
  • Continued uptick in recognition, especially peer-to-peer.
  • Recognition is given more consistently, and business units are now using ONEderful for all their individual recognition programs.
  • Associates are feeling more motivated to contribute to the success of the company.
“Part of why it’s so important that we weave recognition and appreciation into the fabric of our culture and elevate the importance of its impact is because now, more than ever, we understand that recognition, just like compensation and benefits, is a fundamental part of the associates’ experience at work.”
—Nick Rosenthal, Senior Associate in HR Compensation, Capital One

Today, a whopping 94% of employees say Capital One is a great place to work. They are #3 in Fortune Best Workplaces in Financial Services 2022 and #10 in Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2022.

This level of excellence doesn’t happen overnight. Capital One consciously cultivates a culture of fulfillment and community built on recognition and appreciation for their people.

American Airlines

American Airlines knows a thing or two about journeys. With more than 100,000 employees and flights all over the globe, they take care of people, especially through times of adversity and uncertainty.

American had several recognition programs but wanted to expand their efforts and make recognition more accessible to a team dispersed all over the world.

American partnered with O.C. Tanner to create an improved recognition platform that would encompass the many types of recognition they needed to implement across their diverse workforce.


Nonstop Thanks launched in 2019 as a seamless platform that gives every team member the ability to recognize the great work of their peers. It includes a much broader selection of awards to choose from and allows for flexible types of achievements.

Leaders like Claire Madden enjoy the ability the mobile app affords her to recognize on the go. As the Senior Base Manager of the Flight Service Base Operations at Chicago O’Hare, she can’t always see her team of flight attendants in person.

Madden relies on customer letters or other team members to share stories of flight attendants going above and beyond to support each other. She is also able to recognize across functions when someone from another team helps out a member of hers.

Work culture at American was put to the test when Covid struck in 2020. Fortunately, Nonstop Thanks had launched just in time.

When companies across the globe pivoted to remote work, many struggled to adapt and keep employees connected. Not American Airlines. Even as flights were halted and their business disrupted, they leaned on Nonstop Thanks to keep their people together and motivated.


Since the launch of Nonstop Thanks, 78% of employees have logged in to the platform, giving out over 423,000 recognitions. This translates into:

  • 4,700 moments each day
  • 196 moments per hour
  • 3 moments per minute

Nonstop Thanks helped American Airlines stay committed to their team members through the darkest days of the pandemic. Recognition will continue to play an important role in unifying employees and strengthening the company’s culture of caring.


As you enter the hallways of NewYork-Presbyterian, you are greeted by the words of their company credo: to create a culture of respect. Whether you are the CEO or the staff nurse, this credo rings true throughout the organization.

To reinforce this respect credo, NYP needed a recognition vendor that understood their values and could help everyone, across the entire system, connect to those values every day.

Andrea Procaccino, Chief Learning Officer and the Vice President of Talent Development and Diversity, said that during their search for vendors, “none compared to the passion, the excitement, the fun, and the creativity of O.C. Tanner.”


NewYork-Presbyterian launched Everyday Amazing to great success, immediately taking their culture to a new level.

NYP employees use the mobile app to send eCards with points attached and to nominate their peers for awards. They can also be rewarded through a number of communication plays throughout the year that tie points to things like blood drives and wellness fairs and referrals.

With so many offline employees, NYP found great success through Mobile Appreciation Stations. These stations travel to hospitals across their different locations. People can learn more about the power of a “thank you” through notecards, treats, and push reminders to log into the Everyday Amazing platform.

“ one has ever written such a heartfelt thank you to me. You don’t understand how powerful this is.”

During one mobile appreciation station event, “a woman came downstairs at three in the morning,” shared Procaccino, “while we were wrapping up and she was holding this card with tears in her eyes and said, ’I've worked here for 25 years and no one has ever written such a heartfelt thank you to me. You don't understand how powerful this is.’”


Since implementing Everyday Amazing across their organization, NYP has reduced attrition in the hospital by triple digits. Their recognition score on the Gallup Survey grew significantly each year and their overall engagement skyrocketed.

Andrea believes that all of these results go hand-in-hand with their program which helps people feel respected, appreciated, and engaged in the culture: “When you drive engagement, that drives outcomes, it drives patient experience, it drives quality outcomes. So, to us, [appreciation and respect] is what makes us who we are, and it is what makes us one of the top hospitals in the country.”  


CIBC is a leading North American financial institution committed to creating enduring value for its stakeholders. A fundamental component of CIBC’s approach is investing in its team and recognizing employees for bringing its purpose to life.

CIBC wanted a platform that would track and increase recognition across the organization. Employees also requested a points-based program that provided personalized, timely, peer-to-peer recognition.


Through Culture Cloud, O.C. Tanner helped CIBC create MomentMakers, a recognition program tailored to their specific needs. CIBC brought their recognition efforts to the present with an internal social wall where employees share recognition and appreciation in real-time. Everyone can see and participate in the joy of gratitude and praise.

Purpose Awards and eCards bring CIBC’s brand to life. “We can take the most important element of our culture—our purpose—and have it be visible throughout the platform,” explains Jackie Goldman, Senior Vice President, Rewards, Recognition & Performance. The Wall of Fame provides the recognition visibility employees needed.


CIBC employees felt the impact of MomentMakers almost overnight. Leaders take ownership and offer meaningful recognition more frequently. Employees are recognized for daily efforts, big and small, instead of waiting for quarterly awards or perfunctory milestones.

Within a year of launch, the bank recorded high usage of the program and registered a huge shift in its recognition culture:

  • Over 215,000 recognition moments happened in 2021.
  • Over 70% of employees received individual recognition in the first year.
  • 88% of employees have logged into the system.
  • eCard usage increased 5x compared to the previous program.
  • Award nominations increased 9x compared to the previous program.

MomentMakers recognizes the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding to daily great work, major accomplishments to career milestones. Recognition has become an integrated part of the entire employee experience and CIBC culture.

Heritage Bank

Heritage Bank encourages employees to innovate and bring their brightest ideas to provide customers with exceptional service. They use recognition to connect their people and build a community of excellence.

Recognition has always been an important part of the Heritage Bank culture. The Bank recognized great work during their annual Employee Appreciation Days but didn’t have the ability to orchestrate recognition year-round. Once a year, hundreds of employee award nominations were manually gathered and vetted. Employees loved the awards, but they knew they wanted to recognize more often, throughout the year.  

The Bank needed a solution for more real-time recognition—a way to immediately recognize employees when great work happens. “By changing from once-a-year recognition to recognition throughout the year, we won’t miss the great work that is happening daily,” explains Barb Hedrick, Human Resource Officer.

“What O.C. Tanner offers is the opportunity to have all that recognition in one place. From the eCards and awards, to celebrating milestone anniversaries and retirements, and the online site to choose a gift—having all that together creates a better experience for both us and employees,” says Mike Nelson, Director of Talent Development.


O.C. Tanner and Heritage developed Celebrate Great. The platform provides fluid recognition and allows employees to send eCards and submit nominations the moment they see great work happening.

The Bank launched the Celebrate Great program during their annual Employee Appreciation Days event, when their President sent an eCard to all employees. They instantly loved it.

Executives like Kelli Wilson, SVP of Retail Banking, frequently highlight recognition and share stories of success. Wilson blocks off time every Friday to read and comment on the recognition given to employees in her division.

“It gives me insight into what is happening throughout our branches and acknowledges their great work on a regular basis,” explains Wilson. She also commits to reading the recognition given to employees at a particular branch before she visits that location in person.


Celebrate Great has been very successful at Heritage Bank:

  • Over 8,000 ecards sent in the first 2 years
  • 96% of employees have used the platform
  • 99% of Yearbooks include peer comments
  • 84% of employees feel the Bank goes to great lengths to recognize great work
  • 96% said their service award presentation felt personal and sincere
  • 84% said the service award experience shows the Bank cares about employees

An Engagement Outcome survey indicated that over 91% of employees feel accepted by their immediate co-workers at Heritage Bank. The Celebrate Great platform has contributed to this high level of acceptance.

Simple appreciation on a seamless platform–this is how Heritage Bank uses recognition to build community and thrive.  

Start building a thriving work culture with the app used by many of the world’s best places to work. Learn more.

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