Topic: Employee Recognition


ICF: Making the World a Better Place, One Recognition Moment at a Time

North America
ICF improves recognition and finds their recognition efforts can accurately predict employee turnover.

of employees recognized


of the time recognition accurately predicted employee turnover


increased likelihood of employee retention when recognized by leaders

ICF is a global advisory and technology services provider working with organizations to solve some of the most complex challenges in industries that impact people on a global scale: health, education, energy, community resilience, climate, environment, and more.  They have over 9,000 employees who are passionate about making a difference and creating positive impact, and doing it in highly innovative ways. Employee recognition is a key component of how ICF connects their staff to their mission.


ICF’s You Matter program, powered by Culture Cloud, enables employees to thank and recognize one another for extra effort, great work, and career milestones. Recently, the company wanted to strategically evolve their recognition solutions to increase the celebration of achievements across the company and improve the employee experience.

“We had the opportunity to think – what did we really want to do with recognition at ICF? Recognition is really important. Someone’s overall contentment with their job isn’t just about the dollars, it’s about their overall experience: do they feel connected to the organization, do they have good relationships, do they feel fulfilled from the work they are doing? Feeling recognized and appreciated makes a huge impact,” says Lindsay Landry, Employee Experience Lead.

The company worked with O.C. Tanner to grow the You Matter program and evolve its approach.

“You Matter is a vital asset, empowering ICF employees at all levels to effortlessly celebrate achievements. This in turn fosters a culture of appreciation that enhances engagement and performance.”
—Jennifer Welham, Senior Vice President, Health, People, and Human Services


ICF focused on 3 key areas:

1) Increase engagement and use of recognition across the organization by integrating recognition into the everyday employee experience - ICF significantly increased internal communication about the You Matter program to improve engagement and usage. They turned on 30, 60, and 90-day reminders, implemented new communications strategies, added notifications, and included targeted messages about recognition in the weekly company-wide newsletter. They also streamlined processes to make recognizing easier.

Dedicated days for recognition, like Employee Appreciation Day, World Gratitude Day, and ICF’s Colleague Care Month provided specific opportunities to give recognition company-wide and remind employees to recognize. Using O.C. Tanner’s integration capabilities, ICF also connected recognition with their Personify Health wellness app so employees could be recognized for healthy behaviors and activities, and integrated recognition into their Workday apps so employees can easily share recognition they’ve received in their performance reviews. During onboarding, the company introduces the You Matter program to new employees and encourages them to recognize a colleague who helped them during their onboarding process.

ICF held roadshows for specific operating groups to highlight and demonstrate the You Matter platform, and recognition is woven into ICF’s people management training. “We’re finding ways to integrate recognition as part of people’s everyday thoughts,” explains Landry.

ICF's You Matter recognition program on O.C. Tanner's Culture Cloud platform

2) Reinforce company values - ICF also improved recognition’s alignment and connection to their 6 company values. All recognition given is tied back to one of the core values and employees can be recognized specifically for “living their values.” Their annual, highly prestigious Value Awards (affectionately nicknamed “The Lucky Awards” after the company’s founder) were redesigned to include custom trophies for the top 8 employees across the enterprise who exemplified ICF’s values that year.

ICF's "The Values Award" created by O.C. Tanner

The You Matter platform is flexible so operating groups can use it for group-specific quarterly and annual awards. Senior leaders are very involved and support recognition efforts by sending company-wide eCards, using You Matter to recognize and calling out managers who do recognition well. “The You Matter program has significantly contributed to our culture of cooperation, teamwork, and overall happiness at work. Taking time to recognize the accomplishments of our employees helps reinforce our values and drive success,” says Patrick McConnell, Senior Vice President in ICF’s digital modernization business unit.

“We are a collaborative culture that is mission-driven. Our employees look for meaning and purpose in their work. The You Matter program helps to reinforce our mission and culture by recognizing our people for their collaborative efforts.”
—Liz Janssen, Vice President, Talent and Organizational Development

3) Build belonging and inclusion - The large catalog of eCards helps employees make recognition personal. Yearbooks, with reminders for peers to contribute comments, pictures, stories, and memories of employees, make service anniversaries a special and unique experience that builds a sense of community. Numeral plaques are given for career milestones in order to tie employees’ career accomplishments back to the company’s purpose and serve as a reminder that they belong.

“We are a very team-oriented culture, and we don’t win unless we collaborate. The You Matter platform allows us to recognize team efforts and individual collaborative efforts in an easy way that ties back to our core values,” explains Liz Janssen, Vice President, Talent and Organizational Development.

“We love the collective experience and knowing the realm of possibilities that O.C. Tanner has to offer. They share great ideas and new insights to help us make recognition better.”
Lindsay Landry, Employee Experience Lead
A computer rendering of ICF's global headquarters in Northern Virginia


Due to ICF’s outreach campaigns and improvement strategies, the company saw a measurable increase in recognition and engagement with You Matter:

  • 90% of employees were recognized in 2023 (which equates to over 46,000 recognition moments, more than in previous years)
  • 88% of employees are using the program to recognize
  • eCard use increased by 57%

Analysis of ICF’s recognition data shows the impact of recognition on attrition:

  • Receiving recognition accurately predicted whether an employee voluntarily stayed with or left the company 91% of the time
  • Receiving recognition from leaders increased the likelihood an employee would stay at the company by 3-8x (depending on the level of leader)
  • Being recognized for “Living in line with ICF values” almost doubled the likelihood an employee would stay with the company

ICF has also built more connection and belonging for their people. “It’s always an important thing for people to feel recognized and have a sense of connection, but even more now with a lot of people being remote. I think programs like this are especially important for people to build connections and feel appreciated,” says Landry.

related Resources

Insurance Company: Elevating Culture with Recognition

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Sustainable Workplace Awards

Learn how O.C. Tanner incorporates sustainable practices into the sourcing and creation of custom symbolic awards for recognition moments that help both people and our planet thrive.

The Top 5 Questions about the ROI of Employee Recognition

Get answers to common questions about the ROI of employee recognition.