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The Top 4 Employee Recognition Tools (+7 more)

Employee recognition can be tricky. For most teams, it’s simply the workplace's version of a gold star on your homework. You do a good job, and your boss says, "Hey, nice work on not burning down the office!" once a year.

But for truly successful teams, employee recognition goes beyond that. It’s actually a core cultural element that inspires and engages.

As companies grow, it's like a family reunion: you can't remember everyone's name or what they do. That's where employee recognition tools come in! It's like having a personal assistant to remind you to dole out high-fives and see who’s doing great work across the team!

With employee recognition tools, you can create a system that's as unique as your workplace. You know, like those choose-your-own-adventure books, but instead of dying in a dragon's lair, you're just making people feel appreciated. Speaking of which, when was the last time you felt appreciated?

party streamer, popper, and hat with HR Chief logo

Having the right employee recognition program also saves time and resources. I mean, who has the time to keep track of who did what and when? We're all busy watching cat videos and trying not to spill coffee on our keyboards! So, let the tools do the heavy lifting, while you sit back and enjoy your well-deserved break.

In this article, we're going to dive into the world of employee recognition software. We'll review benefits and then check out different options, weigh their pros and cons, and figure out which one is right for your workplace. And, we'll even discuss why connecting recognition to rewards is like adding extra cheese to your pizza – it just makes everything better!

Benefits of Employee Recognition Tools

You know what's great about employee recognition tools? It's like your team has their own cheerleader to help celebrate all the good stuff happening at work! Let me tell you why these tools are more useful than a Roomba after you pop open a bag of chips.

First off, they streamline the whole recognition process. It's like having a one-stop shop for all things "Great Job!" No more scrambling to remember who did what and when – these tools keep track of everything for you. And let's be honest, we all need a little help remembering things sometimes. Transparency? Check! Better People analytics? Check!

Another cool thing about these recognition programs is that they're customizable and scalable. It's like choosing your favorite ice cream toppings, but for employee recognition. You can make sure everyone feels appreciated, no matter how big or small your company is.

And let's talk about consistency. Nobody likes playing favorites, and employee recognition tools help level the playing field, making sure everyone gets a fair shot at being rewarded for their hard work. And great recognition tools make recognition more than just a once-a-year occasion.

Last but not least, these tools give you all the juicy details about employee performance and engagement. It's like getting a behind-the-scenes look at how your team is doing, so you can make things even better. Think of it as your secret weapon for creating a workplace where everyone wants to be!

So, there you have it. Employee recognition tools are molto bene!

Recommended Employee Recognition Tools

Best Overall Recognition Tool: Bonusly

You know what's great? Recognition everywhere all at once! Bonusly has been around for more than 10 years, and it’s the best recognition tool on the market. It’s easy to set up, fun to use, and comes with all sorts of cool integrations (HRIS, chat tools, etc.) and a rewards catalog that's longer than my grocery list, it's got a little something for everyone.


Bonusly is like the chameleon of employee recognition tools – it works with all your favorite apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Chat. And it's customizable and scalable, so whether you're a mom-and-pop shop or a corporate giant, Bonusly is already optimized.

Oh, and the rewards catalog? It's like a treasure chest full of goodies, from gift cards to charitable donations to custom swag.


But let's be real, nothing's perfect. Bonusly might be a bit pricey for some, especially smaller companies. But hey, sometimes you've got to pay for the good stuff, right?

Best Free Recognition Tool: Praisley

Now, if you're looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, let me introduce you to Praisely. It's like the little sibling of employee recognition tools – simple, easy to use, and free! It’s a free, Slack-based recognition tool that can work for some teams, especially as they begin their employee recognition journey.


Free and easy to implement. Praisely offers a cost-effective solution for employee recognition, so you won’t break the bank. This makes it an accessible option for smaller companies or those with limited budgets.


You know, sometimes you get what you pay for. Praisely might not have all the bells and whistles of some other tools, and it might not be the best fit for growing teams or those with more complex needs.

Best Travel-Focused Recognition Tool: Bucketlist

Alright, all you travel lovers, get ready for Bucketlist! This employee recognition tool is all about adventure and experience – it's like a vacation from the ordinary. Or, at least encourages that vacation!


Bucketlist is like the most encouraging travel agent you've ever met, offering unique rewards like trips and adventures. Plus, it's all about work-life balance and personal growth, and who doesn't love that?


Now, as much as we all love a good getaway, travel rewards might not be everyone's cup of tea. And let's be honest, it could limit the effectiveness of the recognition program for some team members.

Best Slack-Based Recognition Tool: CultureBot

CultureBot is designed explicitly for Slack and provides many features that help with recognition, especially for remote teams. The app is designed to promote a positive culture of well-being from directly inside of the Slack platform. It accomplishes this with a shoutouts feature to send praise to other employees in a public way, along with its accompanying peer rewards features for incentivizing employees to share kudos with one another and a host of other engagement tools.

CultureBot interface


CultureBot is easy to use and set up. If you use Slack and are looking to get something setup quickly for recognition, CultureBot takes just a few clicks to get remote team members able to recognize each other by sharing words of encouragement and praise. In addition to shoutouts, CultureBot also automates the celebration of other special occasions for employees (like their birthday and work anniversary).


Well… if you don’t have Slack, you can’t use CultureBot. And if you're looking for an integrated rewards catalog, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Other Recognition Tools:

At this point, there are probably hundreds of different employee recognition tools. We picked our top choices earlier. Here are a few other decent ones. If we listed any more, your eyes would just glaze over!

HeyTaco - fun recognition solution but lacks in terms of rewards.

Achievers - made for huge orgs. Lots of integrations but reporting could use work.

Motivosity - lets employees give virtual "high-fives" and earn points for rewards.

Workhuman - enterprise recognition solution that’s pricey. Also, they hold a big conference every year.

WorkTango - like the multi-tool of employee recognition. It does a little bit of everything.

Awardco - recognition tool focused on Amazon rewards.

OC Tanner - old-school rewards, think plaques and watches.

The Power of Connecting Recognition to Rewards

You know, there's something magical about connecting recognition to rewards. It's like the secret sauce that makes everything taste better! When employees see that their hard work pays off, it's like giving them an exploding fist bump – but with rewards instead of awkwardness.

Here's the deal: when people feel appreciated, they're happier, more engaged, and more loyal. It's like when you find that perfect item at your favorite restaurant – you just can't get enough! By linking recognition to rewards, you're giving employees a reason to keep reaching for the stars, and that's good news for everyone. Connecting recognition to rewards reinforces positive behavior and helps inspire others.

So, to wrap it all up, employee recognition tools are pretty much par for any modern workplace. They streamline the process, make things more transparent and consistent, and just generally make life better for employees and managers alike.

If you want to create a workplace where people are engaged, feel valued, and culture scales, employee recognition tools are the way to go.

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Ben Travis

Ben is the founder of HR Chief. He enjoys working with passionate teams to solve impactful problems with technology.

He has a heart for HR/People Ops teams and uses his experience from the startup, agency, and nonprofit spaces to drive results.