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100 Best Companies to Work for

The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America
Recognition Trends and Strategies

By: D.E. "Chip" McDonald, Jr.

The Common Thread

Happy Workers, High Returns

The predominate theme in the Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America is the direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.  Companies today are more conscious of developing strategies to insure that their workforce is happy and excited about the work that they do.  Moreover, that associates are excited about the company they work for.  These are human-centered issues that focus on giving associates what they want and need by ensuring a level of comfort around material need and still providing a balance towards meeting self-actualization needs.  The shift in focus towards a retention and longevity based culture in Corporate America, is a rebound from the downsizing, rightsizing era that is now a memory for the companies on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America list and for the majority of corporations today.

The bottom line is that there is a shortage of good talent today and corporations are grappling with retaining associates.  Lifestyle needs, diversity and staying close to employee preferences are more that benefits issues today.  Employee satisfaction is a key component of the Strategic Plan, driving results and realization of the corporate vision.

Recognition Trends

Companies are looking for ways to provide a return on investment from their recognition programs.  These organizations want to make sure that they are providing programs that are in step with the needs of their associates.  Employee surveys are being utilized with greater frequency then ever before to ensure that recognition and rewards are on target.

Surveys are replacing the decision by committee attitude which was so prevalent through the early and mid 1990’s.  The associates’ voice have become the committee and changes are being made by top level human resource professional by balancing need against the strategic plan of the organization.

Service Award Programs by design have placed more emphasis on tying recognition back to the vision of the corporation.  Through effective communication strategies, technology and strategic approach service awards remain the flagship program to touch employees and reinforce the vision while celebrating each employees’ contribution and success in their career.  Milestone frequency has been stepped up to earlier years in an associate’s career.  Where years 5, 10, 15 and so on was the norm years ago, providing recognition earlier on is more and more prevalent.  While service award gifts are more diverse and lifestyle based than before, companies are trending towards commemorative collections as an add on to less traditional approaches so there is a consistent connection to the company vision.

One of the 100 Best….. companies along with offering free airline travel to employees celebrating an anniversary gives a commemorative print which highlights key events and visionary moments for the corporation.  This is a commissioned piece signed and numbered by the artist, with only sufficient quantity for those celebrating an anniversary that year are ever being produced.                                                                                        

Many of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America show a movement to life style or life need enhancing rewards tied to performance and contributions.

  • Fitness Rewards
  • Wellness Program Participation
  • Community Service
  • Safety Engagement
  • Innovation Awards
  • Peer to Peer Recognition

Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America demonstrates a shift to offer recognition award programs that are performance based in addition to longevity based.  Programs providing formal recognition for civic involvement, volunteerism, idea generation, activity in the company TQM process as well as achievement in company sponsored training or continuing education programs are becoming adjunct programs to the service awards program.

Award Incentive Group Approach

Award Incentive Group is an industry-leading provider of holistic recognition solutions and we are guided by this mission.

“We are in the business to design and deliver recognition and performance solutions that improve the business results of our customers.  We will use our knowledge of Human behavior as well as our program and product know how to align the contributions of individual members to their organizations’ vision values and goals.”

Our ability to provide a solid return on investment from recognition stems from a process we call the Strategic Recognition System™.  This approach to recognition has the ability to:

  • Connect people to the vision
  • Align all key outputs to goals
  • Integrate critical objectives
  • Reinforce desired behaviors
  • Focus on results

The trends in Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America and the following study by Robert Half International point to the importance of exceeding self-actualization needs of employees.

In another study, which also affirms what we are seeing in Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America companies compares responses of employees and supervisors as to what makes them happy on the job.


The breakthrough companies are creating a recognition process that builds a culture of recognition and performance.  The process is aligned with the needs and diversity of their respective organizations and is guided by the vision, mission and strategic plan of the organization.

The traditional programs of gold emblems with jewelling sequence to designate years of service are all but over.  A recognition process that is custom to each individual that makes up the organization.  The one size fits all approach will no longer provide the return that corporations are seeking from their reward and recognition strategies.  The technology-based applications are making mass customization a reality and very cost effective for corporations to implement and manage.

Recognition companies have a greater role to provide services and products that will motivate performance and inspire the discretionary effort of all individuals.  Award Incentive Group’s role is to work with Human Resource professionals and go through a detailed discovery process to assure results against return on investment expectation.