Great Recognition Moments

How industry leaders are creating in-the-moment experiences to recognize and reward employees


Eight companies that are making recognition matter by creating compelling, in-the-moment experiences

Every week, more than 150 million Americans go to work with the expectation that they will make decisions that are in the best interest of the company they work for and its customers.

Employee recognition plays a vital role in influencing the attitudes and actions of employees, motivating and celebrating behaviors that bring company values, aspirations and policies to life.

In this report, we showcase insights, strategies and examples from eight Engage2Excel clients that do an exceptional job at integrating recognition into operations and the daily experiences of employees. The programs represented include different types and styles of recognition for performance, safety, demonstration of core values and employee loyalty.

Trendicators is the research division of Engage2Excel, a leading provider of employee recognition, engagement survey and talent acquisition solutions. Trendicators provides original research along with reports on insights and best practices from industry leaders and experts.

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Atrium Health enables teammates, company-wide, to recognize one another via eCards that motivate and inspire

Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas HealthCare System) is one of the nation’s leading healthcare organizations, connecting patients with on-demand care, world-class specialists and the region’s largest primary care network. A recognized leader in healthcare delivery, quality and innovation, its foundation rests on providing clinically excellent and compassionate care.

Atrium Health has earned its reputation as one of the nation’s leading healthcare organizations by recognizing that teammates are its most valuable asset. Atrium Health’s culture is built around four core values that are held in the highest regard: caring, commitment, integrity and teamwork.

One way Atrium Health creates great recognition moments is by enabling teammates, company-wide, to recognize one another via eCards. Promoted on the company Intranet, Atrium Health’s eCards are easy for anyone to produce and personalize with just a few clicks. The organization’s Recognition & Rewards Platform allows teammates to express appreciation for great work, anniversaries, birthdays and actions that make a difference in the lives of patients and teammates. These programs are intended to inspire, motivate and connect teammates to Atrium Health’s mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all.

In July 2017, Atrium Health launched a way to automate and centralize a system-wide initiative called the Good Catch Program, designed to protect and prevent potentially harmful events. The program, developed by Atrium Health, created standardized processes for submissions, scoring and recognition through an easy-to-use platform. More than 600 teammates have been recognized through the program, which serves as a model for healthcare institutions nationwide. The Good Catch Program resulted in a 47% increase in annual teammate submissions for detecting and preventing a potentially harmful event.

Last year, Atrium Health teammates celebrated great work, special occasions and years of service by sending more than 200,000+ eCards.

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The Atrium Health Recognition & Rewards Platform, shown above, makes it easy for teammates to recognize one another via eCards and nominate individuals for demonstrating core values. The Good Catch program serves as a nationwide model for the prevention of a harmful event.

Each year, the children of Atrium Health teammates are invited to participate in a birthday card design contest. Eight winning designs are selected for inclusion in the enormously popular eCard gallery, inspiring young artists and reinforcing a family-centric culture throughout the year.

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PNC honors important anniversaries and celebrates retirees in a culture that truly values loyalty.

PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit

PNC’s reputation as a leading financial services company with a global reach is well documented. Through the years, the company has become known for helping clients meet their financial goals, creating the best possible working environment for people and giving them the resources they need to succeed.

The company has been recognized nationally and regionally for its accomplishments and success in creating a culture that reflects the needs, values and aspirations of its customers, employees, communities and shareholders. Last year, PNC was ranked in the top 10 of the 50 Happiest Companies in America in the Career Bliss Survey. The company also received the second highest ranking in its industry as Most Admired for HR by Human Resources Magazine.

PNC realizes that finding meaningful ways to acknowledge employees’ contributions to the company’s success is critical to creating a workplace where employees are engaged, productive and happy.

In a field where employee turnover is a challenge for all companies, PNC places a high priority on honoring employee loyalty throughout the career journey, celebrating milestones in years one, three and five, and every five years thereafter. One of the oldest forms of recognition, service awards are greatly appreciated by employees and the peers who share in the celebration of such events. A recent honoree expressed the following sentiment:

“I feel PNC does a wonderful job providing employees the ability to just let them know they are important. Thank you so much for the opportunity to continue working for a great employer like PNC.”


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Par Pacific builds emotional connections with new employees before day one

Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: PARR), headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a growth-oriented company that owns, manages and maintains interests in energy, related retailing and infrastructure businesses. Par Pacific’s business is organized into three primary segments of refining, retail and logistics. Par Pacific has refining and logistics assets in Hawaii and Wyoming and a retail distribution network in Hawaii, Idaho and Washington.

In a competitive job market in which candidates are still considering other offers even after offer acceptance, companies must face the challenges of engaging talent before day one. According to our recent Engage2Excel survey, nearly six out of 10 job seekers would consider another offer if they didn’t receive communication from their new employer between offer acceptance and day one on the job.

Par Pacific, a leading oil and gas exploration and production company, recognizes the negative business impact when candidates decline offers. They partner with Engage2Excel to make recognition and appreciation essential components of their pre-boarding phase.

Par Pacific’s goal is to enable new hires to build an emotional connection with the organization before they start. To do this, the company provides each new Par Pacific employee with a branded welcome box designed to spark that connection. Delivered to each new hire’s home before day one, the boxes contain a lunch bag and a reusable tumbler with the Par Pacific logo, along with a welcome card.

Par Pacific understands that an effective recognition and rewards strategy needs to start before day one and span the employee’s tenure.


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TSYS turned its 35th anniversary into a celebration of All-Star performance

TSYS® (NYSE: TSS) is a leading global payments provider, offering seamless, secure and innovative solutions across the payments spectrum — for issuers, merchants and consumers. The company succeeds by putting people and their needs at the center of every decision to help them unlock possibilities in payments. This purpose is called People-Centered Payments®. Headquarters are located in Columbus, Ga., U.S.A., with approximately 13,000 team members and local offices across 13 countries.

Founded in 1983, TSYS has been in the payment processing industry for 35 years. It serves businesses in 80 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. TSYS believes payments should revolve around people, not the other way around so their people and technology make sure every payment experience is safe, easy, fast and ‘always on.’

TSYS has been named to the Forbes list of America’s Best Employers for three consecutive years and to the Civic 50 as one of the most community-minded companies in the United States for five consecutive years. TSYS must compete for and retain employees with today’s most sought-after technology skills amidst the tightest job market in 50 years.

To ensure strategic alignment with what employees want most, TSYS implemented the RESPECT Employee Survey by Engage2Excel. Survey results show that TSYS excels at translating its People-Centered brand into a Performance-Driven culture that fulfills their employee’s career and personal aspirations.

TSYS uses the company Intranet to celebrate team members and rewards program to recognize years of service and enable peer-to-peer appreciation with eCards as well as points-based awards. The company’s comprehensive rewards program recognizes individuals who display the corporate values; make a difference through volunteer work and community involvement; deliver exceptional customer service; and strive for personal growth. The company’s employee value proposition below says it best:

You are the heart of TSYS. The way we do things – the way you do things – shapes our success and helps us deliver People-Centered Payments every day.


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Six Flags takes in-the- moment rewards and recognition to new heights with a multi-faceted program

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, with $1.5 billion in revenue and 26 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 58 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling waterparks and unique attractions.


Hiring and motivating seasonal workers is one of talent management’s greatest challenges. For Six Flags, the world’s largest regional theme park company, that means hiring, training, engaging and inspiring more than 50,000 seasonal employees every year.

According to Six Flags Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Kathy Aslin, “Because our team members are our most valuable asset, we strive to provide them with a best-in-class benefits package and create a working environment that is not only fun, but one that recognizes and rewards their efforts.”

There’s plenty of evidence that this strategy is working. For the third year in a row, the National Association for Business Resources has named Six Flags as one of the Nation’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.

Recognition and rewards play an important part in the Six Flags employment experience. In addition to exciting work, flexible scheduling and the opportunity to have fun, employees receive on-the-spot recognition and rewards cards. The cards explain why the employee is being recognized and either include points or the opportunity to spin a rewards wheel for free drinks and food. In addition, Six Flags has a nomination program for Excellence in Action, uses eCards to celebrate birthdays and has a robust loyalty program that recognizes and rewards employees with three to 25 years of service.

Fun Fact: Singer John Denver, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and Dwayne O’Brien from the band Little Texas all got their start selling snacks and buckling kids into coasters at Six Flags.


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UniFirst celebrates its founding Core Values, which have served as the foundation to the corporate culture for over eight decades.

UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF) is a leader in the supply and servicing of uniform and workwear programs, as well as the delivery of facility service programs. The company also provides first aid and safety products and manages specialized garment programs for the cleanroom and nuclear industries. With more than 250 service locations, over 300,000 customer locations, and 14,000-plus employee Team Partners, the company outfits nearly 2 million workers each business day.

UniFirst is one of North America’s largest workwear and textile service companies, providing managed uniform, protective clothing and custom corporate image apparel programs to businesses in diverse industries.

In 1936, Aldo Croatti founded UniFirst as a local startup industrial laundry service in a converted horse barn in Boston. By 1986, he grew the business across the U.S. and Canada to about $100 million in annual revenues. That year, his son Ronald Croatti took over as chief operating officer (COO) and then served as chief executive officer (CEO). Under his leadership, until his passing in 2017, he more than quintupled UniFirst annual revenues. Today, UniFirst is a nearly $2 billion industry leader with Steven Sintros serving as CEO. The company supplies uniforms, career wear, and ancillary serves over 300,000 customer locations and nearly 2 million workers every business day.

Founder’s Day has been an annual event at all UniFirst locations since Aldo Croatti’s passing in 2001. The day recognizes Aldo’s Core Values, which remain the foundation of the company’s corporate culture today—Customer Focus, Respect for Others, and Commitment to Quality— with employee Team Partners renewing their annual commitment to the company’s Essentials of Service and pledging to keep customers the focus of everything they do. These Core Values are also celebrated throughout the year via programs honoring years of service (tenure), Employee of the Year awards, safety awareness programs and an employee wellness program.

UniFirst CEO, Steven Sintros, said the following, an important message for other CEOs to ponder:

“Our Team Partners are our most important asset, our leading competitive differentiator, and will always be the key to our success.”


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Bright Horizons takes employee appreciation to heart with its “HEARTfelt Thanks” Recognition program.

Bright Horizons® is a leading provider of high-quality child care, early education and other services designed to help employers and families better address the challenges of work and family life. The Company provides full service, center-based child care, back-up dependent care and educational advisory services to more than 1,100 clients across the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada and India, including more than 150 FORTUNE 500 companies.

Founded in 1986 to provide childcare solutions for working parents, Bright Horizons operates approximately 1,100 child care centers, caring for more than 120,000 children annually in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s back-up child and elder care, tuition program management, education advising, and student loan repayment programs support employees through every life and career stage, and help people succeed at work and at home.

Bright Horizons has been recognized 18 times as one of FORTUNE magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For® and is one of the U.K.’s Best Workplaces as designated by the Great Place to Work® Institute.

The Bright Horizons culture, which includes more than 32,000 employees around the globe, is built around the belief that home is where the HEART is. The company’s HEART principles, encourage Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork. Many in the Bright Horizons family adopt these principles in both their personal and work lives.

Bright Horizons’ HEARTfelt Thanks recognition platform provides supervisors with a wide array of tools and resources for acknowledging employee achievements and milestones. Employees use the platform to access an extensive library of eCards to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and actions that make a difference.

Comments from parents, like this one from a Berkley, CA family, provide Bright Horizons teachers with the greatest recognition moments of all:

“[Our daughter] wakes up so excited to come to school each day and talks about all of her teachers when she comes home. Thank you for making her feel so loved.”


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