2022 State of Recognition Report: Rewards & recognition trends reflect growing demand and impact during the Great Resignation.

Impact, trends, and insights over time, across location, and by industry.

If there’s one thing we know about here at Awardco, it’s employee recognition. And after our biggest year yet, we’re pleased to say that recognitions have increased dramatically throughout our platform in 2021. More companies around the globe have realized the power of employee rewards and recognition in the face of the Great Resignation and the ongoing pandemic. It’s clear that organizations are recognizing their employees in increasingly powerful and effective ways to combat these challenges. 

This report will show you rewards and recognition trends across time, location, and industry using a full year’s worth of Awardco user data that we’ve collected, analyzed, and organized. We will offer recommendations based on those trends, and we hope that you’ll be able to adopt some of the positive patterns and avoid common pitfalls so that your recognition programs really shine in the year to come. 

Download the full report for a deeper dive.

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What time is it?
Employee recognition time!

Recognition changes with the seasons

Our data revealed a few interesting time-based trends in the patterns of recognition. After all, each time you recognize someone, it should be timely and relevant, so time and employee recognition go hand in hand.

Seasonal Trends of Recognitions

One very apparent trend in the data was a wide fluctuation of recognitions throughout the year. The first few months saw a markedly lower volume of recognition and rewards. In fact, January and February had nearly 6X fewer recognitions than the highest-performing month of 2021 (December).

Why is that? One reason is the dreaded post-holiday funk. After parties and events and rewards scattered throughout October to December, both employees and employers get slightly burnt out on celebrating the good around them. Adding to the new year slump is the fact that end-of-year bonuses go out in December, which may lead companies to think they’ve “done enough” to value their employees. Cut to the beginning of the year, which traditionally sees the highest turnover rate across all industries, and it’s hard not to see a correlation between low recognition rates and high turnover.

The January blues is a real emotional struggle that many face at the start of the new year, and the trend of low recognitions and reward redemptions in our data follows this common emotional pattern. It may be easier than you think for employees to feel forgotten or unimportant in the months following the big holiday season.


Winter is by far the least productive time of the year, so make a concerted effort to appreciate your workforce after the holidays, especially through January and February. With a robust recognition program that encourages hard work and happiness all year, every season can become the most wonderful time of the year!

Which industries appreciate
employees the most?

One of the most interesting insights from crunching our 2022 numbers was seeing how each industry differs in rewarding and recognizing its employees. In the competition for talent, there is a certain amount of “keeping up with the Joneses” that smart organizations are aware of and use to stay ahead of the rest. You may want to study up on which industries are outperforming others so that you can stay ahead of the curve.

So, what did our data reveal?

Government jobs care more.

Would you guess that government positions had the most recognitions per employee out of all of the industries that we serve? Government entities serve up about 500% more recognitions than the average!

Government organizations, especially smaller ones like cities, tend to be tight-knit groups that rely on collaboration and communication to accomplish big, important goals. Plus, government jobs are often difficult and relatively thankless (just think about the last time you visited the DMV), so government employers strive to make up for that by giving recognitions at a higher frequency. We think recognition for good work is the lifeblood that keeps government employees happy and healthy while dealing with the stress of their work.

Top five industries for recognition
Recognition in mining is an underground operation.

The mining and minerals industry has been a thankless one for hundreds of years, and mining is often considered one of the most neglected (not to mention dangerous) occupations out there. Our numbers seem to back up that assumption. The Minerals and Mining industry recognized their employees at an incredibly low 3%.

Healthcare recognitions were just what the doctor ordered!

If you’re like us, you’re likely tired of reading about this seemingly never-ending pandemic. But there’s one particularly positive pandemic point we’d like to make: healthcare clients saw the critical need for recognition in their industry this past year, and their recognition efforts were flat out amazing!

For reference, 2020 saw a 125% increase in the number of clients being onboarded on the Awardco platform over the previous year. In 2021, the number of Awardco healthcare clients jumped another 188%! It’s been gratifying to help them recognize and reward their employees in powerful ways.


No matter the industry, recognition must become a top priority. From government agencies to coal mines and everything in between, employees are the fuel that powers each business to success. Take care of them by making an effort to recognize and reward them a little more this year.

Download the full report for more insights into recognition impact, frequency, and industry.

Mining and healthcare

Oh the places
you’ll go... and the
employees you’ll recognize!

Awardco has clients all over the world, from India and the Philippines to Germany and Brazil. Our amazing customers recognized their employees around the globe in 2021. Of course, with so much user data from far flung locales, we had to look closely at the numbers to see where employee recognition was flourishing. 

Hint: It’s not the U.S.

While Awardco continues to build a healthy international presence, the majority of Awardco’s clients reside within the United States. So it came as a surprise when we saw 29% of total recognitions for 2021 happened outside of the U.S.! According to a Harvard Business Review study, African, Asian, and Australian/New Zealand companies have cultures that focus the most on a “caring” style. When comparing our foreign and domestic clients, we saw that, on average, employees in foreign countries received nearly twice as many recognitions as domestic employees!

Top 5 Most Appreciative Countries

This is a difficult question to answer because each country, culture, and client has different social norms and customs. However, comparing how countries recognize is similar to comparing industries, so our recognitions per user datapoint comes in handy here, too. Looking strictly at RPUs, here are the top five most appreciative countries:

The Most Appreciative Countries

Congratulations to the Most Appreciative Country: the Philippines! And major kudos to India, Serbia, Argentina, and Indonesia for showing well.

The United States of Recognition

With the majority of our clients residing in the U.S., a close examination of rewards, recognition and location wouldn’t be complete without a closer look at the fifty nifty states and their fine cities. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “which city/state should I move to to be rewarded more often at work?” we can help! Below are the locations that earned our top spots.

The Most Rewarding State in America is... Oklahoma where you are 21% more likely to be rewarded by your employer than the national average!

The Most Rewarding City in America is... Knoxville, Tennessee which is 92% higher than the national average of employee rewards!

Download the report for a full top five of most/least rewarding states and the most rewarding cities in America.


When it comes to recognition, try to be more like the Philippines. And if you can't do that, consider moving to Knoxville!

Make goals for recognizing employees more often because recognition boosts employee engagement, lowers employee frustration, and lowers voluntary turnover. 

Big business vs
small startup:
fight night!

No two companies are the same and Awardco has hundreds of clients of different shapes and sizes. We broke them down for our purposes with this study, and here are the three brackets based on employee count:

  • Enterprise: 1000+ employees
  • Mid-market: 250-1000 employees
  • SMB: 2-250 employees

We were curious to see which type of business recognized and rewarded the best over the past year, and we learned some interesting things. 

Recognition Frequency

First we wanted to look at recognitions per user (RPU) across business size in relation to the average across our platform.

  • Enterprise RPU: 17.9% below avg
  • Mid-market RPU: 7.1% above avg
  • SMB RPU: 21.4% above avg

So, on average, small businesses recognize 21% more than the average and almost twice as much as enterprise-level organizations. Why do you think that is? Enterprise-level companies often have issues with scaling positive, culture-building programs, such as recognition. This is often due to an assumption among managers that they don’t have the budget to recognize as often as preferred or that recognition must be accompanied by a costly reward.

To be effective, recognition must be specific, timely, and authentic. Enterprise-level managers and executives would do well to remember a handwritten note, a heartfelt thank you, or a small team party are great, inexpensive ways to show you care. And businesses of any size can do these things with Awardco.

Reward Amount

We took a look at the monetary amounts each category of business spent per employee and saw that it supports the data in recognition frequency. If you assumed that enterprise businesses spent the most on their employees with their bigger budgets, think again. Take a look at the average reward amount per employee for the three categories:

  • Enterprise: 24.4% below avg
  • Mid-market: 3.6% above avg
  • SMB: 21.6% above avg

This statistic blew us away! In addition to the fact that SMBs recognized the most, they also spent the most on rewards for their employees at over 21% above the average! Mid-market companies came in pretty much at the Awardco average, while Enterprise companies came in last in spending per employee at 24% below the average (room for improvement!). Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising as teams and departments in small and mid-size businesses are more close-knit, an assumption that’s supported by recent research.


Recognitions don’t have to break the budget. Recognizing employees and peers can be as simple as a genuine compliment (and it’s just as effective as a cash gift!). Organizations are discovering the power of recognition (increased engagement by 2X, increased productivity by 17%) in their workforce—and they’re not spending any more money to do it.

Recognition industry fight night
2022 State of Recognition Report

See the whole recognition picture.

This is only a taste of the full statistics and recommendations that we have published. Check out our full 2022 State of Recognition Report for more insight into what day is the most effective for recognition, which rewards are most popular and more!

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