The Top 13 Best Employee Recognition Platforms in 2020

The best employee recognition software, pricing guidelines, benefits, pitfalls, and more

This article is the result of months of research into the best employee rewards and recognition platforms so that HR teams can buy the right software for their business.  It includes in depth reviews on the top vendors, along with how to think about pricing, ROI, use cases, and everything else we think you need to be successful when buying employee experience software.

Below you'll see our list of the top employee rewards and recognition solutions including Bucketlist, Kazoo, Bonusly, RewardGateway, Snappy, and more. We describe each of these in greater detail below along with how employee recognition software allows HR teams to build stronger cultures, increase employee engagement, and retain top talent. 

COVID-19 has made it even more important to engage employees on a regular basis in a way that aligns with company values. This article will help you find the right vendor, understand the hidden pitfalls you need to be aware of, the keys to a successful implementation, how to calculate ROI, and much more.

We hope this guide will save you hours of research, and allow you to purchase the right solution for your business!

We spend hundreds of hours researching the best HR and recruiting software so you don’t have to.  We never take money from vendors during our research phase and rely heavily on practitioners and experts to help us recommend the right software.  Most of the vendors featured on our site have no commercial relationship with us, we want to feature the best software for our readers regardless. Learn more

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Top Employee Reward and Recognition Programs

We track thousands of HRTech solutions, these are the best employee reward programs per our research and expert council as of September 2020

Kazoo

Review

Kazoo combines employee rewards and recognition with engagement and performance management into one platform.  This three pronged approach allows People teams to use one vendor that seamlessly shares data across all three modules.  On the rewards side of things, they see over 80% of employees engaging with their platform on a monthly basis.  They also have a customer retention rate over 90%.

Kazoo

Stats:

  • 95% customer retention rate 
  • 600+ global customers 
  • 1-3% average improvement in productivity
  • 10-20% higher employee retention

Kazoo

Pricing:

  • You can choose to buy a growth, standard, or enterprise subscription plan for the rewards & recognition tool alone, the performance management tool, or the full platform. 
  • The recognition platform alone starts at $6.00 per employee per month, billed annually, if you have less than 250 employees (growth). 
  • The standard plan for 250-1000 employees starts at $4.50 USD per user per month. 
  • You can get a custom quote for more than 1000 employees.

Best for:

Everyone from small-to-medium-sized businesses to Fortune 100 enterprises can use Kazoo.

Worth Checking Out:

If you’re in the market for employee rewards, and also thinking about performance management / employee engagement down the road, then Kazoo is definitely worth your time.

Bucketlist

Review

Bucketlist is one of the fastest growing rewards and recognition platforms for a couple of reasons. They have a fully customizable solution that fits any organization's workflows. They have also invested into a rewards catalogue that includes everything from gift cards to learning how to fly.

They are always rolling out new features and one of our favorites is an events platform where team members can setup in person or virtual events, invite co-workers, and see who's coming. These are great team building exercises for anything from a virtual celebration to an in person get together.

The key to any successful recognition program is employee engagement, and this solution meets employees where they are - on slack, mobile, email, etc

Bucketlist

Stats:

  • 31% reduction in voluntary turnover Rates
  • 25% average increase in productivity
  • Over 1,000 teams using it

Bucketlist

Pricing:

  • Free demo and free 14 day trial available. 
  • They try to negotiate the best price for you and offer to match another offer if you find a better price. 
  • If you’re not happy with the tool in 90 days, they’ll refund your money.
  • The price of subscription is not revealed publicly, which means you would get a custom quote depending on your business size and needs.

Best for:

Mid to large size companies (100 - 5,000 employees) that want higher employee engagement and lower voluntary turnover.

Worth Checking Out:

Reward Gateway

Review

With over 1,800 customers and over 5 million users, Reward Gateway is a leader in the rewards and recognition space. Their solution is built on an engaging peer to peer recognition platform that allows colleagues to recognize one another and turn that recognition into perks and rewards.

Reward Gateway

Stats:

  • Active since 2006, 5 million employees reached so far
  • Trusted by more than 1,800 companies 
  • NPS Score of 60

Reward Gateway

Pricing:

  • You can choose to purchase solutions separately, like only the employee recognition and surveys modules, for instance, or go for the full employee engagement platform. 
  • If you happen to be in the UK or Australia, they also offer a “Reward Gateway for Small Business” version which is £6 per employee per month, with no lock-in contract.
  • The price is not revealed publicly, which means you would get a custom quote depending on your business size and needs.

Best for:

Companies in any industry could benefit from one or several of Reward Gateway’s employee engagement tools.

Worth Checking Out:

Reward Gateway has a very strong employee engagement tool that is focused around building culture and retaining employees.

Bonusly

Review

Bonusly’s peer to peer employee recognition platform is designed to increase employee engagement and retention through employee shout outs that are tied to company values and redeemable for real-world rewards.

They’ve focused on allowing employees to access this solution from a plethora of integrations and apps which results in 75-90% of employees using the platform each month.

Bonusly

Stats:

  • Customers from over 100 countries
  • Over 16 million bonuses given
  • 89% of Bonusly users participate within their first month
  • 79% receive recognition at least once a month

Bonusly

Pricing:

  • Starts at $2.70 per user/month, billed annually or $3 per user/month, billed monthly.
  • Custom pricing available for large organizations. 
  • Free Trial & Free Demo available

Best for:

Bonusly is ideal for HR, department heads, and small business owners who want to put recognition in the hands of the team through a social media-like experience. Companies with 50-5,000 employees should check them out.

Worth Checking Out:

Bonusly has automated bots built in that will reward people for things like anniversaries and birthdays.

Snappy

Review

Snappy believes in giving gifts to engage employees, versus points or dollars which they view as impersonal.  And, they’ve got lots of notes from employees to prove their approach has merit.  One nice part of their offering is that their team will spend time at the beginning of the implementation to make sure there are automated touch points built into your employee rewards and recognition program (birthdays, anniversaries, etc).  

They have a 99% customer retention rate, which we find very impressive.

Snappy

Stats:

  • $10 million raised in the fall of 2018
  • Used by 200+ large companies around the world
  • Featured in Forbes, Inc., Ladders, and Yahoo! News.

Snappy

Pricing:

Best for:

HR, Marketing, Sales, and Support managers that want a novel way of motivating and engaging their employees.

Worth Checking Out:

Snappy raised $10 million in Fall of 2018 and is growing fast!

Motivosity combines employee engagement and performance management with employee rewards to deliver a compelling platform used by companies like Instructure and WorkFront.  After launch, the system spreads virally throughout the organization as employees start to recognize one another. In fact, 95% of employees engage with Motivosity’s platform on a monthly basis, that is huge!

Motivosity

Stats:

95% of employees engage with Motivosity’s platform on a monthly basis.

Motivosity

Pricing:

Motivosity’s pricing works per module. “Connect” is included with every license of the other three. They do offer a free trial for each of them and the pricing is as follows: 

Motivosity ConnectMotivosity RecognizeMotivosity LeadMotivosity Listen
$1 per person per month$3 per person per month$6.50 per person per month$2 per person per month

Best for:

Motivosity is particularly popular among companies with a large base of IT and knowledge workers.

Worth Checking Out:

Kudos’s platform is specifically designed to engage employees through peer to peer recognition, that can also lead to employee rewards.  Recognition sent within Kudos is tied to company values and qualities, reinforcing your culture and enabling deep data insights into the health of your workplace culture.  In addition to software, they offer consulting services.

Kudos

Stats:

Used in over 23 industries in 80 countries

Kudos

Pricing:

Custom pricing is available upon request. They also offer a free trial.

Best for:

Clients with teams that span 250 to thousands of users in practically any country and industry. Great for those that want complete communication and feedback tools in their recognition software.

Worth Checking Out:

Many Kudos clients run their recognition programs successfully without needing to spend anything on rewards.

Companies that are looking to boost retention and build a stronger culture should check out Guusto. Guusto is a simple to setup employee rewards and recognition tool that helps engage your people and inspire great performance. The key differentiator for their solution (besides easy setup) is that it is free to use. This means that all of your rewards budget is spent on your employees, not software fees. They can do this as they've spent a lot of time negotiating deals with thousands of merchants you can choose from when sending your employees recognition.

Guusto

Stats:

Guusto

Pricing:

You pay for the rewards you send and so your HR team's budget will be linked to how much per employee per year you want to spend.

Best for:

Good solution for small and large companies alike. Any company looking to highlight achievers and recognize employee performance could use Guusto.

Worth Checking Out:

Workvivo's enterprise social network is a great forum for employee recognition across a company.  Colleagues can give each other shoutouts for doing a great job, stay up to date on what's happening in the company, and link everything back to goals and values all through their app.

On average, 80% of employees log into WorkVivo each week to recognize co-workers, take pulse surveys, or simply get a sense for what's going on in the company. This type of engagement is a strong proof point that they are adding value to the employee experience.

Workvivo

Stats:

  • Raised $16 million in Series A funding in 2020
  • Founded in 2017

Workvivo

Pricing:

Custom pricing available upon request.

Best for:

Organizations that want employee recognition to happen in the same place where most communication occurs.

Worth Checking Out:

Preciate's recognition platform gives employees an outlet to recognize and appreciate one another for doing great work, plus tie that recognition back to the core values of the organization.  Employees can add badges, stickers, photos, and of course, do this all from their phone or integrations like Slack, Teams, etc.  Over 1,000 companies use their platform to drive their culture forward.

Preciate also enables customers to showcase their culture through employer-branding "Portraits" that highlight the recognition happening in a company.

Preciate

Stats:

  • Used by over 1,700 companies 
  • 100% of active users report stronger relationships. 

Preciate

Pricing:

Preciate has a free version that does include the recognition features, plus a wide array of virtual socializing tools. After that, the plus version with more badges, a leaderboard, and other administrative features is $1 per user per month. The Premium version is $1.50 per user per month.

Best for:

Teams that want novel ways of socializing virtually that go beyond Zoom calls, while having employee recognition features within that same platform.

Worth Checking Out:

Over 4,000 companies use Gifted to power their rewards and recognition program.  We always think customers vote with their dollars and so it’s worth noting they are profitable, with over 90% client retention.

Gifted

Stats:

  • Over 90% client retention
  • No usage fees 
  • No minimums

Gifted

Pricing:

  • Completely free
  • You only pay for the gifts you send

Best for:

Businesses that want to show their appreciation through gifts through a free platform.

Worth Checking Out:

Blueboard’s platform helps companies of any size create personalized employee recognition and incentive programs that celebrate and elevate their best talent. From skydiving to virtual cooking classes to family days at the zoo, Blueboard’s intuitive platform makes it easy for companies and their managers to reward top-performing employees with exceptional experiences.

Once a reward is sent by a manager, recipients can choose the experience that’s most meaningful to them, and Blueboard’s high-touch Concierge service seamlessly handles all bookings, payments, and logistics. Hundreds of diverse companies use Blueboard to create impactful moments with ease. This tool is simple for the smallest of companies to get setup with employee recognition, and the price point is extremely hard to beat!

Blueboard

Stats:

  • 70+ countries served
  • 200+ enterprise customers
  • 30,000+ employees rewarded

Blueboard

Pricing:

Most of Blueboard’s pricing is made up of your total rewards budget. There are 8 reward levels, starting at $150/reward. Getting started with Blueboard could range from $19,500 to $37,500, depending on your office location(s). This budget does not expire. Exact and personalized figures are provided by the vendor.

Best for:

Companies that want their rewards and recognition program to be about meaningful experiences without organizing them themselves.

Worth Checking Out:

AwardCo has teamed up with Amazon in this space, meaning that your employees have access to redeeming their rewards for any product listed on Amazon.   We also like that they do a lot to communicate the value to your managers to ensure a successful launch.

AwardCo

Stats:

  • Fastest Growing Rewards & Recognition Platform in America according to the Inc. 5000 list.
  • No markups whatsoever

AwardCo

Pricing:

Custom pricing available upon request

Best for:

Companies that want to streamline their recognition process with the power of Amazon Business.

Worth Checking Out:

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Employee Rewards and Recognition Best Practices

Chances are, implementing an employee rewards and recognition program isn’t the only thing going on in your job. It’s easy to stumble into the various pitfalls when buying and starting one of these programs. Here are the best practices we’ve collected from talking to a few dozen HR professionals about their employee rewards initiatives.

  • More Than Money: Something we found to be a tad counterintuitive is that these programs are not all about money. In fact, there is very little correlation between the dollar value offered to employees and the impact of the program on retention and engagement.
  • Make Time: HR is busy.  Plain and simple.  Most days involve some sort of fire drill.  Plus, as a cost center, HR tends to be understaffed and overworked. What we’ve noticed is that even an employee rewards program that starts off strong can die over time. It’s essential to build in time on a monthly/quarterly basis to make sure your program is healthy (put a calendar invite to block off one hour per month). It’s also a best practice to build automation into your rewards program - like people getting rewards at birthdays, anniversaries, etc. This means things will work even when you’re too busy to check in.
  • Manager Buy In: We’ve seen cases where managers are getting $1,000 or more to give away per month to their employees, but they are too busy to do it.  Most people just need a gentle nudge. You’ll be able to see in your vendor dashboard who needs that nudge. The most important piece of advice here, though, is to lay out why this program is so important at the get-go. Show some research on how this will impact productivity, retention, and engagement. Getting managers to see how this will allow them to accomplish their goals and become more effective leaders is key.
  • HRIS Integration: If your vendor doesn’t integrate with your solution, be very weary.  When your rewards platform doesn’t talk to the HRIS in a seamless way (.csv’s don’t count!), it means a lot more manual work for you to continually update it. Plus, we all get busy… so sometimes this work doesn’t get done, which endangers the health of your program.
  • Check for Hidden Fees: Some vendors offer free programs. However, you may be paying for it through markups to the products your employees get. For example, your employee gets $20 worth of rewards, and ends up with a coffee mug that retails for $5.99. If a vendor’s model seems too good to be true, make sure there aren’t hidden costs.
  • Employee Engagement: Your employee recognition program should be working in concert with your employee engagement platform, or might even be the same product. In addition to your regular engagement data, you should also think about how recognizing and rewarding hard work fits into performance reviews and employee engagement. This solution should be more than just an employee gifting platform!
  • Budgeting: The “best practice” is to allocate 1-3% of a person’s salary annually to non-cash rewards. Some of this budget is going to be eaten up by company-wide things like outings, kombucha on tap, etc. Spending around $100-$250 per employee per quarter on rewards is what we’ve seen as a best practice for rewards and recognition programs.
  • Breakage: When budgeting your rewards spend, realize that some of the rewards will never be allocated; remember the manager who gets $1,000/mo and only allocates $500. Others will not be redeemed fully, like if an employee gets $100 in points, but only gets a gift worth $50. To circumvent this, make sure to ask your vendor of choice how much you should expect to actually pay out relative to the total rewards you’ll be offering employees.
  • Pre-existing Communication Channels: If your employees have another app they need to log into, the program will have a smaller chance of success. Look for vendors that communicate with employees through pre-existing channels like Slack and email. Think about your platform like a social recognition software where employees can recognize one another similar to how they might on social networks.
  • Not Just Managers: Make sure your managers AND employees are able to recognize other people in the organization. Otherwise, it’s a slap in the face to employees who feel as though their opinion doesn’t matter.
  • Culture Matters: Many companies look at employee rewards and recognition platforms as a way to fix issues with their culture. These programs can enhance your culture, but if you are getting daily negative Glassdoor reviews and generally are in the bottom quartile of companies in terms of culture, you may need more drastic measures before implementing this sort of program.
  • Align With Values: Make sure your vendor of choice allows for employees to be recognized along your company values. For example, when someone gets a reward, they are getting it for moving the mission of your business forward, or for helping a colleague/customer in a way that aligns with what your organization stands for.
  • Focused Rewards: Don’t fall into the trap of offering 30,000 different options as rewards. Stick to 200-300 that you feel good about. Too much choice can lead to employee indecision.

Don’t Overthink: We’ve all been there. There’s a new project we want to run with, but we’re not sure how to get started, what to measure, etc (hopefully this page will help you with that!). So many “strategy meetings” are spent trying to solve these issues… but the best advice is to simply follow the playbook your chosen vendor lays out for you. They have all the best practices and want you to succeed in a pilot. You can spend a lot of time and effort worrying about which perks to offer, for whom, etc. Our advice? Just do it!

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