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Engagement and Recognition Best Practices for 2021

Written by
Helen Murphy
Helen Murphy

In this post, we share a handful of helpful excerpts from a conversation between Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer at SurveyMonkey, and Raphael Crawford-Marks, CEO and Founder of Bonusly.

Adapted from our Engagement and Recognition Best Practices for 2021 Virtual Event

To kick us off, what is employee engagement and why does it matter? 

Raphael: The way we look at it at Bonusly is, employee engagement is the emotional commitment that employees feel to their work, team goals, and company’s mission. 

When you think about performance and employee morale, employee engagement is foundational to all that. Employee engagement is strongly correlated with everything from higher productivity, higher company revenue and profits to reducing accidents on the job, and reducing employee turnover.

And during this time employee engagement is even more important because we know from our own research that employees are feeling overwhelmed. It is really important to think about what we can do as employers and companies to still maintain and support employees in a way where they can remain engaged at work.

Want to read more about the benefits of employe engagement? Start with our guide.

Becky: At SurveyMonkey, we think about employee engagement in buckets: 

  • Do employees understand their impact on the business?
  • Are employees feeling valued and recognized? 
  • Are employees aligned with our meaning and purpose as a company? 
  • Are employees feeling cared for?
  • Do employees truly believe that we believe in delivering great business outcomes? 
  • Do our employees feel a sense of belonging?
  • Are our employees' career growth aspirations being met? 

What has helped us find success here is our willingness to listen. It starts with asking our employees what helps them find purpose; what connects them to our mission; what helps them feel great about the work they are doing. We want to know what contributes to them feeling valued and recognized. We listen, and use the insights from employees to change, evolve, design, and craft.

Check out more engagement tips from SurveyMonkey in their Future of Work guide.

What can folks do for their teammates right now to help them, as it is still a trying time for a lot of teams? 

Raphael: There are three key pillars to employee engagement: are employees feeling a sense of purpose, progress, and belonging? It's important to create an environment where these feelings can thrive across the entire employee population.

Purpose is the belief in what they are doing, belief in the company and belief in the impact they have.

Progress is about advancement. Are employees developing the skills they're interested in and are they able to test those skills against problems?

Finally, belonging is the sense of being a valued member of the team. Employees want to feel they have things to contribute and the company and their peers see that.

Read more on how to connect your people to purpose.

We are in this period of compounding crisis where employees are fatigued. My recommendation here is to show employees we care about them as individuals. We do this by listening and validating their feelings. It’s okay to feel fatigued. 

At Bonusly, we create ways to help our employees find more balance. We implemented a relax from home day where there is at least one day every month that we have off. We also created a well-being Slack channel focused on mental health. In this channel, we have conversations about how people are doing and how we can foster better mental health.

What is recognition’s role with engagement? 

Raphael: We know from robust social science research that recognition is highly correlated with high employee engagement. What we have really focused on at Bonusly is creating ways to give out effective recognition and increase the amount flowing through an organization.

We define effective recognition as recognition that is timely and frequent, specific and personal, visible, aligned with the company core values, and inclusive of as many employees as possible. It is really important to have a comprehensive recognition program that drives effective recognition in a sustained way so it becomes the norm at an organization and involves employees at every level.

Check out our guide learn more why employee recognition is crucial to engagement.

How have you implemented recognition at SurveyMonkey and what are some of the effects you’ve seen? 

Becky: The impact that recognition has made at SurveyMonkey is incredible. Feeling valued and recognized is important to the human condition. Recognition delights us and energizes us to do more. 

We have two primary programs around recognition at SurveyMonkey. One is a recognition we call “You Happen to SurveyMonkey.” We do this in our all-hands meetings where we typically recognize teams. It has no monetary reward. It just illustrates that we have the collaboration, teamwork, and effort to get big projects across the finish line. 

We also use Bonusly for our peer-to-peer recognition program. We have employees calling each other out for specific, timely work across the organization. In 2020, we had nearly 90,000 awards given and 6 million points moving around the platform. Nearly 98% of employees gave recognition in 2020 and 91% received it. We tie recognition to company values and our number one value in 2020 was Make It Happen.

Almost 15% of our employee population redeem more points to give points to other people. This is validation of that human condition I mentioned earlier. It is showing gratitude and recognition to your peers across the organization. They love it and it has been so important this year where people can feel invisible because we are not in an office. For their peer to say “I know you. I see you there. Thank you for your contribution,” this means a lot.

Learn more about how Bonusly connects company values to recognition.


Originally published on February 5, 2021 → Last updated February 6, 2021

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