We all want recognition for our hard work. If we don’t get it, we’ll leave. A 2017 survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that two-thirds (66%) of workers surveyed would likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated. To retain talent, businesses are leaning on recognition programs. According to research firm Deloitte, those with effective programs lower their voluntary turnover rate by 31%.

Rob Riley, president of Wisconsin-based supplier Active Life Promo, says, “We specialize in custom awards, and we have continued to see steady opportunities for these as companies seek to find unique ways to provide recognition to employees.”

Clients can rely on distributors’ creativity when seeking to recognize their employees. According to Globoforce, only 14% of organizations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition. Recognition impacts employee satisfaction and company culture. Organizations with ongoing recognition programs experience 29% lower frustration levels than those without.

Recognition also influences employee loyalty. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 79% of Millennials surveyed said an increase in rewards would make them more loyal to their employer. These fast-paced Millennials are more likely to stay if they feel valued which is important in today’s tight labor market.

In January, Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board’s Labor Market Institute, said, “We saw labor shortages driven by the pandemic, but now we are seeing labor shortages driven by a very low unemployment rate. Now, it is 3.9% and we could probably reach 3% by the end of the year, which will be a 70-year low. I think this is the new normal—even after the pandemic—a very tight labor market for the foreseeable future.”

Awards and recognition not only prop up the labor market, but also Hollywood. With masks, social distancing and Zoom acceptance speeches, last year’s award shows were lackluster. This year is not looking much better. NBCUniversal did not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes in January over ethical concerns with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Then, December’s Omicron spike postponed the American Film Institute Awards and The Critics’ Choice Awards.

Despite the many changes to the award season, one thing remains the same: All the winners receive a promotional product. An Oscar statuette is the most recognized trophy in the world. This trophy is a treasured product, sitting in the homes of the greatest filmmakers, actors and actresses since 1929.

Hollywood’s annual season of self-congratulation is crucial. Nancy Utley, a former co-chairman of Fox Searchlight, told The New York Times, “For the box office—when there was a fully functioning box office—those award shows were everything. The recognition there became the reason to go see a smaller movie.” Now with streaming services, these smaller films simply aren’t getting seen.

A recent study by film research company Quorum found that about 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. For 8% of consumers, they may never again. Only the blockbuster spectacles are being seen in theaters. The Batman is the highest-grossing movie of 2022 and the second-highest grossing movie in the pandemic era behind last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Less people are watching award shows, too. Without a host, musical numbers and a little-seen best picture winner in Nomadland, last year’s Oscars hit an all-time low with 10.4 million viewers. Created in 1929, The Academy Awards drew 55 million viewers at its pinnacle. This year, The Oscars flipped the script and had three hosts—a sign that Hollywood is desperately trying to rebuild its popularity and can’t do it without award shows.

Products like trophies and awards are meaningful mementos for the recipient and invaluable tools for businesses and organizations. With these prestigious and classic products, promo pros can help their clients create memorable and effective recognition initiatives.

In a 2017 survey by OfficeTeam, employees polled were asked to share the strangest form of recognition they’ve received at work. A few answered “a custom statuette of me,” “a large carving of a polar bear” and “edible flowers.” While monetary rewards like gift cards are popular, unique gifts stand out.

Rob Riley, president of Wisconsin-based supplier Active Life Promo, says, “Skateboards are being used as a unique award that can be hung on the wall and really get attention.”

Made in the USA, this fully customizable skateboard can be used for the skate park or to hang in an office. The bottom of the deck has a full canvas for art and branding. Skateboards make for a prized premium item or eye-catching display enhancer. Skateboarding is a most popular action sport and creates an exciting and youthful association for your client’s brand.

Active Life Promo  /  PPAI 436753, S1  /  www.activelifepromo.com

The Jade Diamond Award is the perfect way to recognize excellent work and commitment. The multiple facets of the jade diamond shimmer in light and command attention in every setting. The base color is green. Imprint on the front and base.

Moderne Glass Co.  /  PPAI 112536, S10   /  www.glassamerica.com

When people do great work at their jobs or perform at a championship-level in the sports, it only makes sense to show how much you appreciate them and clients can do that with the Harrington Trophy Cup. Great for sports tournaments, retirement gifts and corporate award programs, this ornate trophy cup features a separate wood base (not attached) and a customized silver plate.

Sterling Cut Glass Co., Inc.  /  PPAI 224055, S4  /  www.sterlingcutglassawards.com

This paperweight utilizes a state-of-the-art printing process to create beautiful and economical, four-color graphics. The printing is on the backside so that the images appear to float inside the paperweight. Full bleed artwork is not required. Colorfill is available only for lines of personalization and no logos.

Innovation Line  /  PPAI 112179, S7  /  www.innovation-line.com

This USA-made baseball bat is beautifully crafted with flame hardened ash. It is the perfect recognition trophy or gift to mark a special occasion. Recipients can mount this bat in their home or office. Choose from blue pine, mahogany, oak or walnut.

Unique Custom Products  /  PPAI 654844, S1  /  www.ucppromo.com


For clients who want to highlight someone who shines, suggest The North Star Award. This award is crafted out of optically perfect crystal and features a gleaming, polished metal star set atop a tapered base. This trophy will stand as a symbol of accomplishment that can be admired for years to come. 

The Magnet Group  /  PPAI 155640, S7  /  www.themagnetgroup.com

To reward the most communicative employees, clients can gift them with the Stagecoach Award. Stagecoaches were once used to transport mail and passengers between towns. Recipients will feel appreciated with this one-of-a-kind glass structure on a black base.

Crystal D  /  PPAI 112326, S6  /  www.crystal-d.com

Wow clients with the Celestina Gemstone Award. The stunning Celestina tapers up from its squared base in triumph to present its stunning mounted gemstone. Choose from beautiful shades of ruby, sapphire, emerald, amber and diamond.

St Regis Group  /  PPAI 230188, S6  /  www.stregiscrystal.com

This Mahogany Wood Box Desk Compass will remind any recipient how much they’re appreciated. The multi-colored compass is packaged in a beautiful high-end mahogany wood box. Clients can laser engrave their logo or a special note on the top.

Compass Industries  /  PPAI 110923, S6  /  www.compasspromos.com

Kristina Valdez is an associate editor at PPAI.