March 2, 2021
July 29, 2021

The Value of Peer-to-Peer Recognition

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Employee recognition is a huge, multi-billion dollar industry. More and more companies are beginning to see the positive results that come with rewarding employees with something other than a paycheck. The issue is, not everyone knows how to maximize the power of recognition because they underestimate the effect peer recognition can have on their organization. 

Even though companies are implementing more programs to increase employee engagement, engagement remains painfully low year after year. In short, recognition programs that are infrequent, or programs where recognition just comes from managers, aren’t enough. 

How someone is perceived, or their reputation, has a direct impact on how happy they are. Furthermore, it is a similar reaction to monetary rewards. You’ve probably experienced that in your own life. When someone compliments you, it feels good. 

Here’s some science to back that up: “An analysis of the percent signal changes in each region of the striatum [that’s a part of your brain] indicated that both types of reward were characterized by similar activation patterns, especially in the left striatum, indicating that the reward value of both money and a good reputation is represented in this region.” 

The same part of your brain is activated positively when you’re rewarded with money as when you learn that you have a good reputation. Pretty cool. 

From a business perspective, this shows how much your employees value positive recognition. It’s worth investing in recognition programs because they have a similar effect to monetary rewards along with other benefits we’re about to get into. 

40% of employed Americans said they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. This is a big deal when studies say 70% of employees aren't working to their full potential. In addition to making employees happy, you may see positive effects on your bottom line with a good recognition/peer-to-peer recognition program. 

Why Do We Use Peer Recognition?

Recognition and praise from team members have a positive impact on employee engagement. It is one of the many tools you can use to improve your overall company culture. It helps your employees feel like their hard work is valued by everyone around them, not by just a few people.  

An employee’s relationship with a company is shaped by the people they work with every single day. Coworkers, peers, and those in their same departments are the people who create the everyday life of each employee and the faces that make up their daily routine. 

The opinions of other departments, different teams, upper level managers, and accountants whom they don’t see aren’t going to matter as much as the individuals with whom they solve problems, overcome obstacles, have inside jokes, etc. These are the folks whose influence matters in the life of an employee.

Peer-to-peer recognition increases employee engagement because it gets everyone involved. Giving recognition is just as uplifting as getting it. Showing appreciation, or gratitude, for coworkers can increase the giver’s own happiness as well as the recipient. 

One of the biggest benefits of encouraging peer recognition is the amount of recognitions within your company will go up. The more often someone is recognized, the better—and it can be hard to keep up if you only have managers doing the recognizing. We found that 74% of HR leaders said that their organization only recognizes employees once a year on their service anniversary. Recognition programs like this are great, but it's like if your significant other only said, “I care about you” only on your anniversary. That wouldn’t be much of a relationship. 

Increasing the amount of praise and affirmation at work can encourage collaboration and discourage behavior like information hoarding. When praise becomes scarce, people enter a scarcity mindset where they’re competing with team members instead of collaborating together for a cause. 

So if you're a CEO looking for a way to improve engagement, or an HR admin wanting to improve company culture, consider that a recognition and rewards program needs to include recognitions that happen more than once a year. Peer-to-peer recognition happens daily. 

What Is Peer Recognition?

Peer recognition, or peer-to-peer recognition, is a 360-degree approach to recognition in the workplace. Recognition shouldn’t just come from the top down. It should also come from the bottom up and side to side and every other direction it can possibly go in. We say this a lot but it’s true: the more you recognize the better. 

How Do You Recognize a Peer?

This one is easy because the key is not to overthink it. Did someone help you with a project? Did they cover for you when you had to go to the dentist? Did they contribute to a presentation you did? Did they help train you on a specific program? Did someone do great work with a client? Was someone just quietly helpful? These questions can help you start thinking about just how many things you can recognize someone for. 

The more specific, the better, and it doesn’t have to be some huge accomplishment. Your coworkers are part of your team, and you likely help each other out every day. Once you start noticing the many ways people are working hard around you, you’ll want to recognize them more.

Some good practices for recognizing your peers:

  • Make it specific. It feels more sincere when it’s specific.
  • Make it timely. Do it soon or right after someone does something you want to recognize them for.
  • Make it genuine. People can always tell when you’re not being genuine.
  • Get to know your teammates. Do they prefer to be recognized in private or in public?
  • Do it often. Recognize to the point you ask yourself, “is this too much?” and then recognize some more. 

How to Encourage Peer Recognition in the Workplace?

Encouraging employees to recognize each other doesn’t have to be hard—there are a lot of ways to do it naturally. As a leader, one of the best ways is to lead by example. While employee peer-to-peer recognition can take some of the pressure off managers, they still need to help encourage it along. 

It may take some training. Incorporate recognition training into the rest of your onboarding processes. Make sure each employee knows how to use the recognition platform. Establish that you are a company that recognizes often. 

Make it easy for employees, no matter where in the world they are. If you have teams that have never met in person, it can be even more important to make sure they are expressing their appreciation for each other. Awardco makes it easy to recognize employees that are remote and helps keep teams connected through social integrations. 

Social integrations bring recognitions to life and help increase engagement. Using a software platform like Awardco lets you integrate recognition into your daily office communication platform. These recognitions can be seen in the Awardco feed or through Slack and Microsoft Teams integrations. This creates more engagement as peers can react with an emoji, a comment, or a gif. It’s a way to celebrate together. When one person is recognized, other people can chime in to validate the recognition and add their own thoughts. 

Each recognition that comes through the social feed is a reminder to whoever sees it that they should recognize their teammates. Peer pressure can be used for good. The more people see others recognizing the more likely they are to recognize.

One of the easiest ways to encourage more employee recognition among peers is through setting up peer-to-peer recognition programs. We can help you do that. 

What Is a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program?

You can set up your peer-to-peer recognition programs in a few different ways. We recommend having one that promotes frequent, value-driven recognition. This is a program where anyone can go into the platform to write and send a recognition to someone else. They can recognize anyone for anything noteworthy, and there doesn’t have to be any monetary reward attached. Make sure that everyone has the capability to give and receive recognition. 

Why should recognition be value-driven? Defining values or the traits that are valued in your company helps employees know what they’re working towards. It’s like benchmarks or goals, but in the form of attributes. If you value teamwork, efficiency, or flexibility, put those as tags in the platform. Make sure you have core company values that reflect what your organization values the most. This will be the foundation for what people will recognize each other for and can offer a starting point for the person recognizing if they’re not sure what they should be recognizing people for. 

Other programs that are effective are ones that require peers to nominate each other. This could be an employee-of-the-month or VIP type of program. This not only gets employees engaged in the recognition process, they may see some great work that’s happening that leadership might not have their eyes on. It’s a great way to extend recognition to more people on your team. 

Peer-to-peer recognition is a great way to build or reinforce a culture where employees feel valued by their coworkers. Employees have a better idea of the daily effort it takes to do their jobs than a manager does, and therefore receiving recognition from a peer who understands what it took to accomplish something can be more valued than receiving praise from a manager, or even the CEO.

Another way to encourage peer recognition is to have peers participate in annual service anniversary awards. With Awardco MemoryBooks emails are sent out automatically to team members of employees who have an anniversary coming up. They can write a note and include photos that are then compiled into a digital book with lots of recognitions together. 

The programs that are best for your company will depend entirely on your company culture. Whether your current culture is something you want to enhance, overhaul, or renew, Awardco’s customizable reward programs can be tailored to your organization’s needs and help you find real value in employee recognition.

How can Awardco help you increase the amount of peer-to-peer recognition at your company? Chat with us and see.

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