October 13, 2022
July 29, 2021

Peer Recognition: Best Practices, Ideas, and Program Examples

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A steady paycheck and a place to work are not enough to keep employees satisfied with their jobs. What matters to employees is that they feel valued and recognized for their hard work. Peer recognition is one way to help improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Here’s your chance to learn more about peer recognition programs and see a few examples of how they can meet the needs of your employees and company.

What Is Peer-to-Peer Recognition?

Peer-to-peer recognition is a way for coworkers to recognize and celebrate each other’s success. This can be as small as a little shout-out or as large as company-wide awards. These small moments of taking time to see the best in each other can help employees come closer together and improve team dynamics while lessening interpersonal conflicts.

Why Is Peer-to-Peer Recognition So Important?

Everyone deserves to be recognized for their hard work. Many industries have room for growth with employee recognition, including when it comes to peer-to-peer appreciation.

Companies with recognition programs in place often focus on the best of the best—or the most popular employees—leaving others to feel forgotten. Positive recognition in the workplace can help keep workers from feeling isolated, lonely, unconnected to their work, or unmotivated.

An effective peer-to-peer recognition program can:

  • Improve employee satisfaction.
  • Increase transparency.
  • Strengthen employee relationships.
  • Foster collaboration.
  • Align workforce behavior with company values.
  • Establish more trust between employees and leadership.
  • Lower employee turnover.
  • Increase motivation, efficiency, and productivity.

At its core, any peer recognition model helps employees become more engaged and creates a culture of appreciation and collaboration.

What Are the Benefits of Peer Recognition?

One of the greatest benefits of effective peer recognition is that it fosters collaboration, teamwork, and friendship throughout the office. However, the mental and emotional boost that employees feel after giving and receiving peer recognition goes beyond these benefits. You may even see an impact on your bottom line. Here are some of the benefits you will see as part of a peer recognition strategy::

  • Emphasize and strengthen company values. Do you preach values such as teamwork, honesty, and commitment? Well, when employees can recognize their peers for exemplifying these values and attributes, everyone’s knowledge and commitment to them will increase (and they won’t just be stickers on a wall anymore).
  • Create a healthy and happy company culture. An atmosphere of collaboration and friendship is conducive to a safe, fun, and productive company culture. Regular recognition will make employees more engaged, help them feel more appreciated, and can give them more purpose. That’s the recipe for a culture of success.
  • Foster friendships and encourage inclusion. Regularly recognizing peers will naturally lead to gratitude and friendliness. And employees with good friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Plus, when peers recognize each other, chances of people feeling left out or unnoticed go down.

These benefits can really boost the morale of your workforce, making employees happier, more engaged, and more excited to come into work each day. However, these benefits are also a little difficult to quantify. The good thing is peer recognition also offers some solid benefits, backed by statistics:

  • Improve employee performance. Peer feedback is shown to increase performance by 14%.
  • Increase employee engagement. According to some analyses, investing in recognition can boost employee engagement nearly as much as a salary increase but at a fraction of the cost. And if disengaged employees cost the U.S. $550 billion every year, increasing engagement will pay for itself.
  • Boost company profitability. Engaged workforces result in a 21% boost in profitability.
  • Increase retention rates. Employees who aren’t recognized for their work are twice as likely to quit as those who are recognized. Imagine if employees throughout your organization were recognized by their peers on a regular basis!

Investing in peer recognition programs may seem intimidating or might sound like a waste of time and money. However, the more your employees are recognized, the more often they’ll get chosen for the soccer team and not left on the sidelines.

Peer Recognition Best Practices

If you don’t already have a specific program to foster peer recognition, don’t worry, it won’t take much to start. All you have to do is provide a tool that lets employees recognize each other, and then you can sit back and let employees pull their own recognition weight! Just like the P.E. teacher who splits everyone into teams and sits on a lawn chair and reads a book for the whole class, the right recognition tool will create a self-supporting system that can really boost your workplace culture.

Start Recognizing

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few steps you can keep in mind to build a peer recognition program from the ground up.

1. Make It Quick and Easy

Any recognition program should be quick and easy to use, especially for employees who are already juggling multiple responsibilities and projects. And HR admins definitely don’t need more on their plates! Luckily, you can use tools to make it simple for everyone. With Awardco, employees only have to login to the platform, find the co-worker they want to recognize, and then write a personal message that recognizes them. Peer-to-peer appreciation only takes a minute or two—and they can even recognize their peers from their phone!

2. Ensure Everyone Has Access

Once you have a program that’s easy to use, ensure that everyone can actually use it. Do you have employees who don’t have access to a computer? Don’t let that stop them from recognizing their peers! Awardco offers SMS notifications to help spread the love to everyone. 

3. Post Recognitions Publicly

Get everyone excited by making peer recognitions publicly visible. Awardco integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Outlook—and we also have a social feed where all recognitions get posted. Employees can see every recognition in their regular communication channels, on our social feed, or you can even plug the feed into a TV and show real-time recognitions around your company in common areas. This visibility helps remind them to recognize and gets everyone excited about the idea of appreciation!

4. Encourage Leaders to Be the Examples

If you’re just beginning your peer recognition adventure, you’ll want a good guide to get everyone started. Have managers and executives recognize each other and other employees to show everyone how it’s done and how awesome it is! Once they see others recognizing, they’ll be less hesitant or confused about doing it themselves.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition Ideas

Peer-to-peer recognition involves more than simply saying, “Good job,” from time to time. Here are seven peer-to-peer recognition ideas that you can use in your business.

1. Cards and Handwritten Notes

Most of us only touch a card when it’s someone’s birthday, but they can be a key component of a peer-to-peer recognition program. The company can make sure each employee has easy access to a stack of cards they can use to recognize each other.

Cards and handwritten notes can feel outdated and something that only your grandma would do, but they have power. Because they are handwritten, they carry a personal touch and thoughtfulness that a quick email or text doesn’t convey.

2. Social Media Recognition

Social media awards and recognitions are great for employees who are involved with social media. The best part about social media recognition is that it extends beyond your organization and can easily be seen by family members and friends.

Digital recognition through social media comes in two forms. Peers can nominate each other to be recognized on the company’s social media accounts, or they can individually comment, message, and celebrate each other over social media.

3. Celebrate Milestones, Anniversaries, and More

Peer-to-peer recognition is more than just celebrating accomplishments in the office. It’s useful to bring employees together to celebrate all parts of their lives. Everything from a birthday, engagement, or work anniversary can and should be celebrated.

Each of these milestones allows the team to celebrate and spotlight each other and helps each team member feel recognized not just for what they do, but for who they are.

4. Point-Based Systems

A point-based system is an internal mechanism that allows employees to recognize and reward each other with points. Those points can then be redeemed for prizes, rewards, or bonuses.

A successful point-based system needs to include rewards that are obtainable and desired.

A reward of one day of extra PTO is a major prize in any company, but having it cost an outrageous number of points puts it out of reach and negates any motivation or engagement the reward might have inspired.

5. Celebrate the Introvert and Extrovert

Not everyone celebrates the same way. An extrovert on your team will absolutely enjoy public recognition of a job well done. Still, that same celebration for an introvert will be considered a punishment instead of a reward.

In a peer-to-peer recognition program, don’t use a one-size-fits-all reward. Instead, each recognition is a chance for employees to celebrate in a way that works for them. There is no right or wrong way to recognize a win. The only misstep is when successes go unrecognized.

6. LinkedIn Endorsements

Skills on an employee’s LinkedIn profile can be endorsed. This allows peers to show their support and vote of confidence in a specific skill or attribute. Endorsements help them support and recognize each other, and they also help coworkers strengthen their LinkedIn network.

7. Peer Recognition Software Like Awardco

When you choose to use a peer recognition software like Awardco, you streamline your employee engagement platform by making it easy for employees to recognize and celebrate each other.

With Awardco, employees have the tools to recognize each other while empowering the recipient by giving them the power to choose their reward. This way, the recognizer can celebrate a job well done but doesn’t have to worry about making sure they get the right gift, and the recognized can get exactly what they want, whatever that may be.

Make Peer-to-Peer Recognition Effective

So now you know how to set up a program that lets employees recognize each other. That’s awesome! But we’re not done yet. You still need to help them know how to recognize their peers in the most effective way possible. 

For example, what would mean more: “Thanks for your work!” OR “I saw that you put in extra time last week to finish the big Q1 project. The dedication you show is a great example for me!” 

Here are some general recognition best practices to keep in mind:

  • Make it specific. Talk about exactly what made you want recognize the person, and don’t settle for a general or generic thanks.
  • Make it timely. Getting recognized for a project you finished a month ago won’t mean as much. Having someone show appreciation for the project you completed yesterday will mean the world!
  • Make it genuine. People will be able to tell if you're giving recognition just to do it. Make sure you give them genuine compliments that accurately appreciate their efforts.
  • Make it personalized. Does your peer appreciate public recognition? Or would they rather have a private conversation? Make sure each recognition is meaningful to the recipient.
  • Do it often. The employees around you are working hard each and every day! If you pay attention, we’re confident you can find genuine compliments to give out at least a few times a week. Ask yourself, “is this too much?” and then recognize some more.

Whether you use these tips for yourself or you provide training for employees when you roll out your new and improved peer recognition program, you’ll get the most out of each recognition by following this advice.

Examples of Peer Recognition Programs

You can implement your new recognition program in a host of different ways. Here are some ideas for what you can do:

Monetary or Point-Based System

If you have the budget for it, give employees a small amount of money they can award along with their recognitions each month. That way, when they show appreciation for the people around them, those people get kind words AND a monetary reward. Talk about a win-win.

Handwritten Notes or Cards

If you want to stray away from digital mediums so that every employee can easily participate, you could set up “recognition stations” around the office with paper, pencils, stickers, and other fun stationery. That way they could quickly write out their recognitions and give them out in person.

Social Media Shout-Outs

Make peer recognition as visible as possible with social media. If your program ties into your company’s social media channels, the people who get recognized will be shown on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or even Instagram. This is a great way to spread the love even more!

What This All Means

The bottom line is this: peer recognition is easy and simple to introduce to your company, and it comes with many different benefits. Regardless of how big or small your company is, peer recognition is an effective way to spread joy and excitement through your company, and this has a large effect on engagement, productivity, and retention.

See How Awardco Can Help With Your Peer Recognition Programs

Employee recognition programs are not one-size-fits-all. What matters most is that employees feel valued and are recognized for their hard work. Creating a culture of peer recognition, in addition to other forms of recognition, is one way to help improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Get started with Awardco's employee recognition platform to learn more about our peer-to-peer recognition programs and how you can allow your employees to celebrate the good all around them.