According to the consulting agency Deloitte, recognition is closely associated with improving employee engagement, which in turn boosts job performance and organizational value. However, a 2021 report by Gallup says that “only one in three workers in the U.S. and Germany strongly [agrees] that they received recognition or praise in the past seven days for doing good work — and those who disagree are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.”
Therefore, it’s critical that employers recognize high performers. It’s also important to note that recognition is evolving.
Traditionally, recognition comes from the employee’s manager. But according to the human resources service providers WorldatWork, employees don’t want recognition from their managers alone anymore. They also want to be acknowledged by their peers. In other words, they want peer-to-peer recognition.
Peer-to-peer recognition is defined as team members directly acknowledging other team members’ talent, skills or quality of work. It is a powerful way to improve collaboration among employees.
Benefits of peer-to-peer recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition “instills a sense of team spirit, motivates employees to do great work, and promotes openness and transparency,” according to an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Moreover, peer recognition can:
- Increase job satisfaction.
- Reduce turnover.
- Improve company culture.
- Enhance customer satisfaction.
- Build trust among colleagues.
- Improve morale among employees.
- Strengthen diversity and inclusion.
How peer recognition works
Peer recognition can be as simple as employees verbally complimenting their peers on their accomplishments or sending a note to their colleague’s manager acknowledging the great work that person is doing.
More formal peer recognition programs tend to have a nomination and voting process. For example, employees nominate peers based on their accomplishments on a monthly basis. Employees, either the whole staff or a select committee, then vote for the persons they want to be recognized. The winners typically receive some type of reward, such as a monetary bonus, a temporarily designated parking spot or an award plaque.
While peer recognition can be done on a low-tech scale (e.g., verbally or by email), employers often utilize employee-recognition platforms to simplify the process and to expand their options.
At the very least, these platforms:
- Enable fast peer-to-peer feedback.
- Provide social media walls that let employees publicly recognize their peers.
- Offer analytics that show leaders how recognition is affecting employee engagement and business outcomes.
Tips for developing a peer-to-peer recognition program:
- Set clear goals for the program and strategies for meeting them.
- Involve employees in the program development process. Since peer recognition is essentially about employees, it’s important to solicit employee input.
- Provide rewards that align with your budget and are likely to motivate employees.
- Structure the program in a manner that is fair to all employees.
- Inform employees of the criteria for participating in the program.
- Be consistent when enforcing the program rules.
Be sure to periodically measure the program’s effectiveness. If necessary, adjust the program to reflect your current business needs.