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Peer-to-Peer Recognition Programs: 7 Ideas That Boost Engagement

June 13, 2022

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Watch any team sport and you’ll notice that players aren’t just getting feedback from their coach. They’re also getting support from each other. A pat on the back. A “great shot!” A high five. Team members make the effort to recognize each other’s performance. 

Is the same true in your organization?

People want to be acknowledged for their effort and performance. Even more so, they want peer recognition for their work. 

With the Great Resignation still in full swing, employees are expecting more of their employers than ever before. In addition, rates of remote and hybrid work remain steady; almost half of U.S. employees work at home at least part of the time.

A monumental shift is taking place in the American workplace. Peer-to-peer recognition programs offer a solution that allows you to build camaraderie between employees no matter where they’re located. This helps create a recognition-rich culture that boosts employee morale and performance. 

Here, we’ll discuss what a peer-to-peer recognition program is, why it matters, and 7 best practices for peer recognition.

 

What Is a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program?

Peer recognition - sometimes known as social recognition - occurs when employees express appreciation for their colleagues. 

With a peer-to-peer recognition program, employees are provided the training and resources necessary to celebrate their coworkers. This substantially increases the amount of recognition that employees receive. Community and collaboration are strengthened by the mutual recognition, leading to a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. 

 

Why is Peer Recognition Important?

There’s no denying that it feels good when someone voices appreciation for something you’ve done. Whether it’s a task outside of your normal duties or a part of your everyday routine, it feels nice to be noticed. In workplaces where peer recognition is standard practice, employees are empowered to celebrate the accomplishments of others, both big and small. 

Research has shown just how important peer recognition is in increasing employee engagement, decreasing employee turnover, and creating a healthy workplace where individuals thrive. 

  • 68% of HR representatives say that employee recognition positively impacts employee retention.

    When employees know that their efforts are seen and appreciated, they’re more likely to remain in their current position. Higher turnover rates in an organization can lead to increased job stress and decreased collaboration between those who remain. Not to mention all of the costs associated with replacing an employee.

 

  • Companies scoring in the top 20% for their culture of recognition had turnover rates 31% lower.

    Replacing employees is expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management has found that replacing an employee typically costs an average of 6-9 months of their salary. Additionally, a study from Forbes estimated that replacing an employee could cost anywhere from 50-200% of their salary, depending on their position and skills. At the bare minimum, companies can expect to spend at least half of a position’s salary in finding and training a replacement.

 

  • Only one in three employees were recognized for their work in the last 7 days, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. Another report found that employees had averaged 50 days since they were last recognized.

    It’s important for employees to receive recognition from people at all levels of an organization. Managers should offer regular praise, but the ratio of supervisors to employees ultimately limits the number of interactions that they can have. Peer recognition can exponentially increase the amount of appreciation that an employee receives.

 

  • 40% of Americans would put more effort into their work if they were recognized.

    Some estimates have found that more than 22 million Americans are actively disengaged in their work. This costs the US economy up to $300 billion every year just in loss of productivity. Throw in illness, fraud, absences, turnover, and injuries, and disengaged employees cost the US economy up to $1 trillion a year. Recognition proactively combats feelings of disengagement and isolation.

 

  • 82% of employees feel like recognition is a key component in their workplace satisfaction.

    People are happier at work when they know their efforts are seen and appreciated.

 

Lastly, research has shown that 87% of recognition programs focus on tenure, but these programs have no effect on job performance or satisfaction. 

Peer recognition gets to the heart of employee performance. Unlike managers and executives, who may sometimes have only a bird’s eye view of an employee’s performance, co-workers see the day-to-day successes of each other. They’re likely to celebrate when a peer takes the lead on a new project or initiates a system that will save everyone time. This makes peer recognition an ideal avenue for acknowledging the actions that contribute to the overall advancement of a company. 

Best Practices for Your Peer to Peer Recognition Program

A successful peer recognition program doesn’t happen by chance, but thanks to deliberate planning and research. Here are a few best practices to get you started. 

 

Build a culture of recognition

A strong recognition culture retains current employees and attracts new talent. This requires starting from the top down. Company leadership needs to model the behaviors you want to see in employees by visibly celebrating others in the organization. 

Investing time, money, and effort into employee recognition highlights its importance. A recognition program using just 1% of payroll has a positive impact on workplace culture as well as employee engagement and happiness. 

People want to feel appreciated. They want to hear that the work they contribute is meaningful. Intentionality is key in building a culture of recognition. 

 

Dedicate time to peer recognition

Making time for peer recognition can mean a few different things.

First, you’ll likely need to devote time and effort to fully implement the practice. Communicate with employees:

  • your goals for peer-to-peer recognition.
  • what recognition might look like.
  • what resources are available for peer recognition. 

This communication needs to happen at all levels of the organization. Gallup research has found that almost three-quarters of businesses don’t train managers in recognition best practices. Without this training, managers are less prepared to cultivate a culture of recognition your company is striving for.

You can also make it customary to allot 5-10 minutes of meetings for peer recognition. By establishing this as a standard practice, you’re providing a direct avenue for this type of recognition and highlighting its priority.

Finally, consider how you can support employees in recognizing their co-workers. While the practice shouldn’t be required, it also shouldn’t be added to the plates of already overwhelmed workers. Talk to people and find out what they need to actively participate in peer recognition. This could include anything from an extra 10 minutes at lunch to an online peer-to-peer recognition platform.

 

Implement a peer recognition platform

Peer recognition comes in many different forms - quick comments of appreciation, thank you notes, or email shout-outs, to name a few. 

There’s no wrong method, but there are ways to streamline and simplify the process. Virtual employee recognition platforms offer an approach everyone can appreciate. Instead of asking HR representatives to piece together a program, an all-in-one platform establishes a framework that allows for consistent employee recognition, with everything in one place. Terryberry’s Social Recognition Platform and Program is designed for both peer recognition and top down recognition.

A recognition platform also makes it much easier for you to analyze the metrics related to your program. This can help inform future decisions about the program. 

 

Be considerate of individual preferences

An employee recognition survey of over 16,000 professionals noted several key takeaways in how employees prefer to receive recognition. The majority of employees prefer for recognition to be delivered privately or in a small group rather than widely publicized. 

When survey respondents were asked how they preferred to be recognized for a significant accomplishment, 47% selected a new growth opportunity. This was chosen more often than salary increase (23%), high performance rating (21%), or a bonus (10%). 

Knowing the form and manner that employees prefer to receive recognition can make the act that much more meaningful. 

Employee preferences regarding the frequency of recognition also vary by age. 36% of Generation Z appreciate receiving peer recognition a few times a week, followed by 28% of Millennials, 20% of Generation X, and 18% of Baby Boomers. Although it may be easy to scoff at the hunger for praise that younger employees have, it’s important to consider that this recognition will have long-lasting effects on their performance and tenure at your company. 

 

Align guidelines with your company’s mission and values

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, shared, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” 

By aligning your recognition program with the mission and values of your company, you are internally promoting what your company stands for. 

But how exactly do you put this into practice? It’s all in the way you design your recognition program. When you introduce a peer recognition program, collaborate with employees to identify what mindsets and actions reflect your company’s values. Then, create opportunities for employees to recognize those behaviors in others, whether it’s excellent customer service or unparalleled persistence on a tough project.

 

Follow the data

Even though companies are spending over $46 billion every year on recognition programs, 87% don’t use metrics to track the return on their investment. 

With an online peer recognition program, there are a number of metrics you can measure.

Employee engagement: What percentage of employees are actively participating on the platform? How often do they log in and interact?

Budget use: Is the budget you’ve allotted for employee recognition being fully used? Examining budget utilization can guide you in making adjustments as needed.

Retention: Have you seen a decrease in employee turnover with the implementation of a peer to peer recognition program?

Productivity and profitability: Has your company experienced financial gains with a peer recognition program in place? Although this data is indirectly connected, it’s worth taking a look at.

 

Encourage peer recognition in conjunction with top down recognition

Be mindful in not letting peer recognition replace praise from management and executives. Employees need acknowledgment coming from all levels of an organization. This includes colleagues, direct supervisors, and the leadership above direct supervisors. 

Are you ready to boost engagement with a successful employee recognition program? Terryberry’s 360 Platform allows you to design a custom recognition platform tailored to your needs. Contact us to get started today! 

 

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