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Social Recognition Programs: 7 Ideas That Boost Engagement

September 23, 2022


Watch any team sport and you’ll notice that players aren’t just getting recognition 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 recognise each other’s performance. 

Is the same true in your organisation? People want acknowledgement 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 40% of UK employees work at home at least one day a week.

A monumental shift is taking place in the British workplace. Social 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 are social recognition programs, why it matters, and 7 best practices for social recognition.


What are Social Recognition Programs?

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

With social recognition programs, employees are provided with the training and resources necessary to celebrate their co-workers. This substantially increases the amount of recognition that employees receive. Mutual recognition strengthens community and collaboration, leading to a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. 


Why is Social 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 social recognition is standard practice, empowered employees celebrate the accomplishments of others, both big and small. 

Research has shown just how important social 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 organisation 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 on finding and training a replacement.


  • According to a 2016 Gallup poll employers recognised only one in three employees for their work in the last 7 days. Another report found that employees had averaged 50 days since employers last recognised them.

    It’s important for employees to receive recognition from people at all levels of an organisation. 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 employees would put more effort into their work if employers recognised them.

    Some estimates have found that more than 70% of UK employees are actively disengaged in their work. This costs the UK economy up to £70 billion every year just in loss of productivity. Throw in illness, fraud, absences, turnover, injuries, and disengaged employees cost the UK economy up to £100 billion 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. 

Social 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 colleague takes the lead on a new project or initiates a system that will save everyone time. This makes social recognition an ideal avenue for acknowledging the actions that contribute to the overall advancement of a company. 

social recognition programs: be part of a team

Best Practices for Your Social Recognition Programs

Successful social recognition programs don’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 behaviours you want to see in employees by visibly celebrating others in the organisation. 

Investing time, money, and effort into employee recognition highlights its importance. A social 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 social 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 social recognition.
  • what recognition might look like.
  • what resources are available for social recognition? 

This communication needs to happen at all levels of the organisation. 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 social 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 recognising 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 social recognition platform.


Implement a social recognition platform

Social 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 analyse 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. Most employees prefer private recognition or for recognition delivered in a small group rather than widely publicised.

When asked for their preferred recognition for a significant accomplishment, 47% of respondents selected a new growth opportunity. Respondents chose this more often than a 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 social 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 social recognition programs, collaborate with employees to identify what mindsets and actions reflect your company’s values. Then, create opportunities for employees to recognise those behaviours 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 online social recognition programs, 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 utilisation can guide you in making adjustments as needed.
  • Retention: Have you seen a decrease in employee turnover with the implementation of a social recognition program?
  • Productivity and profitability: Has your company experienced financial gains with a social recognition program in place? Although this data is indirectly connected, it’s worth taking a look at.

Encourage social recognition in conjunction with top-down recognition

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


Ready to get started?

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