With 82% of employees reporting that recognition is an important part of their happiness at work, making sure that all team members get the recognition they deserve is a key HR priority. In fact, 36% of respondents to one poll reported that lack of appreciation was the number one reason they were considering switching jobs.
However, it's not just recognition from the boss that employees crave. Research shows that peer-to-peer recognition – in other words, recognition from one's coworkers and team members – is also especially important. A different survey found that 65% would stay in a job with an unappreciative boss if they felt appreciated by their coworkers.
It makes sense. An employee's peers are the people who best understand their work, struggles, and achievements. While glowing feedback in a 1-to-1 session with a manager is nice, recognition from the people you work alongside every day can feel even more genuine and relevant. It does wonders for employee engagement, morale, motivation, and happiness in their roles.
So, if peer-to-peer appreciation is so important, what can HR teams do to encourage it? Here's our step-by-step guide to creating a peer recognition programme that will boost employee engagement and workplace culture.
What is a peer-to-peer recognition programme?
A peer-to-peer recognition programme or scheme is a way of encouraging everyone in the organisation to recognise others. The scheme makes it easy to do this in a simple, timely, and intuitive way, encouraging everyone to get involved.
The specifics of your peer recognition programme will vary between different organisations and will be unique to you. Factors such as workplace size, industry, and whether you primarily work remotely, in the office, or a hybrid of the two will impact the way you design your social recognition system.
Evaluate your current recognition system
The first step when creating a peer-to-peer recognition scheme is to take stock of what you already have. Do employees already have a way to share feedback and give recognition to their peers? At this stage, it can be useful to interview or survey employees to find out how they recognise their peers and what barriers prevent them from doing it more often.
For example, you may currently have no system for peer recognition in place, meaning that team members are unlikely to give feedback to their peers. As a result, the main type of social recognition in your organisation may be manager-to-employee. And while getting top-down recognition from your manager alone is still useful, it's not ideal. It looks like time to implement a new system.
Alternatively, you may have a pre-existing system such as a noticeboard in the office where team members can write a positive note about one of their peers and display it for the office. While peer-to-peer recognition ideas like this may have been effective in the past when everyone passed the noticeboard every day, in this era of remote and hybrid working it's important to make sure that employee recognition isn't limited to the office. The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted work away from physical offices and into digital spaces for many teams; it's important that your employee recognition programme reflects this.
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Try peer-to-peer recognition software
After taking stock of the current system (or lack thereof), it's time to try something new. To adapt to an increasingly decentralised workplace where remote, hybrid, and flexible work are the norm, we recommend trying peer-to-peer recognition software. These online recognition platforms are a great alternative to a noticeboard in the office, ensuring that recognition giving is inclusive to everyone no matter where they are in the world.
For example, XCD's recognition software, Appreciation, has been designed to make it as easy, intuitive, and fun as possible to recognise peers. With the peer-to-peer recognition platform, anyone can send a Appreciation to their peers with a click of a button, sharing the positive message with the whole organisation through the friendly 'Chatter Channel'. Here, people can interact with their peers' recognitions and achievements, building community and company culture together. Think of it as your company-wide internal social media, allowing positive engagement between co-workers.
The key point is that this peer-to-peer form of employee recognition is public (within your organisation), allowing employees to join in with the appreciation of their peers and encouraging others to send their own recognition messages.
Consider the company values you want to promote
Whether you use employee recognition software like Appreciation or another platform for employee recognition, it's important to ensure that peer-to-peer recognition is aligned with your company values. By encouraging peers to recognise each other for embodying the business' core values and goals, you can strengthen the company culture and employees' sense of commitment to the overall mission.
For example, in Appreciation you can create custom Behaviours that relate to the core values of the organisation. This means that everyone can easily engage with the company values and encourages team members to embody these values in their work.
For example, let's say that one of your core values is innovation. You can create a Behaviour called Innovation, making it easy for people to recognise their peers for this. Every time a team member comes up with a creative idea, a new way of doing something, or challenges the status quo in a productive way, their peers can celebrate their work this way. Moreover, peers can add custom Accolades to further personalise the message and highlight the specific successes of their colleagues.
Lead by example
To get the ball rolling with the peer-to-peer social recognition system, it's useful to lead by example. The more that employees see their peers giving and receiving recognition, the more likely they will be to participate, too. Quickly, it will become second nature to recognise and appreciate peers, both using the system and in real life. By providing people with an easy method and template for giving recognition to their peers, it's more likely that they'll start looking out for opportunities to commend their peers.
For the first few weeks, it may be helpful for the HR team to implement a target for the amount of Appreciations sent, ensuring that everyone is setting a good example for the rest of the employees. You might also identify employee recognition champions – leaders who can set a great example for others to follow. After a quick adjustment period, the social recognition should continue naturally as second nature to employees.
Encourage recognition to be specific and timely
For the employee recognition programme to be as effective as possible, it's crucial to encourage employees to share their recognition in a specific and timely manner. It's no use commending a team member for their 'great work' last month; you want employees to be sharing specifics about recent events. For example, you might encourage employees to give recognition for someone sharing a great idea in a meeting, going above and beyond to help a coworker with a particular task, or for being a shining example of good listening skills, empathy, or allyship in the workplace.
When recognition from peers is specific and timely, it becomes more meaningful to the recipient and a better example to all their colleagues. By providing tips on how and when to give recognition and giving examples, HR can ensure that all employees know how to give the most effective shoutouts to their peers.
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Don't forget to look at the data
Making HR more data-driven is a priority for all of us; using peer-to-peer recognition software has the dual benefits of bolstering your HR analytics while also increasing social recognition. With peer-to-peer recognition platforms like Appreciation, HRs can see a top-down view of how recognition is flowing around the company. Tracking metrics such as the number of peer recognitions sent and received, trends in particular departments and teams, and the uptake of the platform among leadership can be a great way for HR to glean insights about the organisation's people.
Not to mention, you can also generate custom reports analysing this data against other important business metrics and people analytics to uncover trends. Is peer-to-peer recognition having a positive impact on customer satisfaction? Productivity metrics? Turnover rate? This is a great way to find out.
Integrate peer recognition with performance management
We've already talked about the benefits of social recognition from employees' peers on happiness and retention, but it's useful to remember that peer-to-peer recognition programmes can also have a positive impact on performance management strategies. Similar to 360 degree feedback for employee performance appraisals, the record of an employee's recognition from their peers can add a new and valuable dimension to performance management. With peer-to-peer recognition, it's easier to keep track of aspects of an employee's development which may otherwise go unnoticed by managers or HR, such as the initiative an employee takes when working in small groups or their willingness to help co-workers with difficult tasks. By making sure that performance management strategies take note of feedback from peers, you can understand an employee's performance in more detail.
Ready to take employee recognition to the next level?
To build a recognition-rich and supportive company culture, HR needs to set a good example and encourage employees to give peer-to-peer appreciation. With recognition software like Appreciation, this has never been easier.
XCD's easy-to-use recognition tool is based on Salesforce and is available to any organisation, even if you don't use our all-in-one HR and payroll software. Customisable and intuitive, the peer recognition software is simple to implement but is a real game-changer for your people.
Interested in finding out more about how Appreciation peer-to-peer recognition software can make your people feel happier, more motivated, and boost their productivity? Click the button below to download Appreciation from the Salesforce AppExchange.