Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Fostering a Strong Work Culture
In the age of “productivity paranoia”, how does your team maintain an uplifted culture? Now more than ever, employees want to work where they feel motivated and encouraged in their everyday schedules. In fact, 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company with values that align with their own.
Since workplace culture is king, organizations must adopt thoughtful methods to bring their company values to life. Doing so will not only stave off burnout, but also encourage healthy, positive company collaboration. One of the best ways to incorporate company values is by creating a robust recognition program.
A key player within the corporate recognition program is peer-to-peer recognition. This type of praise is contagious and boosts overall workplace morale. And, if your organization can learn to make a habit of peer-to-peer recognition, it’ll see positive results for years to come. With that in mind, this guide will cover:
- What is peer-to-peer recognition?
- What are the benefits of peer-to-peer recognition?
- Peer-to-peer recognition tips
- Peer-to-peer recognition ideas
When bringing together your peer-to-peer recognition program, be flexible. Everyone likes to be recognized in different ways — you’ll need to understand which method works best for your unique company culture.
What is peer-to-peer recognition?
Peer-to-peer recognition, also known as social recognition, describes the process of coworkers or teammates recognizing one another for their hard work. It’s a laterally-focused team-building activity that strengthens relationships and adds to a positive work environment. It’s a great form of recognition for organizations of all types, including nonprofits.
As opposed to top-down recognition, peer-to-peer recognition is not hierarchy-focused. Rather, this type of recognition encourages kudos of all kinds to and from any employee. In other words, anyone can pass peer-to-peer recognition forward by highlighting coworkers’ successes and engaging employees across organizational departments.
Peer-to-Peer recognition advantages
Increased employee retention and efficiency are two direct, measurable impacts of a healthy peer-to-peer recognition program. Of course, while maintaining employee loyalty is essential, there are some separate peer-to-peer recognition benefits to be aware of.
These advantages include:
- Increased camaraderie and connection. When properly encouraged, peer recognition fosters a sense of authentic praise. Unsurprisingly, coworkers enjoy receiving genuine kudos for their efforts rather than receiving regular praise from managers that can feel somewhat forced.
- A renewed perspective. As an employee, it can be tempting to become overly focused on your own workload, becoming a tunnel vision victim. Peer recognition pulls coworkers out of their own agendas and gives them a chance to motivate their fellow employees.
- Company value promotion. Peer recognition is evidence that your company walks the talk when it comes to supporting coworkers. For instance, a company that claims to “exceed expectations” should regularly recognize and reward employees who do so.
- Leadership involvement. As a manager, it can be lonely at the top. Peer recognition is a natural way to involve employees of all levels to engage in healthy, productive company encouragement.
- Positive ripple effects. Encouragement is contagious! Peer recognition can cause a chain reaction that uplifts employee spirits and encourages coworkers to keep pushing company initiatives forward.
As your company expands, it’s important to adapt your recognition programs as well. For instance, if your company adds a new value, or decides to have its employees work remotely, consider dedicating virtual meeting time for peer recognition.
Peer-to-peer recognition tips
If you’re convinced that peer recognition is a must for your organization, the question becomes how do you do it? Here are some tips to build sustainable, meaningful peer recognition habits:
- Prioritize authenticity. When recognizing coworkers, you’ll want to be genuine. To do so, avoid making recognition a hard and fast rule. Instead, show employees how to call out model employee behavior as they notice it.
- Be specific. How exactly did a coworker represent a company value? You don’t have to go into too much detail, but be sure to mention why their action is worthy of recognition.
- Make recognition fun. A surefire way to make sure your peer recognition program succeeds is by making it fun. Consider including incentives like employee shoutouts and gifts to make people want to jump on the recognition bandwagon.
- Be inclusive. Recognition is positive, but only giving recognition to a few employees at a time can build resentment. Attempt to strike a balance between appropriately recognizing top performers and encouraging full teams. Utilize private recognition to reward a top performer without drawing too much attention.
- Be immediate. Lastly, aim to quickly recognize coworkers. After they complete a strenuous project, it’s important to communicate your encouragement in a window that’s still relevant. That way you can keep peer recognition spontaneous and authentic.
Above all, prioritize relevance, specificity, and authenticity in your peer-to-peer recognition program. The more heartfelt and voluntary your peer recognition is, the better. Let’s explore popular recognition ideas in the section!
Peer-to-peer recognition ideas
There are a variety of methods to foster peer-to-peer recognition. Here are a couple of ideas to
get you started:
eCards are digital greeting cards that can be easily adapted to a peer recognition program. These cards are usually sent via email and take seconds to write. Here are a couple of scenarios of eCards in action:
- New employee milestones. A new team member just closed their first deal! With customizable digital eCards, a coworker can send a newly onboarded employee a quick congratulations to their inbox in seconds.
- Experienced employee milestones. Whether it’s five years at the business or a record number of deals closed, a coworker can send a meaningful message to make an employee’s anniversary special.
- Employee encouragement. Some work weeks are tougher than others. If a coworker knows their fellow employee is putting in extra effort, they can send an eCard as a reminder to keep up the good work.
With tools like eCardWidget, you can brand your eCards with custom templates and imagery to make them relevant and special to the receiver. You may also want to add a theme according to your company’s values and mission. That way, employees can easily be recognized for how they brought value to the organization.
Host a podcast interview
If your organization regularly uses podcasts to talk about industry-related and organizationally relevant topics, why not take the time to implement peer recognition into your agenda?
These employee shoutouts do not have to take long. Instead, consider encouraging employees to submit peer recommendations for kudos. Sometimes managers or coworkers can even jump on to share a quick story of how their coworkers are breaking barriers or setting new standards.
Interviewing or highlighting employees can make them feel recognized and valued for their specific impact. However, some employees may prefer to remain anonymous or value private recognition, so be sure to take their preferences into account when scheduling your podcast recognition spots.
Gifts are tried and true incentives for peer recognition. As an effective engagement strategy, offering employee gifts should go beyond birthday and holiday celebrations. Meeting quarterly goals, completing model work, or representing company values well are all reasons to celebrate employees with gifts.
It’s important to budget your gifts so each team member has the chance to feel equally valued. To do so, you’ll need to standardize gift prices for different occasions. For instance, celebrating an end-of-the-year bonus may have a higher price cap than celebrating an employee’s birthday.
Peer recognition gift ideas can be practical and personal. Some top examples include technology gifts like an extra monitor, organizational gifts like a stylized planner, or branded gifts like company merchandise.
Give employee awards
You can reward individual employees or full teams for excellent performance— just be aware of over and under-rewarding employees. Peers can nominate coworkers for employee of the month or whole teams can vote on coworkers for a reward.
Rewards can take the form of plaques, trophies, or certificates stating the employee’s or team’s accomplishments. Other awards could be employee perks like the VIP parking spot or a bonus.
Post on social media
Use your organization’s social media to highlight peer recognition. Allow team members to recognize their coworkers on your online platform.
Gather peer quotes and ask coworkers to describe how the employee they nominated pushed new initiatives forward. You can use platforms like LinkedIn to call out employees by name and highlight their impressive performance.
Or, if an employee has hit a major milestone like 10 years at the company, you could ask for short video clips of employees recognizing their teammates. From there, compile their responses into a thank you video to encourage a hardworking, experienced employee.
Make a donation
They may not be as well known as other recognition methods, but donations can be meaningful ways for peers to recognize each other. For instance, if you know an employee is passionate about a particular cause, such as animal rights, you could encourage your team to donate in their name.
Even better, peers can request a matching gift from their employer when making a donation on their peer’s behalf. Corporate matching gifts are a great CSR practice that not only makes employees feel recognized, but also adds to the positive workplace environment.
To prepare for this type of peer recognition, we recommend gathering a list of nonprofits that each of your employees supports. And, after donating, peers can send the employee a charity eCard as proof of their recognition.
Offer a free lunch or coffee
Who doesn’t love a free lunch? You can spice up your peer recognition program by having peers nominate one another for a free meal or coffee. If your company is mostly remote, you can use food delivery services as a reward for their hard work.
Other food-related incentives can look like gift cards, coupons, or even a pre-made dessert basket. Or, if you know a remote employee has a knack for cooking, send them a meal kit with recipe instructions. This will show them that you appreciate their work, which results in your employees being more engaged with their work.
Peer-to-peer recognition fosters employee engagement and alleviates major stressors like burnout and fatigue. When employees feel valued for their work, they are more efficient and feel more connected to your organization as a whole.
To learn more about motivating employees, check out these additional resources:
- Corporate Matching Gift Programs: Learn how your organization can use corporate gifts to boost employee engagement and morale.
- A Complete Guide to Employee Recognition + Top 10 Ideas: Read this article for more employee recognition inspiration.
- Remote Employee Retention: Best Practices and 6 Impactful Strategies: Retain your current employees and build a stronger workforce with this guide.