Companies turn to multiple channels to create happy and productive employees - rewards and recognition, a great culture, career growth, learning and development opportunities, intangible benefits among others. R&R programs inspire and motivate employees to outperform, at the same time directing them to exhibit the behaviors that align with the company vision. Typically, it is the supervisor who delivers the reward or recognition. However, this norm is changing. Organizations are turning to social recognition which involves different stakeholders in the recognition process. Social recognition is about encouraging everyone to recognize good work and making recognition an ingrained culture.
Why peer-to-peer recognition?
In today’s diverse workforce, employees are required to collaborate extensively with peers in the course of their work. A peer-to-peer recognition program presents a great opportunity to create a culture of positive reinforcement. According to research, humans release the happy hormone oxytocin, when someone thanks them, and this makes the recipient happier and collaborative1. Another reason may be because it makes recognition more democratic and decentralized - communicating a powerful message that every person’s opinion is valued. Peer-to-peer recognition helps create a culture of trust and inclusion, fuels healthy competition and drives high performance.
Correlation with employee engagement: Peer-to-peer recognition has a positive correlation with employee engagement. According to a 2016 survey by Globoforce and SHRM, on employee recognition states that 90% of workers noted that a values-based, peer-to-peer recognition made them more satisfied with their work.
Link to business outcomes: The benefits of peer-to-peer recognition are not just limited to creating better engagement. It has been found to positively impact business outcomes too. Research by Globoforce and SHRM showed that peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. It is also known to increase customer satisfaction. This presents a strong business case to adopt peer-to-peer recognition.
Writing on employee benefits, Robert Crawford shares an example of a peer-to-peer social recognition platform using which employees could use to send individuals and teams a “buzz” i.e. a personalized thank you note through print or electronically. Within two years of being implemented, 76% of the employees had received a “buzz” from colleagues or managers, and 53% had granted a buzz to a peer. The company tracked this usage in relation with employee engagement scores. Engagement and motivation scores improved by 8%, and the number of employees feeling valued and recognized increased by 13%. It also translated to a better employee understanding of the business vision, which increased by 18%.
Another organization that works towards increasing happiness at work, a couple of years back introduced a non-conventional bonus system to recognize and reward peers at work. Under this scheme, employees are rewarded by immediate colleagues, using a points-based peer-to-peer program. A tool is then used to convert these points to money and the rewarded employee can choose to spend it on a host of reward options. What makes it effective is that the recognition is linked to the company values. In a survey, it was found that 32% of users were more satisfied with their jobs, 45% were more likely to continue working with the company and 78% were more likely to praise their colleagues.
These success stories highlight how peer-to-peer recognition and employee engagement are intricately connected, and emphasize that companies must tap into this opportunity.
The future of peer-to-peer recognition
As the workforce demographics change and more millennials and Gen Z employees become a part of the mainstream workforce, the preference for peer-to-peer recognition is set to increase. This is because Millennials’ happiness at work is 23.3% more correlated to the connections they form with co-workers compared to direct supervisors. Millennials value openness and transparency more, and peer-to-peer recognition is based on the premise of “showing genuine appreciation”, which will appeal to them.