Leveraging Peer Employee Recognition Programs

The benefits of employee recognition in building a strong culture are undeniable. Managers are often tasked with carrying employee recognition beyond regular reviews. Yet, managers might not always be around to see every achievement that can happen.

Fellow employees are the ones who experience the contributions of their peers firsthand. Usually, employees notice co-workers who stepped in to help them complete a project. Or they observe someone who takes on extra tasks without complaints.

Despite the lack of managerial visibility, these recognition-worthy moments need to be noticed. Unfortunately, according to Gallup’s analysis, these moments are often unrecognized.

Only one in three workers in the U.S. agree that they have received recognition for good work in the past seven days. A peer recognition program can fill in the gap, building a culture of appreciation.

Importance of peer recognition programs

One of the most interesting results of Gallup’s multiyear study is that people prefer public recognition over money. Money-based rewards did show up in the top six ways, ranking at number five. But public recognition ranked higher, holding spot number one.

Peer-to-peer employee recognition programs help management to recognize individuals even when they cannot be everywhere or see everything. Reward systems using peers build a strong culture of appreciation that happens without manager visibility.

Peer-to-peer recognition in action

A peer employee recognition program will improve employee relationships and team spirit. Also, a culture of appreciation will begin to develop. Celebrating each other’s good work will feed a positive culture. In fact, a culture of appreciation will engage employees beyond bonuses.

Employees will have higher confidence in the work they do. It’s nice to have managers recognize a good job, but peer recognition is an extra boost.

Overcoming common challenges

One of the biggest challenges with peer employee recognitions are delays. Often, the employee must nominate a co-worker to a manager. The manager must then approve the nomination and administer the reward. Sometimes, the employee does not receive the reward until a quarterly rollup. By then, the recognition has lost its impact.

One way to overcome delays is to use a simple shout out system. The employee can hand write a note to a coworker, thanking him or her for their help, covering a shift, assisting in some way. Also, handwritten notes of appreciation can mean more than other rewards. This type of simple shout out system needs very little administration, especially if the manager empowers the team to do it often.

Another challenge is expecting employees to support the program by themselves. All employee recognition programs need marketing and management support. Peer-to-peer programs are no different. To keep the employees using the program, advertise and market the program.

Keep the program in front of the employees. Publish the program in the newsletter or put it on the bulletin board. Remind employees on the program when someone says a co-worker is doing a good job.

Another issue is employees might reward other people for doing their job. One important requirement of any employee recognition program is to set clear goals. Employees should reward their peers based on the outline of the program, and clear goals will set the boundaries.

Likewise, clear goals will prevent employees from rewarding their peers simply because they are friends instead of for actual accomplishments. A criteria-based reward system with manager oversight will help prevent misuse.

Peer-to-peer employee recognition programs help companies reward employees for good work. Managers have less burden, and employees feel more appreciated.

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