Recognition in the workplace comes in all shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, we’re used to feedback coming most often from managers, directors, and other leadership team members. But in recent years, more and more companies have begun to acknowledge the value of peer-to-peer recognition and feedback.
Peer recognition seems simple enough as a concept, right? Your peers are doing a good job, and you let them know through a quick message when passing by their desk, or on a company-wide social channel like Slack. Yet more often than not, actively giving honest feedback and cultivating a culture of recognition in the workplace, between peers, is harder than it sounds. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some internal adjustments to get used to and effectively put into practice.
We’ve put together some tips for how to incorporate peer-to-peer recognition seamlessly into your work experience, ideas for peer recognition awards, and some best practices to help strengthen your organization.
What Does Peer-to-Peer Recognition Mean?
Peer recognition refers to the mutual acknowledgment and appreciation of effort exchanged between employees in the workplace. Team members may give this kind of recognition and feedback for a particular task or assignment they’ve completed, after a presentation, at the end of the week, or as a nod of gratitude during a busy day to someone’s dedication and work ethic.
Recognition takes on many forms. It can be anything from a verbal acknowledgment or a thank you note to sending your peer a small gift. This invites peer recognition into the workplace organically and can give fellow team members an idea of what success at your particular organization looks like!
It should be noted that while peer-to-peer recognition can happen intuitively, it can be much more impactful and meaningful when leveraged by companies through engagement tools and incentives programs. When done correctly, peer recognition uplifts individuals and teams, increases morale, and boosts overall (and especially remote) employee engagement. Having these incentives and tools in place also provides clearer-cut operating procedures for employees while encouraging participation in giving feedback.
What Are the Benefits of Having Peer-to-Peer Recognition?
There are many benefits to having peer-to-peer recognition incorporated into your organization’s internal operations. In addition to the benefits inherent in the feedback itself, peer recognition influences other aspects of a company’s culture and an individual’s wellbeing.
Allows for unique feedback
Peers and team members in similar roles will naturally have a close understanding of each other’s day-to-day challenges. Thus, they’ll be able to provide unique and impactful feedback (especially in conjunction with one-on-ones with managers!).
Strengthens company culture and engagement
Studies show that employees who feel appreciated and understood by their peers will be more engaged in their work. As companies are the composite of individuals, peer recognition can significantly influence overall company culture and the connections between teams.
Allows your employees to form stronger team bonds
It’s no secret that if peers are actively providing feedback to each other they’ll be more closely connected as a team. This doesn’t come automatically but takes time as employees are building a mutual trust that can ultimately lead to a higher quality of work, increased efficiency, and a stronger team bond.
Boosts employee satisfaction
Mindful peer-to-peer recognition creates an atmosphere of open communication and positive reinforcement rather than competitiveness and hostility. In turn, this can boost employee happiness while increasing employee retention.
Fosters equality and inclusivity
According to a Salesforce report called “The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Businesses,” employees who feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Inclusivity is important as, obviously enough, it keeps people from feeling excluded or that their hard work isn’t being recognized.
Opens up employees’ creativity
People hindered by self-doubt, ambiguity over work performance, anxiety, or feelings of being disconnected will more than likely struggle to come up with their best ideas. We all know the tortured artist trope, but in organizational settings that hardly seems like a sustainable or desired way for employees to live.
Peer-to-peer recognition lifts a small but weighty burden from peoples’ shoulders and invites a looseness and creativity into their work. It can improve self-esteem, demonstrate a clearer path to success, and can provide uplifting daily reassurance.
Peer-to-Peer Recognition Ideas & Best Practices
Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits and basics of peer recognition let’s look at a few ideas for implementation, as well as key best practices.
The first step is establishing what you want the peer recognition program to look like and your organization’s related goals. Recruit a committee that will get the ball rolling and oversee the process. This can be composed of as few or as many people as needed depending on your company’s size.
Once established, let your employees know that the peer recognition program exists and teach them how to leverage it with a few initial examples to encourage participation and showcase how things work. Encourage feedback from participants throughout the program and improve the process as it evolves. And stick with it! Don’t let positive and constructive feedback come to a halt during busy times of the year.
It’s important to be honest when giving fellow team members feedback. This doesn’t mean you should be blatantly rude if someone isn’t doing their best, but to choose words and actions that are constructive and empathetic. Keep it simple. Longer and more heartfelt expressions of recognition and gratitude can be really impactful, but sometimes just a few words can be all it takes. Your words should be relevant and resonate. Few people will appreciate hollow compliments or fluffy feedback.
Peer recognition can also come when you know someone is struggling and, despite their best efforts, could use a boost in morale to get back on track. It’s not only about rewarding people who are excelling.
Peer-to-Peer Recognition Ideas
How do you start a peer recognition program? Here are a few peer-to-peer recognition ideas you can put into practice when developing programs or initiatives at your company.
- Consider kicking off the program with an employee appreciation day event to create excitement around the new process.
- Make it fun and genuine and lead by example! While your leadership team may not be involved with giving the peer feedback directly, create models of what successful peer-to-peer recognition looks like at your company. This helps concretize what may otherwise be abstract.
- Give LinkedIn endorsements. These are simple and effective ways to acknowledge the specific skills and abilities of peers.
- Be inclusive. If people seem hesitant to participate, don’t force them but do make an effort to give everyone a chance to get involved.
- Consider investing in a peer recognition platform, such as CentricityOne. These types of software provide dynamic tools to help you manage employee satisfaction, engagement, and track personal development, similar to how you track sales goals or manage project deadlines.
- Use shoutouts on your company’s Slack or related messaging platform, creating a specific channel or group devoted specifically to highlighting the good work of employees!
Examples of Peer Recognition Awards
Success is more than just a metric, though that doesn’t mean it can’t be tracked or understood from an objective point of view. In addition to the above peer-to-peer recognition ideas that can be both formal and informal, consider incorporating awards or small gifts into your recognition program, if applicable.
Depending on your organization, awards may come from managers or directors, though look for opportunities to incorporate them on a peer-to-peer basis as well. Below are some examples.
- Give out thank you cards for exceptional contributions to projects or at the end of the year.
- Recognize individual employees on your website or company social media, provided they’re comfortable with being in the spotlight. You can do this once a month, once a week, or whenever the time seems right.
- Gift the employee extra PTO or a half-day if they’ve been working extra hard and could benefit from a break.
- Take them out to lunch or bring them a small treat, such as a coffee in the morning or their favorite bagel.
- Small gifts of appreciation or recognition. Managers can give these at company events, like providing holiday party favors, though gift-giving between peers can also be a great way to strengthen team bonds and create a culture of appreciation.
Final Thoughts on Peer-to-Peer Recognition
However you choose to incorporate peer recognition into your organization, employees will notice the difference, and benefits will extend from the individual level to whole teams and, ultimately, to client work. Peer recognition empowers individuals, both by receiving a new form of feedback and by learning how to give it as well.
At Centricity, we’re dedicated to building workplaces centered around employee engagement and satisfaction. Elevating experiences at work leads to a more creative and organized atmosphere for your staff, company, and clients. Get in touch with us today to learn more about creating custom brand solutions, whether that’s through workforce technology, event planning, branded merchandise, or something in between.