In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard L. Florida highlights the factors that motivate creative workers like programmers and scientists. One of his conclusions is that increasing numbers of modern workers are motivated, at least in part, by peer recognition. This is why, even in today’s rocky economic climate, many people are willing to work for free on projects that they feel will win the respect of their peers. Fortunately, progressive managers are beginning to recognize the power of peer-to-peer recognition.
In addition to the motivational factor, many managers encourage peer recognition because of its specificity. As Judith A. Hale explains in Performance-Based Management, peers may deliver more detailed, effective feedback, since they have more opportunities to observe their coworkers’ performance. As Ms. Hale writes, “It is not uncommon for the manager to be removed from where the work is performed and, therefore, rarely see what people do or how they do it.”
If you’re looking to develop a peer recognition program for your workplace, keep a few general feedback guidelines in mind:
- Remember that specific feedback is more effective than general praise. Encourage your employees to be precise when complimenting their peers.
- Additionally, you should involve employees in designing your peer recognition program. Avoid launching new recognition programs without ensuring that the whole crew is on board. Your new recognition procedures will be far more likely to take root if everyone in your organization understands why they are being implemented.
- It’s also important that everyone in your firm has equal opportunities to give and receive feedback. Set up a level playing field. Make it easy to give recognition.
- Your system should aim for immediate gratification. Don’t let peer compliments pile up for weeks or months, since employees will be more motivated by timely feedback.
- Finally, keep in mind that employees follow their managers’ lead; your managers and executives must lead by example, especially in providing helpful, positive feedback
As you discuss engagement programs with your team, here are a few examples of how companies incorporate peer-to-peer recognition:
- The Recognition Raffle.
Each time an employee receives recognition from a peer, he or she is entered into a raffle.
- Let the Most Kudos Win.
Employees fill out a card or form to thank, compliment, or recognize their peers. The cards are then displayed on a central bulletin board to foster a positive work environment. Regularly, managers review the kudos board and award the employee who has received the most peer recognition. (If you choose this method, you might also incorporating a raffle, to avoid popularity contests.)
- The Company Store.
Employees receive points for each peer recognition. Points may be accumulated and traded in for prizes at The Company Store. Your prizes don’t have to be big; perhaps five compliments would be enough to earn an extra hour off, for instance.
So how do we know that recognition and meaning matters?
Our research in the Employee Experience Quantified shows that when employees have a sense of purpose, they are more likely to stay longer in their jobs, work harder, deliver a better customer experience, be more innovative — and generally deliver on key performance indicators.
Unfortunately, the majority of businesses are missing out on the positive impact peer-to-peer recognition has on retention and overall performance compared to manager-only recognition. Boosts in company morale? Improved inter-office relationships? And that key satisfaction 43 percent of workers are deprived of because no one demonstrably appreciates their job well done? These all fall by the wayside when your company’s peer recognition system isn’t itself worthy of recognition.
To learn more about setting up your own employee engagement program, check out the Recognition and Reward Buyer’s Guide for more details on Recognition 101 and the ROI behind having an employee recognition program in place.