How to Start a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program + Employee Recognition Ideas

4 minutes • Apr 13, 2020Employee EngagementCulture
Employee Recognition Tools

You may have heard how beneficial peer-to-peer recognition is in giving color to employee performance reviews. But an established peer recognition program increases employee happiness, engagement, and collaboration, making the office a more enjoyable and productive place for everyone.

If you’re interested in creating a peer-to-peer recognition program, this guide will get you started. There are five steps to design, roll out, and monitor an excellent peer feedback program.

The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition means colleagues publicly giving each other positive feedback. These programs encourage employee engagement across the board because any team member can recognize a coworker for a job well done. Management and employees alike take part in choosing who is rewarded with peer-to-peer recognition. Program participation is shown to significantly increase:

  • Employee engagement

  • Relationships and collaboration

  • Productivity

  • Workplace transparency

  • Employee retention

According to a survey from SHRM and Globoforce, 86% of values-based recognition programs contribute to an increase in employee happiness, and 90% of companies say their recognition programs have a positive impact on employee engagement.

Peer recognition doesn’t have to be terribly formal, but having a program in place can enmesh the practice more firmly in the company culture, ultimately building a culture of appreciation.

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How to Create a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program

Here’s how to create and launch a peer-to-peer recognition program that becomes ingrained in your company’s culture:

1. Define goals

Is the purpose of the program to increase workplace satisfaction and employee retention? Is it to improve collaboration and productivity? Or is it to give managers extra touchpoints for performance reviews? Maybe it’s all of the above. Spell out clear goals ahead of time and make sure all stakeholders are aligned and aware so you can begin designing your program.

You should also set measurable benchmarks. For example: “This is successful if all employees have received and sent at least one piece of positive feedback within two months of the program rollout.”

2. Determine tools and methods

Having one centralized avenue that is readily available for peer recognition makes it easy for everyone to feel included.

An offline component keeps the program grounded in the real world. Display a corkboard in a break room or shared space where employees can hang sticky notes or employee recognition certificates written on it for their peers. You could also offer two or three minutes at the start of an all-hands meeting where people can acknowledge their colleagues.

Free Employee Recognition Ideas + Certificate
Offline Employee Recognition

An online program component gives employees an instant, 24-hour way to send, receive, and hear about praise.

Employee Recognition Software

Pingboard has a company-facing peer recognition tool called Applause. We might be biased, but our lightweight peer recognition tool makes it really easy for colleagues to give each other positive feedback and have it displayed on their employee profiles.

You don’t need a software solution to bring peer recognition online. Instead, employees can submit shout-outs using online peer-to-peer recognition tools like ePraise which allows team members to send colleagues electronic cards to show their appreciation for a job well done.

Another thing to consider is having a performance review component, which adds a layer of formality to the program. As you hand out employee self-evaluations, give people a chance to write a few lines about their teammates. Then, share some of the feedback with each employee during their review.

Finally, give staff opportunities to celebrate and receive awards. For example, organize a small lunch or party where each employee is recognized for representing a company value, contributing to a positive workplace culture, or leading a tough project. Consider awarding gift cards to those that go above and beyond to make the office an enjoyable place, or give a small gift to each employee in thanks for what they each bring to the team.

3. Communicate the program to employees

During your next all-hands, block off some time to host an initial mini-training or roll out of your new peer recognition program and teach staff how it works. Adoption is everything. If employees aren’t using it, your peer recognition program isn’t working.

4. Lead by example

Employees often look toward their supervisors to model adoption of programs, especially completely new ideas. After the initial rollout, managers should give recognition not only to employees but to their counterparts in other departments, and even their own higher-ups.

5. Monitor and encourage adoption

If it feels like there’s a lull in peer recognition, managers should be on the lookout for situations worthy of note and encourage their employees to be the ones to deliver the compliment. Programs like these usually need catalysts!

Check-in with the goals you made in step one. If one benchmark was to have everyone receive recognition within two months, did this happen? Our Applause feature would simplify this, as an HR person can simply check each employee’s profile to make sure they’ve received and sent praise.

Free Employee Recognition Ideas + Certificate

Peer-to-Peer Recognition Letter Cheat Sheet

Ready to get your program rolling? Here’s peer to peer recognition ideas to remind team members of praiseworthy actions and ideas for recognizing their coworkers. Encourage employees to keep a copy in their work area so that praising each other is always top of mind. With time, recognizing and rewarding colleagues will become second nature for your team and will start building a powerful culture of appreciation at your company.

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