Peer Recognition: Making Teams Stronger

Did you know that, according to Accenture and the Department of Labor, the number one reason people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition? Getting managers to recognize their direct reports is hugely important, but arguably just as important – and less highlighted among enterprises – is peer-to-peer recognition.

Peer recognition can take many forms, and is not always formal. But many companies are starting to see the importance of offering an official channel for peers to recognize others and finding ways to weave it into the fabric of their organizations. It sets a positive tone for company culture, it reminds the whole team of what they are working towards and most importantly, it can strengthen the bonds between co-workers and team through a strengthened circle of safety.

Peer recognition is not one-size-fits-all

Many prominent companies have some sort of peer recognition program in place, but very few are identical. Cloudera has something called CHEERS, which is basically a spot bonus, in the form of cash or an experience (dinner, spa, etc) for employees to thank other members of their team. uses a “Gold Star Award” to enable one member of a team to award another, and his or her spouse, with dinner at a restaurant of their choosing, or a day at the spa. Facebook has used as a forum for to give a coworker a shoutout.  And Google offers $100 peer-to-peer cash bonuses.

There’s also a spate of software already available to these same ends. YouEarnedIt gives members of team members the ability to award one another points, which can then be redeemed on their website for retail credit, or converted to cash to support charitable causes. BlueBoard goes one step further, allowing employees to reward one another with experiences of their choosing, ranging from a class on wine and cheese pairing, to a two-week trek in the Himalayas. And other programs like GiveaWow,, and TemboSocial offer a more generalized employee recognition platform, not tied to specific rewards.

Regardless of whether you go through an established vendor, or create your own program, when it comes to establishing a peer recognition program, there’s a few considerations you should make.

Four steps to mastering peer recognition

  1. Make it public. Recognition that’s visible to the team or the company is much more valued by the employee, and can influence behavior across more people and teams.

  2. Use a consistent methodology or program. If you want to build your own program, make it a regular part of your processes –recognition can be a part of every weekly company all-hands meeting, or hosted by the software vendor you choose.  This helps keep the data clean, and makes it easier for your team to recognize one another.

  3. Build it into the culture. Encourage team leads to tell their teams to recognize one another, and to get creative in the ways they do so.

  4. Think different. If you are going to offer peer rewards, try to go for the experience instead of the cash bonus – this is more meaningful, and if done right, will be much more memorable.

BONUS TIP: Keep it real. Don’t just go through the motions or make this a checklist to be completed every month. The fastest way to kill the value of your peer recognition program is to start giving out rewards as a matter of habit as opposed to people really earning their recognition. No awards just for participation.

We’re still people when we’re at work

Remember that birthday card you got last year from someone you hadn’t heard from in ages? Think about that feeling. Peer recognition in the work place has a similar kind of impact, except it can be earned. When coworkers have bought me a book or a cheap plastic trophy that sat on my desk – these were some of the most memorable, and valuable, forms of recognition I’ve received for my work.

How do people recognize their peers at your company? Let us know on Twitter @HighfiveHQ.

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