Company culture is the paramount focus for companies experimenting with recognition programs. Traditional corporate culture is determined from the top down. CEOs determine the culture that managers are expected to enforce with their direct reports. But today’s ideal culture is entirely opposite—an inverse pyramid, with employees forming the foundation of a company’s workplace atmosphere. The tide has officially turned. In an employee-first culture, it only makes sense that recognition programs adapt to be employee-first as well.
According to research from TINYpulse, more employees say that they’re motivated to excel by their peers than by any other factor—including money, manager encouragement, and intrinsic desire or purpose. However, only 14% of employers provide tools for peer recognition. This is one aspect of employee incentivization that’s been almost completely overlooked by companies today.
Surprisingly, it’s actually quite simple to infuse your current recognition program with peer-driven elements. The following 5 tips will help your company add peer-to-peer appreciation to your repertoire and reap the motivational benefits.
5 Tips For Increasing Peer-to-Peer Appreciation
1. Reframe the “customer is king” focus.
Before you put too much effort into peer-to-peer appreciation strategies, it might make sense to consider reordering your company’s priorities. CEOs who favor the top-down leadership style might be surprised to discover that focusing on employees can actually be more financially beneficial than focusing on customers. Improving your employee recognition systems will be much easier after shifting your focus. Many companies haven’t quite made this paradigm shift yet, but it’s a fundamental first step in creating an employee-first culture and ensuring a collaborative work environment.
On the other hand, if your business is still focused entirely on the customer—at the expense of the employee—it may be difficult to get your team on board with a peer-to-peer appreciation program. Your team members quickly pick up on your priorities. They are guaranteed to recognize when they’re at the top of that list. When employees really matter at your company, everyone will be more invested in taking the time to help other employees improve.
2. Reward the small wins.
The best peer-to-peer appreciation tools are quick and easy to use. They reward the small daily wins—the little behaviors that contribute to a positive work environment and a higher quality product—and not the big, year-long, career-shaking wins. Whatever peer recognition system you enact must be simple enough that employees can use the tools frequently without taking much time out of their day. The result is that 44% of employees actually give peer recognition when they’re provided with the tools to do so—and compared with standard recognition program participation rates, that’s a really great number to shoot for.
Looking for an easy way to add peer recognition to your employee incentive program? Try adding “Good Job Tickets” to your incentive portal or app. Team members nominate their coworkers for a specific small win, and the nominee receives an instant small gift from the company store or a set number of points to spend. You could also include an award at the end of the year for the employee who receives the most peer recognition and the employee who gives the most peer recognition, both with larger and more valuable rewards attached. This system empowers and incentivizes employees to recognize their peers even more.
3. Make your incentives meaningful.
Peer recognition alone is enough to motivate many employees to excel in their jobs. But including additional non-monetary incentives as part of the peer recognition program will further solidify participation and increase excitement around your program. The rewards you offer to those who receive (and give) recognition can be small—but make them meaningful and visible enough to carry their own weight as a social currency.
Custom employee uniforms are perfect for this type of incentive program because they clearly broadcast the wearer’s status to the entire community. Try awarding the person with the most peer recognition with a custom-branded jacket that indicates their success. Comcast found incredible success with an incentive program based on branded apparel and discovered that the bragging rights associated with the clothing mattered even more than the reward items themselves.
4. Double up on camaraderie.
If you’re already working hard to create a collaborative work environment in your company, adding peer-to-peer recognition tools might provide the catalyst you’ve been searching for. Once your team members start paying more attention and expressing appreciation for each other, they’re more likely to develop deeper and more positive working relationships. A sense of camaraderie will develop organically over time, and you’ll start seeing the community of your office change.
Take advantage of this momentum and double up on team-building activities in the months following your peer-to-peer recognition program implementation. This would be a good time to schedule the fall cookout or the annual company retreat, as well as schedule team-building exercises during the workweek. Anything you can do to build community will bolster your peer-to-peer appreciation efforts and get all of your incentives in sync.
5. Take the pressure off your managers.
Finally, in order to really make your peer-to-peer appreciation program stick, you need to ensure your managers are fully on board. The goal is to decentralize your recognition systems so employees receive acknowledgment from both peers and managers. Your managers need to be ready to encourage peer participation (and to loosen the reins) in order to achieve this goal. According to SHRM/Globoforce, peer-to-peer appreciation is 36% more likely to have a positive impact on company finances than manager recognition alone. Both are necessary, and most companies find a half-and-half balance works well.
Incentive programs are tricky to balance in the beginning. But once you’ve achieved the perfect mix of individual goals, manager recognition, peer appreciation, and meaningful rewards, you’ll find that managers have to work a lot less hard in order to motivate and engage their employees.
The Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Appreciation
Peer recognition is one strategy that’s been proven to increase employee motivation, engagement, and productivity. By successfully implementing a peer-to-peer appreciation system, you’re tapping into all the benefits of improved company culture: happier employees, reduced turnover costs, and higher profit margins. Anything you can do to improve your corporate culture will be well worth it when you experience the overall boost in competitive advantage. Peer recognition is just one way to hack your employee incentive program for an even greater payoff.
Peer-to-peer appreciation strategies work best in combination with a robust, comprehensive employee incentive program. That’s what we do best. At Inproma, we craft employee-first rewards programs that build recognition from the ground up and retain your best employees. Interested in learning more about our game-changing approach? Let’s talk.