10 tips for creating a culture of positive peer to peer recognition

If you've ever worked in an organisation that has a genuine appreciation culture then you will know the value it brings to the business. After all, numerous studies have shown that what employees want most from their jobs is to feel appreciated.

The case for a recognition programme is simple: when positive behaviours by employees are recognised, they are repeated by the individual as well as their colleagues and co-workers. This leads to improved performance, better teamwork and instils a pride in their work, their role and the business they work for.

Many HR professionals believe that recognition from leaders is better for success, but employees tell us that in fact they value recognition from their co-workers more highly because their colleagues understand what they do on a day to day basis.

So if you’re thinking of creating a peer to peer recognition scheme here are 10 top tips to get you started:

1. Involve employees

Don’t launch a new recognition programme without consulting your employees. If you do, the likelihood is they’ll just see it as ‘another HR initiative’ and you won’t get the results you want. Let your employees have a say in designing the scheme, for example, what behaviours or contributions should be recognised, how recognition is given, what the reward is.

2. Learn from real life peer-to-peer recognition examples

Recognition raffles where an employee is entered into a prize draw each time they receive recognition from a peer, recognising employees on social media and points-based recognition reward programmes are great examples of what works in other companies. Copy and adapt these ideas for your own business.

3. Equal opportunities

Every employee should have an equal opportunity to give and receive recognition. Make sure your scheme has a level playing field that includes everyone in the business.

4. Make the recognition specific

Encourage your employees to recognize each other with specific compliments, not just a general well done, so that they and their co-workers understand what positive behaviours or specific contributions are being recognised.

5. Make the recognition meaningful

As well as giving specific compliments it’s important for employees to tell their co-workers why the contribution was helpful. Meaningful recognition helps to associate positive memories with their peers and the company, as well as builds team spirit and co-operation.

6. Make recognition immediate

Wherever possible award recognition within hours rather than days, weeks or months. Recognition reinforces the positive behaviours you wish to be repeated,  but a gap between the actual behaviour and recognition lessens the impact and the likelihood it will be repeated by the employee and their co-workers.

7. Talk the talk, walk the walk

Managers and executives must lead by example. It’s important for your senior management team to promote recognition efforts regularly and effectively communicate the programme otherwise it’s unlikely that a culture of positive peer to peer recognition will be adopted.

8. Communication is key

Communication is integral to creating a successful peer to peer recognition programme. You need to make sure that every employee understands why the programme is being implemented, which specific behaviours will rewarded and what the rewards are.

9. Keep it simple

Employees are more likely to recognise their colleagues if it is easy to do so and it doesn’t require writing an essay. Additionally by keeping the process simple and efficient you can ensure employees who receive recognition are informed immediately.

10. Make recognition a celebration

Publicly praising employees who have been recognised encourages your employee to keep up the good work and their co-workers to follow by example.

Bonus Tip!

Meaningful rewards: It can mean a lot to receive public recognition but if you wish to include rewards be sure to give something that the individual desires or something that they can experience. Don’t assume that what reward you would most appreciate will be the same across your entire employee base.

Peer to peer recognition can be as in-depth as your budget will allow, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. The top ten tips above will help your business create a culture of positive peer to peer recognition which will have a direct impact on the success of your business. After all it’s your employees that drive the results that improve your bottom line.

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.