The Pressing Case for Peer-to-Peer Recognition
By Andrea Doyle
March 18, 2013
It's no secret that companies that recognize their
employees are more successful than those that do not. According
to a Globoforce study, companies that tie recognition back to
company values, make it peer-to-peer, and invest approximately
1 percent of payroll into recognition, see increases in
retention, enablement, engagement, and even financial results.
Peer-to-peer recognition is powerful and invaluable, and
programs that are "social" and make it easy for an employee to
recognize another employee are on the rise.
More Mobile Programs
Mobile apps, social media, and 24-hour instant access, seven
days a week, are now must-haves in today's incentive and
recognition programs, many of which are cloud-based. "Facebook,
Twitter, and LinkedIn have helped the incentive industry evolve
by adding a whole new tier for how people can be recognized,"
explains David Pellissier, vice president of information
technology at Hinda Incentives, a leading reward and
recognition company. "Recognition is no longer just one-on-one.
Social media has helped extend the relationship beyond that.
Being able to share a recognition experience with friends,
family, and co-workers via social media adds even more value to
the experience, further driving the behavior you're trying to
shape. Other employees see this as positive reinforcement, and
are inspired to pay it forward within the company by repeating
the recognition process. This is especially beneficial in
building better work relationships and improving company
Pellissier says that Hinda's recognition programs have been in
the cloud for years. Its online system, called infinitE, is an
all-in-one platform that can be customized and often includes a
Gen Y, also known as the Millennials generation, is adding to
the popularity of peer recognition programs. This group is used
to getting immediate feedback on what they do. "There's an
inherent desire to be validated and recognized," explains
Sarah-Beth Anders, product marketing manager for Achievers, and
a member of Gen Y. "I went on a sales call with a colleague
today and we openly gave each other feedback when we were
finished. Our online points-based employee success platform
helps facilitate such communication."
San Francisco-based Achievers offers online services that
enable employees to use social software to recognize
performance and results, and reward each other with points that
are then redeemable for meaningful items. "Achievers combines
all of the popular mechanics of social media to create software
that employees love to use," says Anders.
Achievers was established in 2002 while Founder and Chairman
Razor Suleman was in college and initially started selling
branded apparel. The company evolved when Suleman graduated
into corporate branded goods. Eventually, he came to the
realization that no one works harder for a coffee mug. Instead,
employees wanted iPods - thus, Achievers was born. "We customize programs for our clients to
have happy, loyal, engaged employees who drive happy, loyal,
engaged customers which, in turn, drives shareholder return,"
That approach is working. In 2011, Achievers facilitated
813,740 peer-to-peer recognitions. In 2012, that number grew to
2.06 million. Similarly, in 2011, Achievers gave 44,685
recognitions from managers. In 2012, there were 432,761.
Not only has a younger workforce contributed to the increase in
demand for employee incentive programs, but so have changing
work environments. Many people no longer work in corporate
headquarters, and with these programs, managers can see how
those working from remote locations are doing. "We are now in a
knowledge- and service-based economy. It's not about being a
cog in a wheel, yet so many companies still operate as if they
are in the industrial age," says Anders. "People want immediate
feedback, yet more than 80 percent of companies offer service
awards that do not recognize immediate performance; instead,
they provide standard awards that every employee receives at
different intervals of time. Recognition needs to be specific,
timely, and meaningful. Social software allows for people to
recognize one another from any device at any time ensuring that
positive behaviors are repeated."
Unlike incentive programs that are very objective and numbers
based, employee recognition programs are fluid. They are open
ended and subjective, explains Derek Irvine, vice president of
client strategy and consulting for Globoforce, and co-author of
Winning with a Culture of Recognition. "[With a peer
recognition program] any member of the workforce can spot
something they want to call out and celebrate," he says.
As employees are asked to do more with less, employee recognition programs take on added importance.
"They are one of the most valuable and quick
return-on-investment tools that a human resources practitioner
has in his tool kit," says Irvine. "Our clients often see a double-digit improvement in employee engagement scores in six
to 12 months."
Employee recognition is no different than a traveler logging
onto TripAdvisor to access the wisdom of the crowd before a
vacation. "Social recognition has the same potential," says
Irvine. "Crowdsourced momentum amplifies the recognition going on in the company." A typical Globoforce employee recognition program includes a "news wall" of recognition moments where
employees can add their congratulations to the wall, and choose whom they want to
Appreciation Goes a Long Way
Salt Lake City-based O.C. Tanner, another employee recognition
solutions company, recently introduced "iappreciate," a mobile
app that enables a user to nominate employees for awards. The
free iappreciate app enables managers to create thoughtful
recognition presentations, set dates for recognition events,
invite people to speak, and even draft talking points and
create certificates that are ready to save and print. Users can
also send quick e-notes to team members for a job well done, as
well as set reminders for important dates, such as birthdays
and anniversaries. The future for employee recognition programs
is promising, as companies are finding the data they generate
to be invaluable. "Senior management sees how the company's
culture is being lived out on a day-to-day basis," adds
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