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by Alex Palmer | March 15, 2012
A pair of new solutions offers managers ways to recognize and engage members of their team by tapping into social media. Both the Sparcet employee recognition app and a customizable version of Socialcast Thanks software--launched the same day last month--reflect the growing importance of social networks in workplace motivation efforts. 

Sparcet, from software development company SPARC, was released out of beta on Feb. 16, providing employers with a free app through which they can thank and recognize members of their team. Individuals download the app by visiting www.sparcet.com, and create a personal profile on the Sparcet platform. 

Members of the team can then thank others individually or as a group, writing a message on the public company-wide feed or privately, explaining their good work, and whether it helped an individual, team, or the entire company. The recognition can also be awarded at different levels—silver, gold, or platinum.

“You can also take a bird’s eye view, from upper management level on down, to get insight into who is engaged in your company, and who is performing,” said Laney Hass, marketing coordinator for SPARC.

Sparcet is the first of a larger workplace engagement software suite called SPARC’D, which the company will be rolling out over the coming months and be available for enterprise use.

Socialcast Thanks also taps into social media to enhance engagement. The program, from software developer VMware, allows employees at an organization to send recognition to one another through its enterprise social network. On Feb. 16, VMware announced that it had made enhancements on the program to allow companies to integrate existing recognition programs into the Socialcast platform.

"Last year in the process of analyzing community behavior, we noticed that people were using hash tags in the company stream to publicly recognize co-workers,” said Tim Young, vice president of social enterprise for VMware, in a statement. “Our goal is to provide our customers with a simple, fun, yet powerful way to publicly recognize the contributions people make every day that drive the business forward."

The enhanced version of Socialcast Thanks allows employees to send recognition from a custom library of “badges” which recognize a variety of accomplishments. The program encourages peer-to-peer recognition, with employees at all levels being designated as administrators who can send badges of recognition. 

The arrival of both Socialcast Thanks and Sparcet on the same day is a reminder of the growing role that social media will play in employee recognition efforts.  

“There should be an easier way to say ‘thank you,’” said Haas. “Companies with all these branches and people spread all over the place can use something that excites and engages and kind of makes others feel appreciated at work.”