What is social recognition and why should you favour peer to peer appreciation?
Social recognition is the new(ish) kid on the employee recognition block, but what is it?
Does this form of peer to peer recognition really work?
How can you integrate social recognition into your employee value proposition successfully?
Peer to peer social recognition schemes are a great way to motivate and engage your team, but they need to be implemented correctly – using the right platform and structure – to get the best results. Here’s my advice on how to get employee appreciation right, so you can reap the rewards that come from a satisfied, productive and engaged team.
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How social recognition schemes work
I’ve seen some great results from various peer to peer recognition methods applied across a wide range of businesses, but while social recognition isn’t brand new, it is a new concept for many brands.
While different employees will be motivated by different things, recognition is something that everyone thrives on – but it often comes from the top down. Managerial recognition certainly has its place but peer to peer appreciation, acknowledged on an internal community platform, has some pretty impressive benefits.
With social recognition schemes there’s no siloed or hierarchical dynamic, so literally anybody in any department and at any level can recognise any other team member. Any thanks for a job well done or for a valuable contribution of help or support is posted on a central platform that all employees have access to; so rather than a cursory “thanks” over the desk between two people, everyone can experience that warm glow of shared gratitude.
10 Benefits of a peer to peer recognition platform
I could list dozens of reasons why it’s worth using social recognition in your workplace and why praise from peers is vital, but I’ve whittled it down to my top ten:
1. Builds relationships, trust and engagement
A recent study has shown that disengaged employees cost US companies between $450 and $550 billion annually, which is a pretty persuasive argument for driving employee engagement, right? Peer to peer recognition helps to build trust in the company and across teams, and the added power of a social platform helps to create even stronger employee relationships too. Everyone performs better when they know their comrades have got their back, and this sense of team spirit creates a happier and healthier working environment.
2. On-the-ground insight
Social peer to peer recognition solves two problems that other methods can’t: achievements and commitments aren’t missed by managers who are often not present, while they also get to collate crucial insight on performance on an ongoing basis via a visible platform.
3. Better employee retention and job satisfaction
Statistics and studies consistently show that happy, recognised employees are more likely to stay put. They’re more productive, take less sick leave and achieve significantly higher sales figures – and the ability to boost your colleagues’ morale through social recognition gives them even more reasons to stay.
4. Recognition regardless of role
With some recognition schemes, the same staff get the kudos over and over again. With a platform driven by peers, the playing field is evened out, with employees having an easy way to reward staff from less ‘active’ departments, where recognition isn’t based on specific skills, roles or outcomes, such as sales.
5. Perpetual positive feedback
The feedback loop can often be pretty closed and predictable, disengaging employees over time. With a social recognition platform, praise can be given at any time, so there’s a continual circulation of inclusive positivity, with a nice surprise potentially around the corner every day.
6. Improved productivity
In a culture built around appreciation, staff are more engaged and motivated to perform to their best abilities. A Gallup report shows that highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable – and profit is driven by productivity.
7. Building a strong employer reputation
Companies that regularly reward staff with praise are themselves rewarded, through their employees ‘paying it forward’. When staff feel valued, they’re much more likely to recommend their employer as a good business to work for, which can bring better candidates to your door when recruiting.
8. Happier customers
Treat people how you like to be treated is an old saying with retained relevance. Similarly, if people are treated well at work through positive reinforcement, they will treat your customers better too. In fact, 41% of companies with peer to peer recognition schemes in place have found customer satisfaction rates have improved as a result.
9. Reinforces company values
I’ve seen hundreds of websites with company values, ethics and culture outlined, but how many actually live and breathe this stuff?! Visible rewards for displaying good work ethics and behaviours, and reinforcing and celebrating the culture of your business will keep them at the forefront of your employee’s minds.
10. Improved employee wellbeing
Regular praise from colleagues adds up to an enhanced sense of employee wellbeing. Where staff are thanked and feel their work valued, they experience less work-related stress and feel more positive. And with happier staff many more of the above benefits are brought to life – it’s a perfect circle!
Choosing the right social recognition system
So I think I’ve made a pretty compelling case for – and established why – a peer to peer recognition is vital for your business. But how do you select and set up the right system?
Choosing the right social recognition platform is essentially the same as investing in any other piece of business software. You need to consider:
- The size of your business
- Your budget
- How much set-up and ongoing support you need
- Features and functionality
- Integration with other software systems
- Ease of use
I’m going to look into each one of these in a little more detail to help guide you towards the best peer to peer recognition software for your needs…
How many staff do you want to include on your system? Are you opening it up to all employees, including casual or part-time workers? Do you have multiple sites? And if so, do you want to link them all to the same platform?
You need to make sure that any recognition software is able to accommodate for your staff numbers – and that it’s scalable if you intend to grow your business.
The above, of course, will have an impact on your budget, as most social recognition platforms will charge per employee, with a sliding scale to balance numbers with price-per-head.
While it’s obviously a cost to your business, I think it’s worth reiterating that with the improvements to productivity, retention rates, wellbeing and absence levels – not to mention the bottom line value of these things combined – implementing an online recognition system, usually pays for itself… and then some.
If you want to take your recognition a step further, most software will allow you to set a budget for tangible rewards that go above and beyond praise alone. So you can assign each employee or manager with a set amount that they can use to send gifts/rewards to their colleagues each month – completely at their discretion.
Set-up and support
Some peer to peer recognition software can be accessed via the internet, but there are other things to consider in terms of set up. While you may have an IT team in-house, it often makes more sense to use the software provider for initial set-up and ongoing support.
The software will need configuring to your own objectives, company values and branding, with customisation across themes, rewards and communications. You’ll also need to think about security and integration with other software you use (more on that later).
You may also want your provider to run you through a demo, so you can familiarise yourself with the dashboard and functionality – and ongoing support will give you direct access to professionals with the right knowledge to help you get the most out of the system, and adjust it to ensure you’re hitting your KPIs.
Features and functions
Seems obvious, but you really do need a vision of what your ideal social recognition software can do. Do you want a public message board as well as direct messages and threads? Do you want to offer rewards – and if so, what type?
It’s also important to find out how any potential system collects and calculates data. What kind of analytics and reports would help you to measure and improve value and performance? What details do you want to be able to access to help with other business insight and decisions?
Integration with existing tools
Already use software to keep staff connected such as Slack or other project management and communication tools? Do you have an HR system that would benefit from the additional data that a peer to peer recognition system can provide?
Good software will be built with integration in mind. This should be pretty quick and easy to do, and your provider should be able to help you integrate your systems successfully from the start.
You need to ensure your chosen recognition system is easy to use. The more familiar it is to people the better. If it’s complex or confusing to learn and use, you’ll find it harder to engage your employees and keep them active.
Setting up a social recognition scheme that consolidates your company culture
Social recognition works as a two-way street when it comes to your company’s culture and values. The benefits I explored earlier all help to shore up your culture and keep it visible, while the interaction and positivity shared by colleagues ensure they perpetuate it and contribute to it on a regular basis – making it even stronger.
What do I mean by this?
Creating a strong company culture ultimately balances on your employees’ happiness at work. If your staff actively enjoy their jobs and the environment they work in, they’ll be more proactive, engaged, productive, communicative and supported. Stress levels reduce, atmosphere improves and both individuals and the company as a whole benefit.
In turn, if your company gains a reputation for being an employer with a strong internal culture, staff stay longer and you’re more likely to have a better recruitment pool to choose from – everyone wants to work somewhere where they know they’ll be appreciated.
Nurturing a culture based on appreciation and recognition helps everyone to maintain a positive attitude and reminds employees of the company goals – and keeps them working towards them.
While manager-led recognition has lots of value in these terms, peer to peer recognition can be much more tangible: it presents a more even playing-field while also ensuring that praise is given from those who understand the actual day-to-day contributions of individual workers.
So in a nutshell, a peer to peer recognition scheme will help promote a more positive work culture by:
- Instilling a tradition of appreciation
- Boosting morale
- Engaging employees
- Improving relationships and teamwork
- Ensuring happier, more productive workers
Social recognition – a snapshot of how systems typically work
Social recognition software works differently depending on the system, but essentially, your platform will work something like this:
- Search for the colleague you want to recognise.
- Explain what you’re recognising them for, copy in any employees or managers who you think should be made aware of their achievement and assign a company value or key behaviour from the pre-set options.
- Select the type of reward (if applicable) e.g. an extra tea break, a free car wash or a gift card – or simply pile on the public praise.
- The recipient is notified by email, along with any other colleagues you’ve included, plus managers or colleagues defined in the recognition hierarchy.
- Social celebrations – some systems will have a ‘wall of fame’ or similar function, so that appreciation is automatically displayed for all to see.
- Certificates – you’ll also usually have an option to print out a recognition certificate for the recipient to keep and display.
How to successfully launch a social recognition scheme
To get the best from your social recognition system, you need to make sure everyone’s onboard. But how do you ensure a successful launch?
Here are my top ten tips for launching your peer to peer recognition scheme:
1. Get employees involved
It’s never too early to engage! Make sure your employees are part of the process, asking for their input on name, branding and rewards. If they feel part of things from the start, they’re more likely to dive in with enthusiasm upon launch.
2. Define objectives and criteria
As an extension of the above, make sure that you get input regarding the goals of the programme, and that they are aligned with your overall culture. By allowing everyone a say regarding what kind of things should be recognised and rewarded, people feel empowered by being involved in decision making. It also encourages conversation and communication, creating a ‘buzz’ around the launch.
3. Make it human
Stuffy comms have no place in social recognition, whatever your corporate tone of voice may be. Make sure you build your scheme around natural, friendly and ‘human’ communications. Save the boring business speak for, you know, actual business.
4. Personalise if possible
When you’re setting up your peer to peer recognition software, there may be several opportunities for personalisation – take advantage of it! Apart from using your official branding, you may be able to add photos or profile images. If so, try to avoid stock photos and instead opt for real pictures from your business and or ask staff to design their own avatar.
5. Get your leaders in-line
Some pre-launch training so that managers can make the most of the system is essential, and by getting them onboard early, they’ll be primed to promote the programme effectively and enthusiastically when it comes to kick-off.
6. Keep everyone informed
Don’t wait until a week before launch to start building up that ‘buzz’ – create a countdown and send out regular internal communications to evoke a sense of anticipation. Focus on a different benefit each time to ramp up the excitement levels.
7. Consider different media
A video message from your CEO or other leaders can be a great way to introduce and communicate the concept in an engaging way – and shows that those higher up feel you deserve to be recognised for your efforts. Your smartphone will do the job if it’s only being circulated internally, and will show that the scheme has support throughout the business hierarchy. Don’t forget field-based staff that may not have ready access to a laptop. These employees will need additional communications in the form of physical handouts, face-to-face briefings and roadshows.
8. Create a fantastic launch event
If your business operates from a single site, you can arrange an informal meeting over tea ‘n’ biscuits or plan an actual dedicated event to celebrate the launch of the new system… but make it IMPACTFUL! If you have multiple sites, you can send out a goodie-pack with information and a small treat. Get some posters up, offer an extra tea break for launch-day adopters or come up with any suitably appropriate approach to get everyone excited and onboard from the offset.
Keeping everyone engaged – how to maintain momentum
A successful launch of any recognition programme doesn’t mean that enthusiasm will continue – never take anything for granted.
A well implemented and delivered social recognition scheme will benefit your business for sure, but you need to keep up interest for it to consistently deliver. To help you do this, I recommend:
Keep talking, keep teaching
Make sure conversations around the platform keep happening and use them as a feedback loop and inspiration for improvements. Send out reminders and offer training to help people get to grips with the software.
Share the love
For employees who are less engaged, it’s a good idea to share the appreciation shown on the system in other ways for added visibility. If you have screens or physical message boards, display some of the praise and programme benefits periodically to maintain and encourage uptake.
Send out surveys
A pre-launch survey will help you to gather everyone’s input on the programme and gauge initial interest – but follow this up with a survey six months post-launch to see what’s working, what’s not and how employees feel about the scheme.
Over-saturation of the same thing, will, in time, start to disengage people, so do what you can to keep things fresh. Talk to your provider about mixing up rewards every so often to incentivise re-engagement and participation. You can also create fresh communications and update the software in other ways to keep energy and excitement levels up.
Don’t go overboard with every piece of functionality possible from day 1. Hold something back for launch later in the year. Add additional modules in bite-sized chunks over the course of the year. This will give you a reason to reach out to users and provide continual drivers to pull employees back into the platform.
Your scheme will need representation from ‘in the trenches’ to succeed. Empower a group of stakeholders that aren’t in senior leadership positions to push activity ‘on the ground’. These programme ambassadors will act as your eyes and ears, constantly striving to rally the troops and engage them in the process of giving heartfelt and meaningful thanks.
Keep executive interest
Use your reports and analysis to demonstrate effectiveness and ROI to business leaders. This will ensure they stay engaged and supportive of the programme – they may even ‘up’ the reward budget if the numbers add up, which in turn will increase employee interest and activity.
Social recognition – using peer to peer software to boost your business
Implemented correctly, peer to peer software can add genuine, tangible value to your business by improving employee happiness and relationships, which will boost performance and productivity.
It’s pretty clear that social recognition schemes have the potential to add real value to your business in lots of way, so what are you waiting for?