Insight August 15, 2016

Peer Recognition: Creating a Workplace that Breeds Loyalty


By Trish McLaughlin, Senior Copywriter

America’s job creation engine continues to pump out more opportunities for workers. That means employers need to step up their game to make sure their valuable employees are happy just where they are. There’s no time like the present to consider introducing higher raises, expanded benefits, and attractive new perks.

There’s something else to consider — recognition programs. Although employee recognition programs have been around a long time, employees often view them with suspicion because they’re mainly controlled by upper management and lack transparency. Cue peer-to-peer recognition programs.

The People’s Choice Awards for the modern workplace, peer recognition programs take the responsibility off managers and place it squarely on co-workers. If employees disagree with the results, they can take it up with their fellow team members.


The upside of peer recognition

While managers may breathe a collective sigh of relief when a peer recognition program rolls out, companies are discovering additional advantages. Peer-to-peer recognition programs can help to:

  • Boost morale
  • Build a culture where people want to work — and play nice
  • Identify potential weaknesses internally
  • Recognize employees who don’t seek the spotlight
  • Generate positive PR opportunities
  • Provide a persuasive talking point during the recruitment process

Above and Beyond

inferno implemented its peer-to-peer recognition program, Above and Beyond, in the fall of 2011. With more than five years of hindsight, inferno Partner Dan O’Brien shared a couple pointers for anyone who’s thinking about starting a peer-to-peer recognition program.

“Make it meaningful – give away something of real value in your culture, such as cash, days off, a weekend at the CEO’s vacation home,” says Dan. “If you award a day of paid time off in a culture where time off is already flexible, it’s not going to have much value.”

Dan also advises programs architect to set up the parameters but not meddle with the results: “To maintain credibility, it’s crucial to let the numbers play themselves out.”

That means management has to be willing to recognize and award an employee who they personally may not think deserves it. That’s the reality of peer-to-peer recognition.

When asked what surprises him most about Above and Beyond, Dan says that “As a partner, it was interesting to see what people consider ‘above and beyond.”

“A number of the nominations are pretty normal, but then you get some that are really, really passionate — I love to read those,” recalls Dan. “Our folks are all high-performing, and when they see someone go well beyond even that norm, they want to make sure that person is recognized.”