• Jim Canfield

The Power of Peer Recognition Programs


There’s no reason for recognition to come only from the top. In the best-performing companies, recognition goes up, down, and sideways. Peer recognition programs—which give all employees the power to elevate their peers by acknowledging great performance—are one of the best tools for creating a culture of celebration.


A study by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce showed that peer-to-peer recognition is almost 36 percent more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition programs.


Peer recognition motivates people to do what best-selling author Ken Blanchard was famous for teaching: “Go out there and catch someone doing something right!” You may need to fan the flames at first to encourage people to engage, but the flames will quickly become a wildfire of positive praise.


Here are some tips for developing a peer recognition program at your company:


Award Information


Be sure that there’s a place on your awards for three things: the name of the award presenter, the name of the award recipient, and the reason the award was given.


Award Reason


Coach employees to be specific about why they are giving a co-worker an award. “Sara went out of her way to serve the customer” is good, but coach employees to be more specific: “Sara spent hours helping Susan Rockrise from Esprit® solve a critical production problem.” Being specific informs employees what they’ve done to warrant an award and reinforces the behavior you’d like to see repeated.


A Role for HR


Have HR track the giving and receiving of all awards and prepare a quarterly report.


Top Giver Reward


Every quarter, reward the employee who gave the most awards. Hold a public recognition ceremony and make it a very big deal.


Top Recipient Reward


Present the top award recipient with an all-expense-paid weekend with a spouse, significant other, or friend to a special getaway or a generous gift certificate for shopping or to an upscale restaurant. Be sure to change this reward on a regular basis to keep it fresh and exciting. When you award experiences, you make the award live on in the recipient’s memory.


There are numerous companies that you can engage to administer your award programs, or you can manage them in-house. In either event, be sure to create programs that have a social aspect and are tied to a system of points that convert to company-logoed items or cata-log items. And double-down on the recognition by having a public display of the awards or a leaderboard in a public area for all to see.


This kind of over-the-top recognition helps create the Power of WE. It also creates indelible memories for you and your team.

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