If you’re an HR professional looking to kick off the new year with boosted employee productivity and engagement, an effective peer-to-peer recognition scheme may be just the answer you’re looking for.

It’s easy to understand why, too. Recognising the successes and contributions of employees is crucial to the development and success of a business. And, as our own research discovered, recognition is vital to sustaining positive company cultures: helping to build thriving, supportive working environments, improving rates of staff attraction and retention, and enhancing employees’ sense of job satisfaction.

peer recognition employee reward

However, initiating a peer-to-peer recognition scheme isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. Any type of recognition strategy takes time and planning to be truly successful… along with the support of the right technology! So, if you’re looking to introduce a peer-to-peer recognition scheme in your business, here’s a quick guide to get you started…

1. Get buy-in and advocacy from your senior leaders

Senior leaders are ultimately responsible for the culture of a business – meaning any recognition scheme you plan to implement must have their full backing. In addition, they must also be its biggest advocates: setting the example for others in your business to follow.

2. Research the intricacies of your scheme

Thorough research is fundamental to the roll-out of a successful peer-to-peer recognition scheme. For example, who will be the scheme’s best advocates? How will your business reward employees who continually demonstrate they’re going above and beyond the call of duty? Will there be costs you’ll need to consider? How will you communicate the scheme to your workforce? And how will your scheme tie in to your company’s overall strategic objectives?

Once you have answers to these types of questions, you’ll be in a better position to understand what you’ll need to do to ensure your recognition scheme is a success.

3. Set relevant goals, targets and criteria for recognition

It’s important to set relevant goals and targets for your peer-to-peer recognition scheme. Ideally, you ought to set goals that tie in with your organisation’s key strategic objectives and support the behaviours you deem critical to business success.

In addition, consider the criteria for recognising the efforts of your staff. Employees across your business should give recognition – ideally – for behaviours that reflect your stated company culture or demonstrate willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty – not just completing regular day-to-day duties! For example, you and your employees could formally recognise:

  • Great examples of teamwork
  • Providing exceptional customer service
  • Professional career development
  • Going the extra mile (for customers or for colleagues)
  • Ongoing commitment to the business
  • Taking on additional duties or tasks outside of their contractual role
  • Exceptional innovation and creativity

4. Train and support your line managers

Your line managers will be key to any successful peer-to-peer recognition scheme you implement. Ensure they have the right training, support and resources needed to communicate and implement your recognition strategy effectively, which leads nicely onto…

5. Make it tangible

It’s not enough to simply tell your workforce to thank each other more. It’s vital you use a system that can quickly and easily record your employees’ achievements, and that your people are also notified when they receive recognition from a colleague.

For example, the Cezanne HR system includes an integrated peer-to-peer recognition system called Kudos (although users can name it anything they wish). It gives HR teams an integrated employee recognition solution that can be easily managed, is fun and intuitive for employees to use, and can be quickly adapted to reflect the core values of an organisation.

Along with building a culture of recognition throughout a business, it can also provide HR teams with valuable insights into the levels of collaboration across a workforce, and a greater understanding of the workplace culture. This type of information can be vital when it comes to reviewing the overall performance of a workforce or enhancing more strategic engagement strategies.

6. Consider running a pilot scheme

Although you may have planned your recognition scheme meticulously, there’s no guarantee of first-time success. So, before you formally launch any peer-to-peer recognition scheme, perhaps consider trialling it first within a team, department or satellite office.

It’s at this point where your scheme advocates will come into play. They will be the ones who initially champion the scheme, but will also be able to help you understand what works and what doesn’t. This will give you vital information to use in order to fine-tune the scheme before a wider launch

7. Communicate the launch to your workforce…

This is where your marketing teams can help you make the biggest impact. For your peer-to-peer scheme not to be missed, set up a company-wide launch event. If your workforce is primarily based in a shared location, such as an office, think about producing desk-drop leaflets highlighting your new scheme and why it’s important. Put information on company noticeboards, and provide managers with guidelines on the scheme so that they can properly brief their staff.

For workforces that are based remotely, use your HR portals and shared workspaces to communicate the scheme to your employees, and send company emails in the run-up to the launch to drum up vital interest.

8. … and keep communicating!

Peer-to-peer recognition schemes – like many important HR strategies – are not fire and forget exercises. It’s vital you keep your scheme at the forefront of your employees’ minds after its launch – after all, the last thing you’d want to happen is enthusiasm dying down and people forgetting to be involved.

Use the research and information you gathered from your pilot event to help steer your ongoing activities. You could also carry out research into how your employees communicate to keep your workforce up to date on who’s been recognised and for what, and additional scheme updates.

9. Monitor your scheme’s results and encourage feedback

Remember to track how your programme progresses and whether your employees are engaging with it as you intended. For example, you may want to initiate a pulse survey to understand if it’s having a positive effect on your workforce, or if there’s anything that can be improved upon.

Remember, it’s important your employees see the value in participating in peer-to-peer recognition schemes; so, always act on – or at the very least respond to – the feedback you receive.

10. Maintain your scheme’s momentum and improve!

Lastly, and as we mentioned earlier, a recognition scheme is an ongoing project for any organisation. That means you’ll need to ensure you maintain momentum and engagement by regularly communicating with your staff, examining what improvements or enhancements could be made, and ultimately rewarding those who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty.

For example, the data you gather from your recognition system could indicate that certain employees are regularly working outside their contractual hours to help others. You may want to consider rewarding them with the gift of time off in lieu, or an experiential reward they can enjoy in their own time. It’s little gestures like this that employees value as they know their efforts are being acknowledged and valued by their employer – a true mark of a positive company culture.

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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