How managers can facilitate a culture of peer recognition

Written by: Erika Khanna | Edited by: Alison Robins | Illustrated by: Officevibe
Updated on: Published on: January 28, 2021 |  Reading time: 6m

Recognition is an important part of employee culture. As a manager, recognizing your team for their efforts is the cornerstone to building trust and employee engagement. However, it’s equally important to make sure peers share recognition amongst themselves. Peers have a different vantage point when it comes to knowing each other’s strengths and how each employee contributes to the team.

According to our Officevibe survey data, 87% of respondents agree that they can count on their peers for support.

Taking the time for peer recognition helps shape a positive culture, further strengthening team relationships and motivation.

In fact, according to Bonusly 86.57% of all employee recognition in 2020 (given by Bonusly users) was peer-to-peer. A notable increase worthy of a closer look.

What peer-to-peer recognition means 

Peer recognition is the act of employees giving recognition to other employees. It’s part of employee recognition as a concept, but it extends beyond manager recognition, as it doesn’t always have to come from the top down. 

Giving praise on all levels helps make recognition collaborative and meaningful.

In fact, 88% of Officevibe survey respondents agree that their organization encourages employees to give recognition to one another.

Peer recognition helps employees give each other the boost they need to push projects over the line and achieve great work. Ultimately, developing a collaborative approach to recognition means acknowledging each other for things like: efforts, accolades and strengths. 

Integrating frequent peer recognition practices on your team can have a positive impact such as: boosting morale and employee engagement. As a manager, the first step is to identify where to start. Officevibe helps you spot where peer relationships might be lacking. Using helpful data helps you contextualize where to increase initiatives that facilitate peer-to-peer appreciation.

Officevibe metric of relationship with peers

Officevibe gathers data to help you recognize where peer-to-peer recognition is needed

Sign up to Officevibe for free to learn more!

Why a collaborative approach to recognition matters

As a manager, it can feel like the onus is on you when it comes to making sure that your team knows they are valued contributors. Manager recognition is absolutely essential for team engagement and performance. Although, from our data we see that employees want more.

40% of employees negatively rate the frequency at which they receive recognition

By encouraging and facilitating a culture of peer recognition, the weight gets distributed and strong professional relationships are built.

Peer recognition helps boost employee performance and company morale. Not only is recognition a catalyst for peer appreciation, doing so on a group level develops a strong sense of support and camaraderie.

Keeping this in mind, it’s clear that peers play an important role in the day-to-day of employee satisfaction. Consequently, integrating a peer-to-peer recognition program contributes to a positive company culture.

Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of peer recognition

Peer recognition develops trust:

The more your team is capable of expressing recognition amongst one another, the more they’ll learn they can trust each other. When individuals feel they’re being recognized for their work, they dilute sensations of competitiveness and replace it with collaboration.

Peer recognition boosts team morale:

When teammates know that efforts are being noticed and appreciated: morale increases. Doing so on a consistent basis ensures that your team’s happiness remains consistent, prompting more productivity and job satisfaction. Knowing how to make peers happy with simple gestures of appreciation and gratitude develops team spirit. As a result, resilient employee to employee relationships are nurtured! 

Peer recognition increases motivation:

When people feel recognized for the work that they do, they feel seen. That’s why employees want to contribute, learn more and develop their skills. Motivation reframes the burden of high objectives; crucial to a successful organization. After all, a high momentum environment keeps its foundation strong.

Peer recognition amplifies strengths:

A robust peer recognition program amplifies people’s strengths. Giving meaningful peer recognition prompts employees to reflect on and highlight great work. Building a strengths-based team culture is one that drives employee performance.  

5 ways to implement peer recognition on your team

There are several peer recognition ideas that you can easily implement on your team to increase employee happiness. We took the liberty of weeding through which ones are most effective to set you and your team up for success.  

Here is a short list of peer recognition initiatives that are accessible and easily implemented.

1. Create a kudos board or train:

Turn internal communications tools into a recognition tool! A helpful way to make peer recognition habitual is by starting a kudos board. Using Slack or Miro, fellow employees can encourage each other to participate in sharing appreciation.

Tip: Encourage a kudos train! Ask each team member to give a kudos to a colleague who then pays it forward to another colleague.

2. Celebrate peer milestones collaboratively:

Milestones come in all shapes and sizes. Whether your team is celebrating an employee who has completed a big project, achieved a personal goal or is celebrating a work anniversary, the team can recognize this together.

Peer recognition miro board example
Celebrate employee work anniversary with a shared Miro board

Tip: Have each team member look after a detail to celebrate their peer. Encourage them to get creative and have fun! For example: One person can be in charge of setting up a celebratory Miro board, the other organizes a small gift delivery (with contributions from the team), and so on. 

3. Integrate peer recognition into daily rituals:

Encourage employees to share their appreciation for how involved others have been in their success. The goal is to make sure that recognition feels baked in to the company culture in everyday practices like morning meetings or retrospectives. The key isn’t to have lengthy discussions, rather acknowledge what each person brings to the table often.

Tip: Lead by example. Teams follow their leaders, so if you start the trend of giving recognition, your team is sure to follow. It can be as simple as “I’m feeling very grateful for our team today. One thing that stood out recently was X’s contribution to our goals…Does anyone else have appreciation they can share about their team members?”

4. Encourage peers to build meaningful connections:

During uncertain times, recognition does not always need to be linked to achievement. It can take the form of recognizing one another’s realities and allowing an open and safe space to share each other’s needs. Recognition means appreciating, but also seeing one another and actively listening.

Tip: Encourage your team to check in on one another and take break. Make sure they feel equipped to be productive. Let your team know that they’re there to support each other just as much as you are there to guide them.

5. End the week by sharing one way a teammate helped another:

During your Friday morning meeting, encourage each team member to highlight one thing that the group or individual did to help them that week. Ending your week on a high note makes a big difference especially during times of high stress.

Tip: Each team member goes around the virtual table to bring to light one action item that was made possible by the team or from a peer.

Developing a culture of peer recognition is easy, accessible and fun. Once it’s implemented, you’ll notice how it increases morale, camaraderie and support. In the long run, a well-implemented peer recognition idea can be the spark of genius you need for your team to achieve their goals and have fun in the process.