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Oct 21'

3 Employee Recognition Ideas for Building a Rewarding Work Culture

A Forbes article states that the employee recognition market is a $46 billion market and that companies spend 1-2% of payroll on employee gifts like gold watches, pins, thank-you awards, and plaques. This isn’t surprising when you consider how valuable employee recognition initiatives can be for businesses. Employee appreciation can help improve work relationships, increase employee engagement, contribute to employee loyalty, and build high-performance cultures. With these benefits in mind, forward-thinking companies are doing whatever they can to make giving and receiving appreciation a much more common occurrence in the workplace, and peer recognition is proving to be an effective tool for accomplishing this. In this post, we’ll share 3 peer employee recognition ideas you can implement to build a rewarding work culture in your organization. 

Incorporating a peer employee recognition program

For years, employees have had to rely on annual performance reviews with managers to get feedback on their work. Performance reviews definitely serve their purpose, but the problem with them is that a lot of the time, employees actually spend much more time engaging with their team members or customers than they do with their immediate supervisors. As a result, many aspects of their performance can go unnoticed. 

To tackle this limitation, business leaders are pivoting to peer employee recognition models instead, where colleagues are encouraged to show appreciation for one another regularly throughout a typical work week. Peer-to-peer recognition is proving to be a much more effective means of making employees feel valued since it happens more frequently, is less biased, and helps build a culture of equal recognition

employee recognition ideas


Here’s what the research on peer recognition tells us so far:

  • A report by the Society of Human Resources Management and Globoforce found that peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. It is also known to increase customer satisfaction.
  • A report on employee recognition by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that of the 29% of HR professionals whose organizations use peer feedback, 89% reported it having a very positive or somewhat positive impact on their organization.
  • • A Gartner report on peer feedback alludes to how peer recognition improves productivity by concluding that “employee performance improves when organizations foster a culture of peer feedback and capture how employees add value to others.” work”.

If you’re looking to improve how praise is given and received within your organization but aren’t sure where to start when it comes to moving to a peer-based model, here are a few peer employee appreciation ideas you can get started with: 

1. Dedicate time to giving kudos, thanks, and props in meetings

Set up short and sweet 10-minute appreciation meetings once a week to give staff the opportunity to give thanks, props, and kudos. For example, Stew might use this time to thank Sandra for delivering an excellent sales presentation to a client that week. These casual meetings take very little time and are sure to leave a smile on people’s faces!

If you don’t have the bandwidth to host these separate meetings, you can dedicate 5-10 minutes of your existing weekly huddles or status meetings to recognition instead.

employee recognition

2. Have leadership model peer-to-peer recognition 

The best way to start building a positive work culture is to do it from the top-down. Spend time training your leadership team on how to give recognition that is timely, frequent, and specific and have them lead by example by giving recognition publicly. When upper-level management and senior leadership set the tone for how appreciation should be shown and actively participate, the rest of your staff will soon follow suit to model the same behaviour. Since employees feel valued the most when they receive praise from those higher up the ladder, it’s extremely important that leadership gets visibly involved in the peer recognition program.

3. Take your employee recognition program virtual 

If your employees are spending the majority of their workday online, why not give praise online too? Employee rewards and recognition platforms like Bucketlist Rewards simplify giving recognition, giving employees the ability to show appreciation for another publicly and in real-time. There’s even more that you can do with purpose-built recognition software, like: 

  • Allowing employees to earn and trade redeemable points that they can convert into gift cards, use towards experiences, or donate to a charity of their choice. This motivates their performance, gives them choice in how they want to be rewarded, and improves their engagement on the job.
  • Helping you recognize employees for exhibiting your company core values by tying moments of recognition into a value. By keeping core values top of mind like this, you can expect to see repeated positive behaviour in association with these values
employee recognition

By going the extra mile and re-modeling to include a peer recognition program in your organization, you can expect to see positive transformations in your company culture no matter what industry you’re in. 

Interested in learning more about how to take your employee rewards program virtual? Contact us for a free demo!

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