Peer to Peer Recognition Program

An employee recognition program that is growing in popularity is peer-to-peer recognition.  In this program, employees who observe their co-workers providing excellent customer service or performing other outstanding acts of service provide some form of commendation.

We are currently investigating the effectiveness of employee recognition programs and eventually we hope to examine whether they can be used to reduce inventory shrinkage.  At this point we do not have any direct evidence that any recognition programs have a measurable reduction on shrinkage rates; but the relationship certainly seems plausible.  We hope to find a retail firm that will partner with us in investigating this relationship.

The basic premise is that employees who feel appreciated at work are not as likely to steal from their employer. It seems to logical that employees who have feelings of company commitment and loyalty will not want to injure their company by participating in employee theft.

Our data so far indicate that good recognition programs have a positive impact on several employee attitudes, including feelings of appreciation, job satisfaction, empowerment, company commitment, and perceived organizational support.  Therefore, we would expect to find solid data demonstrating that effective recognition programs reduce employee theft.

Some of the standard recognition programs that have been used over the years include annual service awards, employee of the month awards, outstanding service awards, and spontaneous “on the spot” awards.  Peer-to-peer recognition awards are more recent; but they have become very popular because they are inexpensive, meaningful, and involve a large percent of the workforce.

The simplest peer-to-peer recognition program is one that simply encourages employees to observe each other and when they see someone go above the call of duty or perform an act of kindness they make it known.  This could involve a simple note of thanks via email or the company’s interoffice mail system.

Most peer-to-peer recognition programs do much more to advertise good deeds, reward the person for them, and reward the co-worker for noticing.  Some companies have email software programs that can automatically send a copy of the commendation to the employee’s supervisor and upper managers, and it can also be automatically posted to a company bulletin.

Employees who receive written commendations are often identified in staff meetings where they are personally thanked and their excellent performance is described.  In addition to the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from being thanked publically, employees who are recognized are often given various extrinsic rewards, such as movie tickets, dinners for two, and gift certificates.  Some companies have programs that allow employees to accumulate points each time they are commended and they can eventually redeem these points from a catalog of consumer items.

To encourage employees to recognize each other, some companies also provide incentives for those who take the time to send a written note of appreciation.  The thinking here is that the program will not thrive unless employees are motivated to look for the good in others and describe it.  These people often get similar extrinsic rewards, such as gift certificates, or they participate in the same points program; but the rewards they receive are less than for those who are being recognized.

Peer-to-peer recognition is usually perceived as highly meaningful because people know that one of their peers took the time to thank them and they like being recognized by their peers.  Even when companies provide modest rewards for writing a commendation, most employees like to think that the motive behind the commendation is genuine and sincere. Service awards and sales awards do not provide the same level of genuine appreciation because they lack the interpersonal sincerity of peer-to-peer appreciation.

Another advantage of peer-to-peer recognition is that everyone can be involved; anyone can notice others doing good things and write a commendation.  Indeed, all employees are encouraged to participate in the program and they are rewarded for doing so.  These programs help to build a culture of appreciation because everyone is motivated to look for the good in others.  $

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