Depending on where you work, the attitude towards recognition programs and employee engagement can range significantly. While some company leaders continue to believe that simply paying their employees is enough, a steady stream of modern research says otherwise. Rather than financial incentives, it's appreciation and the intrinsic motivation that comes from it that leads to optimal employee engagement and performance.
Let's jump into four of the most impactful benefits of peer-to-peer appreciation and what you can do to start getting those benefits today!
1. Employee Engagement
First, and perhaps most importantly, peer-to-peer recognition has been repeatedly shown to make significant improvements in employee engagement measurements.
Engagement is typically measured by surveying employees and having them self-select into three categories: engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged. Depending on which category an employee falls into, the amount of passion and commitment they feel towards their job will differ, which in turn impacts the amount of effort they put in.
Recent research has uncovered current trends in employee engagement, which are fairly uninspired. According to Gallup's extensive study called the "State of the American Workplace," a mere 13% of employees consider themselves engaged at work. With 64% disengaged and 24% actively disengaged, a lot of people around the world are not feeling committed to their job and company and therefore are most likely not contributing as much as they could be.
When companies see these numbers and hear that implementing a recognition program can improve engagement, they might turn to something like annual performance reviews or work anniversary rewards. Peer-to-peer appreciation, however, has more far-reaching effects when it comes to getting people excited about their jobs. Receiving messages of gratitude from a variety of coworkers promotes an authentic sense of belonging, which feeds employee engagement. Managers should participate as well, but it's important for the entire company to have the chance to be involved in both the giving and receiving of recognition in order to get the most benefit, as seen in companies like this one.
Pretty much every company is looking to retain more of its employees. Not only is retention a reflection of company culture, but it has a big impact on the financials of an organization. The more good-quality, trained employees who leave, the more time and money the company has to spend replacing them. It's a big hassle that can often be prevented.
So how do you prevent employees from wanting to leave? Well, one of the best ways is to implement an employee recognition system. And not just any recognition system. A system that allows for peer-to-peer recognition can provide a unique opportunity to encourage the growth of workplace relationships throughout the organization. Once employees have spent time giving and receiving recognition at your company, their loyalty will inherently go up as their relationships grow as well. While any other company offering an equivalent salary can immediately compete on that level, they can't replace the friendships that were built through many instances of appreciation.
3. Company Culture
Closely linked to the idea of employee retention is company culture. The better your company's culture is, the better your retention rate is bound to be. This is because company culture refers to the overall environment of the organization, which is a result of the company's purpose, core values, and subsequent actions.
Although many companies set out with the best intentions in terms of creating a positive emotional culture, the truth is that many fall short. Programs like annual performance reviews or even office perks that don't connect back to an emotionally-driven purpose typically end up with less meaningful change for the company. In fact, sometimes these types of programs can end up backfiring.
Peer-to-peer recognition takes an entirely different approach. By allowing employees to fully participate in a program based in social rewards, the culture naturally becomes one of gratitude and appreciation where more people feel that sense of belonging and unity.
Having a great company culture is a benefit not only to the employees, but to the company leaders as well. Once a positive culture has been established, leaders can use their existing culture as a marketing tool for recruiting new talent. Many people, especially younger generations, want to work for companies that provide space for authentic recognition.
Employee happiness, more commonly known as satisfaction, is not the same as employee engagement, despite their overlaps.
Although an employee might be happy with their job, that doesn't mean they will feel engaged (aka committed and passionate). As this article breaks down, however, you can't have engagement without happiness.
And how do you achieve better employee satisfaction? Unsurprisingly at this point, it's peer-to-peer appreciation. In Technology Advice's 2017 survey "State of Employee Satisfaction and Loyalty," researchers point out how one of the biggest areas for improvement right now is in regards to feedback for employees. Employees want more of it, but they don't want it coming from managers exclusively. Switching to a peer-to-peer recognition program makes more significant impacts in employee satisfaction and happiness, which in turn improves the ever-important employee engagement.
Putting the Pieces Together
From employee retention and performance to company culture and recruiting, these are just some of the benefits of implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program in the office. While new generations of employees are changing the very nature of the workplace, companies have an opportunity to adapt in the best way possible. When employees get to give and receive recognition, they will not only grow their own workplace relationships, but also add value to the company at the same time.