The Power of Kudos: Unleash Peer-To-Peer Recognition to Boost Organizational Performance

Written by:Biljana Milenković
Published on: 25 August 2022 Reading time: 6 minutes

The conventional wisdom states that compensation and job perks should be enough to motivate and keep an employee focused on their job. Still, that line of reasoning fails to consider a simple, profound fact – we are social beings, shaped by our environment and inspired into action by a complex blend of needs which include the need to be accepted and recognized by our peers.


That is why the work environment we are in and the interactions we experience always influence our job performance. Most of us can grasp this by leveraging a simple analogy – take a few seconds and think about the best work environments you have been a part of. One of the reasons why you have probably enjoyed it was the relationships you have built with your coworkers and knowing that those same people appreciate and respect you more than likely influenced your performance.


So, let us talk about peer-to-peer recognition and how it can help build more productive teams and successful organizations.


What is peer-to-peer recognition?


Employee recognition is a straightforward concept – it entails acknowledging and appreciating their efforts in the workplace, professionally and personally. Traditionally, this implied top-down feedback. However, there are also additional ways to acknowledge employees' contributions and efforts effectively, and this is where peer recognition comes into play.


In simplest terms, peer-to-peer recognition allows employees to acknowledge another employee's efforts, skills, contributions, or talent. It is a way to support valuable, positive employee feedback and foster teamwork and meaningful professional relationships. Recognition of our coworkers can be just as important as the one we get from our managers. They are the ones who fully understand our daily challenges and can objectively notice each other's efforts and commitment. That is why peer recognition is a critical factor that pushes employees to go above and beyond and develop meaningful relationships and more effective collaboration. Beyond that, peer-to-peer recognition offers vital benefits that impact the entire organizational performance and increase the likelihood of collective success.


How is peer-to-peer recognition driving performance?


According to Gartner, peer feedback can enhance performance by as much as 14 percent. A study from Harvard Business School also found that it can dramatically increase motivation and performance. Peer recognition can be a relatively minor cost to a company, yet it can deliver a significant and measurable impact on performance.


#1 Increased employee engagement


Giving employees a chance to recognize each other on a public and consistent platform has an enormous effect on employees. That means recognition can be provided anytime, anywhere, and by anyone within the organization. That, in turn, lets your people know that their contribution is valued year-round, thus making them willing to go the extra mile when doing their daily tasks. When faced with a tight project deadline, increased engagement and commitment are critical success factors for a business team.


#2 Improved company morale


In the workplace, employee morale is about an individual's or group's perception and confidence about future outcomes. It is also a measure of how employees feel about their place in the company and the work they do. Multiple studies show there is a direct link between morale and productivity. One of the best ways of raising morale is by strengthening working relationships, and peer-to-peer recognition program provides a foundation for team members to recognize each other's efforts and extend appreciation to each other daily. In turn, the sense of togetherness increases, and morale improves.


#3 Enhanced productivity


When employees have a greater sense of belonging, more confidence, increased morale, and are engaged more, an increase in productivity usually follows. When people know their efforts are being noticed and appreciated, they tend to want to work harder to help their team and company succeed. As this happens at individual and collective levels, achieving company objectives becomes more straightforward.


#4 Improved employee retention 


Turnover can be highly costly, with additional recruitment, onboarding, and training expenses. In recent years, the talent competition has been rising significantly, and with good reason. Modern workplace ecosystems call for more than simply performing core job activities. We are also dealing with an expanding millennial workforce that genuinely believes that good work deserves timely recognition. Having a recognition culture helps retain employees and attract top talent. This prevents productivity gaps due to vacancies and uneven workload distribution.


#5 Better onboarding and induction experience


When faced with a new work environment, most of us tend to feel anxiety and need positive reaffirming by our new colleagues. A trainee or new team member tends to react positively and embrace positive workplace behaviors faster if they receive timely recognition for a job well done. That also allows for improved role-modeling because new team members tend to emulate the behavior of their colleagues who excel at their tasks once they receive recognition from seniors, who inspire them to find unique ways to solve shared challenges.

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#6 Improved cooperation within and across teams


Receiving (and giving) recognition builds a sense of connection, security, and acceptance. When team members are encouraged to acknowledge their peers and other teams or leadership for their contributions, it breaks down silos and increases the sense of shared mission and teamwork. Moreover, peer recognition improves a deep understanding of work because it provides specific, real-time praise connected to an outcome. For example, if you manage an organization that values health and safety metrics, peer recognition has been known to improve safety performance.


#7 Assisting management and empowering team leaders 


More than just a "thank you" exercise, peer recognition also provides valuable insights for the manager and team leaders. It is a simple health check - when there are high levels of recognition within teams, you will know that morale and engagement are also high. If recognition is low, you will know there is a workforce problem, allowing you to work towards identifying and mitigating it. Another benefit of peer recognition is aiding teams to become more self-sufficient. It gives employees a more significant, albeit indirect, role in improving morale, removes the sense of rigid hierarchy, and increases trust between different levels in the organization. When companies encourage team members to keep their eyes open for exceptional contributions, employees quickly realize how interconnected the web of roles is. Where recognition abounds, people are happier and more productive and stay with a company longer. As a bonus, leadership can be recognized, too, which will yield benefits both in executive motivation and the adoption of more effective leadership styles.


Technology makes all the difference.


From employee retention to company performance, these are just some benefits of implementing a peer recognition program. The message is clear – a peer recognition program could be a great tool in your organization's toolbox for overall employee recognition strategy. The most effective employee recognition programs are commonly delivered via software-as-a-service (SAAS) applications. At HeartCount, we developed a software platform that makes peer recognition easy for employees—with the ability to send real-time recognition from anywhere, anytime. The key benefits are the seamless integration with your existing systems and data analytics needed to improve organizational people management capabilities.


Thanks to the simple and intuitive user interface, your employees can quickly recognize peers and return to what they were doing in no time. Another important aspect of our peer recognition platform is its ability to integrate with other systems to create a seamless user experience. Outside of improving the user experience, consolidation alleviates headaches for administrators. Instead of managing multiple systems separately, admins will set up API integrations. That is especially helpful for companies looking to combine several recognition programs into one global program and platform.


Equally important, you also want to go with a solution capable of providing data and insights that help continuously improve your peer recognition program. Here we can enable you to track various metrics, including (but not limited to) the number of peer recognitions sent and received, number of leaders active on the platform, activation rate, and trends in upticks or losses. For example, suppose you notice slow activity. In that case, you need to think of more creative ways to get people excited about peer-to-peer recognition or to check that the platform is user-friendly and enjoyable for all. No one will want to use it if it isn't easy and fun. 


Not only is it important to provide managers with the right data, it’s also of great importance to include employees in the whole process. That’s why we made sure that employees can also have access to metrics through the portal and have first hand insight to peer feedback.


Besides providing platform metrics, the HeartCount solution also yields data that can integrate with other information to allow you to discover valuable correlations between recognition and critical business metrics, such as customer satisfaction and retention.


I hope this article helped you better understand the value a peer-to-peer recognition program brings to your organizational performance. And if you would like to learn more, we should talk. Feel free to contact us and schedule a personalized demo today!