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15 slam-dunk ideas for peer recognition

You try to show your employees how much you value them. But, getting a pat on the back from a colleague can go a long way in motivating and building a team.

A Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, report showed that companies with peer-to-peer recognition programs had higher levels of employee engagement.

Whether it’s a formal program with a committee of peers who evaluate nominations or a casual way to highlight the good work people do, encouraging peer recognition can have a positive payoff.

In this post, Insperity’s specialists share 15 proven ways you can help your employees show each other thanks.

1. The desk delivery

If your employees stop for coffee or soda, encourage them to bring one to a co-worker, or leave their favorite candy on their desk.

– Emily Dusablon, Supervisor, Human Resource Operations

2. Put it on paper

Handwritten notes are something that goes a long way. They’re personal and meaningful. Encourage employees to leave each other friendly notes. They could include a small gift card to a place they really like, their favorite candy or a bouquet of flowers – something that’s meaningful to that person.

– Michelle Kankousky, Corporate Learning and Development Consultant
Kingwood, Texas

3. Trophy time

Get a figurine, trophy or stuffed animal that is awarded on a rotating basis to an employee who made an outstanding effort. Let the recipient choose a peer who did something great and hand the trophy over the next week (or month). This can be a great end to a weekly stand-up meeting.

– Lana Gezalova, Performance Consultant

4. Kudos on display

Create a message board in a common area where employees can share kudos that they receive or recognize something a co-worker has done. Most of the time, you’ll see copies of emails, thank you cards and other forms of recognition pinned on the board. This makes others aware of an attitude of gratitude. It also gives you something to read while you’re waiting for the microwave to finish!

– Bonnie Monych, Performance Specialist
Houston, Texas

5. Noteworthy praise

Give each employee a stack of sticky notes and encourage them to leave kind notes on their co-workers’ desks.

– Kristina Halloran, Supervisor, Content Marketing
Kingwood, Texas

6. Pay it forward

Pay a favor forward by offering to support a co-worker on a project or in some other area in which they may need help.

– Kelley Zanfardino, Senior Human Resource Advisor
San Diego, California

7. Go beyond the cubes

Take the recognition beyond your own department. For example, each department picks another department to celebrate for a week. They sign a card, bring them breakfast, provide an ice cream break, etc.

– Chris Brennan, Performance Specialist
Los Angeles, California

8. Rewards bucks

Design your own paper money having some fun with the name and image. These “company bucks” can be handed out peer to peer along with a note explaining the effort. The bucks could be traded in for rewards depending on the amount: a parking spot, two hours early leave, a sweet treat for a group, etc.

– Mary Lou Parrott, Performance Consultant

9. Tell them about it

When a peer works with you on a project and provides value by helping you, no matter how big or small the task, take time to stop and provide feedback. For example, send an email thanking someone for the value they added to your project and copy their boss.

– Jennise Chaffold, Performance Consultant
Kingwood, Texas

10. Make a movie

Have individuals submit short 20-30 second video clips from their smartphone and put them together to show support and thanks for a peer’s work.

– Jeff Miller, Director, Learning and Performance

11. Celebrate success

Have everyone on the team fill in areas of their life where they are setting goals. Areas could be family, personal growth, fitness/health, financial, spiritual – even recreational. As the group gets to know each other better they can recognize what is important to each person outside of just work. When individuals accomplish one of their goals, celebrate at the next team meeting.

– Pete Hinojosa, Sales Leadership Development Manager
Kingwood, Texas

12. Huddle-up everyone

When someone’s done something great, set up a quick team huddle, 10-15 minutes max, with peers and have fellow teammates contribute to a small token of appreciation.

– Abe Turner, Performance Consultant
Kingwood, Texas

13. Daily affirmation

Encourage employees to make it a point to email, call or text a co-worker at least once a day with an expression of sincere appreciation for the work that he or she does. Be as specific as possible.

– Bob Reticker, Director, Performance Improvement
Woburn, Massachusetts

14. Make it easy

Everyone’s busy, so the program should be simple and easy. For example, a postcard or form for employees to complete with a place to write why someone should be recognized works well.

– Caroline Hernandez, Senior Human Resource Specialist
Los Angeles, California

15. Strictly voluntary

It’s important to remember not to make peer-to-peer recognition mandatory. That makes it forced and insincere.  Also, different people like different things. If you work long enough – or close enough – with someone, you have an advantage of knowing what they’ll appreciate. Stick to that and you can’t go wrong.

– Dawn Motsiff, Senior Human Resource Specialist
Atlanta, Georgia

Get more tips on building your team

Whether you’re just starting a peer recognition program or looking to augment what you already have, it’s all about making sure your employees know that you appreciate them.

For more tips on how to build employee engagement and motivate your workforce, download our free e-book, How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.