What’s the best compliment you’ve been given at work?
Was it about your wizardry with Excel sheets? Your secret singing skills? Your formidable leadership abilities? Chances are that made you feel amazing. Not only did someone spot how brilliant you were at doing something, but they also took the time to tell you all about it!
It can mean the world to have someone — other than yourself, your manager, or your mom — notice your talents. When peer-to-peer recognition happens at work, it’s easy to collaborate, build motivation, and work through major projects.
What is peer-to-peer recognition?
Peer-to-peer recognition occurs when coworkers share how much they value you or your work. At the office, for example, this could be a clap on the back, a free coffee waiting for you on your desk, or a nicely written ‘Thank you’ note. In remote-first workplaces, peer-to-peer recognition can be harder to see — or encourage.
You’ll often find informal peer-to-peer recognition in casual workplaces like small businesses or laid-back startups. When team members feel comfortable and relaxed around each other, it feels easy to thank others for their good work sincerely. In formal and professional work environments, however, you might observe peer-to-peer recognition through a speech, a positive recommendation to the CEO, or a white-glove gift delivery. Either way, your workplace probably has some form of peer-to-peer recognition already!
The difference between peer-to-peer recognition and top-down recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition involves coworkers acknowledging each other’s qualities as equals, and often informally. This is the opposite of top-down recognition, the typical form of employee recognition whereby the manager rewards great attributes, hard work, or major accomplishments.
Some form of top-down recognition exists in most companies, including remote workplaces. After all, it’s clearly linked to compensation schemes and employee engagement. Any good manager ensures their employees’ efforts are fully appreciated so they continue bringing their best to work. However, peer-to-peer recognition is too often left by the wayside when it offers unique advantages.
Compared to top-down recognition, peer-to-peer appreciation is more informal and less correlated with paychecks, meaning it is easy to give and receive authentically. Managers don’t need to worry about formalities; employees can enjoy appreciative feedback that feels much more real.
4 reasons peer-to-peer recognition is critical in 2023
The truth is, peer-to-peer recognition is the cornerstone of great company culture, which improves engagement, performance, and retention. The benefits of peer-to-peer recognition in remote workplaces are tremendous because it often helps fill a void for coworkers who don’t feel connected to each other.
Here are just a few examples of how peer-to-peer recognition can reduce your employee churn:
1. Boosts teamwork and collaboration
It’s no secret that recognition-rich cultures benefit from improved collaboration. Knowing that peers appreciate your work makes it easier to work with them! If you feel your efforts are valued, you’re more likely to trust others not to take advantage of you. Combine that trust-building with the surge of joy and positivity resulting from thoughtful appreciation, and you’ve got yourself a team player.
2. Improves employee engagement and motivation
Consider this: 40% of the American workforce claim they’d put more effort into their job if recognized more frequently. According to Gallup, peer feedback can enhance performance by as much as 14%. With these stats, there’s no arguing that peer-to-peer recognition might be the simplest way to boost your employees’ engagement at work.
3. Fosters a culture of inclusiveness and belonging
Ensuring peer-to-peer appreciation is given often and loudly creates a sense of transparency around who gets recognized and how often. Beyond building trust, this also creates a sense of accountability for peers regarding DEI, especially when recognition is often linked to paychecks. Peer-to-peer recognition also involves explicitly appreciating someone’s uniqueness, from skills to talents to heritage and life experience.
4. Enhances your team’s resilience
If we’ve learned anything in the last couple of years, the workplace is drastically affected by times of crisis and need. When major changes occur quickly, employees can feel fragile, insecure, and easily overwhelmed by larger workloads. Authentic peer-to-peer recognition can act as a bulwark against these feelings of exhaustion by giving employees an ego boost, joy, and the psychological safety they need to take breaks. In this sense, peer-to-peer recognition is a powerful tool to prevent burnout and employee churn.
The result of increased engagement, collaboration, and inclusion? Better performance at work. When peer-to-peer recognition is prioritized, coworkers feel more driven to perform, resulting in a higher bottom line for the organization. Also, by making your team feel better appreciated, peer-to-peer recognition ensures they are less likely to quit. The result? Your company can avoid the heavy costs of hiring for their position.
Boosting peer-to-peer recognition in a remote-first world
Did you know that 76% of people save handwritten thank-you notes?
Let that sink in.
Three-quarters of people enjoy seeing people put effort into writing something down — it’s the magic of small, handmade tokens of appreciation. But how can you even begin to recreate that special feeling remotely? At GoCo, we specialize in remote culture-building, and we’ve got answers.
4 ways to facilitate peer-to-peer appreciation in remote teams
1. An appeal for gift cards
Wait! It’s not as dull as you’d think. Shopping for gift cards online can be incredibly time-consuming, if only because you’re targeted by random advertisements, products, and unnecessary questions. On the sender’s end, there’s something liberating in offering something at the right budget with minimal effort. On the giftee’s end, it’s wonderful to treat yourself to what you secretly enjoy most — if that’s a rubber duck from Amazon or a pumpkin-spiced latte from Starbucks, go for it!
2. Gift delivery superpowers
We all buy gifts for others. But do we all choose them well? Many things can go wrong when finding gifts for coworkers and peers at work remotely. More than in office settings, there’s a lot of guesswork involved, with some stressful online shopping. GoCo facilitates remote gift-giving by allowing your team to compile helpful information like T-shirt sizes, food allergies, and addresses on our platform, so you don’t have to ask them. That makes finding the right gift for your peer easy and breezy!
3. Uber Eats gift vouchers
In times of need, we always return to the basics: food. All around the world, sharing food is an act of affection and trust. We even structure our social activities with food, from grabbing a coffee to potlucks, brunches, and dinner parties. In remote workplaces, it’s easy to do the same, thanks to online services like Uber Eats vouchers. This service is an easy way for peers to recognize and appreciate each other’s work by literally buying someone a coffee to share in a Zoom meeting together, or organizing a fun Lunch & Learn break with coworkers.
4. Kudos appreciation bot for Slack
Let’s return to handwritten notes... and that three-quarters of people tuck them away to treasure long-term. While it’s difficult to replicate that special feeling, our friends at WFHomie found a way to single out peers and coworkers for their hard work on Slack and other platforms. With their Kudos bot, all someone has to do is type /kudos in the message box to start the recognition process. From there, the bot will ask you who you’re recognizing, prompt you to write a personal note, add a cute gratitude gif, and guide you through their platform to order an Amazon gift card, Uber Eats gift cards or vouchers, or customizable swag and gifts of all kinds. For the recipient, asynchronous and remote peer-to-peer recognition feels much warmer than if it were just an ordinary ‘Thanks!’ message. It might even feel like a handwritten note — one you’ll pin up in your Slack conversation as a keepsake.