The power of peer-to-peer recognition programs
By Michelle Warren
Each month, RBC Financial employees send between 10,000 and 15,000 “Instant Thanks” through an online peer-to-peer social recognition program. With more than 75,000 workers, it’s an invaluable tool for engaging staff.
“Research showed the value of giving people that informal day-to-day recognition,” says Steve Richardson, manager, recognition programs for Royal Bank of Canada. “With Instant Thanks, you can recognize someone in the next desk or around the world.”
Peer-to-peer programs remove the bottleneck when responsibility falls solely on management and makes recognition ongoing, not simply part of an annual review.
It’s a strategy that pays huge ongoing dividends—organizations that regularly thank employees outperform those who don’t.
“Being recognized by your peers is often more validating,” says John Mills, executive vice-president, business development, of Montreal-based Rideau Recognition. “The real way to change culture and drive behaviour is to recognize others. What people get recognized for and congratulated for they tend to do again.” Here’s how to implement an effective peer-to-peer program:
Plan and educate
Training is essential, not only in terms of how a program works, but also how to give effective recognition.
“You only get one chance to make that first impression,” says Mills. “The education process is important: Let people know why you are doing it.” RBC first got C-suite players and management on board. Then they launched internal corporate communications. High-level ambassadors are fundamental, says Richardson: “We have very senior people who do 10 to 20 (Instant Thanks) a day.”
“The key is to recognize folks for actions you want to encourage, things that will drive business,” says Mills.
Dynamic programs can evolve to engage employees with new challenges. For instance, one year focus on customer satisfaction, the next on innovation. Always ensure people know why they are being recognized.
Keep it simple
“For most people it’s not intuitive to stop and say thanks,” says Richardson. “We wanted to make it easy to use and quick—you can do one in 15 seconds.” Most successful programs, like RBC’s, are run through a custom portal: Typically a single sign-up, then a desktop icon or, increasingly, a mobile device.
Frequency of use is essential: People won’t participate if the nomination process is too complicated or rules are cumbersome.
The best programs are when you allow employees to recognize peers without a manager’s approval, says Mills: “Respect their judgment.”
But keep managers in the loop with a mechanism that advises them immediately when a team member is highlighted.
“It is important for managers to understand who is recognized,” says Richardson. “It ties directly to employee engagement.”
Peer-to-peer programs come in various forms, some are level-driven, others are points-based, whereby staff attain levels or earn points for each recognition—these are accumulated then redeemed for prizes.
RBC does award points, but the real value lies in public recognition. On employees’ computers is a constant feed showcasing Instant Thanks and anyone can jump in to comment. It is also a reminder to participate.
“When we started putting these feeds across all computers, that was the big ‘a-ha’ moment,” says Richardson. “Once employees do one or two they’re hooked.”
other articles in this section
The Renaissance of Incentive Travel
Promotional products your attendees will love. Really.
Editor's Choice: 6 Springtime Gifts
Warm up to Winter Ski Incentives
Expert Tips for Virtual Incentive Events
Presents of Mind: The Art of Virtual Gifting
Noteworthy: Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda
Healthy Options for Incentive Trips
Celebrating Employee Milestones
Healthy employees = Healthy company
Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida
How to Design an Effective Gift Card Incentive Program
Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, Newfoundland
The Case for including Spouses on Incentive Trips
Rim to River Hiking in the Grand Canyon
Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon, BC
Creating incentive trips that appeal to everyone
The Brave New World of Gift Cards
Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
Incentive trips go family-style
Knock-their-socks-off gifts for hard-to-buy-for executives
Customized Recognition Programs
Virtual gift cards, the new reality
Go with a Pro, in the Spa and on the Greens
Canadian tax implications for employee gifts
A Christmas Bonus with all the Fixin's!
Recognizing Environmental Actions in the Workplace
Reward and Recognize Every Day!
Double Pampering Hits the Spot!
Hidden Gems: Cobble Beach Resort
Incentive Programs Used by the Pros
Think Local for Corporate Gifts
Time for an Incentive Travel Update
Reward Best-Practices for the Holiday Season
The Pros and Cons of Gift Cards
Eco-Friendly Corporate Gift Ideas
Speaker Gifts that Shine with Gratitude