TAKING PEER RECOGNITION SOCIAL

To the average movie fan, a Screen Actors Guild Award might not have quite the same cachet as an Oscar.  

Actors, on the other hand, often make a really big deal—at least publicly—of earning one of these little green SAG statuettes.  

SAG Awards are voted on by the organization’s members. In other words, actors vote for actors. And, if you listen to any SAG Award acceptance speech, you’ll almost always hear the winner gushing with gratitude about being recognized by their peers.   

Sure, some of the recipients might be laying it on a bit thick. They’re actors. But the point is that it’s a really good feeling to get a pat on the back from our contemporaries. These are, after all, the people who know exactly what it takes to excel at our job day in and day out.  

This is true whether you’re Tom Hanks or Tom from IT. Most employers have recognized this reality and reacted accordingly, writes Dana Brownlee in a recent Forbes article.  

Brownlee’s piece focuses on the swing from the “traditional” annual boss-to-subordinate employee evaluation and recognition model toward more continuous feedback and peer-to-peer based approaches. 

But that’s not the real story, says Mark Englizian, former rewards leader at Amazon, former CHRO at The Walgreen Company, and current Chair of the Institute for Corporate Productivity’s (i4cp) Total Rewards Board.  

“It’s kind of old news to suggest that companies are moving away from annual performance reviews and manager-dominated assessments to more fluid processes characterized by greater frequency and the use of peer feedback to balance out what the manager perceives,” says Englizian.  

“But there’s a solid point to be made that the nexus for an employee feeling recognized for the work they do can shift away from the employer to co-workers.” 

And, as it does in every other facet of the working world, technology and social media figure to play a vital role in the continuing evolution of peer recognition.  

Putting peer recognition technology in employees’ hands

Some organizations have already made peer recognition a social affair.  

At Microsoft, for example, employees use an app called Kudos, which enables the tech giant’s employees to give their colleagues recognition and acknowledgement. Users can hand out kudos to colleagues as well as view those received by co-workers.  

The app expands on Microsoft technology that formerly worked only on the corporate network—it’s been enhanced for mobile, so it’s accessible from anywhere, according to the company.  

In addition to allowing employees to single out praiseworthy peers they work with on a regular basis, the app allows Microsofties to search for anyone in the company’s directory.  

And each message of commendation comes with a customized icon representing one of Microsoft’s cultural values, such as displaying curiosity or providing helpful feedback, for example.  

Nashville-based device insurance, warranty, and support services provider Asurion relies on the Achievers employee engagement platform to deliver peer recognition.  

In the year since Asurion has introduced the app to its employees, they have used the platform to dole out praise to co-workers more than 250,000 times, says Ben Merrill, vice president of HR, compensation, benefits, analytics, talent, and organization effectiveness at Asurion.  

It’s no secret that providing continual performance feedback has a positive effect on business performance. In fact, research from i4cp and the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) shows that creating and nurturing a performance feedback culture is the key to performance management effectiveness.  

More and more, however, it will be colleagues delivering the type of positive reinforcement that helps drive performance, predicts Englizian.  

“In the past, top-down recognition might have felt forced, disingenuous, and ineffective. I can definitely see organizations leveraging social networks and technology to replace or reinforce company programs with both team and individual peer recognition for a job well done.”