Organisation-wide recognition schemes hit target

Diminishing line manager involvement and opening up an organisation-wide peer recognition awards process can help to boost employee morale, says Vicki Taylor

If you read nothing else, read this …

  • Ensure the company culture is right before introducing a scheme.
  • Create systems to avoid joke nominations.
  • Get everyone involved from the chairman to the shop floor

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Peer recognition schemes allow employees to applaud the achievements of their colleagues and have a hand in the rewards given.

There are numerous advantages to running such a scheme, whether this is a company awards ceremony where employees vote for one another, or a system where staff can give a voucher to a colleague who has done a good job.

Above all, such schemes promote a culture in an organisation that encourages staff to say ‘thank you’ – two little words that can impact hugely on motivation, but are often forgotten by busy managers and colleagues.

Gina Arthur, an incentive specialist at peer recognition scheme provider Good Points, warns: "There’s always a risk of introducing a peer recognition product when the ethos or culture within an organisation is not such to say ‘thanks’ and recognise people who go the extra mile."

Lorna Ashworth, managing director of compensation and benefits advisers Ashworth Black, agrees. "If a company implements a scheme [without tackling the culture] people will start nominating others because they are friends – ‘I’ll vote for you if you vote for me’."

To help tackle this, it’s advisable to have a system in place to ensure a scheme is consistent and fair. "As a nomination comes up, managers of the department might want to get together and decide whether it is worthy of an award and what size or type of award," adds Ashworth.

When Vodafone UK introduced its peer recognition scheme Legends in July 2005, putting such measures in place was vital.

Kay Addison, strategy and planning at Vodafone UK, explains: "There was a screening at the first stage where we filtered out all the inevitable joke nominations. Then each of the assessors had to phone the nominators and run through a list of questions."

Legends is an annual competition where the company recognises its top 100 employees as voted for by their peers. The scheme attracted 1,900 nominations in its first year. The 100 finalists will be invited to go on an all-expenses paid five-day trip to Dubai next month accompanied by either a friend, colleague or partner.

Addison says Legends has been hugely motivating for everyone involved. "It’s been exceptionally good for the company in engendering togetherness and a feeling that we are all part of one [entity]."

She adds that the firm had looked at the possibility of rewarding employees for nominating someone, but decided the scheme should be truly altruistic. "People felt so strongly that someone should be recognised that they have bothered to get the form, fill it in and send it off." Nominations can be submitted online, put in a box at the nominator’s place of work, or posted.

"People are always very proud if they have been nominated. If you are nominated you are given a star to show that you have been. Employees have got them pinned up in their offices, in our call centres and retail stores," she adds.

Ashworth agrees that peer recognition schemes can be very motivating. "It makes people feel valued and that’s the most important thing. And it also makes it easier for managers who find it difficult to say thank you."