12 Peer-to-Peer Recognition Examples to Put in Place ASAP

Uncovering the true benefits of peer-to-peer recognition at work

While many may consider money a top motivator, it’s not the only way to bring smiles to your employees’ faces. Employees want to know that the work they’re doing is valuable and purposeful, too. 

As an employer, you play an essential role in creating a culture of recognition in the workplace, which is critical to business success. 

On average, employees who feel they're recognized enough at work are 4x more engaged.

Employee recognition strengthens relationships and creates a more collaborative and supportive work environment. When employees recognize and appreciate each other, it fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that leads to greater success. It also flattens your company's hierarchical structure by making them feel more involved in the decision-making process. 

The first step is introducing peer-to-peer recognition. 

What is peer-to-peer recognition? 

Peer-to-peer recognition is exactly what it sounds like — when employees acknowledge and show appreciation for each other's work, efforts, and contributions.

We can break down employee recognition programs into two levels: 

  • Top-down recognition (between employees and managers) 
  • Peer-to-peer recognition (between co-workers and team members) 

Both have similar benefits — happier employees, higher engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction, better company culture, and increased retention.

But peer-to-peer recognition is proven to light an even bigger spark for your people. Two-thirds of employees say recognition from their peers motivates them to do their best. That's why peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to improve financial outcomes compared to manager-only recognition, and companies are 48% likelier to have high employee engagement rates when they implement it. 

The exciting part is that there are dozens (maybe even hundreds, if we had more time to brainstorm) of reasons team members can recognize each other: 

  • Completing a challenging project 
  • Giving great advice or assistance 
  • Picking up the slack for someone who's on PTO 
  • Adding to the company culture with a fun event 
  • Crushing their personal or professional goals 
  • Going outside their day-to-day to help a new team member out 
  • Always having a positive attitude in tough situations 
  • The list goes on. 

Implementing recognition at the individual and team level. 

To create an effective peer recognition program, you need to facilitate individual and team recognitions at the peer level. 

  • Individual recognition is for specific achievements or actions only one person contributed to. This could include achieving a critical goal, exemplifying company values, or going above and beyond for a project. 
  • Team recognition is for milestones or achievements that involve multiple team members working together. This could include launching a successful product, completing a major project, or hitting company-wide targets. 

Individual recognition is best delivered in more company-wide settings, where it can feel more public and allow others to notice these individual’s contributions. Some popular options might be a monthly or quarterly "employee of the month" award that everyone votes on, or through more immediate and informal channels like Slack with a simple recognition message for everyone to see. 

While team recognition is still important to bring up, say, in a company all-hands, the actual reward moment is more likely to be through smaller, departmental, or project-based settings. The group rewards can be something everyone shares (like a team lunch or happy hour) or individual recognition for each team member's contributions.

The sister act to employee recognition: rewards 

To complement your recognition program, you may want to introduce another starring act, and that’s your employee rewards. While a lot of peer-to-peer recognition is non-monetary, rewards can be either monetary or non-monetary. Either way, they reinforce the positive behavior that has been recognized. Consider it that extra cherry on top of your original ‘thank you.’ 

Rewards can be: 

  • Monetary (like a gift card or spot bonus) 
  • Non-monetary (like extra PTO, company swag, or a personalized thank-you note) 

You’ll have to decide on how and what you want to ‘assign’ a reward to, as not every moment of peer recognition will warrant an extra reward. Reward can make or break a moment of recognition, and it’s important to consider how you’ll keep your everyday recognition authentic, timely, and heartfelt. 

But for larger and more significant accomplishments (or those that are part of a structured program), a rewards system can make a lot more sense. 

That’s why it’s critically important to model how you want others to be both rewarded and recognized from the top down. It's your responsibility to discern when and where rewards are appropriate. 

So how do you best introduce peer-to-peer recognition in your workplace? Well, that’s why we’re here. Let’s get started. 

12 examples of peer-to-peer recognition in the workplace 

1. Create a dedicated Slack channel. 

A Slack channel is one of the best ways to facilitate public recognition, for a few reasons: 

  • It’s highly visible. Everyone can see and read the recognition message.
  • It’s timely. Messages are fast, immediate, and informal, which may make more employees feel more comfortable writing their own messages. 
  • It’s coachable. Managers can lead by example by participating themselves so others can see how easy it is to give someone a shoutout. 
  • It’s location-agnostic. No matter where your employees are, it's inclusive for in-person, hybrid, and remote employees

And it's something you could literally set up right now. (Well, if you have Slack. Which more than 200,000 companies do.) 

To kick things off, we suggest setting up some simple guidelines and communicating these to the team. These could be pinned to the channel so that people have constant visibility of them. For example, you might look at how often teammates should be recognized. Do you want people to submit their messages on a certain day, or make sure that they don’t send anything after-hours?

Then, create a name for it. Something like #kudos, #shoutouts, or #highfives works well. If your company has a lot of Slack channels, make it something that will be easy for people to find and remember! 

To get the most from your employee recognition Slack channel, encourage employees to share their recognition on the spot. Let's say they notice a teammate excelling in a big meeting. When it's over, they can post something like "Great job presenting today, John! I love the way you handled those tough questions. #kudos" to the channel. Your employees may want some examples of how to write meaningful recognition messages. Remember to remind them to give some detail for those who weren’t there to really understand why this particular moment or action deserves recognition!

To boost participation in the channel, make sure everyone knows about it (and is added to it). Encourage new hires and their leaders/mentors to use it in their first few weeks, even as a little bit of practice. It can be a great way to welcome team members on board or even give extra recognition after a promotion. 

We recently rolled out our new "shoutouts" feature at Compt, which makes it easier than ever for employees to recognize each other. See how it works. 

2. Implement a peer bonus program. 

A peer bonus is a type of spot bonus employees give to each other for contributions that often go unrecognized. Google's peer bonus program was the first of its kind, but plenty of other companies have followed suit. 

We’re big fans of them and use them internally as well as for our clients. Here’s a quick guide to how to run a peer bonus program with Compt

  • Employees can nominate their peers for a bonus amount (usually a small, fixed amount like $5, $25, or $50, but never more than a few hundred dollars). 
  • They include a note on why that person deserves it. 
  • A manager or designated team member reviews and approves the nomination.
  • Once they click "Approve," the system disburses it through payroll. 

There can be issues with employee reward programs when it comes to favoritism, employees just simply nominating their friends, etc. To keep peer bonuses fair, transparent, and positive, there are a few rules and conditions you can implement, all within the Compt program: 

  • Employees can only give a bonus to one person at a time. 
  • They can't nominate the same person twice within a 3-6 month period.
  • Recipients can't nominate their nominator within that same period. 
  • Managers cannot participate. 

Since they come from a colleague, spot bonuses like these have an additional layer of authenticity and meaning compared to traditional bonuses. 

And the heartfelt note that comes with it? Truly, that’s the icing on the cake. 

Pro tip: With Compt's Slack integration, you can send spot bonuses right within the app. If you're running a peer bonus program, notifying them through the app means they'll see the message right within their workspace. 

3. Create a digital recognition wall.

Set up an interactive digital wall — either on an internal site or a physical digital display in the office — where employees can post compliments and kudos for their peers. Peer recognitions could be in the form of texts, memes, GIFs, or videos, depending on the capabilities. To go truly old-school, this could even be Post-its on a breakroom wall. It all depends on where your employees can see the recognition, and how you think they’ll engage with it. 

The idea here is to make recognition visible and public. Think of it as a living, breathing, and constantly updated representation of your workplace culture. 

Disney is an example of a company that takes this concept to the next level. The multinational organization uses a digital recognition platform to facilitate peer-to-peer recognition among its 225,000 employees. With the system, employees can send thousands of recognition notes to their peers (to date, ~704,000 total). 

4. Hold a yearly themed recognition event. 

Another way to introduce peer nominations is to hold a recurring, themed event where employees can nominate their peers for fun and unique awards. Make it an event with music, snacks, and perhaps an opportunity for teammates to speak out about why they selected someone for an award. 

Themes could include categories like: 

  • "The Office Hero" for someone who always helps out 
  • "The Innovator" for someone who comes up with creative solutions 
  • "The Cheerleader" for those who keep morale high 
  • "The Mentor" for someone who takes time to share winning strategies with others 

These recognitions remind employees that the work they've put in over the last year hasn't gone unnoticed. 

5. Have everyone on the team put a video together. 

A personalized video with messages from each team member is a heartfelt way to celebrate an employee's birthday or commemorate an important milestone

Have each team member record themselves giving a short shoutout (10-15 seconds) or sharing a favorite memory with the employee being recognized. Create a montage of all the videos, complete with music and fun animations. 

From there, share it with the company Slack, team chat, or via email with a brief, thoughtful message on their special day. 

6. Use redeemable peer recognition tokens.

Gamifying recognition can be a great way to get more employees involved in recognizing their peers. For this, you could use a system of tokens that employees can give to each other as a form of recognition that can be exchanged for various rewards, such as a longer lunch break,  front-row parking for a week, or vouchers for coffee. For those who are still in the office, maybe it’s even a Spotify playlist takeover for the day. 

An interesting example of this is Zappos's peer-to-peer recognition program, which uses "Zollars" as a form of recognition currency. It's tangible, like real money, but holds no monetary value outside company walls. 

Employees earn Zollars for volunteering and helping out colleagues. They can use them to purchase items from the Zollar Store, which include practical items (like a USB hub or company-branded water bottle), fun items (like domino sets and water guns), and even charitable donations on behalf of the company. 

The company also has a "Master of WOW Parking" program to reward employees with premium parking spots, and a coworker bonus program that allows employees to award a $50 bonus to one employee of their choosing each month. 

7. Have a "hero" and "sidekick" of the month. 

A unique (and adaptable) aspect of Zappos's peer-to-peer recognition program is its monthly "hero" and "sidekick" awards. Based on the $50 co-worker bonuses and the feedback attached to them, a panel selects a Hero of the Month and three Sidekicks. 

The Hero of the Month can either win a $250 Zappos gift card or an experience of their choice (e.g., tickets to a sporting event or a luxury car driving experience). They also receive a reserved parking spot. And best of all, they get a real-life, Zappos-branded hero cape! 

The Sidekicks each receive a $50 Zappos E-gift card, reserved parking spaces, and their own sidekick capes. 

Maybe your company isn’t equipped with its own capemaker, but you can put your own twist on these recognition programs by introducing something like a Star of the Month and then runner-ups, pulled from peer nominations or a panel of past winners. 

8. Use a points-based system. 

A points system works similarly to tokens, but it’s digital. 

  • Typeform utilizes a system called 'Merit Money,' where employees give virtual points to each other as a form of appreciation. These points can be converted into cash or gift cards, promoting a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation. 
  • Southwest Airlines operates the 'SWAG' (Southwest Airlines Gratitude) program, where employees give and receive points that can be exchanged for a variety of rewards, from merchandise and gift cards to experiences and travel incentives. 

With this type of program, you can make the rewards big or small, proportional to the amount of points an employee collects. They can choose to save up for something big or spend the points on company swag, an extra day of PTO, or a $25 gift card to their favorite store. 

9. Endorse and recommend each other on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is the best place for employees to give each other social media recognition because future employers, business partners, and clients can see it when they visit their page. Endorsements and recommendations are a form of social proof for anyone considering them as a professional contact. 

Encourage team members to "endorse" each other for skills related to their roles — e.g., customer service, project management, or coding languages. 

Encourage them to write thoughtful recommendations for their deserving colleagues.

Something like this: 

"Emma is the best kind of teammate. She's always quick to lend her expertise and support, and she calls a spade a spade (in the best way possible). Knowing her personally, I can vouch for her relentless work ethic and unwavering positivity that has brought us to countless successful projects. She's been a true asset to our team." 

Social media profiles are the new "resume." In addition to being a great way for co-workers to show how much they value one another, helping one another build a strong online presence boosts their personal brand and adds to your company's credibility. Consider this a more permanent moment of recognition that can add real value to an employee’s day-to-day. 

10. Set time aside for shoutouts during weekly or monthly team meetings. 

Whether you're working with a remote team or fully in-office, all peer-to-peer recognition programs need to be top of mind to stay effective. An easy way to maximize employee engagement is to hold a meeting with your entire team every week, where everyone recognizes a peer they feel has done something exceptional. 

As an example: 

  • Your company hosts a weekly Zoom call, called "Thoughtful Thursday." 
  • At every meeting, the whole team logs on and takes turns giving a shoutout to someone who has gone above and beyond in the past week. 
  • If they can't think of something remarkable that's happened, they can give praise to someone who they feel deserves recognition for an overarching trait.

75% of employees who receive recognition at least once per month say they're happy with their jobs. But that’s just the beginning. If you’re able to dedicate a weekly or monthly slot to giving credit where it's due you can make real strides toward fostering a culture of appreciation and increasing job satisfaction. 

11. Put your recognition on paper. 

Especially in the age of technology, a handwritten note can go a long way in making employees feel appreciated. While they're great to give during special occasions like birthdays or work anniversaries, they can also be given at any time to show recognition and gratitude. 

Teammates can write a brief note expressing their gratitude for a colleague's hard work, dedication, or positive attitude. If they're part of an in-person team, they can personally hand it to them or leave it on their desk. 

12. Give private thanks. 

Although this isn't something you can facilitate directly, more and more team members will share appreciative DMs and chats as you build peer-to-peer recognition into your workplace culture. Eventually, it'll almost feel like second nature. Though you might not be able to see it, as a manager you can make this a goal for your employees and check in with them to see if they are recognizing and giving kudos to their peers on a more regular basis. 

Take your peer-to-peer recognition from Meh to WOW. 

All employee recognition programs are different, but the more you can tailor them to the company, values, and even the sector it operates in (think: Southwest's 'SWAG' program and travel incentives), the better. 

Building a recognition program can feel overwhelming, but here are some common traits that every successful peer-to-peer recognition program has in common. 

  • Timeliness. Recognition should be given as close to the event as possible. For broader recognition (e.g., "Nick's customer service skills are always so on point"), this can be done during a weekly meeting or a "Star of the Month" type program. 
  • Specificity. Recognition works best when it's thorough and personal. Complimenting a sales rep by saying, "Nick is such a good closer," isn't tangible. Instead, say something like, "I love how Nick thoroughly qualifies every customer, so by the time you get to the close, they're practically sold." When employees submit praise, require them to explain the "why." 
  • Variety. Recognition shouldn't be monotonous. It should come in different forms — a structured peer bonus program, a weekly Zoom call, semi-frequent messages in the #shoutouts Slack channel, special recognition for important milestones, etc. It’s important to shake things up so that employees don’t get desensitized by another ‘boring thank you.’ 
  • Inclusivity. Everyone on the team should have an equal opportunity to participate and be recognized for their hard work. 
  • Top-down support. To be successful, peer-to-peer recognition programs must have buy-in from leadership. When managers set the example for giving and receiving praise (and give their team members the tools to make it happen), it creates a recognition culture that runs throughout all levels of the organization. 

Run your whole employee recognition program with Compt. 

Using a platform like Compt, you can create a system that makes it easy for employees to give each other kudos, shoutouts, and even small monetary gifts as a form of recognition. And it integrates with your HR and payroll systems, making it easy to incorporate a rewards element. 

With Compt, you can: 

  • Create an employee recognition budget that works for your company's size and resources 
  • Set ground rules around how much each team member can give in a given time frame (e.g., monthly or annually) 
  • Make it easier for peers and managers to give bonuses and rewards with Compt's automated platform 
  • Enable team members to personally shout out their colleagues and recognize their hard work 
  • Measure and track employee engagement in the program 

Plus, it's 100% tax-compliant. Trust us, your back office folks will love that. Request a demo to see how it works.

Your cart