The Best Kept Recruitment Secret: Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Imagine if you had an army of recruiters. And I don’t mean a massive HR investment, I mean the critical mass of your organization – your staff – loved your organization so much, they were so satisfied, so valued – that they told anyone who could listen to why they love their work. Imagine if they encouraged their friends and former classmates when workplace woes were shared over coffee – to put in an application for the next time a position opens up. What if people talked about the amazing ways they are appreciated that it also attracts customers too? 

If you think this is pie in the sky thinking, trust me, it’s not. I have had the privilege of working with organizations in some of the highest turnover industries and virtually no one leaves, and when they do (retirement, spouse took a job in a different city, going back to school), leaving is bittersweet.

Want a place to start? Peer-to-peer recognition.

Think about it. As Carol Rogers (Humanistic Psychologist) said, if there is one thing every person needs to grow, it’s to feel valued, heard and appreciated. So how will people feel that way the fastest? When we are infiltrating from all sides.

When we relegate recognition to a few people’s jobs – HR, direct supervisors, the social committee – or only certain events or times of the year, we will not create a culture where people feel they truly matter every single day. 

I want to share with you a few ideas from my clients about how they made inroads in leveling up peer-to-peer recognition.

1. Here, Take My Card

The first suggestion comes from a Community Living Agency (who helps individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities live their best lives). As a not-for-profit, they don’t have a lot of extra discretionary resources. They realized they can afford $2 Tim’s (Tim Horton’s) cards. In other words, they can “buy” someone a coffee. And what makes this work is that anyone can give a Tim’s card for any reason. They don’t have to fill out a form or run it by the manager or log into a system to give someone “points”. In the moment, they can grab a card, hand it to a colleague (or write a note if it’s not face-to-face), and tell them why they have earned it. They make sure every location has them. Now, you may be wondering if anyone abuses the privilege. They haven’t experienced it yet. (That’s another tip: don’t let your best ideas be spoiled because you’re worried about one or two; make decisions that support your top performers to stay that way.)

2. Kudos to You

Another client keeps a stack of kudos cards available throughout the organization. In fact, in the County of Boulder, they have them in their jails. Not only do leaders and peers use them with each other, but some also started to use them with the inmates. Then the inmates wanted to also write them. You know how good it to receive a compliment from someone who has no choice to be there and doesn’t want to be?

3. Gamification Isn’t Just for Kids

Take the last two examples – gift cards and kudos notes. What if you level this up by issuing a challenge. How many Tim’s cards can you find a deserving recipient? How many compliments can you earn this week? Who can fill their kudos board the fastest? If you do have an app or points system, you can gamify this online. Some of my clients take challenges to social media that they once relegated to team meetings:

  • Reshare a clients’ post daily with a personalized message of how you see them living them
  • Every Monday share an inspirational post that makes us think of a team member and tag them
  • Every time you feel proud to work here post it to Twitter with a hashtag

Adults like to have fun as much as kids. Recognition’s not all serious, so have fun with it!

4. Public Areas

My last suggestion is to make it visible and public. A perfect example is Dovico, an incredible software company out of Moncton, New Brunswick. They host their Monday morning huddle meetings on a Facebook live, and it’s full of peer-to-peer recognition. Another example is North York General Hospital who made peer-to-peer recognition really visible during Patient Safety Week by having staff and also patients and family members writing down acknowledgements on frog cards (standing for Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness of course). Their front lobby of the hospital was covered with acknowledgements that staff and volunteers spent their lunch reading (imagine how confident you would feel about your care seeing so many examples of safe care!) And yet other clients like the City of Dawson’s Creek’s Recreation Centre has boards where people can write down a kudos card and put it up in a very visible spot. Staff and visitors are encouraged to acknowledge each other, and if you see your name, you can take the kudos home with you. If you have a virtual team, this doesn’t exclude you. You can have an electronic board that has a spot for acknowledgements between peers. Whatever visual looks like for you in your type of workplace, make it so that people can see it. 

Do you like one of the suggestions here? Why not share this and act on it today!

Want to check out more resources about how you can recognize other’s greatness? Check out these articles:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
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Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

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Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

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Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

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Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
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Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

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