A plaque, catered lunch, gift certificates – when it comes to employee recognition, many traditional programs have high cost but little cultural impact. Forward-thinking manufacturing companies recognize the importance of offering programs for employees to recognize each other and integrating peer recognition into the culture of their organizations. The benefits are numerous: it sets a positive tone for the company culture, reminds the team of common goals and most importantly, it can strengthen the bonds between co-workers.
These bonds between co-workers are critical for both employee engagement and retention. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, two of the most essential psychological necessities we have as humans are the need to be appreciated and the need to “belong.” These needs can be effectively satisfied through peer-to-peer recognition. Compensation and benefits support a vital need, but recognition and accolades support our higher-level psychological well-being. “Employee recognition programs help management convey the message that you matter,” says Karla Dobbeck, PHR and Founder of Human Resource Techniques, Inc.
To this end, Fusion has developed a unique program for our employees to recognize each other’s outstanding job performance. Our monthly Fusion peer-to-peer bonus program, entitled the “Rockstar Program,” is entirely based on employees voting for their peers without the input of Management. Employees are asked to consider the employee that best exemplifies our Core Values and nominate them for consideration. The monthly winner receives a monetary bonus and a designated parking spot. The yearly winner receives the aforementioned rewards in addition to a complete concert experience at a show of their choice. This tangible method of employee recognition is yet another way that employees are able to celebrate professional accomplishments. We were able to successfully implement it using the following best practices:
1. Apply structure. If you want to build your own program, make it a regular part of your day-to-day activities. Fusion employees vote for each other in the Rockstar program monthly, and the conversation surrounding the process is included in our Daily Huddle. As a result, our team engages in exceptional behavior at an increased rate due simply to the established culture of consistent recognition and acknowledgment of the value they bring to the Company.2. Tie it to the company culture. The act of going above and beyond established requirements has become habitual due to Fusion’s culture of continuous recognition. What is key about the voting process is that nominees are also identified by the Core Value that they have displayed over the previous months. This is what makes the recognition meaningful. Rewards are not distributed with generic titles such as “employee of the month,” they are tied to specific behaviors. This creates a culture of “doing the right thing” and living out our values everyday.
3. Make it visible. Recognition that’s visible to the team or the company is much more valued by the employee, and can influence behavior across departments. Our monthly Fusion Rockstar is announced at the company-wide daily huddle, posted on our company Facebook page, and they also autograph our Rockstar guitar, which is prominently displayed in the front office for employees and guests to see everyday.
4. Give experiences. Employee recognition should center on creating memories, which last longer and are considered more meaningful than cash bonuses. As stated above, the yearly Fusion Rockstar is awarded a complete concert experience at a show of their choice.
Strategic peer-to-peer employee recognition programs are exponentially more influential than traditional “handed down” awards. Additionally, they offer a wealth of valuable, actionable data for talent and culture management. This program allows Fusion employees to recognize their peers for doing something big or small that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Peers often recognize behavior that would have gone completely unnoticed by managers. Seeing trends in peer evaluation through Rockstar voting helps us understand better who is shaping our workforce from within. Consistent acknowledgment of exceptional performance in a manner that is meaningful to employees has proven to be an effective method of increasing individual and team engagement, satisfaction and retention.