Social Recognition: What Not To Forget

Table of contents

Social recognition allows employees and managers to share quick, immediate acknowledgment of a ‘job well done’. It can highlight the day-to-day stuff that goes unnoticed or is quickly forgotten afterwards.

It’s an effective, low-cost and genuine recognition scheme that increases the virtual pats on the back in your organisation.

Graph of the top reasons employees don't recognise each other for

What to remember with social recognition programs

To Set Out Rules

Make sure everyone knows how to use whichever system you choose. Outline clearly what’s not acceptable. When to give recognition and how. What’s appropriate and what’s not. Clamp down on any passive-aggressive or point-scoring use; if things get too cliquey or steer from their original purpose.

Most platforms are visible to all (that’s kind of the point) so it’s important that users are aware of this and that management will monitor things. You’d hope that nothing untoward would arise from such a nice platform, but people do tend to be on better behaviour when they know what

By way of example you might want some ground rules:

Ground Rules

  • Make everyone responsible for the office music - get everyone to share a Spotify playlist they use to get motivated.
  • Set some time to catch up - some one-to-one time with direct managers will allow employees to highlight any worries for the upcoming year, rather than letting them fester.
  • Encourage staff to make use of any social recognition scheme in place by reminding colleagues that their efforts do not go unnoticed.
  • Lead by example - set the tone by putting on your bravest game face and generate some enthusiasm and energy in the workplace.
  • Everyone on a diet? Doing dry January? Help employees work towards these personal goals, with a chart and fun rewards for achieving their own targets.
  • Lay on some healthy snacks - water, fruit, superfood salad. These all help boost people’s wellbeing and health at this notoriously unhealthy time of year.


  • Use in-jokes that are at the expense of others or that might feel exclusionary
  • Pile on unnecessary awards to one person, even if annoying them makes your day fun and they find it funny too (it takes away from the point of the awards)
  • Forget that the system is monitored

To go further and achieve specific aims - i.e. promoting certain behaviour types across the company - set up the system to allow staff to recognise certain things in each other. That could be great customer service, explaining products in a helpful way, assisting other staff in training… Whichever you want to encourage, reward the behaviours rather than the results.

To Promote It

Employees will quickly lose interest in social recognition if it isn’t promoted and used by management. When used regularly, the program gives staff members continual appreciation in the workplace. William James, Harvard psychologist more than 150 years ago said, “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.”

To Make It Authentic

Don’t rely on automated recognition systems - they lack the personal touch, they are easy to spot and are essentially meaningless. Would you prefer a robot heaping you with praise or a real person making one authentic observation about your efforts?

If people aren’t naturally comfortable or adept at verbalising their positive thoughts about employees or peers, remind them of starting points about how to describe their gratitude/admiration. You could start by thinking about three key questions:

  • What’s something you’ve seen or observed about so-and-so’s work?
  • What’s something you’ve heard about that person’s work?
  • What’s something specific you’ve felt about their work?

To Recognise Why It Works

  • 60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance. (Aberdeen Group, The Power of Employee Recognition, 2013)
  • 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have seen marked positive increases in customer satisfaction. (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)
  • Peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)


Whether it’s individual, team managers or senior management, there must be someone with overall dominion over how social recognition is used. The platform needs to be monitored for correct use and any abuse of the system should not be permitted.

To Encourage Feedback

Find out what’s working and what isn’t. Do people need to be reminded of what’s appropriate and when to use the application?


Use social recognition to boost morale and behaviours you want to encourage in employees - by recognising it in others, they will strive to achieve the behaviours you want to instill across the whole company. Interested in social recognition for your business? Visit for more information.