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Experts are right to worry about reward-only peer-to-peer schemes


money-first recognition isn't what it's cracked up to be

In a recent interview with BBC’s Wake up to Money, Dr Monica Franco-Santos, Reader at Cranfield School of Management, warned of the potential dangers around reward-only peer-to-peer recognition schemes.

An expert in compensation, Dr Franco-Santos argued that a cash, or cash-value, scheme only offers a temporary boost. Long term, they cause more problems than they solve.

We’re not surprised someone has pointed out there’s a danger to focusing exclusively on cash.

While we think those schemes are interesting, we think it’s a mistake to focus your peer-to-peer recognition scheme just on rewards. Recognition is what really makes a difference to your company.

Recognition is the real quiz

As we said, we’re surprised those companies are prioritising financial rewards over recognition itself.

Our platform, Shout!, puts the recognition before rewards for a good reason. Cash and cash-value rewards can encourage unusual, and even unethical, behaviour.

When only cash-value rewards are at stake, someone will almost inevitably participate in bad faith.

By putting recognition first, you put your company culture and the relationships between employees first.

The doctor’s orders

In her BBC interview, Dr Franco-Santos pointed to six assumptions that would have to be true to make a reward-focused peer-to-peer system reasonable.

We’ll share the expert’s list, and our response, but filtered through our recognition-first approach:

Performance can be measured in an accurate and reliable way


However, we’d argue the toss on this one. Recognition isn’t just about performance, it’s about culture and relationships.

There’s hard and soft metrics that need to be embraced. That includes turnover and productivity figures as well as engagement survey results and one-to-ones with staff.

Employees are unbiased


But who is? Everyone lives with their own set of pressures that influence our value system.

There’s always a separation between the pressures on a manager and the pressures shared between the team they manage.

Part of the foundation of peer-to-peer recognition is acknowledging that separation, and acknowledging that employees need a way to celebrate positive behaviour among themselves.

Employee pay attention to the “good” things their peers do


And our platform is the evidence, even just internally.

I know for a fact I can hop on to our internal deployment of Shout! and see employees recognising each other for achievements, being helpful, and more.

Employees have the knowledge to assess what matters to them, what reflects the company’s values, and highlight positive behaviour.

And, as we pointed out above, they can do that in ways that managers can’t.

Employees appreciate points or money above anything else


Definitely not true, but with a twist: employees value a feeling of appreciation almost as much as they value money.

In fact, a lot of employees would move just for a workplace where they feel like they’re an appreciated part of a team, even without a pay rise.

Recognition is what makes those staff feel valued.

Employees are willing to collaborate


Every day we see that employees are willing to collaborate.

We can only speak for our business, but being to collaborate and work towards a common goal is a vital element of our business, and we see that reflected in our clients too. In fact, collaboration between our own teams and our clients’ teams is also vital.

Everyone can think of a time in their life where money has poisoned a situation, socially or otherwise.

Focusing on building relationships between your staff members and your company culture is more valuable than any cash-value reward.