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The Power of Peer to Peer

May 22, 2015

Written by: John O'Brien
(View Author Bio)

Grow your culture of recognition from the ground up.

Woman being recognized by peers BI WORLDWIDE Latin America.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we use the principles of behavioral economics to create the best engagement strategies on the planet. We work with expert academics who advise us on the latest research on human behavior, engagement and decision-making. We use non-cash rewards and recognition to engage and motivate employees and sales teams. Check out our case study library to see how our customized and results-driven solutions have helped clients all over the world.

Peer-to-peer recognition is a key component of a comprehensive recognition strategy. Take a look at all of the “likes” on Facebook and you’ll see just how hungry we are for the approval of our peers… and how much we enjoy both receiving — and giving — compliments.

Of course, a well-designed peer-to-peer initiative does more than create a collection of “You are so good at what you do” posts.

A whole lot more.

By offering your employees a formal system through which they can recognize their colleagues for good work, you’ll sustain your culture of recognition through the years, generating employee behavior change, satisfaction and engagement.

The neurobiology of recognition

It’s not rocket science – but it’s powerful, neurobiological science and it will help you understand why peer-to-peer recognition works.

Every time one of us succeeds at something — anything — our nerve cells release a chemical called dopamine, which stimulates the reward center of our brain.

Rodd Wagner, New York Times bestselling author, writes about this “primal surge” in his new book, Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing YourEmployees As If They’re Real People.


“Dopamine not only surges when someone succeeds but also when his leaders and colleagues acknowledge his success. Because our ancestors survived better working together than fending for themselves, we are social creatures eager to be applauded for our work, whether by chants at the campfire or likes on Facebook. Recognition can release as much or more dopamine as the act that earned it.”

What goes around comes around...

When an employee is recognized by a peer, he or she is likely to repeat the behavior that earned the recognition. Why? Because it produces a double-dopamine rush: Doing the behavior feels great — and being recognized for it does too.

“Those who anticipate recognition for their future successes feel a greater obligation to work hard, give a higher proportion of their full effort, look for ways to improve the way they do their work and deliver more of their best ideas to the company,” writes Wagner.

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