Skip to Content

The Power of Peer-To-Peer

Apr 07, 2015

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

Grow your culture of recognition from the ground up.


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 Your
Employees 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.

A company-wide peer-to-peer program can increase your employees’
anticipation of recognition because recognition occurs frequently. In our
research, we’ve found the anticipation of being recognized paired with
being recognized often drives repetition of desired behaviors and highly
engaged employees.

Download your full article.

Submitting your information allows us to reach out to you in the future. 


John O'Brien

Vice President
Employee Performance Group

As Vice President of BI WORLDWIDE’s Employee Performance Group, John O’Brien’s primary focus is to develop employee engagement strategies and solutions that change the behaviors of employees to align with customers’ business objectives. An expert in Employee Recognition Strategy, he educates HR professionals around the world on how to best engage their employees through employee engagement strategies, solutions and best practices.