Peer-to-peer recognition programs are becoming increasingly popular in the quick-service restaurant and retail industries. While top-down recognition still goes a long way, getting acknowledged by one's coworkers is also a powerful way to increase motivation and job satisfaction. More motivated and satisfied employees will in turn deliver a better brand experience, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately, sales.

Encourage teamwork, improve morale and build a positive work culture for your hourly employees with these tips:

1. Encourage Employees to do Great Work

A peer-to-peer recognition program works best when companies encourage 100 percent participation. Implement a monthly program that promotes teamwork by asking all members to nominate an employee of the month. Select specific criteria for employees to use as a rating system - for instance, excellent attendance, team player, goes above and beyond, provides excellent customer service, etc. Hold team meetings once per month to announce the top nominees and the reasons why each associate was nominated. Then, announce the big winner and reward him or her with a tangible takeaway that's both memorable and monetary. An award certificate plus a gift card, for example, is a great reward.

2. Instill Team Spirit

At FCC Services, a business services and consulting company, employees can write notes to peers expressing appreciation for their work, according to the Society of Human Resource Management1. Asking employees to actively give thanks for and to their peers encourages a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. Part of FCC's employee recognition program includes posting the notes on a bulletin board to engage employees in the process. The notes are then entered into a quarterly drawing; the author and recipient of the note each receive a $25 gift card if their note is pulled.

3. Promote Open Communication

Another compelling reason to implement a peer-to-peer recognition program: It fosters open communication. ERE Media suggests employers set up recognition boards in employee common areas.2 This provides a highly visible location to recognize hourly associates and makes it easy for employees to participate. For example, consider setting up a recognition whiteboard in the breakroom; each week, label the board with a different theme such as "biggest save" or "most likely to win over a customer." Have fun with the themes - you could even ask associates to name a few. Then encourage everyone to write their answers down while on break.

4. Expand the Program Company-wide

In-store peer-to-peer recognition is key for establishing a team environment, but company-wide acknowledgement is a powerful reward in and of itself. Use the company intranet to showcase your peer-to-peer recognition program. Select a peer-recognized employee to highlight; this should be an associate whom the team members have nominated for a job well done. Then write up a bio and share their story with the whole company. Company-wide visibility instills a sense of pride in employees. It not only fosters employee loyalty, but it encourages others to strive for an opportunity in the spotlight as well.

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Resources: Photo credit. (1) Society of Human Resource Management (2) ERE Media