Getting praise and recognition for a job well done is deeply satisfying — that glow when your manager delivers a kind comment in your 1:1 meeting, or when a colleague notes that your last presentation was great as you grab coffees on the way into work.
But while those quieter moments of recognition are wonderful and meaningful, if that’s the only kind of recognition your employees ever get, you’re missing out on a big piece of the recognition puzzle. Social recognition helps you deliver a well-rounded recognition program that enhances your employee experience and increases employee retention as well.
What is Social Recognition?
Social recognition is, essentially, public recognition. It means celebrating employee wins and hard work by sharing that recognition internally, with their teams, departments, and the company as a whole. Social recognition and employee appreciation can even include external recognition such as LinkedIn posts for those bigger wins.
Social recognition is also not just about manager to employee recognition — it covers all types of recognition, from peer-to-peer recognition and recognition from senior leaders to more junior employees.
The pros of employee recognition are very clear: employee engagement (as well as productivity and employee performance) are 14% higher in organizations with recognition. But employee recognition programs that ignore the benefits of social recognition are overlooking a major factor in employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction.
Plus, social recognition doesn’t need to be expensive (in fact, it’s often free) and in an era of smaller budgets, that can make a big difference. More than 40% of organizations in 2023 report experiencing budget freezes, so those bottom-line savings add up.
Why Employee Recognition Should Be Public
The benefits of social recognition are significant. Not every single recognition moment needs to be public, of course — recognition is most effective when it’s tailored to the employee receiving it, and not everyone enjoys that type of public praise — but social recognition must be a part of your recognition tools. Here are just a few of the most compelling reasons why.
Helps Everyone Feel Seen and Valued
Feeling seen and valued is a basic human need, in the workplace and everywhere else. When good work goes unnoticed by managers, peers, and senior leaders, employees lose one of the major incentives for doing that great work in the first place — especially if it happens regularly.
Employee morale is higher when appreciation is frequently shared, and that includes sharing it with the wider team or organization when appropriate. That regular, public employee appreciation is critical to building a strong culture of recognition. You can make employee wins feel more valued by creating and sharing employee spotlights.
Shows Employees What Good Looks Like
Social recognition also shows employees in a very tangible way what good work and great results look like. This public appreciation gives all team members something to aspire to, encouraging them to work smarter and more strategically to deliver stronger business results instead of just doing the minimum on their daily tasks.
Creating a company culture where people know what is expected of them and what they can do to get promoted or grow their skills more generally is key to employee engagement — and social recognition can pave the way here.
Builds Bonds Between Colleagues
Social recognition also builds stronger bonds between colleagues, both in the same department and across the organization. Giving employees the chance to cheer each other on and celebrate wins together is a powerful way to help them connect on something other than their routine tasks. And feeling celebrated by your team members, peers, and leaders can also increase the sense of belonging that employees feel at work.
These strong social networks in the workplace are critical to employee engagement. They also help encourage a sense of teamwork, since team members know their accomplishments will be celebrated and shared as a group.
Reveals What Your Organization Values
The values that your company espouses, and the ones it actually adheres to, should be in very strong alignment. But for too many companies, that’s not the case, and it leads employees to be distrustful of your communications and even the fairness of promotions and recognition.
Social recognition allows you to demonstrate to employees that your company values are, in fact, a critical part of your workplace culture. By elevating the hard work of employees who contribute to your organization in positive ways — not only to the bottom line, but also to your workplace culture — you show employees that you truly value their contributions to upholding your company values.
And that authenticity has power as well. In fact, Gallup research shows that employees who strongly agree they receive authentic recognition are four times more likely to feel connected to their company culture.
How to Build Your Social Recognition Program
So now that you know how important social recognition programs are, how can you build your own? Fortunately, most of this process is easy with today’s advanced recognition platforms. You can typically create an appreciation hub, whether in the platform you’re already using or in your employee communications hub like Slack (many platforms, including Cooleaf, make sharing and celebrating employee achievements easy in the tools you already use).
When creating or enhancing your social recognition strategy, don’t forget to get buy-in and participation from your leadership team. They should set the example to show that this is truly a company priority, and lead the way on making recognition more public. Their participation and enthusiasm helps create that culture of appreciation, instead of just one-off moments of praise.
You should also be sure to recognize employees in real-time, or as close to it as feasible. Recognition is more meaningful when it closely follows the event you’re recognizing. This is made easier when you have a rewards system with an excellent user experience so employees don’t feel it’s a huge task just to go in and celebrate a win or recent milestones.
Creating a social recognition strategy that really works requires thoughtfulness, commitment, and accountability. But finding the perfect platform to build it on is easy. Cooleaf is here to help you with our all-in-one employee experience and recognition platform — see for yourself today!