Peer Recognition

The Incentive Research Foundation recently published a first-of-its-kind neuroscientific study on Reward Presentation and Attraction. Among other findings, the study focuses on the manner in which employees prefer to receive rewards and how they respond to peer recognition.

Four test scenarios were presented to study participants, and using a variety of biometric techniques, the attractiveness of each scenario was measured. The scenarios were as follows:

Big Show

A recipient is honored by the CEO or other senior leader at a big company event.

Little Show

A recipient is recognized in a more intimate setting, perhaps at the department level.


A recipient is publicly recognized by their peers for their accomplishment.


A recipient receives a thank you note and reward without public acknowledgement.

Peer Recognition Preferences Vary

One takeaway from the study is that there is no one-size-fits-all situation. Gender, age, personality type, job role, and other factors play a role in determining preferences. However, one key finding was crystal clear: giving recognition and rewards in private is the least preferred form in almost all instances.

This suggests that employees place greater weight on being publicly recognized for their accomplishments than they do on the reward itself. It’s a good reminder that even if your company doesn’t have a funded rewards program, you still can take positive steps towards increasing employee engagement just by providing a mechanism for employees to be publicly recognized and appreciated for their special accomplishments.

Of course, connecting accomplishments to rewards makes for an even more compelling and motivating proposition to employees.

What do millennials want?

Another point of interest the study surfaced is that millennial employees most preferred peer-to-peer recognition. We might conjecture why that is so, but the scope of the study didn’t delve into the “why” behind these findings. Nonetheless, it’s an important takeaway for companies who have a preponderance of employees in the early 20s to mid 30s age range.

At Fond, we’re specialists in recognition and rewards programs designed to increase employee engagement and our in-market learnings strongly corroborate many of the insights from the IRF study. We recently launched a new feature that supports peer-to-peer recognition designed for companies who don’t have funded rewards programs or for those who prefer that rewards be solely distributed by managers.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition is Key

This new feature allows for employees to be publicly appreciated by their peers even though there is no monetary award attached to the recognition event. The uptake has been strong and we’re looking forward to having many of our current and new customers adopt this feature in 2018.

Many thanks to the Incentive Research Foundation for conducting this insightful and groundbreaking research.