Ericsson adds peer-to-peer option to recognition program

Multinational telecommunications company Ericsson is adding a peer-to-peer functionality to its recognition program for employees across Canada and the United States.

Previously, the program was only open to managers, who could submit employee recognition in the form of cash awards paid out through employee’s paycheques or points they could redeem through an online marketplace. In June 2017, the company offered employees the opportunity to award recognition points to their colleagues, but the process still involved manager approval, an additional step that was slowing down the process, says Susanne Gensch, wellness and recognition program manager at Ericsson.

Read: Apps, peer recognition among the trends in employee recognition programs

“I think it was taken on well by employees, but we didn’t realize it would be sometimes challenging to get managers to go in there and approve these awards, not because they didn’t want to but because we have a lot of other self-service already, and there are so many responsibilities, the managers just couldn’t catch up with it.

“The worst thing with a recognition program is to have delayed recognition. You need to recognize instantaneously, otherwise you lose the whole effect of it and it may actually turn into something negative.”

The new peer-to-peer option, introduced in March, allows employees to submit recognition to their colleagues without manager approval. Each employee has a budget of 3,000 points to award per month. If employees don’t use up their allotted budget, they can carry it forward for three months to a maximum of 9,000 points.

Within its first two weeks, 600 employees submitted recognition for their peers through the new program. “It was really, really great to see,” says Gensch. “It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, it’s just the gesture. And I think employees feel now that it’s a special touch if they can add some points to it, and there’s no approval process.”

Read: New workplace wellness app combines health education, social recognition

Another reason for the addition of peer-to-peer recognition was in making it more local, since Ericsson is such a large, global company. “Especially in Canada, we have a lot of employees who report to folks overseas,” says Gensch. “The visibility of the accomplishments is more local, so if you have somebody who sits next to you who can give you the award and then your manager is copied on it, it gives a lot more than waiting for someone overseas to do something . . ..”

Ericsson also enhanced the management side of its recognition program in March so they can go into the platform and add feedback directly into the newsfeed. 

“All the recognition that’s been given is displayed, a little like a Facebook feed,” says Gensch. “Any manager can go in there and see what’s been recognized, and then there’s a little button that says ‘boost’ and when they click that button, they have an opportunity to add a comment to that recognition, for example, ‘Great job,’ ‘Totally agree with this,’ ‘Super.’ But in addition, they also give another 500 points.”

Read: 81% of employers offer company-wide recognition programs: survey

Ericsson communicated the changes from the top down, beginning with the leadership team for North America and following up with managers and then all employees through a newsletter. In the middle of March, it sent out followup communications to both managers and employees through its recognition platform. It also used digital signage at its offices and sent out information through its internal social networking channel with Yammer.