Topic: Company Culture


How to Amplify Employee Celebrations and Spread Success through Social Recognition

Understand what social recognition is and why it’s an essential component for large companies when launching a successful employee recognition program.

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February 12, 2024






What is social recognition?

Think of how social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn work. They empower users to create a post and instantly share it with an online community. Followers can then like or comment on the post, spurring even more response. The result is that content can rapidly spread to a much wider audience.

Social recognition in the workplace operates in a similar way, except the community is made up of a group of employees, a division, or even the entire company.

The social feed—usually a component of the company’s employee recognition platform—becomes a powerful channel for recognizing and rewarding employees or praising the good work of top performers. Just as with a social media post, a community of employees can like or comment on the recognition post, increasing the number of coworkers who participate in the celebration.

Most importantly, social recognition helps employees make a positive, measurable impact to company culture. It allows them to celebrate success together and build meaningful relationships with each other.

What are the benefits of workplace social recognition?

Receiving social recognition is gratifying for the individual being singled out for great work, but it’s also beneficial for the workplace. Whether employees are receiving thanks from coworkers or celebrating work anniversaries, sharing that recognition can boost employee motivation.

It’s a best practice to make employee recognition announcements public—which social sharing can do seamlessly. But broadcasting the news for a wider group of employees to read about is just the first benefit.

O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report reveals that when news about employee success is spread across the organization, it results in a:


The bottom line? When success is shared, more employees feel part of that success. A good social recognition effort can also produce other positive outcomes, including:

Helping more employees participate in success

Incorporating a social recognition feed, sometimes called a social wall, into your recognition program allows more leaders, team members, and other coworkers participate in recognition celebrations. But you can’t start seeing the benefits of social sharing and commenting until you implement a social recognition solution.

Full-featured employee recognition programs, such as Culture Cloud Recognition from O.C. Tanner, include social recognition software built-in to the platform. This means you don’t have to perform any additional steps to share the recognition. Instead, it’s automatic.

When comparing potential solutions, HR executives should ensure that the leading contenders include a robust set of social recognition features. For more guidance in selecting a program, see our Complete Guide to Building Successful Employee Recognition Programs.

Building a connected company culture

Employee recognition solutions with effective social components can positively influence company culture and help employees feel more connected. This is crucial because when recognition is not communicated well, employees are 38% less likely to feel appreciated.

However, when recognition is communicated effectively, it gives the entire organization visibility into the contributions and achievements of team members. This helps employees feel more connected to everyday successes and each other.  


Increasing employee engagement and trust

Employee engagement is key to productive, happy, and loyal employees. Studies show that engaged teams have lower turnover, 21% greater profitability, and 17% higher productivity than disengaged teams. Sharing recognition moments through a social channel can help increase engagement and create peak experiences that employees will remember.

Additionally, when leaders or team members share positive feedback about a coworker’s accomplishments by commenting on recognition, the organization can generate a higher level of team camaraderie and trust.

Promoting peer-to-peer recognition of great work

Peer-to-peer recognition is one of the most important types of recognition because it can happen in real time anywhere good work is taking place. This can include both formal award nominations as well as everyday eCards that recognize superior work when it happens. Promoting this kind of recognition can enhance your social sharing strategy.

When shared through an internal social channel, peer recognition can help leaders and other teams become more aware of the great work they may not know about. It can give others a chance to share in the success and inspire even more team members to recognize their peers for outstanding work.


Gaining insight into what’s happening

Seeing who is being recognized and how often is a fantastic way for leaders to measure employee engagement within teams. Monitoring a social recognition feed is a great way to accomplish this.

For example, employees at Heritage Bank enjoy using the Culture Cloud social wall as part of their recognition program. This social sharing component makes recognition visible across the bank so everyone can see the great work that’s happening.

Kelli Wilson, SVP of Retail Banking, makes it a point to block off time each Friday to read and comment on the recognition given to employees in her division. She says this gives her insight into what is happening throughout the branches and allows her to acknowledge the great work of individual team members on a regular basis.

8 Ways to Amplify Social Recognition Success

1. Share with as many as possible

Maximize the community of employees who will see social recognition of team members. Don’t limit the audience to include only the immediate team within a division. Make sure employees in other departments can see success happening in other parts of the organization.

2. Recognize in the moment

Recognize often, and in the moment. Don’t wait for the end of the month or quarter to recognize outstanding work. Encourage teams and individuals to call out achievements in real time, noting top performers or unsung heroes exceeding expectations.


3. Ask leaders to set the example

The best way to evangelize a program for teams is to teach them by example. Ask your leaders to show their commitment to employee appreciation by initiating leader-driven recognition as well as participating in peer-to-peer recognition.

4. Set up social sharing communities

Your employee recognition platform includes capabilities to amplify social sharing. Take advantage of your platform’s technology by configuring social recognition feeds to include activity from all coworkers and/or direct reports on a team. Also allow individuals to “follow” additional leaders and coworkers from other teams or divisions. This helps to maximize social sharing communities.

5. Encourage peer-to-peer sharing

Peer-to-peer recognition works hand-in-glove with social sharing. This type of recognition works best when it is timely, genuine, and specific. Most importantly, it should be shared throughout the organization so that peer recognition can become a regular part of the company culture. Read more about 4 Surprising Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Recognition.

6. Celebrate other types of recognition

If you’re not incorporating years of service milestones and awards as part of your social sharing strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. O.C. Tanner’s solution, Culture Cloud Anniversaries, makes it possible for a larger group of leaders and coworkers to participate in the recognition.

For more opportunities for engagement, you can also choose to include everyday eCard recognition events as part of your social feed. This is in addition to nominations for specific performance awards (for example, a Gold Award).


7. Share on public social media sites

Internal social feeds aren’t the only places to share recognition. Many types of service or performance recognition can be appropriately shared on public social media sites like LinkedIn or Twitter.

Studies show that Millennials spend around 3.8 hours a day on social media. And the younger generation, Gen Z, spends even more time on social sites—4.5 hours a day. These groups that find social media second nature make up a large segment of the workforce. Plus, in today’s hybrid work environment, leveraging a social recognition strategy that includes a mix of public posts makes sense.

8. Consider monetary rewards

Sending eCards promotes greater feelings of appreciation. However, our 2022 Global Culture Report notes that social recognition that includes monetary eCards creates a substantial effect. For example, in peer-to-peer recognition, this significantly increases the likelihood that the recognized employee will help the colleague again in the future. Public recognition, a longstanding recognition best practice, is enhanced even more by adding a monetary component.

Get the most from social recognition at work

When you set up your employee recognition program with social feeds enabled, sharing your appreciation is automatic. Your entire team, or even larger group, will share in the success and feel inspired to recognize their peers as well. You’ll also enjoy greater levels of engagement, productiveness, and trust as you build a culture of appreciation.

If you need tips on how to say thanks, see our article with 60 employee appreciation quotes. These employee recognition ideas will help you find the right words to share for many types of recognition, including project and goal completion, service anniversaries, and personal successes. Or they may inspire you as you the next time you share your appreciation with an employee or coworker.

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