Hot topic: Peer-to-peer bonuses, part two

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The idea of staff “tipping” each other with cash is definitely interesting, but I worry about using cash, or rewards, as the primary tool for building employee relationships. In the short term, ...


Read More Darren Tracey
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A growing number of businesses have introduced peer-to-peer bonuses, otherwise known as ‘microtippping’, according to the BBC

US rewards firm Bonusly, one of the first providers to offer the scheme, said the aim is to ensure employees get “meaningful and timely recognition” for good work. So could microtipping boost morale at work? Or does it risk turning rewards into a popularity contest?

Clare Parkinson, pay and reward manager at Croner, says:

"Feeling appreciated and rewarded at work can be crucial for maintaining employee morale and productivity in an organisation.

"Microtipping represents a different bonus reward system that can take some pressure off bosses. It places the provision of rewards in the hands of employees and potentially encourages improved focus and motivation. It can also be a useful way of preventing accusations of manager favouritism or certain employees regularly ‘sucking up’ to the boss.

"That said, employers should be wary of internal conflict. For example, an employee may only feel they will gain their bonus by being part of a particular clique, which could serve to exclude members of staff and even result in bullying.

"Whether or not this is a viable option for a company will ultimately depend on its culture and staff.

"If employers do decide to introduce such a scheme they should make sure it is managed carefully to avoid misuse."

Julie Wacker, business psychologist at Robertson Cooper, says:

"There are good intentions behind these schemes – they are attempting to tackle a legitimate issue around lack of fluid and instant feedback in the workplace.

"They can be fun, give people instant gratification, devolve some of the power away from the line manager, and strengthen work relationships.

"However, there are some risks with such a system that are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, it’s skewed in favour of extraverts, i.e. the people who talk the most. How does the scheme account for the around 30% of the population who are introverted and quietly get on with their work?

"Secondly, what does such a system do for the quality of conversations in an organisation? If we become worried about our ‘rating’ perhaps we will be less prepared to have difficult conversations and to occasionally be unpopular.

"Finally, such a system may be promoting individual performance over team performance and people working together. This can give staff a boost but overall would not improve organisational performance."

Read the first part of this hot topic

This piece appeared in the July – August 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

Comments

The idea of staff “tipping” each other with cash is definitely interesting, but I worry about using cash, or rewards, as the primary tool for building employee relationships. In the short term, it most likely will pump up morale, particularly when it’s new. But resting the long-term quality of employee morale on financial rewards is precarious, and isn’t what we think recognition should be about. Peer-to-peer recognition for us is about giving employees a central, visible place for achievements and success to be celebrated. By channeling that celebration through your company values, you build real engagement with your business’ mission and purpose. In keeping cash and rewards out that exchange, you make sure the main currency of social recognition effort is positive sentiment, not pound sterling. Over time, that interaction is what will create better connections between staff, improve the quality of your company culture, and build employee engagement.


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