Peer-to-Peer bonuses. What’s that all about?

By Jeremy Salter, Employee Solutions Lead

Perhaps the most important relationships within an organisation exist between peers, individuals who hold no formal authority over each other.

Peer relationships provide a variety of important functions for employees in the relationship and for the organisations in which the relationship exists. These functions include mentoring, information exchange and social support.

More organisations understand this and are implementing new and increasingly social ways to amplify and exploit the value of peer-to-peer. Peer recognition, review and communication programs are good examples.

Peer-to-peer bonuses are a more recent and perhaps more questionable example. The idea of peer-to-peer bonuses is appealing. If a business values collaboration shouldn’t you receive your bonus from those you collaborate with rather than your manager?

Rather than receive a large bonus from your manager at the end of the year why not receive smaller micro bonuses from your peers throughout the year. Isn’t this an improvement? It appears an increasing number of providers think so. I am not sure.

My main concern is the impact of peer-to-peer bonuses on peer-to-peer relationships. Not surprisingly research has shown employees derive significant intrinsic rewards from peer relationships including confirmation, emotional support, personal feedback and friendship.

Is there a risk that peer-to-peer bonuses would unnecessarily complicate these relationships and crowd out the intrinsic rewards that employees naturally derive from them?

Is there a risk that peer-to-peer bonuses would put a price on those investments of time and effort that members of a peer community freely make to maintain good working relationships with each other?

Could peer-to-peer bonuses prove to be a very expensive way to reduce the authenticity and value of peer-to-peer relationships for both employees and the organisations they work for?

This article was first seen on Grass Roots Australia blog

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