· Features

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

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