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Performance management handbook (recognition) - chapter 9

Chapter 9. Peer Awards


A peer recognition program is based on the premise that employees are often the first to notice the achievements of their peers. Awards based on peer nominations give the employees a vested interest in their awards programs and thus increase the incentives to work collectively for the objectives of the organizational unit. Peer awards also demonstrate that management trusts the employees to acknowledge those who are truly deserving of recognition.


Employee eligibility for peer awards is determined by the nature of the award being granted.

Program Development

Because official peer recognition programs are fairly new, organizations have some degree of latitude in the creation of such award programs. Other federal agencies, such as the Federal Highway Administration, initiated the Red Tool Box Award to be used for peer acknowledgment. A large red tool box is filled with items of nominal value (mugs, caps, etc.), and these prizes are distributed by both managers and peers to recognize achievements that are not substantial enough for cash or time-off awards. 

Factors to consider in developing a peer award program include the following:

  • Nature of recognition: How will recipients be awarded? 
  • Nominator eligibility: Can managers be nominators or should they be limited to non-supervisory employees? Can employees nominate themselves? 
  • Nomination criteria: What achievements can be considered to merit a peer award? 
  • Frequency of awards: How often should awards be distributed: yearly, quarterly, etc.? 
  • Selection process: How will potential awardees be nominated; how will recipients be chosen (office-wide voting, managerial approval, etc.)? 
  • Limitation: How many times may an employee be nominated and/or receive an award within a specific time period?