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Shoutouts: the secret ingredient for boosting team collaboration and morale


Emerson Taymor

February 22, 2024

Doing impactful and innovative work requires a strong culture steeped in trust. One key to creating this culture is timely and personal shoutouts.

When team members publicly acknowledge their teammates for a job well done, it boosts morale, improves collaboration, and enhances productivity. This should occur more frequently than an annual or even quarterly performance review cycle. These shoutouts should be given consistently as the work is being executed.

Impact of shoutouts on team performance

Recognizing your colleagues has a real business impact. It positively affects the individuals receiving the feedback, the person giving the praise, and the team at large.

A Gartner report found that recognizing employees leads to an 11.1% increase in productivity. Can you think of many other cost-free techniques to boost productivity by over 10%?

Conversely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that a negative workplace costs companies $3 billion every year.

Shoutouts create a supportive and positive workplace. Provide your team with an environment that fills their hearts with joy and passion, and you’ll see the benefits.

A Gallup and Workhuman study provided even more incredible statistics showcasing the power of recognition:

  • 56% are less likely to look for new job opportunities (i.e., decrease attrition by promoting recognition).
  • Four times as likely to recommend their company to others.
  • Four times as likely to be engaged.
  • Five times as connected to the organization’s culture.
  • 73% less likely to experience burnout.

Encouraging team members to show appreciation isn’t just about creating good vibes. It is good for business.

Enhancing team collaboration through shoutouts

Shoutouts help collaboration by breaking down silos and barriers across teams. Encouraging team members to give shoutouts across departmental silos and organizational divides brings these teams closer together.

For example, someone on your design team could thank someone on the legal team (could you imagine that?!) for providing a creative solution to a disclaimer that covers the legal liability without significantly impacting the customer experience. You can bet that the next time a designer needs help from that lawyer, the lawyer will be more likely to come up with something productive.

Team members feel a stronger sense of belonging when they are recognized. A scientific study proved this and showed that workers are more productive when they experience gratitude from coworkers and managers.

Gratitude is as beneficial to the giver as it is to the receiver

There has been plenty of research showing that expressing gratitude can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. 

Studies have found that a single act of gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for the giver.

And a major review of scientific literature in 2021 produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for the giver.

The reasons for this are:

  • Gratitude reduces or limits toxic emotions and promotes positive feelings.
  • Gratitude’s benefits accrue over time as they build up a sense of positive reinforcement.
  • Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain.

All this is to say: being recognized by a colleague feels great, but it also has a significant positive effect on the person giving the compliment.

Best practices for giving shoutouts

Giving recognition should be fun! And for maximum effect, it needs to be consistent. We have found a few best practices for giving effective and meaningful shoutouts that will help improve team performance.

Make shoutouts timely

The best shoutouts occur when they are fresh in people’s minds. Plus, if you encourage team members to give recognition as it occurs, they naturally will happen more consistently. This is a habit that needs encouragement and repetition to become second nature. So, constantly remind your team or integrate it into your existing processes.

Make recognition easy

If giving recognition is a chore, it won’t stick as part of your ongoing culture. You need to remove barriers and constantly think about how you can eliminate potential obstacles.

Consider using digital tools built for giving shoutouts, with built-in nudges and reminders for your teams and integration into your existing tools like Slack.

We use Bonusly. Other teams have had success with Culture Amp and Nectar.

Include shoutouts in your daily standups

One of our activities in our daily standups (and pod standups) is asking the team if they have any shoutouts. This makes it part of our daily process and constantly reminds the team to look for opportunities to recognize teammates.

PwC’s high-performing unit, Perform, encourages daily shoutouts through what they call: “Celebrating Success.”

Tie recognition core values

We have found that you can tie shoutouts, especially with digital tools, to your core values. This further integrates this practice into your culture and starts to encourage team members to recognize their colleagues around what makes your company tick.

Shoutouts improve team dynamics, collaboration and overall workplace culture

The stats don’t lie. Gratitude improves team performance and creates healthy teams. We have found this to be true in our work, and it has been an integral part of our ability to create high-performing distributed teams.

And the best part is this easy approach can be free to implement (or low-cost if you use a digital tool). And it can start delivering results quickly.

I’d love to hear how you’ve incorporated recognition into your team processes.

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