Employee recognition: an app for a tap on the back


One of the key ways to engage millennials at work, or Gen-Y as they’re often known, is by offering frequent praise and encouragement. A new app can publicly celebrate workers’ successes and help boost employee recognition. 

A recent report by Ashridge Business School confirms that it is all about offering regular nuggets of praise for small but important achievements.

A new app called Tap My Back could give managers a helping hand in this employee recognition process. The company, based in Portugal, is a spin-off of digital agency comOn’s Digital Idea incubator.

Every time someone receives a tap, it helps boost their motivation and their positive feelings about work.” Guilherme Duarte, Tap My Back

The original aim had been to create an internal peer engagement app that would publicly celebrate different teams’ small wins and victories, but the decision was taken to sell it elsewhere after spotting its commercial potential.

Guilherme Duarte, Tap My Back’s product manager, explains the rationale: “Sometimes when you’re in a fast-moving industry, there’s a lot of work, lots of clients, meetings and projects.

“We felt the need to stop and find a way for people to recognise each other for the work they were doing. While saying ‘thank you’ is good, if you can do it in a public way and keep track of it, it’s even better.”

After pilot testing at around 400 companies, the product, which can be downloaded as a phone app or accessed via a browser, was formally launched in November 2014.

It costs £25 per month for a team of 20, and £52 for a group of 50. Pricing is customised for larger teams, although fees are always below £1.30 per team member per month.

Public recognition

The company now boasts four customers in Portugal, the US, Australia and New Zealand and a number of trials are also taking place in the UK, where it was one of 10 winners in the Interop London Tech Startup competition.

A team leader creates a Tap My Back account, adds the desired number of users and then customises a number of badges for different activities such as “working hard”, “knowledge-sharing” – or even “bringing in great donuts for the team” if they so desire.

Any team member, including the leader, can choose the individual they’d like to give a “tap” to and are asked to add a short comment telling that person why.

Once they click on a “tap” button, the badge is pushed onto a public feed – when five badges have been won, team members receive a star and go up a level, in true gamification style.

“Public recognition is known to be 10% more efficient in motivating people than traditional methods so every time someone receives a tap, it helps boost their motivation and their positive feelings about work,” says Duarte.

Moreover, because millennials tend to interact with each other in a more digital way than other generations, the social media aspects of the product, such as enabling users to share, like and make comments, is considered particularly crucial.

“It’s really important to keep Generation Y motivated and so the social media paradigm is very significant here. So it’s about bringing things like digital, mobile and social to work and making it more fun,” Duarte concludes.

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