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Three Types of Employee Recognition Enabled by HeyTaco


With HeyTaco, there are three types of recognition you can tap into to increase engagement and build a habit of gratitude with your team. These three are not mutually exclusive; you can pick and choose which type suits you best. However, one of them is at the foundation of HeyTaco: peer-to-peer recognition. 

  1. Peer-to-peer recognition 

When you start using HeyTaco, you start giving tacos attached to messages to recognize your colleagues. Tacos serve as a kindness currency, showing people what you value and reflecting to you what people value about you. Every person has 5 tacos to give every single day, and when given to others, tacos are tracked and displayed on two public leaderboards: tacos given and received. HeyTaco helps people build a habit of gratitude, which, when shared in a public channel, makes recognition a tool for connecting your team. By sharing gratitude with the help of tacos, your team is building their emotional bank account. People share gratitude because it feels good to recognize others and to be recognized; they are propelled by their intrinsic motivation to excel and help others. 

  1. Top-down recognition

We all have multiple needs, so to assume only being recognized by our peers in a peer-to-peer program fails to take into consideration how good it feels to be recognized by your manager or your company’s leadership. Peer-to-peer and top-down recognition go hand in hand - they take care of different needs of people. Using the leaderboard in HeyTaco, you have an objective, transparent, and unbiased way to see who is leading in each of the categories. Teams who have the most success with HeyTaco use the leaderboards to highlight top taco givers and top taco receivers for a particular time frame, creating a company tradition that bakes gratitude into its DNA. They create custom taco t-shirts, taco trophies, or plushies that are shared amongst the team and become a physical token embodying the spirit of gratitude. The key to top-down recognition using HeyTaco is to celebrate both taco givers and receivers; it is the taco givers that drive your culture of gratitude forward. Giving is an action that everyone can take, and by celebrating it, you are reinforcing the importance of everyone taking action to build a culture of gratitude. 

Another way to take care of the need to be recognized by our managers and leaders is to pick out recognition messages that highlight behavior connected to company values or behaviors that are important for your team. At a weekly meeting, leaders can read a few recognition messages aloud and double down on the behavior shared in a public forum. The message will strike differently and show that recognition does matter. For added ease, you can use the Tags feature within HeyTaco where every hashtag added to a taco message is tracked and displayed on the Tags page. 

  1. Rewards

Rewards and recognition are often uttered in the same breath, with rewards often being the first word in the pair of search terms. At HeyTaco, we always recommend changing the order of those two and waiting to start using rewards, if at all. First of all, what makes people feel appreciated is being recognized by their peers and leaders for their contributions, big and small, to the team and the company. From the first taco one gives, they can feel the power of giving, and when a taco comes back to them, the pep in their step is almost guaranteed. The key to building a habit of gratitude is intrinsic motivation. When you add rewards to HeyTaco or any other recognition tool, you make something we do because it feels good into something we do to get a reward. The carrot for the giving action becomes something outside of us, which is often a less powerful motivator and driver of behavior than something we do for ourselves. 

All that said, adding rewards to HeyTaco doesn’t have to make recognition transactional; it all depends on the type of rewards you add. Monetary rewards like gift cards or cash bonuses can quickly change people’s behavior and drain your budget, so we always recommend two types of rewards: experiential and team rewards. Experiential rewards are rewards where tacos are redeemed for experiences: an online course, dinner at a restaurant with my family, movie tickets, etc. Team rewards are unique to HeyTaco and are rewards that multiple people can contribute to at the same time to redeem the rewards. Examples of team rewards are Tacos for charity, Taco Tuesday virtual or in-office lunch, and getting together for a team-building activity. The options are endless, but team rewards have the power to bring people together for a joint experience that can’t be reproduced by any other reward. 

To get ideas for rewards, check out our list of reward ideas we have seen customers have success with over the years. And if you want to brainstorm live, let us know, we see new awesome rewards every day. 

Where to start?

Try all three, or stick with peer-to-peer recognition, different things will stick with different people. No matter what you decide to do, we always encourage experimenting with different approaches, trying new things, and choosing a path that works for your team. You will know HeyTaco is working for you when tacos become synonymous with ‘thank you’. When that happens, you know you have built a culture of gratitude, and HeyTaco is privileged to be a mechanism by which that culture thrives. 

You can get started with HeyTaco here.


Award-winning Employee Recognition Software

HeyTaco is trusted by over 1,000 teams, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and has been recognized with few awards.

HeyTaco is a leader in Mid-Market Employee Engagement on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Mid-Market Employee Recognition on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Team Building on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Team Building on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Small-Business Productivity Bots on G2