Do Your Employees Even Care About Social Badges?

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague in the recognition and appreciation sphere, and he said he really didn’t get it as far as social badges were concerned.

I will dive in to explain what they are and the value they can bring to any recognition and reward program.

What Are Social Badges?

Social badges are most often a digital graphic on display that shows an employee has accomplished a task, lived a specific organizational value, attained some skill proficiency, or completed some education. Most badges are digital, but they can also be physical.

The purpose of a social badge is to communicate and validate what is socially valued by everyone in the workplace community.

Peers can give these digital stickers to other peers, or a manager can give them to employees. Each digital badge is designed exclusively for the organization’s recognition and reward platform. They may represent organizational values or strategic goal achievements.

By using them, there is some data collected as purely senders and recipients of the badges. You only use social badges in the context of the recognition platform and they are not something shown externally or on social media. 

You can give a specific social badge to new employees during orientation. Give them to an employee for specific training and courses completed. And you could send them to staff for their engagement and attendance at various organizational events.

Keep in mind that a digital badge is not the same as an Open Badge. It is only an Open Badge when it contains open-source data standards and metadata about an achievement. 

What Are Open Badges?

An Open Badge differs from a regular digital, or social badge. Open badges are a specialized type of digital badge. They contain verifiable metadata about achievements according to a common data format and can cross platforms and organizations, as well as shown on social media.

For example, Open Badges contains data you can share with anyone anywhere on the internet. This makes them portable and manageable by grouping them into common collections. You can also share them on social media. 

It also means that others can verify these badges because of the metadata. Open Badges contain metadata that are machine readable about the achievement reached by the employee, who actually earned it, who issued it, and exactly what it means. They also conform to industry standards around Open Badges and the education and certification they support.

These Open Badges share information about the organization that issued the badge, the criteria for earning them, the date of issue and any expiration date, and links to offsite websites that manage the Open Badges.

External organizations like Badgr and Credly can manage the usage of Open Badges for organizations and help you integrate them and display them on your intranet website.

Benefits of Social Badges

You probably have to examine some benefits of social badges to learn whether employees actually care about receiving them.

One benefit of digital badges is they provide recognition when an employee displays positive actions and whenever they gain new skills. 

The reports from using social badges allow managers to see who is engaged, their positive attributes on the job, and any acquired competencies obtained. This will motivate employees to develop new skills and become a positive contributor. 

Observation of existing client reports show that social badges are less valued than ecards and comments on social recognition programs but are very much appreciated. You mostly accompany social badges with a message of recognition in posts on the social recognition newsfeed.

I would say that using digital badges to recognize staff for living values, achieving accomplishments, and helping with other strategic initiatives, is still a recent phenomenon and is gradually growing. 

As employees can display these graphic badges beyond employee recognition programs and use them in their email signatures and elsewhere, the appeal will only increase.


Whether employees care about digital or social badges will depend on the positive value that leaders and the entire organization place on them. Some ways to increase that worth of social badges is by following some of the following ideas.

1. Develop a pre-launch and ongoing promotion and communication campaign when launching a roster of several or any new digital badges to be used.

2. Create visibility and encourage the usage of social badges on the profile pages on the recognition platform, highlighting people with the graphic symbol on LCD screens throughout the organization, and within signature files.

3. Communicate and educate frequently about how everyone can give a social badge and the criteria that merits when to give a colleague a social badge.

Recognition Reflection: What value do your employees place on using social badges on your recognition platform?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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