Networks of Gratitude: Structures of Thanks and User Expectations in Workplace Appreciation Systems


Appreciation systems—platforms for users to exchange thanks and praise—are becoming common in the workplace, where employees share appreciation, managers are notified, and aggregate scores are sometimes made visible. Who do people thank on these systems, and what do they expect from each other and their managers? After introducing the design affordances of 13 appreciation systems, we discuss a system we call Gratia, in use at a large multinational company for over four years. Using logs of 422,000 appreciation messages and user surveys, we explore the social dynamics of use and ask if use of the system addresses the recognition problem. We find that while thanks is mostly exchanged among employees at the same level and different parts of the company, addressing the recognition problem, managers do not always act on that recognition in ways that employees expect.

Proceedings of the International Conference on Web and Social Media