Psychology of the Like

Engage Employees in Employee Feedback with the Psychology of the ‘Like’

Studies have shown that when we hear something we like, our brains release dopamine. This neurotransmitter triggers feelings of joy, pride, satisfaction and well-being, driving us to repeat actions that bring about these emotions.

Providing opportunities for employees to develop positive emotions about their work is a key component of employee engagement.

One of the ways to do this is to adopt the psychology of the ‘Like’, made popular by the social networking site Facebook.

The ‘Like’ is a way for users to give positive feedback on the content their peers have posted. These likes are emotional drivers. They fuel an individual’s rise in dopamine levels, providing the individual with feelings of self-worth and the desire to continue participating.

This psychology is best applied when managers are seeking employee feedback.

Using ‘Likes’ To Motivate Employee Participation in Generating New Ideas


Virtual Likes

Many companies these days use internal social networking sites to allow employees and managers to interact. These sites are useful for getting employee feedback on problem solving and generating new ideas.

If you place a ‘Like’ button next to employee and manager comments, employees will be able to “voice” their approval of an idea.

For example, Mary’s manager has asked employees to provide suggestions for teambuilding activities. Mary comments, “I read about this great activity where teams have to work together to figure out how they would survive a catastrophe.” If Mary’s colleagues approve of her idea, they can ‘like’ it.

The number of ‘likes’ that Mary’s idea gets will help her manager determine whether her idea has the approval of the majority of her colleagues.

The Herd Wisdom app applies this technique in its Team Genius component. In Team Genius, managers pose a question to their employees and employees are invited to answer the question. Their colleagues then can either vote the idea ‘up’ or ‘down’. This rating system allows managers to understand what ideas are most popular with their employees so they can decide on a solution. Employees are motivated to come up with ideas that will interest their peers so they can get the most ‘up’ votes and receive their dopamine reward.


In scenarios where a manager needs ideas and employee feedback in a physical setting, (such as a meeting), a voting system will work as well as ‘likes’.

  1. Pose question or problem to group and ask for employees to begin volunteering their ideas.
  2. Write down these ideas in such a way that the whole group can see them, with enough detail that they will remember what the idea was.
  3. Once every employee has had a chance to give an idea, open the floor to discussion about the merits and disadvantages of each idea.
  4. When you feel there’s been sufficient discussion, assign each idea a letter. Ask each employee to write down on a piece of paper, the letter of the idea they think is best.
  5. Count the votes.
  6. Open up the floor for discussion one last time. This will give anyone who has a serious problem with the chosen idea a chance to make their case.
  7. If the majority of employees and the manager are happy with the solution, the job is done. If not, start over again.

It’s not necessary for a complete consensus to be reached in the voting process. However, it is important that the manager be happy with the decision and that there are no vehement objections to it from the majority of employees.