Employee of the Month: Antiquated or Timeless?

Do Employee of the Month awards actually increase employee engagement and create healthy competitions or they outdated, problematic, and ineffective?

Managers are constantly plagued with this question and spend a lot of time to trying to determine how to properly provide recognition for work that consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty.

While you, faithful Recognition Source blog reader, may remember a past post about employee incentive programs, I want to assure you this material is not merely a reminder. No sir. Here we’ll dig deeper into crowd-sourced Q&As off LinkedIn and the popular opinion on how to implement a few Employee of the Month categories.

Within LinkedIn’s “Answers” section, a discussion was sparked regarding suggestions for diving an Employee of the Month award into categorical awards, such as “Best Department” “Best Smile” and so on. Through the discussion in the comments, it was surmised that in order to be fair and effective, the category must have the ability to be tracked and measured, in order remove the subjectivity and staff popularity contests. Some of the more constructive suggestions included the ideas below, I added some flare with the titles.

The Untouchables

The chosen few from each department with the most consecutive days worked without a sick day. While it does punish individuals with feeble immune systems and the parents of infant children, it rewards the iron men and women that come in day after day and get the job done.

The Up-Sellers

This one’s usually relegated to the sales department and not uncommon with competitive companies. Just a general sales statistic award here – simple, yet vital to recognize.

The Understanders (working title)

These would be the folks that are empowering the company from within. Usually the entire staff votes upon a category like this and the qualifications are pretty broad. Basically, who’s taking the time to make this a better place to work?

These suggestions are decent if your workplace is married to a regimented recognition program. However, even with interesting categories, and a somewhat cheesy spin, recent trends are bucking Employee of the Month awards faster than they’re being implemented.

So what’s the answer?

Well, maybe the answer is timing. Quarterly, weekly, monthly awards feel forced. Set a sales goal, set a mark for consecutive days attended – when goals are met and marks are achieved, rewards follow. This means being proactive but the added effort can pay off both in morale and company efficiency. Razor Suleman, a writer for Incentive Magazine says, “Recognize your workforce in a timely manner to encourage repeat behaviors, and provide meaningful rewards. Most companies understand recognition and incentives are important, but they need to be timely, not monthly.”

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