Your Ultimate Guide to Boosting Your Employee of the Month Program

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The employee of the month award is one of the most common methods of employee recognition. Employee of the month awards vary in different organizations, from a traditional plaque to a shoutout in social media. But no matter what form it takes, an employee of the month award is a celebration of an employee’s achievements or even a recognition of an exemplary work etiquette.

When done right, organizations can reap the benefits of this program. A comprehensive employee recognition program can bring high returns for the business.

Hence, goes the question, are you doing it right? In this article, we’ll talk about the employee of the month program, its benefits on employee morale and motivation, and tips on how to boost your program.

What is an Employee of the Month Award?

From the term itself, the ‘employee of the month award’ is an organizational rewards program that aims to recognize employees who have performed exceptionally well within a month. Usually handed out by a direct supervisor, manager, or the company’s human resources department; this award often includes a small gift such as a certificate or an incentive.

dedicated employee receiving the employee of the month award

Benefits of the Employee of the Month Award

This program can have benefits for both the staff and the organization. Some of these advantages include the following:

Boosts Motivation and Engagement

Employees are more likely to be motivated when they know that their efforts are valued and recognized by the management. With proper execution, employees can become more engaged knowing that they share in the organization’s success.

Improves Employee Retention

Employees stay in organizations not only for a good income. Instead, they commit to an organization that recognizes their contributions. Hence, an employee of the month program can be the best avenue to show appreciation. According to a study, companies with robust recognition programs experience 31% lower voluntary turnover.

Increases Productivity

When employees feel that their efforts are valuable, they become more innovative, collaborative, and enthusiastic toward work. This kind of behavior is contagious inside the workplace. Consequently, there’s a higher chance of increase in overall productivity.

Builds Positive Relationships

An employee of the month program gives management the opportunity to show their appreciation and create a shared set of values that benefits everyone. When people feel appreciated, they’re more likely to feel comfortable building relationships with managers and other team members.

Encourages Communication

Such a program can be an effective communication tool within your team. You can only understand and align with your employees’ perception of recognition and vice versa through communication. As with any other aspects, it can only be effective if it is communicated well.

Potential Drawbacks of the Employee of the Month Award

While its benefits are considerable, there are also potential drawbacks to the rewards program. Some of them include:

Unhealthy Competition

Employee of the month award can provide a healthy challenge for your members as they strive hard to win. Some may even feel pitted against their peers for the sake of an award. They will start seeing their team members as competitors, which can sabotage team camaraderie.

Undermining Team Effort

In most scenarios, it is the team that works together and not only one individual. It is a combined effort that makes a project successful yet only one gets recognized. Giving an employee of the month award to one person can develop resentment and demotivation among other members.

Lack of Comprehensive Employee Recognition Program

Leaders may think that awards are enough to keep employees engaged and committed. Recognition should be far more than just an award. A vibrant and inclusive culture of recognition supports the smallest of efforts to the biggest of accomplishments.

Employee of the Month Mistakes to Avoid

Once an organization considers having a program in place, there are a handful of mistakes to avoid, such as:

Playing favorites

If the same people end up winning employee of the month all the time, others may feel demotivated and accuse the leaders of favoritism. When the same people are being recognized, it can lead to discord among colleagues and the management. Additionally, allegations of favoritism can lead to dysfunctional turnover and negative employer branding.

Unclear and Inconsistent Criteria

If the management doesn’t make the criteria public, or worse, doesn’t have any specific standards, the program becomes random and meaningless. Additionally, employee of the month nominations shouldn’t be a subjective matter or a popularity contest. Set up a fair criterion and share it to the team so everyone can improve their chances. By doing so, you cultivate an inclusive and transparent workplace.

team of workers confused with the employee of the month award criteria

Using a “One Size Fits All” Strategy

Presenting the employee of the month award for the first time will excite your employees. But after some time, giving the same incentive might seem a shallow token gesture. Every employee perceives recognition in different ways. The best organizations should create a comprehensive recognition program that their employees can value and understand.

Late Rewards

They say it’s better late than never, but it is not always the case. Employees might not feel the excitement you’re looking for if you present them with an incentive that’s way overdue. Awards that are handed out months late usually don’t elicit much morale boost from the staff.

Tips To Boost Your Employee of the Month Awards Program

On the other hand, suppose you already have an existing employee of the month award program in place. Can you improve it? Here are the tips to do so.

1. Establish goals and structure of the program.

Developing an employee of the month program involves goals, work processes, criteria, strategies, and schedule. Establish a structure for your program that everyone can adhere to. By doing so, you can reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks and increase efficiency.

2. Specify clear and fair criteria.

Setting up criteria cultivates diversity and inclusion in your organization. You need to be clear, consistent, and transparent in your criteria for awarding the employee of the month. That way, employees will follow the right direction and work hard to fulfill those criteria. Your criteria should reflect good performance, work etiquette and relationships among colleagues. Thus, you’re encouraging them to be well-rounded employees, and not just all about results.

3. Keep communication lines open.

Your organization should continue to focus on communication throughout the process. Employees and managers should clearly understand the purpose, criteria, and other aspects of an employee of the month program. Toward the end of the program, ask people for feedback and suggestions.

Expert Tip:

Leverage different channels from company-wide emails to manager-led team meetings to ensure your message connects with as many team members as possible.

4. Be creative and flexible.

An employee of the month award will get stale quickly if it’s always based on the same criteria and has only one theme. Whether it is the criteria, award titles or the incentive itself, be flexible and creative enough so that people look forward to it every month.

5. Involve all team members.

It is inevitable that the employee of the month award will exclude other team members. To avoid any resentment or favoritism issues, incorporate employee of the month awards as part of a comprehensive employee recognition program.

Expert Tip:

To start, employees can nominate and vote for co-workers who they think deserve to win. In fact, co-workers notice each other’s efforts and understand employee contribution more than managers. When they nominate their teammates, it strengthens work relationships.

6. Reassess the program

Don’t let your efforts fall flat! Get feedback from employees about their recognition experience. Follow up on how employees feel about the program. The employees might be looking for different kinds of recognition. Ask for suggestions so that your rewards have more value and impact. Employee surveys and check-ins are of enormous help to gauge engagement levels.

Unique Employee of the Month Program Ideas

1. Monthly Celebration Lunch

A monthly celebratory lunch is a great way to publicly recognize your top employee and bond together with the whole team. During your celebratory lunch, open the floor for employees to share their personal stories about how the winners have impacted their careers.

2. One-Time Bonus

A small boost to a paycheck can be a huge motivator for employees. Your employee could probably use some extra money to pay for expenses, treat themselves to dinner with family, or build a savings fund.

3. Extra Paid Time-Off

Time off work can be as valuable as a monetary incentive. Your employees work hard every day, and they deserve a break. Make it easy and flexible to redeem the leave, let’s say that they can redeem it up to a year after their win.

4. Pay for an Experience

Sometimes money spent on experiences brings more lasting happiness. Gift them an experience they won’t forget, like a spa day, cooking class, or hotel stay. Keep this gift personalized by asking your staff exactly what they want to do or see on their day off.

employee relaxing in a hotel

5. Appreciation Post on Company Website

Make your message personalized. Don’t just put generic thank you quotes. To start, ask your colleagues to write something about them. It can be their values that they appreciate the most or their contributions in the team that made the project successful.

6. Special-Skills Training

Ask if they want to pursue a special-skill training or any development opportunity of their choice. Some employees cannot attend training due to a busy schedule. Hence, offer free training for knowledge building or reimburse the cost of the training.

7. Creative and Fun Award Titles

This is a great way to recognize several deserving employees or even a team that stood out. Highlight their best values or biggest achievement in your award title. When considering award names, think about the tone you want to set for the award itself. Does the award name reflect your company culture and brand?

Elevate Employee-Employer Management with Outsource Philippines

Employee recognition is just one of the facets of a positive and fruitful workplace relationship. There’s more than meets the eye – from maintaining the organizational and structural integrity of the workplace, to overseeing employee training and development and managing employer-employee relations.

With Outsource Philippines’ human resources outsourcing, we provide dedicated full-time HR staff specializing in different aspects of HR operations. Work with our team of HR experts today and let us help you create a positive workplace culture and improve employee productivity.