The employee of the month award is one of the most common methods of employee recognition. It has become an integral part of almost every company's recognition strategy. When done right, it can motivate employees to engage more and push employee performance to the next level.
But the question is: Are you doing it right?
In this article, we'll talk about the employee of the month awards, why they might be failing, and what you can do about it.
Let's get started.
- What Is The Employee Of The Month Award?
- Objectives Behind The Employee Of The Month Award
- Importance Of Employee Of The Month Award
- 9 Reasons Why Most Employee Of The Month Awards Fall Flat
- 9 Steps To Boost Your Employee Of The Month Award Program
- The Employee Of The Month Award Templates
- In Conclusion
What Is The Employee Of The Month Award?
An employee of the month award or EOM award is a type of recognition given to workers for exceptional performances. As the name suggests, the employee of the month award is offered on a monthly basis. Every company sets specific standards, and the best-performing employee receives the award.
The employee of the month award can be of different types.
- It may be in the form of prizes, gifts, incentives, or certificates.
- Some companies have a Wall of Fame where they put up names/pictures of their monthly star performers.
- With increasing digitalization, managers are using online engagement platforms to honor employees.
Apart from recognizing hard work, the EOM award also acts as an incentive for workers. It motivates them to work harder and be more productive. Since it's highly cost-effective yet impactful, every company should invest in it.
Objectives Behind The Employee Of The Month Award
1. To Reinforce Company Values
Every company has core values like honesty, punctuality, integrity, or dedication. Leaders want to align employee behavior with such company values.
But without specific goals to give them direction, employees tend to lose sight of the company vision. Employees may even start behaving in ways contrary to what the company stands for.
So employers design their EOM programs set with their core principles. These awards specify the expectations companies have from their employees.
When the employee notices that a particular behavior is being frequently recognized, they understand their employer's expectations. They tend to associate that specific action with getting rewarded. It becomes more likely that they continue to do it in the future.
2. To Offer Timely And Frequent Recognition
EOM awards aim to give timely recognition. You see, it might not be fruitful to recognize an employee for something they did months ago. Every achievement, big or small, should be appreciated at the right time.
EOM awards also make sure that you recognize your employees often and regularly. Only then can you achieve the goals of increased morale and engagement.
Now that we understand what the EOM awards try to achieve let's see why they are crucial for the company culture.
Importance Of Employee Of The Month Award
Do you know an employee who always goes above and beyond for their work? The one whom every team member loves? Or maybe the one who arrives early and leaves late?
I am sure that every company has got one. If you know someone like that, it's high time that they get the EOM award.
Recognizing employees for a job well done should be an integral part of the company culture. Employees give their time and effort to drive business ahead. Some go above and beyond to achieve their goals compared to the desired expectations. Such hard work deserves appreciation.
The employee of the month award is like a pat on the back saying "well deserved." It might seem like a small thing, but it can inspire great loyalty and performance in the long run.
Here are some statistics portraying the significance of a robust recognition program:
Advantages Of Having A Robust Employee Of The Month Award Program
Motivation: The employee of the month award promotes healthy competition among employees. When there is an award up for grabs, employees strive hard to do their assigned tasks in the best possible way. It helps in extrinsically motivating the workforce.
Engagement: With higher motivation, employees become fully absorbed and enthusiastic about their work. They see the organization's vision as their own and make an effort to drive business success. Thus, the EOM award can be vital to employee engagement.
Morale: The EOM award develops a sense of accomplishment amongst employees. Getting appreciated for their hard work makes them happy and content. Studies show that employees consider EOM as one of the most memorable recognition they received in their jobs.
Retention: According to a Glassdoor survey, 53% of employees say they would stay longer in a company if they feel appreciated. When employees are happy, they wouldn't want to leave the company. Thus, it reduces turnover and increases employee retention.
Productivity: Rewards and recognition increase employee productivity, and the employee of the month award is no exception. Getting appreciated boosts morale by creating 'oxytocin' in the body. People under the influence of this 'love hormone' perform better. It reduces stress and contributes to better employee well-being.
As we see, there are numerous benefits of having an EOM award program. But it needs to be appropriately conceptualized to be effective. If it isn't well-conceived or well-executed, your efforts will be wasted.
9 Reasons Why Most Employee Of The Month Awards Fall Flat
Let's have a look at the reasons why an employee of the month award program might fail:
1. Ill-Defined Objectives
From higher productivity to reduced turnover, EOM awards have the potential to drive better business outcomes.
But most of the leaders are unclear on what they want to achieve. Do you want more engagement or higher retention? Or perhaps you want to increase sales.
Sometimes the objectives of the EOM programs are not aligned with company values. This invalidates the very aim they try to achieve.
For example, you reward an employee for their individual success, but your mission indicates you value teamwork. Recognizing individual effort may derail the collaborative spirit you expect from your employees.
2. No Clear Criteria
Sometimes when an employee gets the EOM award, they don't know why they are getting recognized.
Companies don't make the criteria public, or worse, don't have any specific standards. The award tends to go around the workforce arbitrarily.
For instance, they give the award to an employee who hasn't shown any new initiative beyond their regular work. The program becomes random and meaningless.
3. Unhealthy Competition
Having employees who try to bring their A-game to work is always beneficial. But an employee of the month award program may promote a spirit of unhealthy competition. Workers feel pitted against their peers for the sake of an award. They start seeing their team members as competitors, which can sabotage the team bond and peer relationships.
4. Undermining Team Effort
Businesses run with teams collaborating to solve complex problems. In most cases, it is this teamwork and not one individual that achieves a goal.
Imagine a scenario:
A team works together to make a project successful. But only one of the members gets recognized for it. This can worsen the sense of unhealthy competition and workplace negativity. It demotivates the employees who feel left out, and they might develop resentment against the company.
5. Rewards Become More Important Than Work
When there is an award up for grabs every month, it may become more important to win than doing the work itself.
Employees who desire to be the EOM might get into dubious activities. They might perform tasks only to grab the superiors' attention. This impacts productivity, performance and may result in employees deviating from the vision.
Moreover, rewards serve as extrinsic motivation. They condition employees to work for something in return. If not conceived well, EOM will not be able to inculcate intrinsic motivation in the employee. Intrinsic motivation is where employees feel motivated on their own without any externalities.
6. Infrequency Brews Resentment
With only twelve months in a year, EOM awards overlook many hard-working employees who contribute a lot towards the company's success.
Being overlooked and left out can breed resentment in the workforce. This brings down employee morale and motivation to work.
7. Too Much Focus On Monthly Recognition
There is a tendency among managers who focus strictly on monthly awards to think that is enough.
But a vibrant culture of recognition supports the smallest of efforts to the biggest of accomplishments. It is a culture where peers don't hesitate to encourage each other. An encouraging nod, a pat on the back, or a thank-you note becomes the norm.
All this is very effective in maintaining everyday morale. Thus, recognition should be far more than just one EOM award program.
8. Subjective Selection Criteria
Even if companies have specific criteria for the EOM, the selection is usually made by a panel of jury. With many people involved in the process, the choice of the winner becomes subjective.
Also, some employees' efforts are hard to quantify and cannot be monitored all the time. There may be people who guide and motivate the team, yet their efforts go unrecognized.
9. Concerns Of Bias/Favoritism
Most EOM awardees are selected through a panel of leaders and experts. If they are seen to reward the same people every time, they could be accused of favoritism. There may even be cases where deserving candidates didn't get the reward.
Such allegations of biases impact employer branding. It breeds resentment and fosters a sense of disconnect with the company.
Thus, we saw a high probability of how the employee of the month award could go wrong.
9 Steps To Boost Your Employee Of The Month Award Program
Despite its drawbacks, the EOM award is the most popular type of corporate recognition method. It helps recognize substantial efforts, and its proper implementation is a potent tool to boost employee morale.
For an effective employee of the month award, we need to address its issues.
Here are nine things that an employee of the month award program must focus on:
1. Define Objectives Clearly
Before you implement your EOM program, you need to be clear about its goals and what you want to achieve with it. If you want more engagement and collaboration, focus on teamwork. If you wish to promote innovation, encourage new ideas and creativity.
Also, it is best to set your program's objectives in line with the company's mission. For instance, if you value teamwork, focus on team-based rewards and collaboration skills.
2. Prepare A Proper Blueprint
After setting the goals, you need to decide on the work process. Delegate the responsibilities of who is going to coordinate and manage the data. If it is a panel award system, brief the panel members about what you expect from the program.
Automating the process using digital recognition tools will help reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks and increase efficiency.
3. Clarify The Criteria For Recognition
Employees must know the guidelines to achieve the award. Employers should specify the set of behaviors that they expect from their employees. This way, they'll follow the right direction and work hard as per the guidelines.
Employee behaviors you can recognize through your program:
- The credibility of those who are trustworthy and dependable
- Team building and collaboration skills
- Consistency in performance
- New ideas and creativity
- Achieving targets
- Great customer service
- Commitment to work
- Personal performance
- Quick learning skills
- Mentoring skills
- Regular attendance
- Social skills, etc.
Apart from clarifying the criteria, it is vital to remove gray areas by addressing all doubts about the recognition award. Try to answer the following questions:
- Can an employee win multiple times?
- What if there is a tie?
- Are part-time/contract employees eligible?
- What is the time being considered to assess performance?
- When will the winner be announced?
You can prepare an FAQ or slide deck to go with the reward announcement.
4. Set The Rewards
(Screenshot Source: Vantage Rewards)
Make sure to consult your employees and team before deciding on the rewards. Here is where personalizing the recognition comes into play. Each employee is unique. What might motivate one won't necessarily motivate others.
Reward Ideas to include in your employee of the month award program:
- Paid vacations and days-off
- Social media shout-outs and appreciation through online engagement platforms
- Parking Spots
- Work equipment upgrades and tech-support
- Personalized Employee Gifts like coffee mugs, t-shirts, stationery, etc.
- Team Lunches and bonding activities to celebrate their achievements
- Thanking them personally, or a personalized note of appreciation from the CEO/manager
- Feature in the Hall of Fame
- Feature in the staff newsletter or company website
- Gift cards, cash awards, subscriptions boxes, food coupons
- Symbolic prizes like certificates, plaques, pins, trophies, etc.
- Training and development opportunities, like crash courses, skill-building opportunities
- Mentoring opportunities
5. Transparent Process Of Nomination/Selection
(Screenshot Source: Vantage Rewards)
Companies must be transparent and fair while selecting the winner. Everyone should feel like they have a shot at winning. Guidelines should be clear on who can vote for, when to vote, and how to vote. Ensure that employees know about the voting procedure.
For the nomination process, companies can use a combination of methods.
Following are some nominations methods companies use for the EOM awards:
a) Managers Can Nominate
Reporting managers know the most about an employee’s progress. So it can prove to be the most authentic nomination for star employees.
Here, managers nominate potential candidates. After that, the panel of selected approvers votes for the nominated employees. After they decide the winner, the reward is announced instantaneously. And it pops up in the Vantage Rewards' social feed.
b) Employee Surveys
Another way to decide the employee of the month is to let employees vote. This makes the process democratic and ensures employee participation.
You need to keep it simple with employee surveys. Send out a survey form and ask members to vote for the best performers and why they think they deserve it. Distribute online surveys to include the remote workforce in the process.
Survey tools like Vantage Pulse are fast, instant, and provide real-time data. It also maintains the anonymity of those who voted.
c) Candidates Can Campaign
Self-nomination is another way to put forward names for the employee of the month award. Potential employees of the month take an active role in the process by campaigning for the prize. They explain why they think they should win. They focus on their performances and learn the critical skills of marketing themselves.
6. Measure Impact Through Follow-ups
Your EOM program might be up and running, but you need to measure its impact. To find out if it's working towards its objectives or not, follow up on how employees feel about the program. Get feedback from recently recognized employees for suggestions to improve the experience.
Employee surveys and check-ins are of enormous help to gauge engagement levels.
7. Be Creative With The Naming Of Awards
You might have several deserving employees who are doing great work. In such cases, you might want to rethink the monthly system. Have multiple types of awards so that you don't overlook any worthy candidate.
Try to get as specific as you can with the traits you want to value in your employees. Moreover, it isn't necessary to call it the employee of the Month award. So get creative with the award titles.
Here are some examples of quirky, unique, and effective award titles:
- Problem Solver Award for the risk-takers who come up with innovative ideas to solve challenges.
- Go That Extra Mile Award for above-and-beyond performances.
- Make Others Great Award for motivating and pushing others to give their best.
- Team Player Of The Month for those team members who show immense collaborative spirit.
- The Engagement Champion for those who are highly engaged in their work.
- Social Butterfly for those who maintain great workplace relationships and spread positivity.
- Social Contributor Award for those who go the extra mile to serve society.
8. Get The Team/Peers Involved
Recognition from leadership and managers is very effective in boosting morale and engagement. But praise from peers can amplify the impact of the employee of the month award to another level.
Peers notice efforts and understand employee contribution more than managers. When they nominate and select their teammates for awards, it strengthens work relationships. This also eliminates concerns about favoritism. This way, employees develop a sense of trust towards the rewarding system as well as the company.
9. Make The Announcement Memorable
Sending out a thank-you message with a gift card or giving a winners' pin might not be enough for real recognition. Personalize your appreciation with a meaningful note, and refrain from using standardized emails. Try to include the specifics about why they won the award and their contributions to the company.
Public recognition can make the employee of the month award genuinely worth pursuing. The announcement can be through a social media post, a Wall of Fame feature, or a team meeting. Calling out the successful employees publicly for their achievements makes them cherish such moments for a long time.
The Employee Of The Month Award Templates
This section provides you with some templates that you can use for your EOM awards. Make their day by teaming up specially crafted certificates like the following with a gift card or a personalized email. You can use a combination of the reward ideas mentioned in the above section.
Employee Of The Month Email Templates
Here are two examples of EOM email templates you can use for recognizing your top-performing employees.
1. Recognizing Outstanding Performance:
Dear (Employee’s name),
Congratulations! You are (company name)’s Star Performer of the Month!
You have shown tremendous dedication in making the (X) project successful, going above and beyond to give a spectacular performance. Your hard work and out-of-the-box thinking are of great value to us, and we truly appreciate the effort you put into the job.
The best part about this award is that your teammates nominated you! It goes to show how much they appreciate the work you put in.
We are proud of what you and your team have achieved, and we look forward to seeing you excel in many more projects. Thank you!
2. Recognizing Great Customer Service:
Dear (Employee’s Name),
It’s a great pleasure to inform you about the tremendous increase in our customer satisfaction levels in the past month.
As a part of our client service team, we recognize that you have the most solved customer issues. To commemorate your services, we are naming you the Employee of the Month!
Your politeness, patience, and problem-solving attitude have contributed immensely to the increased quality of customer interactions. Your professionalism and helpful nature represent (company name)’s values at its core.
Thank you for using your valuable skills in our service! We cherish your contribution and look forward to all your successes in the future.
There is no denying that the benefits of the employee of the month award outweigh the pitfalls.
The first step for effective implementation is to empathize with the employees. You need to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would like your company to recognize you.
Every employee has unique needs. There can be no one-size-fits-all approach. So putting a little thought behind your employee of the month strategy can go a long way.
Use technology to assist you in the process. Recognition tools like Vantage Rewards can make it regular, efficient, and seamless.
Align your rewards with the company goals, and don't wait till the end of the month to recognize just one worker. Instead, make recognition frequent, regular, all-inclusive, and authentic. That's the most effective way to foster a culture of recognition.