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Spot Recognition: How To Nail A Spot Award Program At Work

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A spot award or on-the-spot recognition is one of the best and quickest ways to deliver meaningful rewards to your employees.

Today, organizations understand the significance of appreciating their employees. But instead of service awards or "employee of the month" awards, spot awards are more commonly offered in modern reward systems.

This shift is often perceived as a positive one. Because when done right, spot awards can serve as instant motivation for employees while also being cost-efficient for businesses.

This article will talk about the spot award and how it can provide value to your employees and your organization.

Let's start with some basics.

What Is A Spot Award?


Spot awards are a form of employee recognition where you recognize exemplary performance or behavior as and when it happens.

The main purpose of spot awards is to let employees know that you have noticed their efforts. At the same time, it reinforces the values that are important to your organization.

Two of the most important characteristics of spot awards are:

1. They are instant rewards.

We call them "spot awards" because they are delivered "on the spot".

In today's world of instant gratification, employees find little value in getting praise for something they did months ago.

Also, the workforce today consists mainly of millennials, who prefer on-the-spot recognition to yearly reviews. They need acknowledgment as soon as they achieve a goal or excel at work.

2. They may involve monetary or non-monetary benefits.

Spot awards may include non-monetary forms of appreciation, like a social shout-out, certificates, company logo items, etc.

You see, sometimes a pat on the back could be all it takes to get an employee through the daily grind. These gestures help build an emotional connection between the company and the employee.

However, spot awards can also involve monetary benefits like cash, bonuses, or discounts. In fact, it works the best with a point-based reward system where you can give monetary incentives to employees for their efforts.

Significance of Spot Awards

People like to be recognized. From the new hire to the veterans, everyone in your company wants to know that their work adds value to the organization. In fact, research says that the primary reason for employees quitting jobs is not getting enough recognition.

To retain and motivate your people, your organization needs a vibrant recognition culture. And spot awards can be a perfect addition to your reward and recognition program to drive your organizational outcomes.

They can help organizations build a value-based recognition culture by rewarding employees who go above and beyond their duties while encouraging initiative and creativity.

Some benefits of having a spot award program are:


Spot awards involve giving recognition to employees for their good work almost immediately or as soon as possible. This timeliness of spot awards makes them extremely effective in motivating employees.

When given regularly, spot awards can increase overall employee satisfaction.


With higher motivation, employees become 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 spot award can be vital to employee engagement.


It is a well-acknowledged fact that rewards and recognition help enhance the performance and commitment levels of employees. People are more likely to put in consistent efforts over time if they sense their efforts are being noticed and acknowledged. In this context, spot awards have emerged as an extremely powerful tool in boosting the workforce's effectiveness.

Getting appreciated boosts morale by creating 'oxytocin' in the body. People under the influence of this 'love hormone' perform better, and it helps them understand what they're doing right. Their dedication increases, and their performance levels improve.


According to a Glassdoor survey, 53% of employees say they would stay longer in a company if they felt appreciated. When employees are content with their jobs, they are less likely to hunt for new ones. This is why, in the long run, spot awards can help raise employee retention rates.

Best Practices for Spot Awards


As we discussed, the primary objective of spot awards is to recognize employee efforts and behaviors instantly.

To get the best possible outcome from this method of recognition, organizations can adopt the following best practices:

1. Train And Empower Managers

Empowering managers to offer spot recognition can make the program truly successful.

Manager-to-employee recognition helps build a strong culture of appreciation at the ground level. Employees feel truly happy and proud being instantly recognized by their superiors. It also assures them that they are on the right path in executing their business goals.

You can support managers with a digital employee recognition tool, sufficient budget, and a clear recognition workflow involving minimal approvals. They should be trained on when and how to offer spot awards (such as public or private recognition). This would encourage managers to reward and recognize employees when they see good performance or behavior.

2. Establish Well-Defined Criteria


Like any other employee recognition policy, spot recognition requires some well-defined criteria. This is essential to create transparency, authenticity, and credibility of the award in the eyes of the employees.

You can specify the set of behaviors that you expect from your employees. This way, they'll follow the right direction and work towards them.

Some ideal employee behaviors managers can recognize through a spot award program include:

  • teamwork and collaboration
  • consistency in performance,
  • new ideas and creativity,
  • goal accomplishment,
  • demonstrating respect for diversity,
  • job mastery, etc.

3. Ensure That The Announcement Is Memorable

Spot awards are generally offered at the moment, but they'll work best when they are given publicly within the organization.

Calling out the successful employees publicly for their achievements makes them cherish such moments for a long time.

For more social visibility, you can announce through social media, a digital recognition platform, a "Wall of Fame" feature, or a team meeting.

4. Include Monetary Benefits


One of the key success factors of spot rewards is to offer monetary benefits to the employees. The quantum can be tailored based on the rewards budget, but it should be significant to motivate the recipients.

Digital recognition platforms can help organizations provide the monetary benefits for spot awards in the form of reward points.

Recipients can accumulate these reward points over time and redeem them for gifts of their choice. Choosing their own e-gift cards makes the recognition experience more personalized and memorable.

5. Use Digital Platforms

It may be impossible for leaders to go up to each employee and thank them for their day-to-today efforts. And with more people working remotely, companies are looking for ways to engage employees.

That's where the role of digital R&R tools comes into play.

In 2021, we conducted a study on R&R trends for remote working. Based on 248 responses from industry experts, we got the following key findings:

  • 58% of HRs said adopting digital R&R platforms impacts overall engagement and retention.

  • 79% of respondents want an agile R&R platform for remote employees.

  • 55% of respondents want mobile-friendly R&R platforms for remote workers.

  • 53% of respondents said digital R&R platforms enhance HR efficiency while working remotely.

A digital solution to R&R is no longer a luxury—it has become a strategic imperative.

It makes the whole process of spot recognition smoother, faster, regular, and more frequent.

6. Measure Impact Of Recognition

Your spot award program might be up and running, but you need to measure its impact. To find out if it's working towards fulfilling its objectives or not, follow up on how employees feel about the program.

You may ask questions like:

  • Are you clear on the organization's goals and what behaviors we expect from our people?
  • Do you think you'll get recognized if you do good work?
  • Are your satisfied with the type of recognition you get?
  • Do you feel motivated to keep giving your best at work?

Using these questions, get feedback from employees for suggestions to improve the experience. In this regard, employee surveys and check-ins are of enormous help to gauge engagement levels.

You can also use digital rewards and recognition platforms to identify trends and gaps in the implementation of your recognition programs.

Master Your Spot Awards Program With Vantage Rewards


Vantage Rewards is an AI-based tool that helps automate and simplify your spot award programs. The tool, with its real-time interactive feed, enables instant employee recognition.

Managers can recognize their team for a spot award and reward them with monetary benefits in the form of reward points. They can view their allocated budget in a budget wallet and nominate employees accordingly. They can get it approved by a panel of approvers.

We offer an extensive and Global Redemption catalog for employees to redeem their reward points for gift cards, experiences, merchandise, and more.

Our rewarding system is based on the SOLI (Standard of Living Index) framework to help companies recognize global employees. It ensures equal and fair regulation of rewards points against currencies for employees across the globe.

Furthermore, our cross-channel integrations enable your employees to appreciate one another while collaborating across different HRMS or communication tools.

Vantage Rewards also comes with a data-driven Dashboard that enables you to check the spot award distribution pattern in the organization, budget insights, etc.


In recent years, spot recognition has emerged as one of the most effective ways of boosting employee motivation and engagement. It harnesses the power of showing gratitude. And when leaders share their gratitude, positivity spreads among employees, and they want to continue doing good work.

But every employee has unique needs. Remember to put a little thought behind your spot recognition strategy.

Use digital tools to make recognition regular, efficient, and seamless and align your rewards with the company goals. When executed properly, a timely and authentic reward program can be "the" best way to foster an appreciation culture.

This article is written by Swati Baruah who is a part of the marketing team at Vantage Circle. Swati is a post-graduate in Labor Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Passionately interested in HR and people dynamics, she enjoys writing pieces that strike conversations. An avid reader and a frequent traveler, she loves exploring new perspectives. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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