Three Employee of the Month Ideas That Are Truly Special (Plus 3 Mistakes To Avoid)

An employee of the month program is a simple and effective way to leave your staff feeling engaged and recognized

August 9, 2022
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Recognizing your employees is the key to a happy, engaged, and effective team. And an employee of the month award is one of the simplest ways to make sure your staff feel like their efforts are being seen.

Read on to discover the difference an employee of the month program can make in your business – and how to launch one without making the most common mistakes.

What is an employee of the month award?

Employee of the month awards come in all shapes and sizes, from a framed photo on the wall to a casual shoutout on Slack. And depending on the size of your company, you might have one employee of the month or several. 

But no matter what form it takes, an employee of the month award is a celebration of an employee's achievements or attitude. It’s one of the simplest types of recognition and reward there is – and one of the most effective, too.

Are employee of the month awards a good idea?

Recognizing your employees can do wonders for employee engagement, productivity, and staff turnover in your organization.

In fact:

  • 40% of people say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognised more often.
  • 37% of workers think the most effective thing their employer can do to cause them to produce great work is to recognise them.
  • Recognition drastically outweighs performance-based rewards – like “pay me more” and “give me a promotion” – as ways people say their employer could get the best from them.

Despite this, an amazing 65% of employees haven’t received any form of recognition for good work in the last year.

Try Assembly to make it easy for line managers to recognize their reports’ great work in real-time.  

An employee of the month award is a simple way to make sure your staff don’t end up feeling unappreciated by scheduling a time each month to recognize their efforts. 

Three meaningful employee of the month award ideas

Get it right and an employee of the month award is a simple employee appreciation idea that goes a long way. Here’s how to make it feel meaningful rather than like a box-ticking exercise:

Set it in stone

When things get busy (and they always get busy eventually…), the employee of the month award is so often the first thing to fall by the wayside for companies. You miss a month, then two… and suddenly you haven’t shown your team that you appreciate them in half a year.

Is there a clearer sign you could give your staff that you don’t appreciate them than making the celebration of their hard work the first thing you ditch when things get a bit hectic?

If you’re serious about showing your team your appreciation then you need to set your employee of the month ceremony in stone every month. Stick to the commitment like gospel to reap the rewards of regularly recognizing your employees – and skip months at the risk of leaving your staff feeling like they’re far from your priority.

Don’t go through the motions

According to research, the most meaningful feedback is tailored to how each individual likes to be recognized.

So, instead of having a copy-and-paste employee of the month ceremony, personalize each one to the person you’re celebrating. 

Play their favorite song during their ceremony. Give them an award that’s meaningful to them –  a Dwight Shrute bobblehead for a big Office fan, for example. Award it to them in a way they’ll appreciate, whether that’s with a big fanfare or a quiet “well done” from their line manager followed by a company-wide email. 

This will not only make the person getting recognized feel special, but also make your employee of the month ceremony something the whole office will look forward to.

Peer recognition

Your staff are bound to get a boost when their manager recognizes them, but it can be even more powerful if that recognition comes from their peers. In fact, peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to have a positive impact on your business’s bottom line than manager-only recognition. 

And employees want to appreciate each other. When offered a simple tool to do so 44% of all workers will provide peer-to-peer recognition on an ongoing basis. 

Encouraging your employees to shout out their colleagues’ hard word – and giving them tools like employee award nominations to make it easy for them to do so – is a great way to find your employees of the month. Then you can share the praise the winner received with them to make the award feel even more meaningful.  

Book a demo of Assembly to see how easy encouraging peer-to-peer recognition across your organization could be.

Top mistakes companies make with their employee of the month programs (and how to avoid them)

You need to make sure you get your employee of the month program right, or it could do more harm than good. Avoid these mistakes to make sure your efforts don’t backfire when it comes to employee engagement and staff morale:

Don’t forgot to praise the little things

An employee of the month award is a great way to make sure you’re not neglecting employee recognition, as so many companies do. 

But be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking showing your staff your appreciation begins and ends with your employee of the month program. Encourage your line managers to make a habit of praising your people for the little things – the things that often go unnoticed and unrecognized, but make your company a great place to work. 

Try Assembly to make recognizing your employees quick and easy.

Check out our five free employee recognition ideas for more ways to show your staff you appreciate them outside of your employee of the month awards.

Don’t make it generic

Hand out a generic award as a general “well done” and your employee of the month awards will quickly start to feel like a box-ticking exercise once the novelty has worn off.

Avoid this by celebrating the specific reasons an employee is being recognized during each award ceremony. Shine a light on the great piece of work they did or the praise they’ve received from their colleagues.

Don’t get enough suggestions from other members of staff or know enough about your employee to make the award meaningful? You might have a deeper problem with your company culture you need to address.

Don’t play favorites

Staff morale is bound to plummet if the same people end up winning employee of the month all the time. 

So, be sure to use these awards as a chance to recognize that everyone brings something different to your organization. Showing your appreciation for the kind things that usually go unrecognized can do wonders for your employee engagement. 

Of course, make a fuss about staff who bring in that big lead or deliver a great piece of work. But be sure to recognize those people who do the little things that make your organization tick as well: helping a colleague word a sensitive email, always bringing in home-baked treats into the office, and chipping in to get a project over the line. Encouraging this behavior by awarding it is a surefire way to make your company a great place to work.

The final word

An employee of the month award can do wonders for your workplace. Stick to the tips we’ve laid out here – and avoid the mistakes we’ve pointed out – to get the most from your employee of the month program.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide