Employee of the Month Ideas That Are Special (+ 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, some monthly employee appreciation ideas, and how to launch one without making the most common mistakes.

What is an employee of the month award?

Employee of the month recognitions come in different forms 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. It's a simple but thoughtful way to make sure your staff don’t end up feeling unappreciated by scheduling a time each month to recognize their efforts.

In fact:

  • 40% of people say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
  • 37% of workers think the most effective thing their employer can do to cause them to produce great work is to recognize 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 81% of leaders say recognition is not a major strategic priority for their organization.

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

Three meaningful employee of the month award ideas

Get it right and employee of the month rewards become 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 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 or people 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 forget 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 team members for even 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.

Didn’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, even remote employees. Showing your appreciation for the kind of 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 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.

And to create a lasting culture of recognition and appreciation in your workplace, incorporate the employee recognition workflow today!

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.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered