The Ultimate Guide to Starting An Employee of the Month Program

Every organization can benefit from a good employee of the month program. Discover how to establish the one that works.

February 2, 2023
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$16.1 million. That’s how much a 10,000-employee company can save in turnover costs annually if they implement a recognition culture.

Pretty big number, isn’t it?

Employee recognition motivates your workforce, promotes morale, and encourages employees to perform more. It shows your team that good work is acknowledged and rewarded. A common type of employee recognition program is the ‘Employee of the Month (EOM)' award which focuses on one exceptional employee every month.

The employee of the month program is quite popular amongst small and large businesses and requires as much care as any other employee recognition method. 

It is important to take your time to establish a fair employee appreciation program that unites and motivates your employees instead of causing strife and disillusion. 

We’ll show you how in a bit.

First, see how an EOM or employee recognition program helps your business.

Benefits of An Employee of the Month Program

Recognizing outstanding employees in the office helps improve your workplace culture. When people know they are not just working for a paycheck, they’re more inclined to do their work efficiently and beyond expectations.

With an EOM program, you can keep that enthusiasm going throughout the year. And that’s not all. There are other benefits to a well-structured Employee of the Month program. They are:

  1. Encourages engagement

Disengaged employees cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity.
A disengaged employee is an employee who isn’t clear on how their work contributes to business success. They work because they have to, not because they believe in your product or service. 

This shouldn’t be the case.

Employee appreciation initiatives, like the EOM program, can dramatically boost employee engagement. When their efforts are recognized, people put more time and creativity into their work. 

They’re also more likely to recommend your business to other people too. In the long term, this can cause increased productivity and innovation.

  1. Increases Motivation

When you reward good work, you boost employee morale. It could be paid time off, a parking space, a free lunch, a course voucher, or a simple employee of the month plaque and an acknowledgment. 

These incentives, monetary and non-monetary alike, help to motivate others to aspire for that recognition. It is the driving force that urges them to accomplish more.

  1. Improves Productivity

You may boost productivity by tying awards and recognition to your workers' work quality. And Gallup agrees with this too. 

According to their report, 70% of employees with good work recognition experiences view their lives more positively and are likelier to thrive than those who are not adequately recognized.

But you cannot improve productivity with unattainable goals - make the objectives and the process for accomplishing them measurable and achievable.

  1. Boosts Employee Retention Rates

When employees feel valued through adequate recognition and rewards in the workplace, they do not seek validation elsewhere. 

A poll conducted by OnePoll for Bonusly found that 46% of American workers have quit a job because they felt underappreciated.

Yes, it may not be a big promotion, but that EOM award can go a long way in helping you reduce turnover and save money on recruitment expenses. 

  1. Attracts new talent 

Times are changing in the office, especially with more Gen Zers joining the workforce. Recruits are more focused on your culture than before. The best prospects frequently seek jobs that reward their workers for their accomplishments. 

Your employee appreciation programs may be your most effective recruiter. So, don’t keep your rewards in the office; ensure you show the world how much you value your team.

How do you recognize an employee of the month?

There are many options when picking incentive packages to motivate your outstanding employees of the month. They don’t have to be elaborate, either. Some of the most intuitive rewards do not cost you a lot. 

Here are a few employee recognition ideas you should consider.

  1. Bonus

Offering your employee a bonus is one of the most popular employee recognition rewards for small and large businesses alike. You can make it a fixed sum for every selected employee, no matter their level. 

Or you can make it a percentage of their regular remuneration. Either way, make sure your bonuses are consistent and fair. 

  1. Office Party/Team Lunch

A modest lunch or a small party with pizza works too. Make your lucky employee the center of activities and share their accomplishments.

Remember to ask your employee if they prefer something more private. And highlight how the company has benefitted from their diligence.

  1. Paid Time Off

Burnout is a beast. It reduces productivity and drains employee morale. Nevertheless, there are ways your employee can manage their burnout levels. These include a supportive work environment and timely paid leaves.

Paid time off has the potential to be a powerful employee incentive. It could be a paid vacation week, a day off, or even a half-day off for every week of that month. You can also include travel vouchers or flight discounts if the budget allows it.

  1. Upskilling Opportunities

An Employee of the Month reward can benefit your firm too. You can offer your employees professional courses, retreats, and access to boot camps. Offering opportunities for growth to your employee of the month helps develop your best talents and grows the business. 

Other gifts include performance-based commissions, subscriptions to services, a sweet parking spot, an employee of the month certificate, or a plaque. You could even give runners-up who narrowly missed winning, a bonus if the budget permits. You could provide them with an appreciative shoutout on social media too.

Read more on how to recognize employees effectively.

How to Manage an Employee Reward Program

Employee reward programs must be consistent. 

There’s no motivation in recognition that comes erratically. So, meticulous planning is essential when starting an employee reward program. Here are some tips to remember when organizing your office reward program.

  1. Outline Your Reasons

Ask yourself why you want to establish an employee-of-the-month program. Do you need to increase customer acquisition? Boost productivity? Improve engagement? Research the topic and study any available employee of the month template.

Make a list of your reasons and discuss them with your company's management and HR teams. Get them to sign off on it — that's important.

  1. Make Your Rules

You need to create guidelines for your program. A structureless program may become an unethical free-for-all instead of a healthy competition.

Set easy-to-understand objectives for earning the EOM title and show your employees what they need to do. Stay moderate with the objectives, though, or you might decrease your team's morale.

  1. Engage Your Employees

Get your people excited for the employee of the month award. Disengaged employees equal an unsuccessful program. 

Ask them what they'd like to see in the program, what rewards they'd appreciate, and what recognition system they’re most comfortable with (peer-to-peer recognition, manager’s choice, etc.). This could be through surveys or software like Microsoft Teams.

Be sure to share your intended employee of the month criteria checklist with them too. 

  1. Select Your Rewards

What would you give your EOM? It could be gifts, cash, a certificate, a plaque, a bonus, or time off.

You could hang their picture in a special part of the office or celebrate them across social media and on your company website. Whatever reward you choose, keep it consistent and fair. 

  1. Announce the Program

Tell your employees about the program. Give them a detailed breakdown of the criteria for the reward and when it'll start. Ask for their opinions and listen to questions they might have. This is the time to make your last-minute tweaks. 

  1. Be consistent

Recognition should be regular. If it is an EOM program, schedule it every month without fail. You can also add other types of awards to celebrate other employees or runners-up. You can add surprise recognitions too. 

Remember, all rewards must fit company values and promote the overall business objective.

What should I write for an Employee of the Month nomination?

An employee of the month nomination is a proposal used to recognize and appoint a team member who meets or surpasses the standards of a workplace award system. 

Factors that most nomination examples for employee of the month have in common include:

  • Following the company protocol for nomination, if any. 
  • Mentioning the employee you’re nominating and their position
  • Stating why you’re nominating them
  • Explaining how they’ve helped your team or the company. Be specific.
  • Signing off with your name and position too.

What's another way to say Employee of the Month?

If you think ‘Employee of the Month’ is cliche? You can switch it up with other terms. Use these inventive titles instead to recognize the uniqueness of your employees.

  • Rising Star Award
  • Shining Star Award
  • The Innovator Award
  • Rockin’ Rookie Award
  • Above and Beyond Award
  • All-Star Employee Award
  • Spotlight Award
  • Customer’s Choice Award
  • Merit Award
  • Game Changer Award

How Do You Announce the Best Employee of the Month?

Once you have selected the employee of the month based on your outlined criteria, you should inform the employee in question and their co-workers. This could be as an email or a physical announcement in the office. 

You should inform the employee of the award before the official announcement. 

However, if you want it to be a surprise, you can wait until your company’s monthly meeting or its equivalent. Make sure they RSVP and are certain they’d attend, especially for remote-working employees.

Announcing the best employee of the month will roughly follow this sequence:

  • Give proper salutations
  • Express how happy you are to announce the EOM
  • Say the employee’s name and position
  • State how they’ve been exceptional
  • Encourage others to see this as an inspiration
  • Thank everyone, and sign off

Examples Of How To Announce The Employee Of The Month

Example 1

Subject: Celebrating Excellence: Best Employee of the Month, January 2023

Dear Team,

I am thrilled to announce our Best Employee of the Month for January 2023. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into making our company a success.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce that John Doe, our Marketing Manager, has been selected as the best employee of the month. John has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and strategic thinking, contributing to the growth of our marketing department. His innovative ideas and tireless efforts have not gone unnoticed, and we are proud to have him on our team.

Let us all take inspiration from John’s commitment and dedication. Congratulations, John!

Thank you all for your continued efforts, and here's to another successful month.

Best Regards,

[Your Name]

Example 2

Subject: A Toast to Our Top Performer: Best Employee of the Month, February 2023

Hello Everyone,

I am overjoyed to announce the Best Employee of the Month for February 2023. It gives me great pleasure to recognize the outstanding performance of one of our own.

The winner of this month's award is none other than Sarah Johnson, our Customer Service Representative. Sarah has consistently gone above and beyond, ensuring our customers are satisfied and their needs are met. Her positive attitude and willingness to help have significantly impacted our customer satisfaction ratings, and we are grateful for her contributions.

Let us all strive to follow Sarah’s example and continue to deliver outstanding customer service. Congratulations, Sarah!

Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.

Warm Regards,

[Your Name]

Example 3

Subject: Recognizing Outstanding Achievement: Best Employee of the Month - March 2023

Hello Team,

I am honored to announce the Best Employee of the Month for March 2023. This recognition is a testament to the exceptional performance of one of our own.

The winner of this award is David Brown, our Sales Manager. David has been a driving force behind our sales team, consistently exceeding his targets and leading by example. His strong work ethic and determination have made a significant impact on our overall sales, and we are proud to have him on our team.

Let us all strive to follow David’s example and continue to deliver outstanding results. Congratulations, David!

Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Best Regards,

[Your Name]

Make Your Employee Reward Program Better with Assembly

The first step to creating an effective employee reward program is proper planning. Remember that this is an employee-centric event, and their welfare should be your guide in deciding what to implement.

There is no standard way to establish and manage a reward system. It all depends on balancing employee needs and your organization’s objectives.

Assembly provides employers with effective tools to collate employee feedback, increase employee engagement, and provide meaningful recognition and rewards to boost workplace satisfaction. With our all-in-one management software, you can offer the inclusive and engaging employee reward program you’ve always wanted. Book a demo for free to learn more.

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

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

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