Ban Employee of the Month Recognition

Use a broad, everyday recognition process instead

Business people clapping
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The Employee of the Month, generally selected by management, is the recognition of an individual by the organization for their outstanding contribution as an employee. The recognition is usually accompanied by a gift, gift certificate and/or a certificate or a thank you note. Often the name of the awarded employee is engraved on a plaque in the company lobby.

The Employee of the Month is an organizational recognition that companies have used - both successfully - and unsuccessfully - for years. In some organizations, Employee of the Month recognition is a joke. Employees think of it as a popularity, or an employees' take their turn contest for management-fawning employees who brown-nose their manager. 

In other organizations, it is a cherished form of recognition that employees seek, feel recognized for and are honored when they are designated the Employee of the Month. 

Concerns about Employee of the Month Recognition

Our most important concern with Employee of the Month recognition is that we have encountered numerous employers who believe their job of creating a motivating, rewarding work environment for employees is complete with this award.

But, this form of recognition is not a substitute for day-to-day positive recognition from the manager, reasonable pay and benefits, company-sponsored activities and events, and an environment of appreciation. An Employee of the Month award is just a start on recognition. It's not the whole recognition process.

With so many opportunities available to provide employee recognition, and what employees want from work, why offer an Employee of the Month award with all of its inherent problems? You can't solve most of the problems and in worst case scenarios, Employee of the Month awards harm employee recognition efforts and employee morale.

Problems With Employee of the Month Recognition

The problems with designating an Employee of the Month rest with the usual implementation. But, even if the implementation process is improved, the award is employee unfriendly and fails to accomplish the goals of employee recognition.

Ban Employee of the Month awards, as a form of employee recognition, for these reasons.

  • Publicized criteria for selection is most frequently non-existent. The employee who is rarely recognized knows why he or she was selected. Lacking criteria, other employees find the selection process an unmotivating fog. In any selection process, stated criteria, most often measurable, are key to employee understanding of the award. They need to know why they received it
  • For an employee to become Employee of the Month, he or she should have accomplished or exhibited the stated criteria, so all employees are clear about why this individual was selected. Most organizations fail to establish measurable and recognizable criteria. The selection is not transparent, so it fails in its goals for employee motivation and retention.
    In these organizations, jokes about brown nosing and must be your turn are commonplace. They diminish the recognition power of the designation and negatively affect employee morale and motivation.
  • This reason to ban Employee of the Month awards is even more powerful. If a number of employees accomplish or exhibit the stated criteria (assuming that the criteria are published), each of the employees who qualified, deserves the award. Selecting one employee turns the recognition into management’s opinion, once again.
    It defeats the purpose of the criteria. Provide the award for each employee who accomplishes what it takes to achieve Employee of the Month recognition.
    Or, state on the front end, that only one award is available for eligible employees. But, any employee who meets the criteria will have his or her name placed into a blind drawing for the month's selection. Anything else defeats your purpose.

Combat accusations about a lack of transparency and fairness; and avoid claims of favoritism, one of the top ten employee complaints about workplaces. Find more motivational forms of recognition. Ban Employee of the Month recognition.