Top Tips for Setting Up an Effective Employee of the Month Program

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October 8, 2019
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When you’re running a business, no matter its size, one of the most crucial factors to success is the team you have around you. To be a successful businesswoman you need committed, loyal, engaged, and productive employees who can continually help you take your venture to the next level.

To achieve this, focus on creating a positive corporate culture and on retaining your top team members. A good way to get this done is to thank, acknowledge, and reward your deserving staff. Employee of the Month programs are a prime example of how to do this in a structured, frequent way. Make sure, though, that you set this kind of program up well so it’s as effective as possible.

Get Clear on Your Goals 

Don’t start a program without having first become clear on what it is you want to achieve from creating it. Get clear on your goals upfront so you have a touchstone to use when making decisions during the setup process. 

While the most obvious result you’re looking for is to improve employee morale, you’ll probably also have other objectives tied in. For instance, you might wish to reinvigorate workers who have been part of the team for a long time, stir up some healthy competition among different departments or teams, increase productivity, boost sales via incentive programs, or even decrease your organization’s annual spend on ineffective team-building activities. 

Create Guidelines

Always put proper structure in place around the awards program. Create set guidelines and parameters for how the program will run. From day one, everyone in the team administering the program, as well as all employees within the company, need to understand the rules and know what’s required for an Employee of the Month to be selected.

Always make guidelines specific rather than vague. Programs can backfire if you choose too-simple, subjective guidelines like “best team spirit” or “most positive employee.” Employees want to know that the recipient of an award is chosen because they’ve achieved set criteria, not that a manager has chosen their “pet.” 

Create easy-to-understand criteria that doesn’t favor one person or group of people over others. For example, those who are on the panel or make the final say about who’s chosen shouldn’t be eligible for the award. Similarly, if you base Employee of the Month programs on KPIs like increased sales by percentage growth, sales reps covering a new area would have an unfair advantage over those who have already built their territory over time. Think about these factors before setting criteria in stone. 

Make it clear, too, how the program works when it comes to new employees, remote workers, and part-time, casual, and contract staff members. Also, consider things like whether or not people can receive Employee of the Month status more than once per year, and if you’ll award the title for the same thing each time or mix it up with different skills and achievements rewarded each month. 

Something else to focus on is who chooses the winners. In a small business, the owner or CEO is usually the person to make this call, while in larger organizations you might select a panel (which could change from year to year) or even have employees confidentially nominate each other. Be careful with this latter choice, though, in that you don’t want awards to be given out based on popularity or peer pressure. 

Choose Appropriate Awards 

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Another big part of creating an Employee of the Month program is deciding what kind of physical award to give people. Purchase mementos to present on the days that look and feels high quality. Select a well-designed certificate, trophy, or glass, metal, or plaque awards that can be engraved with the recipient’s name. You want employees to feel proud of winning one of these awards, so choose something suitably special. 

Let Everyone Know about the Program

There’s no point running an Employee of the Month program if you’re not going to let everyone know about it. Make sure all staff members learn of the new program through company-wide emails or an intranet software tool. Also, publicize winners. This notification should be done internally, as well as on more public outlets like social media sites and newsletters. 

Setting up an Employee of the Month program is a big commitment, but one that’s well worth it in the long term, when done right. To ensure your system gets the results you need, take it seriously, and follow the tips above for your best chance of success. 

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