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How to Create an Employee of the Month Scheme for the 21st Century


employee of the month in the bike shop

Employee of the month schemes are one of the oldest forms of recognition in the workplace.

But many organisations that use them are living in the past with their ancient approach.

Recognition schemes are more common now, but many businesses still rely on cash alone.

Not only does that not prioritise employee recognition, it’s too expensive. More expensive than using non-cash rewards and recognition.

Here are five ways to take your employee of the month scheme into the 21st Century:

1. Give your employees a say

Employees feel valued when you make their voice valuable.

Rather than dictating the terms, and rewards, for an employee of the month scheme, ask.

Consult staff on what they want to see recognised and what’s important in their workplace.

It builds the sensation of buy-in for the scheme among staff. The result will be more interest and participation from your employees.

We wrote more about the value of giving employees a voice in employee recognition here.

2. Be specific

Effective employee of the month schemes blend achievements, teamwork, performance.

The best ones also incorporate innovation and values, too. With such a large mix of ideas, the thinking behind individual employee awards gets lost.

It’s an age old problem with employee of the month schemes – being unclear about how to actually win.

If you don’t base your scheme on clear ideals, you send mixed messages to employees.

Give your reward scheme an identity. A creative title and a theme, something clear and bold. Employees will identify with that.

Then be clear about who’s winning, and why. Explain the winner’s achievements, and hold that up against your company’s values.

Publish your decision making process, and publish what you want to see from employees. Then be transparent, and accountable for your own words and actions.

3. Get social

The success of your employee of the month scheme hinges on communication.

Sending out certificates on its own is a stone-age approach, you need to do more.

Recognition and praise are powerful motivators – use all the channels you have to share them. Shout it from the rooftops if you have to.

But definitely use your media channels. Your blog, your internal publications, your social media channels, your website. And back that up with face-to-face personal thanks.

This combined approach makes the scheme easier to get invested in. Fawning public recognition also increases employee motivation to win the award next month.

4. Real time recognition

Recognition is most effective when it’s timely, and 30 days is too long to wait to receive it.

While the employee of the month scheme is an effective monthly event, it’s not enough on its own.

Make sure you encourage staff and management to recognise excellence as it happens.

You could tweak your company culture, or use a formal employee recognition platform.

But make sure employees here the value of their work soon after their achievements.

The instant hit creates its own kind of motivation. Motivation that you capitalise on later with monthly awards.

5. Offer a worthy reward

Like we said earlier, you need to do a bit better than a certificate these days, but cash isn’t the answer.

We talked all about that at length here.

For a diverse set of employees, you’ll need a diverse set of rewards to keep everyone’s interest high.

You can’t give everyone the same thing and expect them to keep getting excited. Not when you’re giving out twelve awards a year.

That’s where multi-retailer rewards are ideal. Rewards like gift cards, reward codes, even vouchers – they’re always exciting.

They give your staff thousands of rewards to choose from with just one reward. They’re easy to buy, easy to store, and easy to issue.

Something simple, but always thrilling, is perfect for employee of the month schemes. They increase motivation, and drive excitement.

And they get people involved in your monthly recognition scheme.

Demo our simple & effective employee recognition platform

Shout BrochureImprove morale and engagement with a simple employee recognition platform.

Shout! gives your employees a public digital venue to celebrate their colleagues’ achievements.

In turn that affects their loyalty, motivation, productivity and employee engagement.

Managers can also easily use the platform to set up their own employee of the month awards, and more.

Read more about how our social recognition platform improves the culture and success of your workplace.