‍Employee of the Month sounds like a great way to motivate your employees to work their hardest, right? Well, this might not actually be the case...

For Employee of the Month programs to work, you need to ensure that you have other employee recognition strategies in play. They cannot work in isolation. Here is everything you need to know about why your Employee of the Month program might not be as effective as you thought.

What Is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is the acknowledgment of an employee's hard work or performance. For companies, employee recognition is useful to boost employee performance and motivate them to reach company goals. It aims to uphold particular behaviors, actions, and activities representing its core values and better performance.

Employee recognition is crucial as it allows you to earn the respect of your co-workers. It also boosts employee morale, makes employees happier, improves employee retention, and cultivates a self-improvement culture. This leads to a more productive work environment seeing as happy employees are 12% more productive.

All-in-all, employee recognition is about promoting and rewarding good behavior and self-improvement. It encourages employees to work harder, smarter, and the company's main goals.

There are many ways to show employee recognition. The most popular among many big and small companies is Employee of the Month, where one team member is rewarded for their effort each month.

The employee of the Month is so popular because it is one of the simplest ways to show employee recognition. Often, the employee has given some reward in the form of a bonus or something else with value.

The Employee of the Month program has been around for many years. So, even though it might not be as effective as we once thought, companies often don’t want to stray away from what they know. If it has proven to work in the past, it should work now, right?

Although Employee of the Month is popular, it has come under criticism in recent years for being outdated and often just a "popularity contest." This makes it fall flat and fail to achieve better performance.

Effective rewards and recognition programs can ignite purpose and potential in your team. With Empuls, you can start an RnR program that’s candid, social, frictionless & fun. Explore Empuls for rewarding your employee.

6 Reasons Why Employee Of The Month Fails

Employee of the Month Recognition

Is an employee of the month a good idea? Yes or No? If your Employee of the Month program is falling a little flat, here are the six main reasons why this might be happening.

Bad Selection Criteria

One of the reasons Employee of the Month falls flat is because there isn't a clear-cut criterion for why the employee is being recognized. Sometimes, the requirements aren’t measurable. This system could become problematic as you then have an employee who doesn’t know why they are getting the recognition.

Focus Is On Recognition

When an Employee of the Month award is put on the table, workers will often focus on achieving that instead of improving their performance and job role. This is especially true if the prize is a bonus or something that is of value.

It’s much more effective to have employees focus on business goals so that the group focus is on a shared purpose and is not blurred by a fixation on a gift. After all, McKinsey found that praise and commendation from managers was actually the top motivator for employees. Not financial rewards or noncash incentives.

A Team Cannot Be An Employee Of The Month.

An employee of the Month program tends to focus only on one person’s achievements. This means that they often overlook others who may have also worked very hard that month. In many companies, it is not a single person who achieves the goals, but rather a group of individuals. Unhealthy competition can fester if a group of employees all work on the same project, but only one of them is singled out and rewarded for it. As such, workers will feel demotivated and left-out, which could harbor resentment for the company and their peers.

Encourages Competition

Some competition is healthy in the workplace. But most companies agree that having employees collaborate and cooperate is better for overall morale. Even if your Employee of the Month program has a known set of criteria, competition is inherently bred.

Many other members might feel demotivated, especially if they are not picked as the month's top employees. This demotivation means that your employees may not perform better as they see no direct reward in it. As Aubrey C. Daniels (CEO of Aubrey Daniels & Associates) puts it, “The real problem with EOM is that one person's success creates another person's failure, and if the award is truly desirable, it creates destructive internal competition.”

Managers Think Recognition Is Done With Reward

Recognition is more than just handing out an Employee of the Month award 12 times a year. Day-to-day recognition and appreciation are much better and stick with the employee. Often, employers who adhere to strict reward programs like Employee of the Month think that is enough, and they do not need to do anymore. More often than not, this is not effective and does not motivate employees or enhance their productivity.

There Are Only Twelve Months In A Year

Having only twelve months in the year means that only twelve people can realistically win the Employee of the Month award each year. If you have a company of 50 people, this could become problematic. Many employees will feel overlooked, especially if they work hard and help the company succeed daily.

The Best Employee Recognition Alternative To Employee Of The Month

Best Employee Recognition Alternative To Employee Of The Month

Let's have some alternatives to the employee of the month recognition ideas.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer-to-Peer recognition is when your co-workers give feedback and recognize your achievements. This program works daily so that recognition is not infrequent, like an Employee of the Month award. Peers are more likely to know what is going on in the office, so the reward feels less political and does not breed unhealthy competition. Research has shown that peer-to-peer recognition programs are 35.7% more likely to positively impact than only having manager-recognitions.

With this program, peers can show recognition to those who have helped them with their work, achieved a job goal, or have performed well. This type of award fosters encouragement amongst peers and shows them that their hard work is recognized.

Multiple Awards For Employees

Instead of just having one Employee of the Month, why not dole out awards for different categories or criteria. For example, SnackNation recognizes its employees by giving out a Value Victor award to the most hardworking employees of that month. The award comes with preferred parking, a trophy, and a bag of snacks. They outline that the Value Victors display and exemplify a few core values of the company.

Each company will have its criteria, but it's good to note that there is more than one Value, Victor, meaning that multiple employees can earn the award and receive recognition for that month. Another example could be a problem-solver award. Some employees work well under pressure, and others do not. It’s good to recognize these employees for the hard work to solve problems and find solutions. The Problem Solver Award recognizes those employees who can make a success out of chaos.

Collaboration Of The Month

A Collaboration of the Month award is suitable for a team working on a project together. Instead of singling out one person to get rewarded, the whole team receives recognition. This type of award fosters an environment of collaboration and cooperation amongst the employees, encouraging them to work together as a team and driving workplace performance.

Going The Extra Mile (GEM) Program

Started by Staten Island University Hospital, the Go the Extra Mile Program rewards hospital employees for quickly moving hospital patients around or doing anything that helps the hospital improve efficiency. It works because employees nominate each other for doing anything that improves the department's work. Then, the leader or employer tallies these nominations to find the winner. This program puts the employees in the frontline of deciding who gets the award, providing a more democratic way of doing things.

Throw A "Recognition Day" With Rewards

What boosts morale better than having a recognition or appreciation day? Employers plan a day where they have a barbecue or some type of party to hand out awards for different actions.

According to Gallup's study, almost 2 of 3 people received no recognition for their work last year, and 99 out of 100 say that they would like a more positive work environment. So, having a recognition day will not only boost team morale but show your employees that they are appreciated and valuable to the company.

Recognition Through Recognizing Passions

The ad agency Omelet started a program called 60/60. It gives employees two hours a week to work on a project about which they are passionate. This program is about valuing your employees' passions and showing that you respect them as unique individuals.

Final Thoughts

Although a step in the right direction for employee recognition, Employee of the Month is a bit outdated, it doesn’t truly show your employees that you appreciate them. So, for this type of program to work, it needs to be a stepping stone in a well-rounded employee recognition strategy.

Try out some of our alternative employee recognition ideas to make sure that all your employees feel appreciated for their hard work. Empuls can also make recognition much easier. With just a few clicks, you can easily recognize and motivate your employees. This is bound to improve morale and have a positive impact on your business.

Build a culture of employee appreciation with Empuls. Automate rewards and incentives delivery by connecting your applications with RaaS APIs. Want to know more? Book a demo or start a free trial.