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All you need to know about Award Certificates

Be it a school or a large corporation, award certificates hold value for all. The aura associated with award certificates is irrespective of the age. The award certificate represents the extra mile that an employee has gone for the organization and the acknowledgement of the same by the organization. At the same time, is aspirational for other employees who feel motivated to work harder and perform better to get the same treatment. The award certificate makes the employee feel valued and special.

There are various ways in which organizations recognize their employees and these practices have evolved over time. But, award certificate is one form of recognition that has stood the test of time.

How did Award Certificates come into being?

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During the early 19th century, a leading sociologist of that era conducted a famous experiment known as the Hawthorne Experiment. The experiment was to find ways to boost the productivity of employees in factories. It found that if employees received more warmth and appreciation, productivity increased.

The Hawthorne experiment brought employee awards into existence. Award certificates came soon after in almost every business and industry. Award certificates soon became the best tools to appreciate employees and to make them feel more special. The award certificate may seem to be just a piece of paper but it holds immense emotive value for the recipient.

What are the Different Types of Award Certificates?

Types of Award Certificates

1. Handmade Certificates

Handmade Certificates

The award certificates have constantly changed over time. Generally, the certificates were given at the end of the year during the 1950s to 1980s. Or on special occasions such as Thanksgiving and New Year holiday season.

The original certificates we made on thick hand-made paper with the name of the employee written on it. At that time, the available printers could not print such certificates nor was there a requirement for a large number of award certificates.

Hence, these certificates were handmade with calligraphy and embroidery. Organizations would frame and present these certificates to employees. These certificates have become collectibles in today’s world.

2. Printed Certificates

Printed Certificates

The advent of printers revolutionized the award certificate business. After the 1980s the demand for printed certificates increased. Printing could be done very easily and at one-fourth of the cost of the handmade certificates.

The calligraphy and embroidery were replaced by the new fonts which were more attractive. The intensive manual labor of making a certificate by hand was done by machines that increased the output.

Also, there was a change in the way these awards certificates were distributed. From being given during certain special occasions, certificates were being given as and when required.

3. Digital Certificates

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This is the third and the most recent wave in the evolution of award certificates. After the 2000s, computer technologies grew dominant. Internet and information technology developed rapidly, creating new start-ups that changed the rules of the game and disrupted traditional practices.

Technology enables organizations to design and create award certificates and send them over email, consuming very few resources and requiring no or minimal manual effort.

The certificate design and styles have also improved vastly. It is easy to create templates, which could generate innumerable certificates.

3D or augmented or virtual (AR/VR) certificates are replacing traditional 2D certificates.

The Relevance of Award Certificates Today

Awards Event

The workload and stress levels of employees have increased over time. An average employee today feels overworked, under-compensated, and demotivated in most organizations.  Hence organizations must keep their employees happy. Hence, most organizations have created formal recognition policies with monetary or other benefits.

No matter what the value of the reward is, the award certificate still holds a lot of social and emotional value for the employee. For the employee, it becomes a status symbol in front of their colleagues, whether it is physically or digitally.


The awards certificate is not just a piece of paper or an attachment in an email for the employees. It is a critical part of the employee rewards and recognition program in every organization.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.