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All you need to know about Award Certificates

The award certificate represents the extra mile that an employee has gone for the organization and acknowledges the same. At the same time, it 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.

But, an 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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In the early 19th century, a leading sociologist conducted the Hawthorne Experiment, a famous 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.

They soon became the best tool 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

Generally, these certificates were given at the end of the year during the 1950s to 1980s or on special occasions.

The original certificates are made on thick hand-made paper with the employee’s name written.

At that time, the available printers could not print such certificates, and there was no 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 quickly 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 how these awards certificates are distributed.

From being given during certain special occasions, certificates were presented 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 game’s rules 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.

Certificate design and styles have also improved vastly. Templates can be easily created, generating innumerable certificates.

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

The Relevance of Award Certificates Today

Awards Event

The workload and stress levels of employees have increased over time.

Today’s average employee 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 the value of the reward, the award certificate still has a lot of social and emotional value for the employee.

For the employee, it becomes a status symbol in front of their colleagues, 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 corporate and entrepreneurship experience. In the past, Sagar has worked in leadership roles with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank. 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.