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Complete Guide to ‘Employee of the Month’ Recognition Program

The Employee of the Month is a popular employee reward in most organizations. The ’Employee of the Month’ award is generally for an employee who outperforms his or her peers in a particular month, measured against the KRAs for the specific role. So, let’s take a detailed look at how this award works:

What is ‘Employee of the Month’?

Integrate Reward and Recognition with Innovation Efforts

The ‘Employee of the Month’ is a recognition for an outstanding performer in a team, department, function, or the entire organization in a particular month.

The award may be in the form of a gift, voucher, certificate, or even cash. 

Additionally, organizations may have a wall of fame, and the picture and name of the ‘Employee of the Month’ are posted there.

What are the Benefits of an ‘Employee of the Month‘ Program?

What are the Benefits of an 'Employee of the Month' program?

1. Drives Healthy Competition


Award for the best performance should motivate others employees to strive harder to attain their set goals, creating additional business impact for the organization.

In sales, an employee with the highest sales figures and most satisfied customers will have a good chance of getting the award.

Similarly, in customer service, an employee with the best customer ratings is likely to win the ‘Employee of the Month‘ award.

2. Helps in Employee Retention

Why switch from In-house Employee Recognition Platforms?

‘Employee of the Month’ awards can help retain employees, as they are a significant accomplishment that can boost the employee’s motivation and commitment. 

The ‘Employee of the Month‘ and other forms of employee recognition can help in employee retention.

When hard work is appreciated, employees feel happy and satisfied; hence, they are less likely to leave the organization.

3. Boosts Employee Engagement


The ‘Employee of the Month‘ Program increases employee engagement as the employee feels more motivated to work towards a reward and recognition for their efforts.

An engaged employee sees the organization’s goals and visions as his or her own and makes a greater effort to improve the organization’s reputation and interests.

He or she is fully absorbed and enthusiastic about his or her work, which enhances the sense of belonging to the organization.

4. Leads to Higher Productivity

Performance and Productivity of Work from Home Employees

A perfectly set-up reward and recognition system with an ‘Employee of the Month’ Program is one of the best ways to appreciate and acknowledge employees doing well.

So, employees feel motivated to put in their best efforts and attain or overachieve their monthly goals.

Hence, this leads to higher productivity and excellent business impact for the organization.

What are the Challenges of an ‘Employee of the Month‘ Program?

Though an Employee of the Month Program can have significant benefits, it can also have a negative side if it is not executed well. 

Here are a few of the possible pitfalls that organizations must avoid:

Challenges of an 'Employee of the Month' Program

1. Can lead to Unhealthy Competition and Discord


While a program such as ‘Employee of the Month’ might push employees to work harder to achieve their goals, it might also lead to all-out competition between team members. 

Given the focus on individual performance, teamwork, and collaboration might take a backseat. This can impact productivity and the business results of the organization in the long run.

These challenges can be addressed by having a more balanced framework for evaluating the ‘Employee of the Month’ that includes teamwork and peer feedback as additional parameters. 

Also, including team awards in the overall employee rewards and recognition framework could help balance individual and team performance.

2. Too much Focus on ‘Results’


The ‘Employee of the Month’ program can help employees perform better on their key business goals.

However, it can degenerate into just a race for numbers. Employees might focus too much on achieving the results, ignoring the ‘means to the end’. 

They might resort to shortcuts or questionable methods that help them get closer to the award.

Such behavior can lead to a loss of business reputation for the organization in the long run.

Factory Worker

Given the pressure of achieving short-term results, employees might move their focus away from long-term projects and even innovation, which can be detrimental to the business in the long term.

This can be addressed through a balanced approach to the evaluation process that includes additional parameters such as innovation, creativity, and integrity in addition to the performance against the KRAs.

Instituting other categories of awards focusing on innovation and integrity in the overall employee rewards and recognition program might also be a good idea.

3. Allegations of Favoritism

Impact of Fun @ Work Activities on Employee Engagement

Lack of transparency in the evaluation process can lead to allegations of favoritism and distrust among the workforce.

This can lead to negative sentiment and a poor work environment in the organization. Instead of motivating and inspiring employees, it might just lead to disengagement and loss of motivation.

balanced and transparent evaluation system for the award is the best way to avoid such trust issues.

balanced scorecard approach and evaluation panel or jury might also help make the system more fair and unbiased.

How to Set up an Effective ‘Employee of the Month’ Program?

Effective ‘Employee of the Month’ Program?

1. Define Program Objectives

Building a Culture of Appreciation through Employee Recognition

Employee of the Month’ awards can help employee retention, engagement, and productivity.

The organization should keep one or more of these objectives in mind while designing the ‘Employee of the Month’ program and other awards.

The program should be aligned with the business goals as well.

2. Design the Evaluation Process

Key Aspects of Designing Rewards & Recognition Policy

One of the most critical design parameters of the program is the evaluation criteria for the award.

The criteria could be based on target achievement, innovation, integrity, teamwork, and overall corporate values demonstrated with different weights for each parameter, based on their relative importance.

A small group of senior managers could be responsible for the evaluation process. They would rate each nominated candidate on various parameters.

Whoever gets the highest aggregate ratings should be declared the award winner.

3. Implement the System

Determine What Systems Are Required

digital employee recognition platform can help organizations implement a well-designed ‘Employee of the Month‘ program to perfection.

The platform can accept nominations from various managers, run the evaluation process, and release the awards to the winners. 

The awards can include e-certificates and reward points, redeemable for gift cards or merchandise.

4. Drive Participation

Learning and Development can Promote Employee Engagement

The organization should create a buzz around the program to generate interest and drive employee participation.

Ideally, the ‘Employee of the Month’ awards should be presented in a large gathering of employees such as a team meeting or town hall, either physically or virtually.

Integration of the employee rewards and recognition platform with other internal platforms, such as MS Teams, Slack, or Intranet, or even social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, can create the necessary social visibility of the program.

5. Get Feedback and Fine-Tune

Everything you need to know about Employee Pulse Surveys

Once the program is rolled out, the organization should seek feedback on its effectiveness and suggestions for improvement from employees and managers.

Such feedback can be solicited through short surveys or focus group discussions.

Hence, it can help the organization make the necessary program changes and make it more effective.

What are the Best Practices for an ‘Employee of the Month’ Program?

Employee of the Month Award Best Practices

1. Verbal Appreciation

Should Rewards and Recognition be only for Entry-Level Employees?

Thanking the award winner in person goes a long way.

Thank the employee in front of the whole team; introduce him or her as a high performer to clients or the organization’s senior leaders.

Make efforts to highlight the excellent work done by the employee during important presentations and meetings.

2. Certificates or Thank You Cards

Thank You

Give certificates or thank you cards to the award winners.

These could be digital certificates, cards, or physical ones signed by the manager or a senior leader in the organization.

3. Physical or Digital Gift Cards

Gift Cards

Gift cards from online or retail stores work very well as rewards.

So, such gift cards give the employees the freedom to select a product or service of their choice. Spa, salon, or dining vouchers are good ideas.

4. Experiences as Rewards


free movie ticket or a free pass for a musical or sports event can be good ways to reward the award winners.

An activity like this also promotes a good work-life balance, as he or she can spend quality time with family sponsored by the organization.

5. Time–off or Paid Leave


Give a half-day off or even a full-day off to the award winners, which they could spend with families or indulge in leisure activities.

This can be combined with other rewards like gift cards or experiences. Hence, it can help high-performing employees achieve a better work-life balance.

6. Special Projects or Assignments


Employees who win the award can be considered for a short-term cross-functional project or special project reporting directly to a senior leader.

Being part of such a project can significantly enhance their outlook and increase their exposure to different aspects of the organization.

Such projects can also allow them to connect with other teams and senior leaders in the organization and significantly enhance their skills and opportunities for career growth.

7. Training Programs

Learning and Development can Promote Employee Engagement

Nominating the employee of the month for a relevant training program, either in-house or external that the employee might not have been otherwise eligible for is also a good way of rewarding employees who have won the award.

Such programs can help these employees learn new skills that could enhance their work performance and boost their career growth.

Hence, high-performing employees are likely to value such opportunities.

8. Wall of Fame


Also, organizations can display the profile pictures of the best performers on a physical bulletin board or a digital wall in their employee recognition platform or intranet, along with their accomplishments.

On a digital wall of fame, other employees can congratulate the winners.

This social acknowledgment can further boost their motivation.

9. Social Sharing


Additional social visibility can be created by announcing the awards on internal social platforms such as Slack, Teams, or Yammer, or public social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Such announcements can be made through an integration with online employee recognition platforms.

These public announcements can significantly multiply the award’s impact on employee motivation.

10. Award Ceremony

Awards Event

A good practice for the ‘Employee of the Month’ program would be to announce it in a team meeting, an all-hands-on-deck meeting, or an employee town hall

Such events can be organized either virtually or physically. 

The presence of a senior member of the leadership team during the event can significantly enhance the happiness of those receiving the awards. 

Check the Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Employee Awards

Read about the 8 Creative Ideas for Startups to Recognize Employees

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.