Do you want to boost workplace productivity by picking an employee of the month? If YES, here are 20 ideas to help you set up an employee of the month program.

Employees are the backbone of any workplace. Without your staff, your business can as well close down because you cannot do it all on your own. For this reason, it behooves on you as the business owner to make sure that your employees are properly rewarded when they reach a milestone. One way to do this is to set up an employee of the month program.

Why Start an Employee of the Month Program?

Setting up an employee of the month program comes with a lot of benefits both for your workers and especially for your business. These benefits include;

  • Enhances employee engagement: One of the ways setting up an employee of the month program can benefit your business is that it encourages further engagement of staff in their various jobs. When one gets some praise or pat on the back, he/she automatically tries to give the same level of performance and even improves their efforts further.
  • It reflects better on the balance sheet: Some people do not know it, but the mere act of identifying a winner encourages him or her to do more, and this automatically impacts your balance sheet. It can lead to better overall results.
  • Increases loyalty among your staff: Reward for some reasons forge loyalty and this is what you will be missing out on if you do not set up an employee recognition program in your workplace. This is something that can help to retain important and skilled employees in the long run because they know that their efforts would never go unnoticed and unrewarded.
  • Staff would be eager to support one another: The more your employees feel encouraged and valued, the more will they be supportive to your cause, hence building a supportive and active work environment.
  • Encourages a sense of belonging in your employees: When an employee hears a word of recognition or receives an award for his/her services, he/she begins to feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. This further improves performance and infuses a sense of positivity in the environment.

20 ideas to Help You Set Up an Employee of the Month Program

So far, we have seen that having an employee reward program is great for your business even though it may have to cost your company something. If you have decided that you want to incorporate an employee of the month program in your workplace, we are providing you 20 guidelines that can help you set up and maintain your program without raising unnecessary acrimony in your employees.

  1. Keep a few goals in mind

Before you start going through the rigors of setting up an employee of the program, you have to know what you intend to achieve with the program. These are called your goals. One goal might be to increase sales via an incentive program or to create healthy competition within departments. You may also wish to increase sales or productivity and decrease spending in your business.

Laying out objectives for the initiative will help map out the parameters for the reward program more clearly. When you have sorted out these goals, you have to go over it with your management team to see if they are on the same page with you. If they have further goals in mind, you can incorporate this. Note that listing out goals for your employee reward program would enable you know what programs you need to set up.

  1. Set Out the Rules and Parameters

Once you’ve got the aims and objectives clearly mapped out, it’s now time to set out the rules and parameters of the program. For example, do part-time employees have the same rights to the award as full-time workers? Can new employees be eligible for the award immediately, or do they need to have been working for the business for a specified period?

Is it possible for the same worker to be awarded Employee of the Month more than once? Can the managers and other team member involved in the selection process win the title themselves? These and more are some of the modalities you have to put in place to ensure that you have a hitch free employee of the month program. Setting up the rules from day one will ensure everyone knows where they stand when working towards this goal.

  1. Establish a Budget

Having set out the goals you intend to achieve with the program and the modalities on how to carry these goals out, next thing you need to have in mind is your budget. To do this, you need to keep in mind the financial status of your business.

To ensure that you do not overshoot your budget, you need to reserve a practical amount for awards or rewards. For this, talk to the finance or accounts department and figure out the amount that you can afford to spend on such a program every month or year. It is important to know that such programs can run on either no cost or little costs as well.

You might equally need to keep aside some money for cash rewards, coupons, gift cards and other rewards too. Make sure you do not overstep the budget just in order to strengthen your program as this can eventually lead to a loss rather than major profits.

  1. Decide the Most Appropriate Rewards

Workplaces differ, and award that would suit this workplace may not be so good for you because your individual peculiarities. Cash prizes are often the most desirable but an employee reward program does not have to be confined to monetary compensation.

Other lucrative incentives might include free company parking for a month, a day off, a spa day or a trophy with the employee’s name engraved on it. To get the best results, you may have to switch the awards every month, and keep your employees guessing. This can be a good way to create interest and build up excitement around the program.

  1. Decide Your Employee Selection Method

One thing that gets business owners confused when it comes to an employee of the month selection is on what criteria the wining employees would be selected. Will it be based on the number of sales the employees make, or perhaps the title will go to the team member who has shown great customer service skills, innovation, creativity or commendable team spirit?

You may want to introduce an employee recognition nomination form. Employees could select which fellow team mates they think are worthy of the award each month and fill out an employee recognition nomination form that identifies which employee they believe should be recognized for their achievements and why.

You can appoint a team to go through the nomination form to see which employee is the most popular choice. You may decide to keep the team or switch them up every month. Generic employee recognition nomination forms can be downloaded. However, you may want to customize the forms so they are tailored to the individual aims and terms of your Employee of the Month program.

  1. Inform Employees About the Program

Employees should be kept in the loop about the program so they can work towards being awarded Employee of the Month. Whether it’s having a team meeting about the program, writing a blog about it on the company website or announcing it in the staff newsletter, be sure to inform staff members about what the program involves, what its aims are and how they can go about winning the recognition.

To motivate employees and allay any concerns about favoritism, communicate all aspects of the award program early and often to your team. Release your first draft of the program and ask for employee feedback. Communicate the final program to every worker, stating the goals and parameters for winning.

When you announce a winner, give the specific reasons for winning so co-workers know it was earned and deserved. Carefully monitor the winners of your Employee-of-the Month program to make sure they don’t appear discriminatory.

  1. Make sure the program is fair

One thing that can make a mess of an employee of the month program is if it appears to be discriminatory. You have to keep the program fair to all concerned. Focus on what employees need to do to earn their reward and create a fair program that allows all employees to equally vie for the reward. Set the bar for an employee reward high, but not too high. To determine how you will choose the winner each month, you need to;

  • Establish a performance measurement with team input
  • Create mutual agreement as to how performance is to be measured
  • Determine what constitutes a reasonable target that balances the requirement for improved performance with a fair chance of attainment
  • Make rules and measures that are understandable, easily produced and verified
  • Maintain a degree of flexibility should circumstances arise that warrant a change

Go beyond simple criteria such as positive attitude” or “team spirit” and establish specifics. If your goal is to build teamwork, consider factors such as inter-departmental contributions or an employee voting process. If your goal is to boost productivity, set performance levels, such as an increase in output or sales. If the goal is customer service, issue customer service cards or create website comment links to generate feedback.

  1. Publicize the Winner

Making a big deal of the incentive program by announcing which employee has won the award each month will help generate interest around the honor and ultimately make it more effective. For example, the Employee of the Month could be announced on the company blog, in the staff newsletter or on the business’s social media channels, or you can even use all the channels.

Raising the profile of the award will help make it more effective. After all, an Employee of the Month award program is designed to recognize and publicize the achievements of diligent and hardworking staff members, so such programs and their winners should ideally be heavily promoted.

  1. Award Meaningful Prizes

When it comes to rewarding the most diligent worker every month, there are prizes that are just not suitable. Consider workplace and public recognition, as well as a personal non-cash reward before you make you make your decision. Offer a recognition plaque or engraved cup for the winner’s home or office.

You can also include a day off, reserved parking space for one month or a desk accessory, framed motivational artwork or gift card. Send news releases to the local media, including the employee’s hometown newspaper. Include the specifics about why the employee won the award and background on their role and tenure at the company.

  1. Assess Your Program Periodically

Circumstances and people change in the workplace, so for this reason you have to review your employee of the month program from time to time. Employee-of-the-Month programs fail when there are obvious flaws, and you have to be on a constant look-out for these flaws in order to fix them. Keep in mind that a bad or meaningless program is worse than no program.

  1. Have a trophy

In professional sports, the grand champion trophies travel from one year’s winner to the next. For this reason, you may have to create a trophy of sorts (an actual trophy, or something more humorous) that is recognized as a symbol of staff appreciation, and pass it around the workplace to staff members who have accomplished something good. Again, a trophy may usually be easier on your budget as you can pass it around.

  1. Go very public with your appreciation

Show you appreciate your staff by extending it beyond in-house recognition. Let your customers know through signage or on social media. Take a photo, talk about how much you appreciate what your staff did, and how they earned this award. Going public with the announcement would tell the staff that they are most valued in the company.

  1. Track Your Staff progress

To enable you to be fair with your employee of the month award, you have to find a way to track the progress of your employees. Think of how nonprofits use a thermometer or some other visual device to show the gradual increase of donations as they get closer to a goal. Whether you use an actual visual approach, or keep everyone updated in regular meetings, you can do the same.

This on its own would build a bit of competition in your workplace. A little friendly competition is good, and as your staff keeps climbing towards a particular goal, you can not only congratulate their hard work, but spur them on for a reward.

  1. Give employees real choice and real voice

Appreciation isn’t just a game and reward system, it should be built into your culture. One way to do that is to give your employees real choices and actual voices.

Does your staff get to choose the projects they work on, or are they always assigned tasks? Do you listen to their ideas or concerns and actually take action on them, or do you listen but forget about or dismiss what you’ve heard and continue on with business as usual?

  1. Don’t knock the wall of fame

Another thing that can help you set up a proper employee of the month program is to put up a wall of fame. A wall of staff photos might seem a bit old school, but it was popular for a reason. Even if it’s only where your staff can see it (i.e. the break room), it’s a good way for staff to get to know names and faces. It would also make winners proud to see thier faces up there.

  1. Give rewards that can enrich employee careers

Yet another idea that you need to consider when setting up an employee of the month program is to base your reward on improving the careers of your employees. A career based reward is great for your employees and will benefit your business as well.

You can send employees to leadership training or let them choose an online class they would like to take. Even if it’s not directly related to their current job, you can show your employees that you are interested in them and their career.

  1. Recognize non-work achievements

Employers sometimes make the mistake of basing employee achievement on their jobs or careers alone. You have people on your staff who are doing incredible things. They are creating, volunteering, and doing all kinds of activities on their own time. You can choose not to neglect these loft achievements by recognizing them in front of the group. Do the bragging for your staff, and show your whole team how amazing they all are.

  1. Mix it Up

Yet another tip that can make your employee of the month selection fun and fair is to regularly mix things up. Depending on the goals of the company, you can very well rotate the different dimensions each month and focus on one in particular.

For example, one month could be all about Personal Performance and the winner would be selected by picking the person with the highest score in that dimension. On month two you could shift the focus to Credibility, Identity or any of the other dimensions.

  1. Keep taxes in mind

Every employer knows that the tax law can get complicated when it comes to how you reward your staff, and what might be considered a taxable benefit. Talk to your accountant and do some asking around to find a way to provide worthwhile benefits that don’t decimate employee paychecks. Regular catered meals and some other seemingly innocuous rewards can, indeed, be taxable, so you have to keep these in mind so as not to increase your tax bills.

  1. Build a Committee

Employees may cry “foul” if only one person is involved in the selection of the Employee of The Month. For this reason, you have to establish a committee to review all candidates and make the selection. In doing so, you can reduce potential perceptions of favoritism.

Guideline for Choosing an Employee of the Month for your Business

Having known how to set up the perfect employee of the month program for your business, you now have to start thinking of the best method to use in choosing your employee of the month. The selection can be done with two main aspects – quality of work and attitude towards work. Other factors that can help you in deciding the best employee of the month can include job performance, quality, attendance, etc.

The main aspect in identifying an employee of the month is the criterion that is followed to pick out the best employee of the month. This is so as to reduce bias to the barest minimum. These are some guidelines that can help you pick an employee of the month in your business;

  1. Years of service: The key eligibility criteria that most businesses use to select an employee of the month is that the employee must have worked for two or more years with the business and the employee must not be on probationary period at the time of nomination.
  2. Capability: Another way employees are analysed for the employee of the month award is the capability of the said worker. The employee must be a capable person to business. He or she must be trusted and must also be reliable.
  3. Quality of work: One of the most important ways employee of the month emerge is from the quality of work of the said employee. High quality work must be delivered any employee that is picked out for the reward.
  4. Team worker: To qualify for employee of the month, most employers make sure they pick out a person that is a good team worker. Rewarding a person that is always cantankerous is tantamount to sending a bad signal to the rest of the workers.
  5. Leadership qualities: Leadership qualities are other good aspects that may need to be present with in employee, but note that this should not be used as a major criteria.

Process of Selecting Employee of the Month

The following process should be followed when trying to pick an employee of the month for your business;

  • Upload the employee nomination form: the first thing to when you want to pick out an employee of the month for your business is to create and upload an employee nomination form on the company website. You as the business owner can do it, or instruct the HR department to handle it.
  • Submission deadline: When the form is uploaded, employees are advise to either download and fill the forms or to fill them online. You should also affix a deadline for submission, if not people would keep submitting their forms till the end of the year. The completed form for the reward is then submitted to the personal assistant in the human resource management.
  • Form a committee: A committee is needed to look at the forms and pick out the best person that would be the employee of the month. The human resources director is responsible for constituting an employee of the month committee.

If you already have some former employees of the month, they can also sit in the committee. The employee of the month committee meets and reviews all the nomination forms and narrows down to pick an employee for the month. The same committee can equally work to pick out winners of subsequent months.

  • Announcement: when the committee finishes their deliberation, they give the name of the winner to the administrative head or the CEO, whichever way they are comfortable with, and this person now gets to announce the result. This announcement can be made on a special day of the company, or any date they choose, but this date needs to be kept to in order to give employees something to look forward to.
  • Presentation of award: When the announcement is made, the award which has been previously deliberated on, is now presented to the employee. He or she can be given in addition a pin of recognition. His or her picture can now be posted on the company website as the employee of the month, or a plaque or picture can be erected in the office to show off the award.

Ejike Cynthia

Head of Research / Chief Editor at Profitable Venture Magazine Ltd
Cynthia is a writer and editor with a quirky sense of humor. She has a background in journalism with years of experience in freelance writing, copy editing and business research. Cynthia has a B.sc in Mass Communication and a higher degree in Personnel Mgt.
Ejike Cynthia