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How to Design an Employee-Of-The-Month Program That Works

 

Running a business takes hard work, time, commitment, and financial resources. Most entrepreneurs have to handle all sorts of tasks across various areas, including marketing, sales, administration, design, finance, and human resources.

Long-term, though, you’ll really only be able to achieve all your big dreams and goals by surrounding yourself with the right people and getting assistance from others. To build your business, you’re going to have to hire talented employees and find ways to keep them engaged, happy, and productive.

One way to do this is through an employee-of-the-month program that recognizes team members and shows them how valued they are. Here are tips for designing an effective offering.

Know Your Goals

Before you begin designing your Employee-of-the-Month program, stop and work out exactly what it is you want to achieve. By understanding your goals upfront (and making sure anyone working on the program knows them, too), you’ll better see how to proceed at each step along the way.

For most businesses, the idea of this program is to boost employee morale. However, you may have other agendas, too. For example, do you want to create some healthy competition between teams or departments, or otherwise increase productivity?

Perhaps you’re looking to see a rise in sales via incentive programs that you use as the basis for selecting program recipients, or you might be keen to spend less money on team-building activities that don’t seem to be producing results. There’s no right or wrong here, but it is crucial to know your focus area(s) so you can design the Employee-of-the-Month program to suit your needs.

Create Structure

Programs that work well always have plenty of structure, too. It’s helpful to set guidelines for how the program will run, with clear rules and other parameters. Everyone in the business needs to understand how the recipient of each month’s award is chosen. These criteria should be consistent, so people don’t feel like anyone is playing favorites.

Be specific with the details of the program. For example, steer clear of subjective guidelines such as “best team player” or “most helpful colleague” that could be decided in multiple ways. Instead, put in place easy-to-understand parameters that aren’t likely to be disputed, whether you have the same criteria every month or mix it up throughout the year.

Be careful about making programs peer-voted, too, as sometimes these can turn into popularity contests and make employees feel worse. It’s also critical to set guidelines that work for everyone equally. Don’t favor certain people or groups over others. For example, ensure new employees, remote staff members, and those who don’t work full time have a chance to be awarded the winner of a month’s award as much as anyone else.

Choose Quality Awards and Rewards

You don’t want to go to all the effort of creating an Employee-of-the-Month program only to let yourself down with awards and rewards that don’t live up to employee expectations. Think carefully about what you will hand out to chosen workers who receive the commendation. Avoid cheap and nasty trophies, plaques, or certificates that look badly-designed and make people feel like you don’t care much after all.

Always opt for quality gifts such as engraved pens, sophisticated glass awards, or a nice-looking plaque that gets hung up on the office wall. Alternatively, reward people with hampers, nice bottles of wine, accommodation or restaurant vouchers, gift cards, and so on. Another option is to go down the fun route, where you create an award that people can laugh about, such as one shaped like a shoe for a footwear company or shaped like a football for a sporting-related business.

Be as creative as you like but no matter what you opt for, choose something that people will feel proud of winning. Consider, too, choosing personalized gifts for each recipient of the award that you think they’ll like. When you show you understand a person’s likes, hobbies, family life, etc., this shows you’re paying attention and value employees as individuals.  

Once you have your program all designed and set up, be sure to communicate widely about it, so all your staff members know it exists and how it works. Then, refine the system over time as you get feedback to ensure it only gets better and more effective as the months go by.

Many owners and managers have had great results from these programs over the years. Now might be the perfect time to incorporate it into your company, too.

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