Pros and Cons of the Employee of the Month

Are employee of the month programs still relevant? Or are they dead?’

The Pros

  • Easy to implement They’re really simple, right? We don’t need to worry too much about having a complicated recognition program, we just need to make sure that every month, we have somebody nominated for employee of the month.
  • Offers social proof They also provide social proof. If our peers vote for the employee of the month, it makes people feel good. They think, ‘my peers think I’m good at my job’.
  • Provides public recognition For people who enjoy public recognition, employee of the month can be really motivating. And for workplaces that attract extroverts, such as retail environments, many people enjoy public recognition.
  • Highlights best practice They’re a chance to spotlight great work and that could lead to other employees picking up new behaviours. It’s not just saying, ‘this person has excelled’, but also ‘these are the reasons why they’ve been recognised’. It makes people think, ‘are there ways that I could also do that?’
  • Demonstrates company values These programs also demonstrate what the company values and rewards. You’re doing this monthly, and you’re doing it really publicly. So the company’s expectations of its employees become clear quite quickly.

‘These programs also demonstrate what the company values and rewards’

The Cons

  • Can create disagreement One issue is that not everyone’s going to agree with the choice of employee. Let’s say that Isaac gets rewarded, but Tori says, ‘hang on, I’ve been struggling to even get him to answer an email from me’. That can be really demotivating for some people.
  • Highlights perceived favouritism For example, if I think that Tori is favoured by management, and then she keeps receiving employee for the month, it reinforces my sense that the workplace is unfair.
  • Can create round-robins In small companies, you might find yourself regularly rotating through all your employees. It’s like when kids in school become ‘star of the week’, and the teacher makes sure that no one misses out. The program becomes meaningless.
  • Rewards performance not values and behaviours You need to be clear on your criteria for awarding the employee of the month. Make sure that it isn’t just performance, but also includes values and behaviours. If you just highlight performance, rather than how things are done, the subtext is that it doesn’t actually matter how you get the results, as long as you get them. And that can be really damaging for your culture.

the subtext is that it doesn’t actually matter how you get the results, as long as you get them’

The Importance of Recognition

Meaningful Appreciation

Appreciating Introverts

Record Keeping

Peer Recognition

Financial Incentives

The Takeaway

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Karen Kirton

Karen Kirton

Founder of Amplify HR — a consulting company in Australia that specialises in enabling businesses to find, grow and keep great people.