Table of contents
  1. What Exactly is an Employee of the Month Program?
  2. Benefits of an Employee of the Month Program
  3. How to Create an Employee of the Month Program
  4. 10 Employee of the Month Award Program Ideas
  5. The Bottom Line on Employee of the Month Programs

Looking for a way to boost employee morale and performance? An Employee of the Month program could be the answer. 

This article breaks down the basics: why this type of recognition program is a good idea and how to make it work for your team. Keep reading to find out how to make your employees feel valued and motivated, plus 10 of our favorite Employee of the Month award ideas. 

What Exactly is an Employee of the Month Program?

An Employee of the Month program rewards a different exceptional, hard-working employee every month. Businesses create specific standards and guidelines for the program and the selection process. The winner usually receives an award, which may come in the form of a trophy or certificate, a gift card, or a bonus. 

Benefits of an Employee of the Month Program

There are many benefits for both employers and employees of implementing an Employee of the Month program.

Benefits include:

  • Recognition: Being named Employee of the Month provides public recognition of an employee’s hard work, making them feel valued.
  • Career advancement: Recognition awards highlight top performers, which can lead to promotions and career advancement.
  • Increased job satisfaction and motivation: Recognition can make employees feel more satisfied and engaged in their jobs, and can serve as a strong motivator.
  • Community building: Winners are often publically acknowledged among the company, helping to build a sense of community.
  • Increased productivity: Rewarding employees leads to increased productivity. In fact, 80% of employees say they would work harder if they felt more appreciated. 
  • Boosts morale: Employee recognition can significantly boost morale, which leads to happier, more satisfied employees.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to other incentive programs, an Employee of the Month program can be relatively inexpensive to implement.
  • Better customer service: Improved employee satisfaction and increased productivity result in better customer service and loyalty. 

🧠 Did You Know?

Businesses with actively motivated and engaged employees see 27% higher profits and 50% increases in sales and customer loyalty.

How to Create an Employee of the Month Program

Follow these three steps to create a customized Employee of the Month program for your business:

Create clear Employee of the Month criteria

Write clear guidelines for how employees can qualify for the Employee of the Month. You’ll also need to determine how employees will be rewarded. 

Remember that everyone has different strengths and skillsets, and your list of qualifications shouldn’t be job-specific. Program guidelines should apply to all roles and departments. 

For example, criteria may include:

  • Awards are only given to full-time employees
  • You must be working for the company for at least 6 months to qualify 
  • Awards will be announced on the first of every month

Make sure to keep program rules and guidelines in an accessible place that employees can refer to, like a digital Knowledge Base. That way, employees can access them from their mobile devices whenever they need.

🧠 Pro Tip:

In addition to an Employee of the Month program, you may want to consider more specific award programs, too, like:

Top Seller Award: Great for sales personnel who have exceeded sales goals. 

Safety Champion Award: For workers who consistently prioritize and promote workplace safety.

Tech Guru Award: For the person who always has the answer to tech-related questions or issues.

Mentor of the Year Award: For those who have provided exceptional guidance and support to their teammates.

Announce the new Employee of the Month program to your team

Part of implementing an Employee of the Month recognition program is making sure your team members know about it in the first place. They’ll be more motivated when completing their daily tasks and as a result, be more productive. Not to mention that a little healthy competition increases engagement and creativity, and even promotes team building. 

However, communicating the awards program to your team can be difficult when your employees work in different locations and during different shifts. To get the word out to everyone at once, take advantage of a feature-rich employee management app, like Connecteam

With a social media-style company newsfeed and in-app chat, you can announce the program with all relevant detail. Then, employees can comment, ask questions, and get answers in real time.

screenshot from Connecteam app of both update mentioning the employee of the month and the reward for it

Determine the award and recognize the winner

The next step is picking prizes. Consider a hybrid gifting approach where you award a physical gift with a virtual one. For example, a traveling plaque or trophy that moves from winner to winner each month is great for comradery, and a virtual gift, like an Amazon gift card, is a redeemable award they’ll love. Get creative and select gifts that are in your budget that you know your employees will appreciate.

Once you’ve selected the monthly winner, publically recognize them with an email, newsletter, text message, or even better – on your company newsfeed. Include an image of the employee and a short paragraph about their contributions to the team. Then, the rest of your staff can respond with congratulatory comments, likes, GIFS, and emojis to celebrate their win. 

💡 Pro Tip:

Take advantage of an employee recognition app, like Connecteam, to build strong company culture and celebrate employees every month. You can create personalized, digital recognition badges and reward employees with digital tokens they can redeem for gift cards. 

Get started with Connecteam for free today!

Gather feedback

It’s important for employees to feel heard. After completing your first monthly award, be sure to follow up and ask your staff for feedback. Find out their opinions on the process and if there are areas that need to be improved. 

The easiest way to do this is with anonymous polls and surveys to instantly gain valuable feedback. They can complete them right from their mobile devices and management will be alerted when polls or surveys are submitted. 

10 Employee of the Month Award Program Ideas

Customize gifts based on your industry, your employees’ interests, their age, and your budget. The most important thing is to give them something they’ll actually love and appreciate, but make sure to keep it fair; it’s a good idea to stick to the same gift or gift options for everyone. 

And steer clear of company swag or team-building events–it’s not what employees really want as an award.

But what do they want? Check out 10 of our favorite Employee of the Month award ideas:

Gift Cards

You can never go wrong with a gift card. Keep the amount the same for each winner, but consider personalizing the retailer if you know your employees well enough. Or, award Amazon gift cards or digital points through an employee management app that employees can redeem at retailers of their choice. That way, everyone gets exactly what they want.

1-hour massage or full spa day

Depending on your budget, this is a great idea to promote employee wellness, especially for employees who spend all day on their feet. An hour-long massage at a reputable spa usually ranges between $80-$100, and a complete spa day can go up to the $150-$200 range, depending on what’s included. Both options are great and employees will return to work relaxed and rejuvenated.

💡 Pro Tip:

Call around to different spas or massage parlors and inquire about buying passes in bulk for an employee of the month program. They may sell them to you for cheaper.

Paid day off

A paid day off provides employees with the freedom to use their time as they see fit without worrying about losing a day’s work. Whether it’s to spend time with their families or relax by the pool, every employee will love this gift.

Wireless earbuds

On-the-go employees can definitely benefit from a good set of earbuds. They can plug in and listen to music or a podcast while traveling to or from work. Don’t feel like you need to get the most expensive ones either–you can find a good pair of earbuds for around $75. You may even be able to purchase them in bulk for less. 

High-end water bottle and lunch box

It may sound a bit weird, but if your employees work in the field or are constantly on the go, a nice metal water bottle and a sleek lunch box are the perfect gift. Instead of plastic bottles of water and packing lunch in plastic bags, they’ll now have reusable lunchtime swag they can bring wherever the job takes them.

Dinner at an upscale restaurant

Reward winners by spoiling them with a meal for two at an upscale restaurant they can easily get to. You can either give them a gift card to the restaurant or prepay for the meal.

Fancy bottle of wine or liquor

If your employees are all over 21, a nice bottle of wine or liquor is a fun and unique gift they’ll be sure to enjoy with friends or family at home.

A unique experience

Give winners a choice of 5 experiences they can choose from and let them pick the option they prefer. Idea include: wine or beer tasting, cooking or baking class, tickets to an amusement park, laser tag, or if you live near a body of water, tickets for water sports.

Phone case

If your company uses an employee management app, your field workers most likely spend a significant amount of time on their phones. Therefore, a new, durable phone case can be a great gift. You may even want to throw in some new screen protectors. 

Cash bonus

Really want to see your employees smile? Reward their hard work with cash. This is better than adding money to their paycheck because it’s tax-free and they can spend it immediately.

The Bottom Line on Employee of the Month Programs

According to Zippia, the biggest motivating factor for employees is recognition by their employers. With that in mind, investing in employee recognition programs is worth the investment. 

An Employee of the Month program promotes employee engagement and increased productivity. It can also significantly help with employee retention rates, ensuring you hold onto your hard-working employees longer. 

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