Employee of the month- a term everyone knows about and everyone is striving to get at least once. After all, who does not like recognition? We all are fond of being praised and appreciated by others, didn’t we all worked hard to top in class. Organizations realized this could be a good tool for employee motivation. The employee who performs the best as per the standards are given the ’employee of the month’ award. Though the concept sounds interesting, it is not as simple as it looks. It certainly has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a look at each of it in detail.
What is ‘Employee of the Month’?
The employee of the month is a recognition given to an outstanding performer. It may be in a form of gift, Gift certificate or a certificate with Thank you note. Some organizations have a wall of fame and the picture and name of the outstanding performer is put up there.
Few companies have started with this form of recognition, but scraped it of within few months, whereas few companies still think it is the best form of recognition and motivation. Thus, companies have been successful and unsuccessful while attempting to use employee of the month award.
Why Employee Recognition is Necessary?
HR policies in organizations are well framed, the expectations are clearly jotted down in the job description, also if the performance is not as expected then we have performance improvement plans, wherein employee is given a period and asked to perform well. If he fails then that may lead to his termination. Therefore, if disciplinary actions are well stated for poor performance there should necessarily exist something for a good performance.
Say, there are two employees , one is a hard worker and other is a average performer, if both of them are getting same benefit then the hard worker will feel demotivated. Thus, recognition in the form of ‘employee of the month award’ is a ‘pat on back’ gesture and a form of appreciation for the hard work. If employer wants a continued excellence, recognition is of utmost importance.
Advantages of Employee of the Month:
1. Healthy Competition:
An award for best performance will make the employees strive hard to do their assigned tasks in the best way. In sales, a person with highest sales figure, satisfied customers and good networking will have a chance of getting the award. Many a times, organizations keep incentives as a form of motivation.
2. Employee retention:
It helps to retain employees, as employee of the month award is a great accomplishment and a good point to add in the resume. Employee of the month or any other methods of employee recognition help for employee retention. When hard work is appreciated, employees are happy and when they are happy, they do not want to leave the organization
3. Employee Engagement:
Employee engagement means the sense of belongings to the organizations. An engaged employee sees the organizations goals and visions as its own, and takes effort to increase organizations reputation and interests. He is fully absorbed and enthusiastic for his work.
Employee of the month increases employee engagement as a person works well when there is a reward and recognition at the end.
4. Optimum productivity:
Organizations pay to get their work done, if the work done by the employees is the best, then ultimately organization is making profit. In addition, a reward in return to an employee makes him happy too. Thus, it is a win- win situation for both employee and the employer.
A perfectly set up incentive system and recognition methods will be a fair method to praise the employees who are doing well.
Disadvantages of Employee of the Month:
Though it has certain benefits, it is harmful if not executed well. Many companies have scrapped of the employee of the month program.
1. While making one person happy you make others unhappier:
Once an industry expert said, ‘one does not compare the cooking of our mom with your girlfriend and reward the ones who performs the best’ because while making one person happy you are making the other one unhappier. Mom and girlfriend both are dear to you, comparing them will cause unnecessary discord.
However, it sounds a bit offbeat to compare a personal relations with professional setup, but it does relate. As an organization, all employees are dear to you and are an asset to the company. It may cause discord and employees may harbor bad feelings. In a group of 100 people, if one is rewarded, then the 99 others are demotivated.
2. Causes internal discord within the organization:
While selecting the employee of the month, the selection is often subjective, the results, which are quantifiable, are focused more, but there can be people whose results are not quantifiable but they are the one who had an original idea, had guided and motivated the team to work harder. These efforts may have happened behind the scenes, but are appreciable and valuable support to organization too. Hence, putting up one person on top may make other people resentful and they may feel that the organization is being impartial. It is hard to evaluate the efforts taken by employees; one cannot monitor them all the time. Hence, the whole employee of the month award goes in vain.
Organizations need their work force to work with their strengths and weaknesses together and bring out a favorable result. However, once the employees are competing against each other the overall outcome is not good.
3. Focus shifts only on the benefits:
There should be perfect balance in everything; employees must focus on their work and overall growth of the organization. When awards and incentives are kept, the whole focus is shifted to achieving it and employees may ignore other necessary tasks. Employees are required to understand the companies’ vision and shared goals and work together accordingly.
By setting up rewards, companies are unable to inculcate the intrinsic motivation in the employee. Intrinsic motivation means, feeling motivated on their own without any extra means. Extrinsic motivating factors, condition employees to think ‘what will I get in return’, which is the most disengaged form of an employee.
4. Verbal Appreciation more effective:
One company sent a handwritten note from CEO to employee’s mother and his wife stating how great he is working and how great they are to have him in their team, this is the excellent form of reward; one can get for their good work. This way employer is not making others demotivated and the person who deserves to be appreciated gets the reward.
Thus, the key should be to make the best employee know that you are grateful without putting him as a focal point of all. If organization is confused about whom to appreciate, best way is to thank the whole team.
5. Employees may allege the employer of favoritism:
If the people who decide the employee of the month have his or her relatives working in the company, then he will be alleged for favoritism
Thus we saw that there is a high probability that employee of the month award could go wrong. Here are few steps that one can follow to get it right.
Steps for Good ‘Employee of the Month’ Plan:
1. Define the aim:
We saw Employee of the month award can help in employee retention, employee engagement and for increasing productivity. One must have one HR objective in mind and set the award accordingly. Any employee recognition and other HR activities must have its objective aligned to the business goal.
2. Prepare a blueprint:
One needs to decide the basic outline and the mechanism of the reward program and delegate the responsibilities. It can require people who will coordinate, gather and compile the votes.
3. Setting voting system:
The main point here is the voting criteria. Involve employees to set up the voting criteria, as it will make the process transparent and will assure them fair judgment. The objective must align to the business goal, if you are aiming on high productivity or sales target, then the criteria must be set on target achievement, revenue collection, relationship building and proactivity. Other issues must also be addressed like who can vote, when they will vote, procedure to vote and the like. Most importantly, all should know about the procedure.
4. Set the rewards:
Decide the rewards, for some team and for some objective, monetary gifts can be useful. However, some might feel an extra training to be a good reward or a day off from work as a good form of reward. Hence, choose wisely, it is best to have discussion about it with the team itself.
No system is full proof, one needs to do many trails and errors as per the requirement, assess the satisfaction level/productivity or employee engagement of the employees. Have a check whether the objective that was set is being met. Directly communicate with employees and try to get an open feedback from them.
It is advised to first identify the need and the objective of employee recognition and accordingly choose the path. Employee of the month is a good way for motivating, though it is necessary to see it is not affecting negatively.
Few Best Practices for Employee Recognition:
Apart from employee of the month following ideas can also help for employee recognition.
1. Verbal praises:
Personally thanking the employee goes a long way. Thank an employee in front of superiors; introduce him or her to clients or to the higher authority of the company. Take efforts to highlight the excellent work done by the employee in important presentations and meetings. Give due credit to the deserved employee.
2. Thank you cards:
Send thank you cards to employees along with some gift cards or a flower bouquet. It does not cost much and does an impeccable job of employee recognition and appreciation. You can get the thank you cards printed, or if the time permits, sending a hand written thank you note is very valuable to employee.
3. Hall of fame:
One can display the picture of best performers on bulletin board or display pictures in the internal company website. Congratulate and thank them well. The recognition among all employees gives a boost to the performer.
4. Prepaid gift cards:
Gift cards from retail stores or petrol card is a best token of appreciation. Reason being its utility. A person can gift himself whatever he wants, when a gift card is given to him.
5. Staff celebration:
Have office get together and have some fun activities, or food parties, take this chance to appreciate all the team members and thank them for all the efforts that they put in.
6. Movie or event tickets:
After a long and tiring month of work, an employee needs some relaxation, a free movie ticket for couple or a favorite band or sports event will make him relax and have some fun. Activity like this promotes work life balance, as he gets to spend quality time with family on behalf of the organization he works with.
7. Volunteer Hours for Paid Days Off:
Give a day off for volunteer work, it is self-satisfying and also acts as a corporate social responsibility. Ask employees to visit old age homes or orphanage and do some good deed. The time they spend there can be considered as office working hours.
8. Retreats and Team Building Events:
Have some sports events and team building activities, which will help people, relax and be less formal. One can also take the team to an outing where food, sports, CEO Addressing, music can be arranged, it is a great way to unwind and be stress free. One can get refreshed and rejoin work with new vigour and enthusiasm.
9. Special skill based training:
Offer free training for knowledge enhancements or reimburse the cost of the training an employee wants to learn. Appreciate the zeal of learning and improvement.
10. Job rotation based on special skill of employee:
An employee with some special skill can be asked to guide some other group of employee. This activity will help him feel special due to the knowledge sharing and he will be recognized as a mentor by other staff members, which ultimately gives him a boost.