Why “Employee of the Month” is a wasted effort

Remember when you were a kid and how much you hated it when your parents used the expression “because I said so?” On many occasions, they used it to justify the way something has always been done. While this may be the easy way to do things, it’s not always the most effective way to do things. Everything evolves, and suddenly one way of doing something doesn’t make sense or apply anymore.

Jennifer Vecchi explores this concept in her article, “Why We Need to Get Real and Get Rid of the ‘Employee of the Month’ Awards.” She discusses why “employee of the month” programs are ineffective and how to revamp the concept to adapt to the new workforce. Here’s our perspective on two of the key points from the article.

It is too late (It’s really that simple).

We’ve evolved into a digital age where communication is instant, and also we expect this in the workplace. Employers need to adapt to the times and how their employees want to receive communication. As our Achievers Intelligence study found, 61% of employees want on-the-spot feedback, and only 11% want it monthly. So why are you waiting? Give them frequent and timely recognition. Don’t risk disengaging employees because you’re taking too long to recognize their great work. The longer you wait, the more ineffective the recognition method becomes.

As Vecchi states, “Why wait until the end of the month to reward one person when you can reward multiple people throughout the month? Not only does this solve the timing issue, but it also encourages better behavior on a more regular basis.”

It will not cost more money to recognize more people

Employers do not have to provide money or rewards with recognition. Especially with younger employees, physical items such as watches and plaques are not motivating; in fact, they can even de-motivate employees because the reward is not meaningful to them. Millennials are not looking for a physical gift; they crave recognition and feedback, and they want their employers to recognize their hard work. In fact, the Achievers Class of 2012 study found that 80% of Millennials want immediate feedback from their manager. It fulfills the inherent human need to be recognized.

Employers can also give recognition through cost-effective methods like recognition cards or public praise at the next company meeting. Having “Employees of the Moment” fosters a culture of everyday feedback and drives a recognition rhythm at companies.  HR professionals now have the opportunity to use social networking to learn, grow, and improve–and perhaps more importantly, recruit, communicate, and enhance employee engagement.

What are some ways you think “employee of the month” programs should be updated? Do you still think they are still effective with today’s workforce?

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