Why ‘Employee of the Month’ award don’t work anymore?

You might end up demotivating employees. 

The ‘Employee of the Month’ award is a popular and traditional way for companies to recognise outstanding performance and effort by their employees. Though it is a way old tradition, many organisations continue to use it as part of their engagement strategy. For those who may not know, ‘Employee Of the Month’ award is given to employees who perform above and beyond their peers. The purpose of this recognition is to highlight high performers and encourage other team members.

The practice is still very popular in the retail and fast-food retail sector. But does this age-old practice still work? 

In reality, there may be a number of reasons why your ‘Employee Of The Month Award’ fails to provide the results you expected.

Here’s why ‘Employee of the Month’ isn’t working anymore

Since this practice is an age-old one and outdated for today’s workforce, it is quite valid to ask whether they work in today’s time or not. 

It is outdated for today’s workforce

As we all know, the practice of declaring ‘Employee Of the Month’ is a very old one. It has been there for more than 40 years. Maybe it helped in motivating employees earlier. But today’s workforce is different. In these long years, the preferences of employees change and things which fascinated people in the past, does not drive them now. Similarly, employees do not find ‘Employee of the month’ award that attractive. Which is why, there are high chances that it will face. 

It is not a team recognition

In a corporation, it is a team which works together to achieve goals and milestones. Recognising a single individual for the same can backfire. Rather than inspiring others, the ones who do not get recognised rather feel demotivated. For instance, if we take the example of the fast-food retail sector. In a services and customer oriented business, it is all about creating a better customer experience. Creating or enhancing the customer experience is a team work and one person cannot be rewarded for the same. 

Limited reach and impact

There are only 12 months in a year, and you can only reward 12 people with the ‘Employee Of the Month’ award in a year. Sometimes, people also get repeated which further creates more challenges. HRs would want an employee engagement strategy where they can motivate a larger scale of workforce. It gets very important to use other employee engagement tools coupled with the ‘Employee of The Month’ award to create a larger impact. 

Measure of performance and biasness  

When an ‘Employee Of the Month’ is announced, people generally do not know how the performance is being measured. People are not aware of the skills or behaviours which lead to this recognition. That is why people do not get inspired and attracted to this recognition. Moreover, in a team, more often, there are only a few who are capable of getting recognised as the ‘Employee Of The Month’ and the winners get repeated. To others, it is seen as an act of biasness by the managers. 

You may lose the best performer 

The challenging concept of ‘Employee Of The Month’ award forces managers to choose different employees for the recognition to keep criticism away. But the previous winners may still keep performing at par and may lose out on the opportunity to be recognised for this same reason. So, instead of motivating, it can demotivate the best performer and he/she might leave. So, there is a very good chance of losing out a best performer. 

It creates a tense environment amongst team members 

The ‘Employee Of The Month’ award aims to inspire people, but instead it can create an unhealthy competition amongst employees. In lieu of recognition, people might only run behind the benefits of receiving this recognition. Just like the ranking practice in the traditional bell curve system of performance measurement, it disturbs the bond between team members and can negatively affect the company’s culture. At the end, employees will just end up competing amongst each other. 

Employers might have to adopt new ways of recognising employees. HR professionals can look at tools such as instant recognition tools, peer to peer recognition or the ‘most collaborating team of the month’ award. Such concepts might be better effective and do the job for you. 

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Kartikay Kashyap is a former journalist and a feature writer who carries more than 3 years of experience in covering HR and employer-employee relationship issues amongst the corporate in India for digital and print media. Currently, he is part of the content and marketing team at Advantage Club as a senior content writer.