I admit I didn’t
stay up to hear who won Best Picture last night but I did watch a good chunk of
the annual awards extravaganza. Oscar
night reminds me of employee awards programs both good and bad. Actors are
recognized along with all of the specialties that go into making a movie. Oscar hype boosts careers and adds to movie
recognition programs can also boost careers and morale. Can they add to profits? It would be hard to identify a direct link
but easy to see how employees who are happy and recognized for extra effort are
more likely to produce the kind of results a business needs.
seen or experienced employee of the month programs. These are OK but too often they lose their
impact. Like the Oscars they can result
in sentimental choices or popularity contests.
Award decisions are made because recognition needs to be spread among
departments. Senior management looks
around and realizes that no one from Purchasing received an award in 2007 so
they find someone in the department to recognize. The result is a very nice “atta boy” that
doesn’t highlight any specific accomplishment.
It’s not hard for employees to realize that each department takes a
have more impact when they recognize specific achievements. At a start up company we implemented a
program that rewarded employees for exceeding expectations of customers or
co-workers. Nominees were reviewed by
the senior management team and all of the deserving employees received an
award. There were 2 levels and no
maximum on the number of awards that were given out each month. We loved the months when we gave out 12
awards to employees who took initiative to respond to unusual customer
requests, anticipate needs or go way beyond their role to help another
employee. The nominations that described the special effort were posted and winners received checks and gift certificates.
programs don’t have to start with big fancy awards. Gift certificates for coffee or the movies
are an easy way to start. You can also
have some fun with the awards. Would
your employees like to see their photo in a frame or would a fun statue on
their desk have a greater impact? I
worked with a Chief Engineer who gave out energy miser and glutton awards. He built a nice award that represented
conservation and a mess for the department that never turned off a light or
Oscar like statues
are also available to recognize star performances. I used these for a few years in a People’s
Choice format that employees voted on.
It was very successful, generated a lot of excitement and great
acceptance speeches. The best programs
are flexible and change so that they don’t become predictable with employees able
to guess who will win the next award.
It’s refreshing to
take the time to recognize good performances.
You don’t have to wear a tux or red dress and you don’t have to wait for