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14 Employee Of The Month Ideas To Boost The Morale And Motivation Of Your Team

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Reviewed by Kara Funk

Senior HR Consultant, People & Culture

Employee Of The Month Ideas

Employee recognition is more than just ‘nice to have’ programs celebrating your team members. Recognition is something our brains are hardwired to need, and this need is met in our youth by our parents, teachers, and coaches.  As adults, we spend most of our waking hours at work, thus the need for recognition from our boss and the broader organization we work for.

Recognition releases dopamine, which stimulates the parts of our brain that process rewards and create positive emotions like satisfaction and enjoyment. This chemical reaction to receiving recognition is so strong that once we experience it, we have a natural inclination to seek it out again.  This is why recognition programs that run at regular intervals, like monthly rewards, often result in increased morale, motivation, engagement, and productivity.   For an even more significant impact, choose creative and inspirational monthly recognition programs that align with your organizational culture and values.

In this post, we share a list of effective employee of the month ideas that we encourage you to implement in your employee recognition program.

1. What Is the Employee of the Month Award?

What Is the Employee of the Month Award?

An employee of the month award is given to an employee in recognition of exemplary work he or she has done for the organization. The award is given every month, and there are specific criteria or benchmarks, such as company values, targets, project ratings, or revenue generated, that need to be met to qualify for this type of award. 

2. Is an Employee of The Month Idea a Good Idea?

2.1 Improves morale and productivity

By creating an environment where high performers are recognized and awarded, you create a positive work culture that fosters healthy competition and sets the bar for the quality and quantity of production. Employees want to know that their drive for high performance has a tangible impact on the company and their careers, and when this is clear, morale and productivity will see a boost!  

2.2 Increases engagement

Employee of the Month programs also result in increased employee engagement. Employees who know their efforts are valued and recognized are more motivated to pitch in and be engaged in the work.

2.3 Reduces unplanned attrition

When recognition extends not only down from leadership but peers begin to get involved and nominate or boost each other up, you’ve created a culture of gratitude and recognition. When team members feel valued and appreciated, the positive environment that results will reduce attrition. 

3. How to Boost Your Employee of The Month Award?

An employee of the month award need not be restricted to a plaque or certificate in today’s digital workspace. Explore different employee of the month ideas that are creative and even personalized to the kind of work or standards set within each role. These could be customized as media shoutouts, wall of fame mentions, incentives in the form of vouchers or spot bonuses, and more. Consider using engagement tools to create meaningful award programs that can be implemented smoothly and consistently. 

4. Employee of the Month Ideas for the Workplace

Employee of the Month Ideas

4.1 Team Lunch

One of the most common and popular employee of the month ideas is a sponsored team lunch, which also doubles as an opportunity for team building. This recognition option is best suited when a team just earned a big win, hit a major deadline, or wrapped up a project. You can opt for a buffet spread at a local restaurant or organize a luncheon at a resort where teams bond over good food and great conversations.

4.2 Gift Cards


Gift cards are next on the list of employee of the month ideas for their versatility and personalization. Besides cash, gift cards are a practical way to recognize top-performing employees. Not just that, they can be personalized to suit the interests of your employees as well. Think e-commerce gift cards, food gift cards, health and wellness gift cards and more. 

4.3 Amazon Vouchers

Amazon is a one-stop shop for almost everything under the sun and most of us definitely have a wishlist currently saved in our cart. Given the practicality and utility of paid vouchers, as well as the options on Amazon to personalize the e-gift card, these are a sure hit for your employee-of-the-month reward.

4.4 Branded Company Swag for Top Performers

Employee of the month ideas are not limited to just cash or kind. You can gift branded company swag that includes accessories like a smartwatch, sports shoes, electronic gadgets, Yeti coolers or apparel in recognition of great work. These are also great ways to spread the word and create social buzz for the recipients among peers and colleagues in the workplace.

4.5 Travel Incentive Programs

Travel is often relegated to a bucket list for working professionals. As part of creative employee of the month ideas, travel incentive programs are a great way to award top performers and give them a refreshing break from the grind. 

Consider partnering with some travel agencies to create lucrative incentive packages tailored to employee performance. You can also create a travel destination pool list and ask employees to choose from those to enjoy an all-expense paid trip. These could also be given through paid memberships, holiday subscriptions, and hosted events.

4.6 Extra PTO

Employee of the month ideas can include simple but impactful options like an additional day off or extra PTO. You can set aside a certain number of days as additional PTO that the employee can use at any point after discussion and approval from their relevant managers. This allows the employee to choose their time frame for a bit of R&R and to use it when they need to. 

4.7 Awards and Prizes 

Awards and prizes are a traditional way to acknowledge and incentivize outstanding performance at work. To enhance this recognition, it is advisable to maintain consistency in award titles and align them with the specific production levels or values you wish to promote rather than customizing them to individual employees. For instance, you can consider titles such as "The Creative Genius" for innovative ideas, "Ninja Target Blaster" for surpassing set targets, and "Mr./Ms. Dependable" for consistently going above and beyond their assigned roles and responsibilities. 

Cash prizes, recognition plaques, and certificates can also be used as part of the employee recognition program. Virtual events for awards and recognition can be a great way to engage your remote workforce too. 

4.8 Social Media Recognition

Use public platforms to highlight your top performers and spread the word. Being appreciated and recognized for performance need not be limited to a company event or internal employee platform. With social media, not only do these shoutouts add value to the employees’ profiles, but it also spreads awareness about your positive work culture and organization as a whole.

4.9 Parking Spot

You’ll be surprised at how coveted parking spots can be for employees at the workplace, but if your building is in a populated metro area this is a major prize. Quirky but definitely a must-do on our list of employee of the month ideas, offering a specific parking spot that’s convenient for the employee is a big hit. You may also choose to issue a special badge or sign near the parking spot as a proud symbol of recognition.

4.10 Career Development Talk

Another idea is to provide a career development stipend for the employee of the month winner.  This stipend could be used on a certificate, online course or program, conference or other development opportunity that the employee is interested in. High performers are often constantly seeking ways to improve and push themselves and their career further - this award is sure to help them facilitate that growth. 

5. Employee Of The Month Award Ideas For Remote Office

Employee Of The Month Award

5.1 Virtual Award Show

When recognizing outstanding employees within remote and distributed teams, one practical approach is integrating the award into a portion of the monthly all-hands meeting. You can announce award categories, nominations, and winners during the virtual all-hands meeting. Encourage attendees to participate in formal wear to add a touch of prestige to the ongoing event, making it a monthly tradition.

5.2 Create a Blog Post About the Employee

Personalized blog posts are a creative way to recognize top remote performers as there is more opportunity to add descriptive content around thee employee being awarded.. The idea is to present and celebrate the recognized employee  with an online blog post. Add interactive elements that plug in colleague testimonies, client feedback, candid at-work pictures and winning moments to make it a digital keepsake.

5.3 Create a Shareable Video

An award can be all the more memorable if you save the moment for posterity with a video and share it with the employee of the month winner. Choose a good video recording software to not just record the virtual award event, but also add in recorded clips of peer testimonials, great client feedback and even a special congratulatory message from the higher management to make it special. 

5.4 Gift Package

Gift packages are convenient to send out and a great way to show appreciation for remote employees of the month. Curated gift baskets with food items, wellness kits, gift cards or certificates  will make them feel valued and appreciated. To make this more impactful, personalize the gift package based on the employees' interests and preferences.

6. FAQs

6.1 How do I choose the best employee of the month?

Employee of the month rationale should be validated against criteria that an organization has set such as company values, quality of work, accountability, or client and project benchmarks. If an employee has been able to maintain a certain level of excellence or gone above and beyond his role and responsibilities, that needs to be factored in when you make a choice. The most important part is to make the criteria and process of selecting an employee of the month transparent and consistent.

6.2 What are some examples of positive recognition?

A few examples would be recognizing excellent work, anniversaries or milestones, goals or targets, attitude or workplace behavior through awards, bonuses, social media shout-outs and additional perks.

6.3 How do you motivate employees of the month?

Employees are motivated by different factors - some intrinsic, others extrinsic and some prefer a combination of both. We recommend providing a combination of both personalized recognition and a tangible reward. 

6.4 What are some good employee of the month criteria ideas

Employees who align with the company values, meet goals and go that extra mile need to be recognized and nurtured consistently. Some criteria may include

  • Excellent and error-free work output over a period of time
  • Proactive and creative problem solving
  • Exceptional leadership qualities
  • Consistently meeting targets
  • Client feedback and testimonials for high performance
  • Peer and manager reviews
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