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How Can A Corporate Employee Award Go Wrong?

Employee engagement is a hot topic these days in corporate America. Studies have shown that engaged employees take fewer sick days, are more passionate about the work they do, and are invested in the long-term success of the company they work for, all of which adds up to a better corporate culture and better profits for their employers in the long run. After all, a happy and engaged employee isn’t going to mind sticking around an extra half-hour to finish a report or help meet an unexpected client deadline, while the un-engaged employee just wants to clock in at nine and out at five. One of the most important things a company can to do to help get and keep their employees engaged is to recognize and celebrate the work that those employees are doing; everyone loves to be rewarded for a job well done! For some employees a simple “great job!” is enough; others love to receive an unexpected perk like lunch on the boss or a few vacation hours added into their timesheet. And an employee recognition award is a great way to celebrate your top employees and give them a little swag to put on display at their desk.

But could a corporate employee award ever backfire? Could your attempts to engage and reward your employees actually make things worse? Here’s how a corporate employee award could go wrong:

A Disconnect Between the Employee Award and Criteria to Win

If you are going to use employee awards to help foster employee engagement it’s important that your company have set criteria to win those awards and that the criteria is clearly communicated to your employees. For instance, if you want to give a top customer service award how will you qualify the “best” customer service? Is it by customer feedback? How many customers an agent has interacted with over the year and their overall customer service rating? Does the award go to the person who handled one customer service crises exceptionally well, or to the person who handles routine customer service issues every day without fail? You want to make sure employees understand exactly how they can win the award so there is no resentment come awards day.

Recognizing Undeserving Recipients

Businesses should also use great care when presenting employee recognition awards simply because they are very visible statement. You are announcing to your entire company that this particular employee is a standout—so be sure they are the real standout! If you mistakenly award an undeserving employee, animosity and resentment can quickly take root within your organization. Why should an employee give 100% to their job when their coworker who only does the bare minimum gets an award? To effectively utilize employee recognition rewards, you have to be certain about who is doing the bare minimum, and who is making a maximum effort.

Giving Out Too Many Awards

Last, but not least, employee awards are supposed to make the recipients feel special. While every employee is important to your organization, if you give an award to every single person from the top down the recognition awards lose some of their value. It’s a hard line to balance—you don’t want employees to feel left out or under-appreciated because they didn’t win an award, but at the same time you want that recognition award to actually mean something to the people who receive it.  You’ll have to decide where to draw the line so you publicly recognize those who really deserve it but don’t go overboard.

If you do believe that everyone deserves some kind of award, it’s best to give set aside a premium or custom designed award for a few select and well deserving employees. Everyone else is still entitled to a certificate or smaller award of recognition, but don’t let those overshadow the heavy-hitting recognition trophies for your top employees.