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Should Everyone Get a Trophy?

One of the biggest causes for debate in youth sports today is whether or not everyone deserves a trophy, regardless of how well their team did throughout the season. Many argue that rewarding everyone actually devalues the award and creates a false sense of entitlement among young players. If a player who only shows up half the time gets the same award as they player who worked extra hard what incentive is there to try? On the other hand, others argue that at a young age we should focus on making players feel included and excited about sports and that giving out a trophy to young players makes them feel good about themselves. Obviously asking "should everyone get a trophy?" gets a lot of parents and coaches heated (one way or the other) but what about in the workplace? Do all of your employees deserve a trophy?


At a more informal company awards ceremony you might choose to hand out a few fun or silly recognition awards, in addition to the "big" ones like top sales person for a region. For instance, maybe you create a "Duct Tape Award" and recognize that lonely IT guy who gets asked to fix everything from computers to fax machines to the office Keurig. Or maybe you create a "Team Mom" award for the staffer that is always bringing in snacks for the office. These little awards might sound silly, but they can still show that you recognize and appreciate the unique personalities and responsibilities of your team.

A peer-based employee recognition team also gives management the ability to reward those who really keep the wheels turning but are more in the background. That regional top seller didn't do it all on his own, did he? Maybe someone else was helping set up appointments, helping manage contract negotiations, chasing down leads, and more. That 2nd tier sales associate deserves some credit for making your main sales representative a star.

The last thing you want is to breed resentment within your staff, and rewarding someone who doesn't truly deserve it is going to cause some internal tension. By giving everyone some amount of recognition you ensure that no one employee feels like their contributions aren't being counted.


Not everyone does the same work (or to the same level) so not everyone deserves a recognition award. It's important that you outline exactly what it takes to win some kind of annual recognition award so that your whole staff has an equal chance of winning. Do they have to get nominated by a manager? Do they have to nominate themselves? Is it a peer-based recognition award? If it's a sales award, is it the person who closed the biggest single account or the one that closed the most accounts or the one that earned the most revenue in the end? If the award is for customer service what denotes going above and beyond their usual work? Once the guidelines are in place you can have multiple people win awards, but not everyone who shows up to work deserves special recognition. It's important to honor those that have truly gone above and beyond their daily list of responsibilities to make things happen for your company.

What do you think---does everyone deserve an award?