What are employee awards?
Employee awards are a great way to reward, motivate and show appreciation for your current employees, but what are they exactly? Recognition generally comes in the form of awards, gifts, and public recognition given to employees who have achieved a goal or performed well. Many companies have a couple of awards they hand out for years served or sales goals met. More thoughtful awards should be considered and given throughout the year, not just at a once-yearly company party. Often time, the awards ceremonies are lackluster and don’t mean much to employers or employees. Increase happiness in the workplace by regularly recognizing the hard work that employees put in with employee awards.
How to plan employee awards
There are several things to consider when planning out your company’s employee awards. We will outline some key things to think about when determining your employee awards.
- Frequency of awards – Gone are the days of infrequent employee awards. Awards should be given out often and in real-time. If an employee hits a goal or milestone, don’t wait for the next team meeting or party to reward them. Give them their reward right then. Frequent awards should be inherent in your company’s culture. This is a great way to fast-track your increased employee happiness and morale.
- Public acknowledgment – Sure it feels great to be acknowledged privately, but do you know what feels even better? The whole company knowing what a great job you did. Help your employees step out from behind the scenes and let the whole company know about their achievements. Send your employee an e-card with their accomplishment and invite the whole team to sign the card.
- Rewards should reflect company goals. Most companies are great at laying out what their goals for the year are and what their motto is going to be to get there. Why not make sure that your employee awards are in line with those goals? Consider what you as a company are trying to achieve as you think about what awards you want to present. Let your employees know how they as individuals are contributing to the success of the company.
- Get creative with employee awards. Don’t copy and paste award titles that have been used in the corporate setting since the beginning of time. Get creative with what awards you hand out. Come up with something outside of the box. You can even just get creative with the wording of your awards. Instead of an award for “Sales Goals Met”, consider “Sales Rockstar Award!” Make it unique and fun.
Consider a unique workplace recognition program. It is easy to get stuck in the traditional style of giving employee awards which includes thinking of an award and handing out a plaque or certificate for it. Come up with a different program that works for your company. An employee competition is a fun way to motivate employees. Assign goals for different achievements and have your teams compete for various categories of rewards. Your human resource department will like this one as it is managed digitally. Kudoboard is great for this.
Want ideas for employee awards?
There are so many different awards you can give your employees. It is overwhelming to get started thinking of some. Here are some great employee award ideas that you can try!
- Above and Beyond Award
Recognize the employee that is always doing much more than is in their job description. This is a great recognition award for those employees that go out of their way to support their co-workers and their company’s goals.
- Employee of the Month Award
Ok, we may have been dogging some traditional employee awards, but that doesn’t apply to all of them. Employee of the Month is a great way to recognize capable employees in real-time. The trick here is to make it public and be very consistent. Don’t skip months!
3. Employee of the Year Award
Use Kudoboard for an Employee of the Year award. Recognize and award an employee for their exceptional performance, contributions, and achievements within an organization over the year. The specific criteria for selecting the Employee of the Year generally involves a comprehensive evaluation of an employee’s accomplishments, dedication, skills, and impact on the organization. Kudoboard can be the platform for all to recognize an employee of the year award.
4. Mentorship Award
Mentoring in the workplace is a great way to decrease your employee turnover. A lot of times, starting a new job at a new company can be so overwhelming. Mentorship is a great way to help employees get acclimated to not only their position but to the company culture. Motivate employees to step up as mentors by awarding a reward for mentorship. Trust us on this one, it’s gold!
5. Customer First Award
This is great for companies that sell or work directly with customers. Improve your ratings and customer satisfaction reviews by incentivizing employees to provide quality customer service. Give this award to an employee who goes the extra mile to ensure the customer has a good experience with your company. This is a win/win as it helps keep your employees engaged, and improves the customer service your company is providing.
6. Rise and Shine Award
This award is the perfect way to show appreciation for employees who come in on time and are ready to work. It is invaluable to have employees who set the tone for how the day will go first thing and it is helpful to award them for that.
7. Employee Choice Award
Oftentimes, management are the ones deciding who gets what award. If we are being completely honest, they may not be the best choice to do this. Employees work with each other within their own teams and cross-functionally every day, so why not ask them who they think deserves an award. Let employees nominate their co-workers for awards. It is a great way to find some quality employees who fly under the radar.
8. Best Team Player
Sure some jobs may be independent ventures, but most require collaboration within teams and cross-functionally. Award the staff member that work well in a team. This will show you what employees are able to get initiatives done productively.
9. Work Anniversaries
While we don’t think these should be the only awards your company hands out, recognizing your employees’ tenure is a great way to help them feel appreciated. Corporate loyalty is becoming a thing of the past, so it is a great idea to award those employees that choose to stick with your company. Work anniversaries are easy to celebrate with Kudoboard
10. The Legacy Award
Reward those who are retiring with The Legacy Award. Recognize them for specific and well-thought-out achievements they have accomplished during their career with your company. As we look to the future, we would be remiss to ignore those who have paved the way for us.
11. Leadership Awards
Good leadership is hard to come by. It is also very important to maintain happiness in the workplace. According to business.com, “Positive relationship management can increase engagement for employees productivity, creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Strong manager-employee relations can also help reduce employee absenteeism and employee turnover.” It pays to motivate managers to be good leaders by giving a leadership award.
Each Day, Helping Millions Feel Rewarded at Work
Fun and engaging awards for employees
Employee awards are a great way to keep employees happy and engaged. It is important to take it seriously and really put some thought into great and meaningful awards that will really help employees feel seen and appreciated. There is something to be said for keeping it light at work as well. Every now and then it would be fun to incorporate some not-so-serious, or funny awards into the mix. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
- Work Coffee Guru Award
The unsung hero at the office is the one who gets there in the morning and gets the coffee going. The one in the office that loves coffee and ensures others are productive deserves recognition. It is usually the same person every time and where would we all be without that employee? If the purveyor of caffeine isn’t worth awarding, I’m not sure what is.
2. Never at their Desk Award
This person is known to be all over the office, and never at their desk. When you have a question for this person, you know it’s time to put on your sneakers and play hide and seek. It’s not that they are slacking, they just value face time more than digital communication.
3. Sales Sandbager Award
Award the salesperson who intentionally underestimates or downplays their sales forecast or performance. This behavior is typically done to manipulate expectations, create a perception of low performance, and potentially gain certain advantages within the organization the next month or quarter.
4. Fitness Guru Award
Most of us are lounging and eating during our lunch break. We all know that co-worker that is using their time for a workout. We all look at them and say, “Oh I should do that too”, and then we don’t. Shout them out for their commitment to fitness.
5. Running Behind Award
This employee award is perfect for that person who everyone (everyone but them of course) knows is going to be at least 5 minutes late to every meeting on their calendar. They run chronically behind and we love them for it.
6. Heard Throughout the Office
We all know every office has a staff member known as “the loud one”. You can hear them tell stories, type, laugh, and mutter, all throughout the office. If you are reading this and thinking, “my office doesn’t have one of those people,” buckle up for the next award ceremony buddy. It’s probably you.
7. Appointment Professional
Appointments are a part of life, we all have them. This award is for that employee who always seems to have an appointment of some sort. They are usually missing meetings or late because they, “had an appointment”. They rush out of the office at the end of the day because they, “have an appointment.” Every office has one.
Employee awards for remote teams
The remote or hybrid workplace has become much more common in today’s working environment. With that shift, work relationships look a little different. Some may stand out for different reasons in a remote environment. It is important to cater employee awards to the evolving remote workplace. Some remote employees in a hybrid workplace may feel left out when it comes to awards and office dynamics. Creating rewards just for them will help motivate them to participate in meetings and help them feel seen for the work they do.
- Always Available Award
This is a great prize for someone who is always active on the work chats, no matter the time of day. Recognize your remote employees that are there for their co-workers at all times.
- Pet Cameo Award
Since the pandemic and the shift to at-home working, we have gotten the opportunity to get to know our co-workers’ pet babies. They seem to always make an appearance in Zoom calls which is so fun! Award employees whose pets you have gotten to know the best and who have made the best cameo appearances.
- Megaphone Award
This is a fun award for that person who always seems to forget that they are not muted. Everyone on the team has heard all types of things from their side of the Zoom call.
- Snack King/Queen
Shout out that remote employee that is always eating during meetings. Whether you hear them crunching on a call or see them eating in a Zoom meeting. There is always someone eating and they deserve to be recognized.
- Giph Award
Everyone’s remote team has one. Give this reward to that one person who is most likely to respond in the team chat with a Giph, and it’s always on point.
- Team Connection Award
Staying connected as a team socially while working from home can be difficult. Reward the person who is always planning events for your team to do virtually. They are someone who puts effort into human connection and that is definitely worth recognizing.
What are some employee award gifts?
Now that you have developed some ideas for employee awards to hand out, it is time to figure out what the actual recognition awards will be. The traditional route has been certificates or plaques. Those can be great options, but there may be a better use of the budget. One idea is to come up with a few different ideas for prizes and then poll the company to see what most people would like to get for their award. Would your employees like a Kudoboard, gift cards, personalized coffee table book, or time off? There are so many options. It is always best to ask and find out what will motivate employees best. With that in mind, let’s discuss some options for the awards themselves.
There is a reason that the tried and true prizes for awards are trophies of some sort. They allow employees to show off their accomplishments. Kudoboard can be used as a tool for public recognition. They are a great reward and can be displayed digitally in one’s home or office. It serves to remind the employee and those around them of their efforts, and could really help them feel appreciated. They definitely deserve a place in the running for employee award prizes. Digital e-cards are a great way to present your employees with their awards. They even give you the opportunity to have their co-workers to contribute appreciation.
What better way to award someone than to give them the funds to buy whatever they want? You can give them a general Visa gift card so they can spend it wherever they want. To make it a bit more personal, you could do some research and find out the employee’s favorite store to shop at or their favorite restaurant. Get them a gift card for those places to really help the employee feel seen and appreciated. Your human resource department will love this idea as gift cards are much easier to manage. A points system would really work well here as well. Employees can get points for every award they earn, and then they can trade their points in for gift cards.
VIP Parking Spot
For your employees that work in the office, parking can be a hot commodity. Offer up prime parking for employees that receive awards. It can be for a set amount of time so that you can rotate through the next awards cycle.
Time is worth a lot for most people, so give your employees who earn employee awards time off that will not count against their sick leave or PTO. This will be very motivating for all employees to try and earn awards in the future. Another spin on this option is to hand out coupons that are worth 1 hour each of time off. They can collect the coupons and use them together to make a whole day off.
The way to most people’s hearts is through food, and it’s no different at the corporate level. Offer employees who receive awards free lunch. It can be one lunch they buy themselves and then expense. It could also be a catered lunch brought in for all award winners. There are a lot of ways you could do the lunch.
Why employee awards matter
Since the era of the “Great Resignation” keeping employees motivated and happy is more important than ever. Employees are much more concerned about their mental health and feel fulfilled and happy at work. It is your responsibility, as a company, to help employees feel that they are seen and appreciated. Achievement awards are very important if you want to maintain and recruit top talent. According to motivosity.com, “Employee awards are a great way to acknowledge the hard work your employees are doing.” Your employees work hard day in and day out. It is important to remember that they are working to make your company successful and profitable. Recognize that hard work with regular and meaningful employee awards. It is also important to award employees at all levels of the company. From entry-level to the executive team, make sure you are motivating all employees to work their hardest.
Reward employees at your company
Employee awards are a great way to show your employees that you see and appreciate their individual contributions to help achieve the company’s goals. In today’s corporate world, this has become vital to recruiting and retaining top talent. The sky is the limit when deciding what recognition award you want to hand out. They can be the same every time, or you can be creative and intentional when you consider specific people for each employee recognition award. Show your employees they matter to you and get started with employee awards today!
Frequently asked questions about employee awards
Not all at one time, but it would be great if achievement awards were regular enough that everyone eventually gets an award during their time with the company. That being said, if there are too many awards given at once, they will not be as meaningful. The goal is for employee awards to become part of the company culture and something that employees are looking forward to and striving towards earning.
Absolutely! Many employees want to feel seen and heard at work. Giving out curated and intentional corporate awards is a sure fire way to help your employees feel just that. Also, everyone loves an award that comes with a prize. Cater you awards and prizes to your specific employees for the awards to be even more effective.
If you feel like this works for the type of company you are running, go for it! It is always a good idea to give a productive employee at your company their time in the sun. Employee awards can be very employee of the month, employee of the year, or for any valuable reason that drives gratitude for performance.
There are no hard and fast rules for how often you need to hand out employee awards. We do recommend being consistent with theml. Decide how many times a year you want to have an award program, and stick with it! They will quickly become a positive part of your company culture if you are consistent and choose intentional awards.
No matter when you decide to have the company awards party, there are some simple tips and guidelines that will help ensure you throw the best employee awards party out there.
Time and Place
The first step to planning your employee awards party is to determine when and where you are going to have the party. If you are working with a lower budget, your office or a local park are great ideas. For higher budgets, rent a nice event space or a room at a restaurant.
Now you need to decide when. If you are going to have it during business hours, plan ahead so that each employee can have the time away from their job to attend. The lunch hour is a great time to have it. However, in order to make the occasion feel a bit more special, schedule sometime at another time in order to reward the employees further with time off. Parties during office hours are going to be a more casual vibe.
You can also have a party at night. We recommend a weekday night so that you don’t encroach on your employees’ weekend or family plans. Nighttime is a better option if you are looking to have a more formal vibe for your party.
It is important to pick out the theme of your party towards the very beginning of your planning. If it is casual vibes at the office during the lunch hour, great! This sets the tone for the types of awards you are handing out, and the food you choose. Decor can be minimal, but this will help you prepare for the space you need in the office as well.
If you are doing a more formal party, you will want a theme for tablecloths, flowers, balloons, and food. This will require significantly more time for planning, so that is good to know at the beginning as well.
Need ideas for themes? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
- Night Under the Stars
- Awards Show Theme
- BBQ for the Winners
- Game Day
- Winter Wonderland
No party is complete without good food. Decide what time of day you will have the party and then plan the food accordingly. Having the party during the work day? Provide a nice catered lunch. If you are working with a limited budget, a potluck could be fun idea. Have everyone bring a dish to share. If you have a theme, be sure to let everyone know. A signup would be a good idea so you can ensure you don’t have the same food coming.
If the party will be at night, you will obviously provide dinner. If you are working on a lower budget, you can have the party towards the end of the work day and serve appetizers and treats. A company happy hour at the end of the day is another great option. Trust us on this one, food should be provided if you are going to call it a party.
Order of Events
It is important to be prepared for your employee award party well in advance. You will need to choose the awards you want to give out, and then choose who will be receiving them. Make sure you do this in advance so you have time to order certificates, plaques, or anything else the prize may be.
It is also a great idea to have a schedule for the party. A timeline will be helpful to make the party feel intentional. A sample schedule could be as follows:
- 7:00 – Cocktail Hour
- 7:30 – Seated Dinner
- 8:15 – CEO Speaks
- 8:30 – Awards Presented
- 9:30 – Dancing and Photobooth
- 11:00 – Goodbyes
No matter how casual or formal your event is, a timeline will help your event feel less chaotic and will ensure you have time to get to everything you have planned.