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If you’re looking for employee recognition award ideas, make sure you take an approach that actually boosts morale and productivity. Your process for choosing award recipients needs to be carefully thought out, and it needs to reflect awareness, sincerity, fairness, and sensitivity on the part of management. Otherwise, it could have the opposite of the desired effect.

To help you devise a solid plan for your employee appreciation award program, we’ve gathered a few tips. Following these guidelines can make all the difference in how your awards affect your company culture, which ultimately affects your bottom line.

Do’s — Employee Awards Ideas That Work

Do Choose And Communicate Clear Award Criteria

Take the mystery out of it. Let your whole staff know that they can qualify for an award, and tell them exactly how. Then reward everyone who meets those criteria. This not only prevents anyone from suspecting favoritism but also encourages employees to strive for exactly the goals you want them to.

If you’re striving for a series of clear-cut metrics, you could also consider gamification. This gives employees added visibility to their standing and helps foster a sense of friendly competition. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

Do Give Employees A Chance To Provide Input

This doesn’t mean employees should get to choose winners themselves or even make the final call on how your program will work. But they should be invited to make suggestions and tell you how they most want to be recognized and rewarded. Some of the best employee recognition ideas may come from your own staff!

At least as important, ask your employees to tell you about the achievements, hard work and good deeds of their coworkers. Management doesn’t see everything. You may be surprised what you find out when employees are encouraged to recognize each other.

Do Make Sure Everyone Has A Fair Chance

This can be tricky when you have multiple roles and departments, each striving for their own specific goals. That’s one reason an “employee of the year” trophy or plaque isn’t right for every company.

Consider different awards for each department, each with their own set of relevant criteria.

Do Still Recognize Those Who Don’t Win Awards

Not everyone can receive every award, or those awards would become meaningless. But it’s still important to show your employees appreciation and make them feel valued in smaller ways on a regular basis. When an employee meets or exceeds expectations, an appreciative email or even a verbal “thank you” can go along way.

For special occasions, like company anniversaries or landing a big new business account, you might want to do something special for the whole team. In that case, consider giving out custom employee gifts to celebrate.

Do Make It Personal

Choose custom employee recognition awards with recipients’ names and accomplishments engraved on them. And if at all possible, deliver each award in person and express your genuine congratulations.

Don’ts — Employee Recognition Award Ideas That Do More Harm Than Good

Don’t Have Managers Select Winners In Isolation

When employees feel a manager selects award winners personally, not being selected can feel personal. The whole thing can appear to be a popularity contest, even if it’s not.

Plus, as mentioned above, managers don’t know all the little things that happen on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes the best employees go above and beyond quietly without calling attention to themselves.

The solution? Encourage employees to relay the good work they see others doing and let them know it’s all part of what determines who receives awards.

Don’t Just Rotate Who Gets An Award

This one can be eye-roll-inducing. Employees don’t value an award if they know that everyone is guaranteed to get it when it’s “their turn.” In fact, if giving out employee recognition awards feels half-hearted, your current approach is probably counterproductive. Opt for awards based on merit and given out with sincerity.

Don’t Wait Too Long To Give Out Awards

If a team member does something award-worthy at the beginning of the year but the award isn’t given until the end, it won’t go as far toward encouraging the types of work you intended to reward. It also sends the unspoken message that employee appreciation isn’t a priority. Try to reward employees as promptly as possible to show that their work is noticed and truly valued.

Don’t Use Divisive Employee Recognition Award Ideas

Avoid awards that imply blanket evaluations of employee worth. For example, no one is the “best” employee all-around. Even an “employee of the year” trophy or plaque may be too general for many companies. Aim for more specific employee recognition award ideas that give credit where it’s due without devaluing others.

There are all kinds of ways you can structure your employee recognition program. The most important thing is that it reflects fairness and inclusion, and is attainable enough to be motivating. With these tips in mind, you can create a system that’s just right for your team.

Ready to give out some unique employee recognition awards?  Let’s get started!