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Employee of the month awards can be great ways to motivate employees and support high morale. The tricky part is figuring out your own process.

All too often, well-intentioned employee recognition award ideas fall flat or, worse, cause unnecessary tension and conflict in the workplace. If selection criteria aren’t clear, or the same person is chosen as employee of the month over and over again, employees may suspect the system is rigged. It feels political, and more about popularity than merit.

On the other hand, in an effort to avoid favoritism, some managers swing to the opposite extreme and dilute the award criteria until winning is perceived as meaningless. Employees can begin to feel like they all take turns being employee of the month no matter what they do.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Done right, your employee appreciation awards can be fair and motivating — and choosing a monthly winner can be easier. Follow these tips to make your employee of the month program a success.

Fair Employee Award Idea #1: Base It On A Key Metric

Taking the subjectivity out of it makes your employee of the month award instantly less political and helps prevent resentment among those who don’t win. Simply focus on some aspect of employee success that can be measured. The employee with the highest or lowest number (depending on the goal) wins. A few metrics you could use include sales, customer ratings, and productivity.

Fair Employee Award Idea #2: Change It Up Often

Each employee will have different strengths, so some may excel at meeting certain quantifiable goals but struggle with others. This is why it’s a good idea to occasionally change the metric you use to determine the employee of the month. Plus, if you don’t have a ton of employees, you may need to mix it up often to avoid repetitive winners. Consider changing your award criteria every six months to a year.

Fair Employee Award Idea #3: Make The Criteria Known

Whatever criteria you use to choose an employee of the month, make sure it’s clearly communicated to the whole team. This will give each employee the fairest chance to earn recognition that month. Plus, it encourages everyone to strive for their best possible performance in each area you choose to emphasize.

Recognize your employees of the month with custom employee recognition awards. Look around for ideas!