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8 Creative Award Categories for Employees

Every manager or small-business executive has a vested interest in being able to motivate employees on an ongoing basis. Generally speaking, a motivated employee is an engaged employee, and an engaged employee is a highly productive one.

The question becomes, then, what can be done to encourage employees to continually reach not only for the basic goals being laid out for them on a monthly or quarterly basis, but reach beyond them? One great way to do that is with "employee of the month" awards and similar rewards for people who perform well in a given period. However, it may be even more appreciated if you strive to go above and beyond that standard.

With that in mind, you might want to come up with some more creative employee recognition gift ideas that help recognize more than just one or two workers per period. Along similar lines, special awards for employees who have put in many years of service could also be a great decision. Often, companies want to come up with a few ideas, but more might be better when it comes to encouraging engagement.

Award ideas that spread the wealth a bit can help increase employee satisfaction and engagement, and thus improve your bottom line. Below are several ideas for creative employee recognition awards that goes beyond what many workers may have come to expect:

1) Top performer in… (you choose the metric)

You may be wondering, why are incentives good for employees? As mentioned, they help keep them motivated and give them something to strive for. However, one area where a basic "employee of the month" award falls short is that it may encompass any number of things.

Stacking Perpetual Award

As such, if you're trying to come up with a great employee recognition award, drilling down on a specific factor to reward first could encourage more hard work in those areas. For instance, you may be used to rewarding your top salesman in some way, but coming up with an award for the salesman whose numbers improved the most on a month-over-month or annual basis could be another creative route. The same may be true if your workers are responsible for the output of a specific product.

Put simply: You would be wise to ensure your awards program branches out in as many ways as possible so that everyone feels like they have a chance to work toward one and improve their productivity.

2) Most creative solution

Companies face any number of challenges over the course of a week, month, quarter or year, and someone has to be the one to come up with the perfect solution. However often that happens for your company, the person whose solution to a complicated issue worked the best certainly deserves acknowledgment.

Building this kind of thinking into your employee recognition program could go a long way toward ensuring your workers continually strive for outside-the-box thinking that helps set your entire organization apart from your competition.

3) Employee Milestones

For long-tenured employees who have put in years or even decades with your company, taking the opportunity to celebrate employee's anniversary – five, 10, 20 years, etc. –  with an award and more can be a great idea. This kind of recognition, which could be accompanied by a staff party or more formal award presentation, is not only a great way to show how much you respect and appreciate that worker, but also to encourage people to stick around so that they can one day earn a similar reward for all their hard work.

From an employee engagement and retention standpoint, service awards that simply honor team members who have stuck around through thick and thin over the years are always a great idea.

4) Best team members

A big part of any job is being able to effectively communicate with and work alongside a host of people whose roles complement each other. Just like a clock, every component needs to work in concert to achieve the ultimate goal for your company, and the people who best facilitate that cooperation deserve recognition.

Those who go out of their way to help other employees, or agree to take on extra work to meet a deadline, not only show great teamwork. They also set an example worth following and help maintain high employee morale while ensuring your whole workplace improves on an ongoing basis.

5) Top-notch customer service

Of course, being able to engage happily with co-workers and supervisors is one thing, but it's entirely another for an employee to stand out for how well they deal with customers or clients. To that end, giving out customer service awards is a great way to help encourage workers to deal well with everyone they encounter.

Whether that's an in-person issue handled by a person who works behind a retail counter or a great interaction over social media to assuage a dissatisfied client, employees who always put the customer first deserve recognition.

6) Safety

In many businesses, a critical component of full operational capacity is workplace safety. If there's an accident or injury, some companies just can't complete all the work they need to do and, worse, an employee may have to miss work for an extended period of time.

For that reason, awards that recognize employees who go above and beyond to uphold safety standards, or who haven't suffered an accident in weeks, months or years, could help encourage a little more attention to detail.

Years of Service Award

7) Work anniversaries

As mentioned above, awards for employees who have been around for years are an excellent idea for worker engagement, but so too are notable rewards for every work anniversary.

Depending upon the size of your team, you might only have a handful of such anniversaries to celebrate per month, so giving that employee something simple to show you value the time and effort they've put in over the previous year.

8) Employee-nominated excellence

It's one thing to be recognized by your boss or a team of executives. It's entirely another to be recognized by the staff you work with every day.

For that reason, it's a great idea to solicit nominations from every department about which team members they think have been the most outstanding over the previous month or quarter, and honor the leading vote-getter in an appropriate way. As with a few of the options above, you can pick any number of categories in which to give out employee awards, but the recognition of your peers is often a great reward in and of itself.

Go beyond

These are just a sampling of the ideas you can put together to honor your outstanding employees, and of course, it's fun to come up with creative award names for whatever you choose to give out. Those that help show your true appreciation for how much of a team player each recipient has been will go a long way toward ensuring those kinds of efforts become the norm around your office.

Custom employee awards cost a little bit more up front but over the lifetime of the program is about the same of a standard trophy that has been custom engraved. They have been shown to boost employee and brand engagement, and thus offer a potential for a strong return on investment over time.

Customer Favorite Recognition Awards

Updated Tuesday 02-20-2024
Brilliance Acrylic Award
from Audrey of Undisclosed

Brilliance Acrylic Award

Perfectly Professional and Portable!
The award was perfect! Our work team wanted a sturdy award that looks professional and will present nicely and last throughout the recipients career but it also has to be able to be shipped around the world. Love the accent color to give it more flare and the font size and proportion were spot on. Very nice product, will be ordering more!

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