PROs and CONs of Employee Of the Month Programs

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Two Factor Theory > Best Practices > PROs and CONs of Employee Of the Month Programs

PROs and CONs of Employee Of the Month Programs
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
A common recommended and used form to increase employees’ motivation and performance is Employee-Of-the-Month (EOM). Such a strategy would boost morale through employee rewards and giving credits to excellent employees.
However, the EOM-strategy has negative sides as well; many criticize this strategy as a result. So, what are the disadvantages of an EOM-strategy? Johnson and Dickinson (2010) mention the following disadvantages of Employee-Of-the-Month programs:
1. EOM-rewards are only based on results: By only considering the final results, EOM-incentives neglect the ways in which the results are achieved. As a result, employees will be encouraged to get engaged in unethical and unacceptable behavior so as to achieve the best results.
2. Unclear conditions: Another criticism is the lack of clarity of the conditions needed to become EOM. Employees do barely know what specific actions they need to take to become EOM and are therefore unable and unmotivated to take the right actions and make the right decisions.
3. The winner takes it all: EOM has a typical winner-takes-all construction. So, even if there is only a small performance difference between the best employee and the other employees, only the best employee will be rewarded. This is likely to lead to decreased motivation to become EOM, at least in the long run.
4. Non-referenced evaluation: Evaluations of EOM are often norm-referenced, which means that EOM is chosen by comparing the employees with each other without having a set of pre-defined criteria. This type of evaluation can lead to unhealthy competition that may turn out to have negative outcomes for the organization.

⇒ What are your experiences with EOM programs?

Source: Douglas A. Johnson and Alyce M. Dickinson (2010) “ Employee-of-the-Month Programs: Do They Really Work? “ Journal of Organizational Behavior Management Vol. 30 Iss. 4 pp. 308-324

Criteria for Employee of the Month Programs
Jeff Gordon, CEO, United States, Member
The majority of the disadvantages stated about EOM programs can be mitigated with clear criteria about what is required to become the EOM.
Regardless, when there is only one "winner", there is always the possibility for decreased morale among the "losers", even when objective criteria are used. When EOM programs are structured this way, they begin to look like sales contests. Typical rank and file employees do not have the same competitive nature as sales types, so such a strategy poses similar risks of being demotivating, especially if the same employee wins repeatedly. The attitude can become "why bother?" and the program becomes counter productive.
If criteria can be developed in which all employees have an opportunity to be rewarded based on individual and/or team effort, then overall productivity increases can be achieved. However, when such a program is developed, it is no longer an EOM program, but something else.

As a Customer, I Like Hotels with an Employee or Team of the Month Program
Johnny Michael Tan, Management Consultant, Malaysia, Member
If managed effectively with proper guidelines and execution, it is definitely positive.
If I walked into a hotel that has an Employee of the Month / Quarter (or even a Team of the Month / Quarter) displayed, I'd probably be more comfortable / confident to patronize this hotel instead of its direct competitor across the road!

Employee of the Month - Pros and Cons
Bryan Hunt, Director, China, Member
This initiative doesn't work for all. My guess is most employees are dis-engaged by this sort of reward.
Team of the month is different so long as the work product of that team is directly measurable and comparable with other teams doing the same work. KPIs could be used - but not on individuals.

Employee of the Month Works in Hospitality
Mircea Tanase, Suceava, Romania, Manager, Romania, Member
I have recently taken over a hotel as GM and I was surprised to see how important this competition is for the employees. Until now I have rejected the idea as non-productive but I have reconsidered my position. It definitely works in this field (Hospitality) if the criteria are well set.

Teacher of the Year Award
Mona Al Sheikh, Professor, Saudi Arabia, Member
We have experience with TOY award which not only includes a trophy, but also a financial reward of 6500 dollars. The award is given to one teacher of each college, one for each sector (health, humanities... etc), and one for the whole institution.
The positive findings are:
- More attention to students' satisfaction (their evaluation is 40%)
- Innovative approaches to teaching (e.g. cooperative learning), assessment (using various tools), and e-learning initiatives.
- There has been a big move towards participating in educational courses like the ESHPE course and in educational conferences.

Sector and Company Culture Influence EOM Program Implementation
W Atkinson, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
Like most initiatives they work if its suits the culture. Whilst I believe we can all recognise workplaces like hotels use these a lot as the staff interact with the customers and having their face on display shows how good they are. You could do a paper on whether this increases they likelihood or the amount they get tipped!
On the other hand one company scheme has failed as managers had to nominate one and there was too much repetition. Interestingly though the staff weren't against the idea as a whole just its application.
So discussing these ideas with those who they will cover before implementation helps get it to fit right or don't bother to fit it at all.

Metrics in Service are Easier to Measure
Emmanuel Mwirichia, Manager, Kenya, Member
@Mircea Tanase, Suceava, Romania: I agree. In a service establishment, the metrics are easy to measure - satisfaction, speed, cleanliness, client reviews.
Plus having your face up on a wall gets you MORE clients and tips and money.

Employee ⇒ Team of the Month
David Torres, Manager, Mexico, Member
I prefer team of the month, because an employee could use others/subordinates to achieve his own targets, but if we work as a team we can achieve common goals.

Alternatives for Employee of the Month Programs
ton voogt
Some thoughts on this topic: these individual or team programs intend to level up the general level of performance, or lower a general level of mistakes over one year. My hypothesis is: although every month there will be a champion and in one year maybe all will once be a champion, this does not lead to general increase of performances or in general lowering the level of mistakes.
What is better? Better is to use two actions at the same time:
1. Individual praise on leveling up the individual performance measured on the general individual performance.
2. Connect a bonus to the general leveling up (performances) or down (mistakes) of the mean score.
Combining these two actions concentrates on the individual performance improvement and the stronger employees will help the weaker employees.

Employee of the Month VS Team of the Month
Maurisset, Manager, France, Member
I prefer "Team Of the Month"
This means everyone has to work and share his own experiences with his/her colleagues.
This reinforces teamwork, creates a bond between participants and improves motivation and skills of all. In fact in the long run each person and also the company are winners.

EOM Program Needs Great Care & Attention
Fekadu Asmamaw, Ethiopia, Member
I used to work in a hotel with about 300 employees that had an employee of the month program. Each department manager selected an employee of the month nominee for his department and the nominees from each department were posted on the employees' notice board and after a week the committee will reveal the winner on a ceremony prepared for that purpose, while trying to explain why the winner was selected among the nominees. But what I observed is that
1. The committee don not have an objective measuring tool specially for those who are working on the service areas and most of the time tend to select an employee of the month winner from the technical department
2. Sometimes the nominees' probability to be a winner will not be based on their performance, but on the communication capability of their department manager to explain his/her contributions well.
Due to these and other similar issues, employees became unhappy, even when they were selected as a nominee. Therefore, we should take great care and we should not do it for the sake of doing it and bring demotivation among the workforce.

Keeping the Employee of the Month Program Alive
Jacob Andrews, Entrepreneur, United Arab Emirates, Member
An Employee of the Month program is good. But if this program is run in a particular manner it may easily become monotonous and employees get tired and lose their interest.
So you need to bring varieties when you run this program for a long time.

Employee of the Month
Moustafa Alam, Director, Kuwait, Member
I believe it is a good way to motivate employees.
If you can boost it by a group project that collects all employees of the year this will be great, not only as way of rewarding but as a way of engaging the employee.
The HOW does matter and should be thoroughly considered in the selection criteria, and appreciated in the comparison between competing employees. Thanks.

Starting an Employee Of the Month Program?
Francis, Manager, Thailand, Member
I am about to start EOM in my factory, looks like more need to be considered, thanks for the input! I originally thought EOM can help generate a focused interest among the employees about the organization, and thus an increased sense of Programbelonging which will lead to the ground member driving forwards along the direction provided by the management without the "cane".
Maybe I should re-think and aim for an implementation in phases, with corresponding progressive rewarding or "status boosting", thanks!

Consider and Prepare Employee of the Month Carefully
Wood, CEO, South Africa, Member
Like all initiatives consider carefully before implementing:
- First and most importantly: What behaviors do you want to encourage? An EOM program is mostly about competing and being better than your peers. This may be something you want in a sales team but is it a behavior you want in a collaborative organization?
- Can you effectively judge two people in very different job roles; how would you compare an accounts/clerical person to a maintenance technician?
- Can you sustain the program. To be effective, you have to rigorously select a winner every month. Do you have enough staff. What if you don't have a stand-out qualifying candidate? Can the same person win 10 months in a row?
My personal experience in organizations in the process industry: I have never seen a program last more than a few months.
It may work in an organization that is exclusively sales driven and perhaps in the service industry.

Employee of the Month is a Recognition
essakalli, Manager, Morocco, Member
EOM should be regarded as a recognition for someone who did something extraordinary to eliminate a meaningful company loss or who delivered a breakthrough on quality, safety and/or productivity.
As long as this has been properly assessed and recognized by a qualified internal comittee, I don't see anything wrong with the approach. On the contrary, it should be perceived as a positive action.
If the criteria are not met and if no one deserves the reward then no employee of the month should be nominated.

Why Employee of the Month is Not a Good Motivation Tool
abens anna jacob, Student (Other), India, Member
Employee Of the Month is not a good way to motivate employees. EOM comes with a target for every employee. If there is a target, there is pressure. Pressure always comes with stress which ultimately leads to poor performance of employee.
EOM is like a competition. In it 1 will stand on the podium and the others won't.
EOM rewards are typically relying on accountable results - not on intangible results (like service, loyalty etc...).
Before implementing it in a organisation one should think whether there is a need to motivate employees in this way. And please consider the number of employees your firm has.
I personally don't believe EOM is needed to motivate employees. I think appreciation is the best way to motivate the employee. The advantage of appreciation is that you can appreciate every employee in your firm.
Appreciation = Proud Motivation.

Employee of the Month Advantages
venkataramanan, Professor, India, Member
Of course this is one of the methods adopted by many organizations to motivate employees and falls under self actualization needs (Maslow).
This may satisfy the ego of the employee and may even have any impact on the family of the workers. If this award if supplemented with a cash award of say $500, even the family members will come to know and extend better cooperation to the employee.

Employee of the Month? Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No
I think that an EOM program is really very difficult to manage well, but I am sure that sometimes it is effective and sometimes not, it depends of the culture of the employees, and the specific country and society, besides the number of controls and criteria to give the award. They should be the most objective possible.
Finally we can always try it and improve. If this is effective we should continue, if not maybe we need a different incentive to motivate employees. Thank you.

Employee of the Month Program per Focus Area
Clinton Lee, HR Consultant, United States, Member
I believe EOM programs are basically good if they are designed correctly.
Most companies have different focus areas, for example IT, Maintenance, Customer Service & Sales. Then there should be (depending on the size of the organization) an employee of the month from each area. This way the area manager can explain that in order to be considered for this award you have to demonstrate a certain level of engagement in the process that exemplifies a high standard of work acumen and discipline needed for the organization to be successful in its mission. The manager should also explain that the winners behavior at work is what they would like to see emulated throughout their focus area.
Employees who do not win should be in attendance when the award is presented to the winner so that when the managers are stating why employee A won this month it gives other engaged employees the criteria to focus on so they may win the next time. IMHO.

Employee of the Month: Assessment
Ahmad kanj, Manager, Lebanon, Member
I'm voting for the title: " Team of the Month " for considerable results.
The competition between individuals becomes more fair.

A Short Sighted Process
Jackson A. Rhys, Professor, United States, Member
Myriad research studies have shown that people working for an external reward do less than those who are working for intrinsic values. As long as we perceive our employees as "cogs" in our machine that must be motivated, conjoled, browbeat, or rewarded with certificates and parking spaces, then we will continue to get less output than we expect.
Those employees who do not get "rewarded" feel overlooked, not part of the system, and are punished by the rewards. Often they become complacent and reticent to even try.
So, my advice is to do away with all external rewards, get out the Operant Conditioning business and start sharing your goals and vision with your employees, and stand back.

Outdated. Old-school
Vincent Miholic, Manager, United States, Member
EOM? Outdated. Old-school. Need a comprehensive recognition system, yes. As one vendor succinctly sums, recognition should take place "everyday in every way." If one's pondering EOM, only indicates that on-going appreciation mentoring, coaching, positive, supportive, and corrective feedback is missing. Lacking appropriate recognition? Lacking heart (Kouzes & Posner; Gordon, etc.).

Team Based Yellow Shirts with Peer Validation
Maimon Arif, Manager, Malaysia, Member
We introduced a quarterly yellow shirt award for the best team and the chicken award for the lowest performance team.
The team leaders themselves will nominate after the quarterly result is out. As long as it was properly defined and there was an understanding that it is to encourage improvement it created a very positive energy. We managed to come out of the woods within 2 years.

The Purpose of EOM
bindhulatha, Student (Other), India, Member
EOM is a basic motivational title which everyone would love to be recognized with, as beginners in the work life.
However the employees should be made to understand that in the long run the very purpose of such (individual) recognition is to realize that all employees are spun on similar lines so that they are capable of delivering on pre-set criteria along with intrinsic values (which is not always measurable but generally comes through observation, impact and feedback). Otherwise it is only a temporary feast. Responsible accountability will fetch them the great 'chalice'.

External Motivation is Out of Date
Tom Downs, Teacher, United States, Member
Extrinsic motivation belongs in the dustbin of history. 20th Century thinking. This is no longer helping us move forward in today's businesses. Watch this Dan Pink video.

Employee of the Month Remains a Good Practice
Lazhar Charfeddine, United Arab Emirates, Member
It is not only about the result, it should be a full appraisal of the performance from all sides.
Besides it is not necessary to have only one EOM; we can have 5 EOMs at different levels of responsibility or at different (functional) areas.
It remains a good practice as this is definitely a source of motivation to all employees.

EOM Worked Well in Manufacturing Industries
Shaik Murtuza Illahi
I was in charge of a production line of an air conditioner manufacturing company. The scheme of EOM worked successfully and we could boost our production target drastically.
I also initiated other incentive schemes such as `Zero Leak' and "Zero Wiring Defects` with EOM.

When EOM is not Suitable
Ssamanya M.Geowillis, Manager, Uganda, Member
There should be well defined benchmarks for the EOM program to be appreciated and adopted. Otherwise the EOM program becomes unfair or discriminatory for the employees.
Even when that is the case, it demoralizes those employees who in their minds will never be able to reach the winning marks for the EOM reward.
I feel Teamwork with set benchmarks will work better for any particular organization.
And if the organization realizes a good profit afters the sales, then a bonus can be extended to all employees since they all participated in achieving the good result / increased production.

Extrinsic Motivation is History - BUNK
W Atkinson, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
(Editor: bunk = absurd)
@Tom Downs: Everyone loves Dan Pink because he deals with the top segment of Maslow. Motivation is intrinsic but motivators are extrinsic.
- Why do organisations structure them selves in groups - because people like sociability.
- Why do they offer incentives - because people like being able to buy more and/or they satisfy a competitive streak.
I find that too often those binning financial incentives are those already further up the Hierarchy of Needs like Dan Pink. Is adulation, recognition and monetary reward just accidental?

EmployeeS of the Month or Team of the Month
hjoab, ICT Consultant, Costa Rica, Member
For me, there should be the employeeS of the month. Inclusively the team of the month. This way more than one person will be rewarded and in the case of the TOM they would be selected by how they perform as a team toward the completion of the goals.

Employee of the Month Ideas
Eskeyas, HR Consultant, Ethiopia, Member
EOM program may lead to unhealthy competition if not handled with care, a few ideas:
1. Every employee of the org should participate in the selection.
2. The selection should be anonymous.
3. When employees nominate their EOM, they should explain what the nominee did, how he/she did, in what way the team/organization benefits.
4. Then the EOM committee analyzes the survey and awards the winner.
5. Instead of doing EOM every month, I think, it is more adviseavle to do it 2 or 3 times a year during events like Christmas, Easter etc.

Change Employee of the Month Criteria Every Month
Donald, United States, Member
Team of the month is a great idea. I won EOM twice because of some exceptional work I did when the management asked us all to do something. They changed the criteria so if you got it one month, you know someone else would get it next month and it didn't cause any jealousy. They do need to change it every month and evaluate on different criteria so everyone has a good chance.

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