Why is employee of the month one of the worst ideas to boost employees

Why is employee of the month one of the worst ideas to boost employees

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Acknowledgement at work is a way too sensitive aspect of company life, to actually be “entrusted” in the old-fashioned method known as, employee of the month. This mechanism is surely the most fake good idea, rooted in companies and encouraged by managers who see this as a non-expensive method to resolve areas like recognition, well-being of employees, employer brand, CSR issues for good…and why not respect the environment! Why is employee of the month the worst idea to boost teams? Explanations are as follows…

Devil is in the details…

You know that a bad law is more harmful than no measures at all. Alfie Cohen in his best seller « Punished by Rewards», explains that there are more disadvantages for programs like “employee of the month” or “employee of the year” than advantages. According to Daniel H.Pink, the iconic symbol of HR, this type of incentive at work, comes in the way of creativity, as it forces the most motivated collaborators to abide with selection criteria, which are biased and subjective and they encourage others to wallow in an inward looking attitude, which intensifies the dichotomy between winners and personae non gratae. Even if this has been questioned in some recent research work (like those led by Professor Mr. Sam Glucksberg from Princeton), recognition in the absolute terms isn’t an issue…It’s in fact an integral component of well-being at work. However: devil is in the details. The way of expressing this recognition and the vector materializing it, makes all the difference. 

The vicious tryptic of employee of the month 

Here is why we think that programs like “employee of the month” are void: 

  • In practical terms, the interest of rewarding is being eroded very quickly: top management seems to be turning it into a sort of bridge between various divisions. The outcome: it’s a meaningless constraint which comes in the way of your competitivity.  

  • Collaborators pursue the wrong goal. Instead of being efficient, they make it a point to meet the award criteria, which doesn’t necessarily represent the good practices, to boost the company’s profitability. 

  • Unite one’s team around the same goal. It’s the ultimate aim for any manager. So how to reward only one person when the performance has been carried out through the synergy of the same team? 

Rather than subject the fate of the cohesion of your teams to the Russian roulette, favor informal techniques which highlight your employees, without presenting them in the form of reward. Try to favor articles on the work of your collaborators from time to time (for example A day with…), shoot short videos to highlight their profession, give them the chance to experiment with new things etc.


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