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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do Employee of the Month Programs Create Discord?

One can view Employee of the Month (EOM) programs with a jaundiced eye.  These program are designed to 2) Recognize the employee for actions above the call of duty, 3) Recognize the employee for outstanding work either on a project or with a client, and 1) Put the employee up as an example to inspire the other employees to do a better job. Yes, these are listed out of order because the primary intention is usually to “inspire others”, but that is rarely a publicly stated purpose.

Depending on the company, the benefits range from a financial reward, a fancy lunch with the boss, or a closer parking spot.  My experience has been that the last thing an employee wants to do is have lunch with a superior. They’d rather have a nicer lunch with their co-workers.

In some work environments, what inspires some employees to do a better job “next month” in hopes of earning EOM perks may actually cause discord.  “Why did John get EOM?, Harry, Jose, and Ethel worked on that project too!”  As for John, he is certain to get polite applause when the boss announces this month’s winner.  Whispers amongst the audience may be less polite.  Not always so, but it depends upon how the co-workers generally regard the winner.

With winners, also come losers.  So for a company of 150 employees, there is one EOM and 149 last place finishers.  For the coming year 11 more people will earn EOM, leaving 138 who won’t.  Will those 138 set their sights on “next year, I’m going to win”? or will they regard the EOM program as a lottery where winning is unlikely, so why buy a ticket?

How is your Employee of the Month program regarded? Is it inspiring or causing discord?

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