Do Staff Awards work as a motivational tool?

With the movie awards season in full swing right now, it’s interesting to see how much the super-famous lap up their nominations. It’s a big deal to them; that much is clear. Getting recognition for their work from their peers is just as important as ever to them. More so, perhaps, than from the legions of movie critics out there, and even the box office figures that prove their popularity.  But does this translate into ordinary life and your business? Do awards motivate employees? Will they improve morale and boost productivity? And, if you do use staff awards, what’s the best way of doing so? Let’s get started with some of the basics.

Staff Awards
Crystal Star Staff Award




First of all, it’s important to understand the importance of retention. High-quality employees are vital to any business that wants to succeed. There is a lot of competition out there that can be more appealing regarding offering a better opportunity. Pay and bonus systems are important, of course. But, what can you do if you can’t match your competitors? It’s important to keep your employees hungry for success, and loyal to your business. If you have a high turnover of staff, it’s going to cost you in time – and money. Think of the costs of training and hiring new people – not only are they expensive, but they are wasteful.  Staff awards can be a low-cost but tangible factor in improving staff retention.




Recognition has a big part to play here. It’s a powerful tool for any business, as it keeps people high on motivation. Awards ceremonies aside, even a company-wide email praising the efforts of an employee can go a long way to helping them feel content. A handshake from the boss or a personal phone call can help lift the spirits of any employee and make them feel like they are contributing. It’s natural to feel good about getting praise – and it helps boost motivation to experience more.


The individual


Look at any job spec and you always see the importance of being able to work in a team. Teamwork is critical for any business, of course, but let’s not forget that people are individuals, too. Praising a whole team works, but what happens if someone in the team is more responsible for their success? If you want people to go the extra mile, it is important to recognize their individual efforts, too. And that’s where staff awards can come in.

Employee Award
Crystal Octagon Employee Award



Those congratulatory handshakes and ‘well done’ speeches can only go so far. After a while, even the least savvy employee will begin to feel that it isn’t quite the payoff they were looking for. And, at this point, it’s important for employers to put their money where their mouth is. There are plenty of ways to reward people, of course. Promotions, financial incentives, and even gifts can go a long way to keeping your staff happy. And, awards for outstanding performance are another great tool to consider. Not only do they help keep people motivated to do better, but it also brings a healthy inter-company competitive spirit with it. While money is important to everyone, it isn’t necessarily the only thing that drives them. Recognition is also important, and staff awards are the perfect way to show you value their efforts.


Benefits of non-cash awards


As we mentioned above, financial incentives are not the be all and end all of employee engagement., And, with good reason. For the average person, money only goes so far – and for many households, it’s just spent on bills. People like to have experiences and things – so think about that and use it to your advantage. Is there a first class restaurant in your town or city? Perhaps your employees could never afford that experience – and it’s one that you could offer for high achievers. You could try red letter day activities, too. Maybe your staff dream of going around Thruxton in a super-powered car, or want to experience the joys of travel in a hot air balloon. It’s a simple way of saying thank you that can improve their lives. And, it won’t cost you a lot in comparison to the money your employees have brought through the door.


Giving out awards


So, what sort of prizes can you offer? An employee of the month award is a good starting point. However, you need to be careful that you have robust criteria in place for making the award in the first place. Why does your employee deserve it? Who chooses them? Are there targets in place? And, perhaps most importantly, is the award given for outstanding effort, rather than just ‘turning up’. For example, many companies are guilty of awarding prizes to employees that manage to go a few weeks without getting into trouble. And, of course, there are problems with different departments bringing different things to the table. A salesperson will always make more sales than an IT support administrator. But, both could be equal with what they bring to the company – and as a boss, you have to be able to define what makes one the better performer. If you fail to do this, there’s a good chance the employee of the month award will actually demotivate people.


The importance of meaning


We can see, then, that awards need meaning. They have to recognise achievement or a way of working; that encourage repetition in that way of working. Awards are about telling people you appreciate their unique contributions and their efforts. So, it’s important that they should always be given in an authentic way. Employers should also offer awards at regular intervals. This gives plenty of opportunities for their workforce to aim for the skies and get that recognition they crave. It doesn’t have to be an employee of the month award, of course – it could be quarterly or annually, too. The key is to provide a platform for employees to feel like they are part of the company and not just a box-ticker. Do that, and you will reap the benefits of an awards system.

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