Organizational Wellness

How to Start an Employee of the Month Program

Jun 26, 2023
Last Updated May 24, 2024

If you’re looking to cultivate a culture of recognition at your organization, an employee of the month is a great place to start. Rewarding high-performing individuals and celebrating their achievements encourages team spirit and helps motivate other employees. 

The time and resources it will take to launch this kind of initiative will depend on how you choose to structure it. An employee of the month program can be as simple or creative as you like. You can make a big production out of it, complete with awards and ceremonies. Or you could keep it low-key and treat the honoree to a small token of appreciation. It all depends on what best fits your company’s culture. 

However you choose to structure it,  the right preparation and planning can create a program with a lasting impact. Get ready to kick off your company’s employee recognition journey!


The Benefits of An Employee of the Month Program

Employee recognition can be a powerful contributor to any company culture. Having an EOM program allows you to make a systematic investment in recognition, which brings company-wide benefits like: 

  • Boosts employee morale: Acknowledging and rewarding exceptional performance can significantly improve workplace morale, improving job performance and retention. 
  • Increases motivation: Recognizing top performers incentivizes other team members to strive for excellence, fostering healthy competition and increased motivation.
  • Enhances productivity: When employees feel appreciated, they're more likely to be engaged and productive in their roles, ultimately benefiting the entire organization.
  • Encourages teamwork: Peer recognition builds a sense of camaraderie amongst colleagues, leading to improved communication and collaboration.
  • Reduces turnover: Employees who feel valued and recognized for their efforts are likely to stay with the company, increasing retention.
  • Fosters a positive company culture: A culture of recognition naturally maintains the cascade of positive effects from such a program. 
  • Attracts top talent: Companies are more likely to attract and retain high-caliber talent, as job searchers often seek organizations that value their contributions.
  • Enhances professional development: Highlighting specific achievements and skills can help individuals identify areas for professional growth and development.
  • Builds a strong employer brand: A successful recognition program can help solidify a company's reputation as a great place to work. 

Seven Easy Steps to Set Up an Employee of the Month Program

Step 1. Setting Clear Objectives

Before launching your program, it's essential to define its purpose and goals. Consider the following questions:

  • What do you want to achieve with the program?
  • How will it align with your company's values and culture?
  • What specific behaviors or accomplishments do you want to recognize and reward?
  • What does your staff appreciate most as a form of recognition?

For example, say a fictional company, ABC Tech, is considering launching an EOM program to boost morale and performance. To identify the program's desired outcomes, the HR team lists specific benefits they hope to achieve, such as higher employee engagement, better collaboration among team members, and reduced turnover.

By setting clear objectives, you can create an employee recognition program that resonates with your employees and supports your organization's overall mission and vision.

Step 2. Establishing Criteria for Selection

Establishing fair, transparent, and measurable criteria for selection helps set your program up for success. Having well-defined criteria helps employees understand what's expected of them and encourages them to work towards meeting those expectations. Things to consider include: 

  • Focusing on achievements or behaviors that align with your organization's values and goals.
  • Ensure the criteria are objective and quantifiable, such as meeting sales targets, completing projects on time, or demonstrating exceptional teamwork.
  • Ensure that all employees, regardless of their role or department, have an equal opportunity to be recognized.

During this step, ABC Tech decides to prioritize accomplishments. These include meeting or exceeding sales goals, launching new products or services successfully, and staying up-to-date on industry trends. This way, the company can recognize employees who best embody their organizational values.

Step 3. Set Up a Nomination Process 

An open nomination process for your new EOM program can foster a sense of ownership and engagement among your employees. Consider peer nominations that allow team members to recognize and appreciate each other's efforts.You can implement a nomination process by: 

  • Using an anonymous online voting system or an in-person suggestion box where people can write in their nominees. 
  • Holding a meeting and have employees share their nominees with explanations and praise for why that is their choice. 
  • Hosting a mock election in which individuals run for EOM, making the case for why they deserve this honor.

Involving your team in the process promotes transparency and strengthens the bonds among colleagues as they learn to acknowledge and celebrate each other's wins.

Step 5. Offering Meaningful and Diverse Rewards

When it comes to rewards, one size doesn't fit all. To make the program truly impactful, you can tailor the rewards to individual preferences and interests.  Recognition ideas are a great time to be creative! Employees are sure to enjoy thank yous like:

  • Gift cards to their favorite store or restaurant.
  • Professional development opportunities, such as workshops or online courses.
  • Personalized workspace upgrades, like ergonomic furniture or office gadgets.
  • Extra time off or flexible work arrangements.
  • Customized recognition awards or company swag with the employee's name on it.

In the case of ABC Tech, they offer a mix of tangible and intangible rewards so that staff can choose the one that best suits them at the time. This is especially valuable as a small company who will eventually cycle through the same EOMs. For example, the first time an employee becomes an EOM they might choose a gift card to their favorite store. Next time, they might want a day off for selfcare. 

In this way, team members can consistently look forward to their next time as an EOM when they can choose a new reward

Step 6. Communicating and Celebrating Success

Once you've selected the EOM, it's time to spread the news and celebrate their success. You can do so by:

  • Announcing the winner through various channels like email, team meetings, or your company's intranet.
  • Sharing their story and accomplishments on your company's social media platforms or in the internal newsletter.
  • Hosting a celebration or recognition event, inviting colleagues to express their congratulations and appreciation.

As a distributed company with mostly remote staff, ABC Tech decides to share the news on Slack and the company website. Then during their monthly all hands, they have a virtual celebration for the winner. During this event, colleagues are encouraged to share stories and express appreciation for their co-worker's achievements.

Step 7: Evaluating and Refining the Program

Like any initiative, it's crucial to regularly evaluate and refine your Employee of the Month program. Consider gathering feedback from employees and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. Here are a few ways to ensure the program continues to meet its objectives and contributes to the wellbeing of your staff: 

  • Have an open call for feedback, ideas, and suggestions.
  • Implement a software system to track progress and measure outcomes.
  • Regularly survey employees to align rewards with employee preferences to keep the program fresh and exciting.
  • Monitor response rates for nominations and surveys to determine level of excitement around the program.
  • Vote on suggestions for process improvements that make it easier for managers and team members to recognize each other. 

Building a Happier, Healthier Workforce

Your Employee of the Month program can contribute to a supportive culture that produces happier, healthier employees. Building an EOM program in conjunction with wellness initiatives can lead to an even more engaged, productive, and healthy workforce.

Wellness programs demonstrate a genuine commitment to the wellbeing of team members, reducing stress, and boosting morale. Integrating these two approaches creates a synergistic effect, leading to happier, healthier employees who feel valued and appreciated for their hard work and dedication.

If you want to learn more about how to implement a wellness program into your workforce, reach out to a Wellbeing Specialist today.

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


Our weekly newsletter is your source of education and inspiration to help you create a corporate wellness program that actually matters.

By subscribing you agree Wellhub may use the information to contact you regarding relevant products and services. Questions? See our Privacy Policy.