Engagement? You Don’t Get Much Honoring an “Employee of the Month”

What drives someone to wear a t-shirt like this?

Just lost his job? Wishes he could retire and play video games all day? Is he a rebel at work and proud of it? Or is it some inside joke and I’ll never know the answer.

Who knows? And, I wasn’t going to ask him that question at 4 am while waiting to get on a bus.

What does an Employee of the Month accomplish?

In a past life, (and early in my career), I was part of a management team that got together each month to nominate and select an “Employee of the Month.” Our senior leader would sit in on these meetings and he would snicker or make snide comments about the nominees.

Well, that is until he made a snide comment about one of MY employees. By then I was fed up and proceeded to say “If you’re going to make fun of everyone that we nominate, why the (insert an “F-bomb” here) do we keep doing this?”

Clearly this was unprofessional, so I went back into his office afterwards and apologized – for the “F-bomb” and for doing it in front of everyone else – but NOT for what I said! He didn’t do it again, so mission accomplished.

So do we really need an “Employee of the Month?” Does it really accomplish anything? Or should we perhaps consider looking at the little things that we can do to show our appreciation every day.

Maybe the little things matter more

For instance, as I begin to work with folks who have been transitioned out of their organizations, I’ll confirm the information I’ve been given — spelling of their name, address, email, etc., and very often I have incorrect information. When the person tells me that they tried for months (or years) to get the spelling of their name or their home address corrected, it saddens me to think that the outplacement rep is the one that FINALLY got their information right.

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For every “Employee of the Month,” I guarantee that you have folks who feel like the guy in the picture. “Employee engagement” isn’t about plaques, awards and other dust collectors, it’s about appreciating employees for who they are and treating them as you expect to be treated.

Give folks the opportunity to have their say without fear of retaliation (and not just the rock stars). Find ways to encourage the introverts in your organization to give feedback. Care about what they have to say, implement their ideas, get them involved in the process; help them grow!

Who knows, you just might find out that you‘ve been misspelling their name for the last three years, too.

This was originally published on Deborah Herman’s HR Optimist blog.

Deborah Herman is "Your Recruitment Business Partner" at DH Talent Strategies, LLC in Pompano Beach, FL. She's also a blogger at HROptimist.com, and a HR professional with 20 plus plus years of director-level experience in staffing, marketing and employment communications. Deborah also serves as a District Director for HR Florida State Council. Contact her at dherman@dhtalentstrategies.com.


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