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Award program motivates employees all year

In a New York state office, the employee-of-the-month award goes beyond cursory congratulations. It is a recognition that lasts all year with seven reward components.

Staff take the award seriously. When it is announced at the staff meeting each month, employees are supportive of each other. They cry and hug and congratulate the winner, says the manager of the 21-staff medical office.

The reason for the staff’s enthusiasm is that the award is more than a pat on the back. It carries seven reward elements. All of them are small and the cost is little. But combined, they make the reward worth working toward.

1. A plaque meant to be seen

First is a plaque that hangs beside the reception desk. At the top is a brass plate that says “Outstanding employee of the month award,” and underneath are 12 brass plates for the winners’ names. Each month one of the plates goes to the engraver. The plate shows the employee’s name as well as month of the award.

The manager unveils the plaque at the staff meeting and then she hangs it in an area where it can be seen by everyone who comes in.

2. Like being a member of a club

The second part of the award is a $25 gift certificate to a mall where it can be used in any of the stores and restaurants.

3. A pin to wear

Third is a lapel pin that has an employee of the month insignia on it. The manager ordered a dozen from the catalog, one for each month at a cost of only $3 each. The winner keeps the pin and all the winners have continued to wear their pins even after their award months have ended. Wearing the pin is like being a member of a special club. Staff see it is an honor and it has become a symbol of what the others should strive for.

4. Certificate of achievement

There’s also a certificate of achievement which the manager prints out on the computer and it shows the winner’s name and month. Staff have been hanging certificates at their desks, so the manager plans to start having them framed.

5. Good public relations

Fifth is a newspaper notice. The manager sends an announcement each month to the business briefs section of the local newspaper for its print and online editions. It tells which employee has been chosen and what caused that person to be selected. The manager also describes the staffer’s duties in terms such, “She admits more than 150 people a day.”

In addition, she gives personal information (with permission), such as, “She and her husband have three children and live in such and such area.” or, “She is the single mother of four-year-old James.”

The physicians like the news announcement as much as the staff do because it mentions the practice.

6. Picture and write-up displayed

Next, the manager puts the winner’s photo along with the write up she sends to the news service in the center of a glass display case in the reception area. The case holds brochures and copies of articles the doctors write, so it gets attention. One senior patient could not remember a staff member’s name, so he asked for “Miss February.”

7. Best of all, reserved parking

But the seventh element is the one staff like most. For one month each winner gets the prime parking spot, near the employee door.

Little jobs get recognized

A little recognition goes a long way, said the manager. She finds the award has created an atmosphere of camaraderie.

It has also increased the job satisfaction. In the past staff often complained that no one noticed or appreciated their work, particularly the small everyday jobs they do.

Now however the physicians are well aware of the work staff do.

Because they are the ones who will choose the winner each month, they pay attention to why the award is given out. One doctor, for example, told the manager to remember a staffer for the next award because she always responds promptly with certain reports.

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