5 Employee of the Month & Employee Spotlight Ideas in 2020

Recognizing an employee’s hard work, team spirit, and outstanding contributions has always been important for team morale and motivation, but how do you uphold a tradition like “employee of the month” in the new world of remote work? 

Luckily, you don’t need a physical conference room and cupcakes to celebrate a team member’s employee of the month award. Here, we’ve rounded up the best employee spotlight ideas to honor your best and brightest workers. 

Here are the best employee of the month ideas for remote workers, from small and meaningful acknowledgments to public recognition.

1. Give them a shoutout during an all-hands meeting

If you’ve noticed one employee is going above-and-beyond your expectations to meet business goals, simply recognizing that employee out loud in front of your team in your next meeting could mean a whole lot to them. 

Being direct and specific about who and what you’re acknowledging as your employee of the month is the most effective approach. For instance, “I just want to take a moment before we begin to thank Rachel for her outstanding work last week. She solved (abc problem) and helped the team achieve (xyz). Thank you, Rachel, for going above and beyond so we could meet that goal.” 

You may also give your other employees a chance to recognize your employee of the month or simply encourage a round of applause. It may be a little embarrassing for an employee who doesn’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves, but chances are they will appreciate your employee spotlight idea and effort.

2. Let your employee of the month pick your next virtual team-building activity

It’s a small gesture but a great way to increase an employee-of-the-month’s sense of confidence and influence on a team. Team-building events are more important in the virtual and hybrid work-world now more than ever, so putting the spotlight on an employee of the month and letting them pick their favorite idea checks off two very important boxes: overall team morale and individual acknowledgement. 

3. Give them a day or afternoon off

If you’ve seen an employee working online late at night a lot recently, let them know you see their contributions, and that you think of them as your employee of the month, with some paid time off. This is especially effective with the aforementioned employee who may shy away from the spotlight. 

If they’ve overdelivered, have been working long hours and/or are on the way toward burnout, tell them they’ve been doing a great job and should take a paid personal day that Friday (or whatever day makes sense for them and the rest of the team.)

4. Send them an employee care package

Who doesn’t love receiving some good cheer in the mail, especially during a time when many of us are stuck at home? If you don’t want to risk seeming too personal in your care package for an employee of the month, you could make it a mix of professional gear for their home office and items for “digital wellbeing.” For instance, some desk essentials like a coffee mug and a ring-light for video conferences may be included, as well as ergonomic support like a footrest or lumbar cushion for long days at their desk. 

A surprise package for an outstanding teammate is one of the best employee spotlight ideas a boss can have.

5. Make them a social media superstar

Employee of the month awards have long been an internal company tradition, but in the remote work world as well as the age of social media, it can be a great public-facing event as well. An innovative employee spotlight idea that’s gaining popularity in different industries is profiling your employee of the month in a social media post. You can include their name, photo, and the reason why they are being recognized as employee of the month. 

One note of caution: While public recognition is always a grand gesture, it’s a good idea to make sure your employee of the month is comfortable with their name and photo being posted online ahead of time.

As we’ve seen here, remote work has changed many things in the workplace, but the need for recognizing great team members is just as important as ever. No matter how big or small your gesture, it’s sure to boost employee satisfaction and overall motivation — especially when used in conjunction with other team building activities.

Anna Webber

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