Let’s say one Monday morning you were presented with the Top Banana award in recognition of your workplace contributions. You’d probably smile and laugh. Perhaps you’d Instagram a picture, mention it to a friend over dinner, and then keep it on your desk where it would amuse you from time to time.
I’d say all that is probably worth more than the 10 bucks your office spent on a silly hunk of plastic.
The point is that awards and recognition, even when they seem frivolous, can help engage employees and boost morale. Since we know that so many office ninjas are charged with developing and fostering community culture, we came up with a few ideas for awards you can introduce at your workplace.
I once worked at an organization with a “You Rock” award. The “trophy” was an actual rock, and employees would award it to one another every month or so in recognition of a colleague’s exemplary support and teamwork.
It was nice to have a simple, light-hearted way to show appreciation for a peer’s work. And the actual item is a fun way to express your company’s personality (in this case, the organization was outdoorsy). You can even print out free certificates like these fun ones from Poppin.
When everyone’s working against the clock to get a project launched on time, we sometimes forget to take a step back and say, “Hey, we did a pretty great job!” While it’s likely that the project manager has scheduled time to debrief, it’s also important to make time for celebration and good, old-fashioned bragging. Use this time to recognize anyone who emerged as a leader or went above and beyond the call of duty. Use a nomination process, or ask senior leadership to identify superstars.
Neatest Desk Award
Feel free to file this one under the silly category, but a “Neatest Desk” award can be an extremely helpful tool in the pursuit of a clean and orderly office. Make it a monthly competition and incentivize your coworkers with free lunch or a small gift card.
It’s a bit of a stretch to call this one an “award,” but shout-outs are effective, empowering, and super easy to implement, especially if you already have a weekly or monthly all-staff meeting. Simply take the first or last two to three minutes of the meeting and open up the floor for employees’ to recognize one another’s work, support, and contributions. Shout-outs are similar to the “You Rock” award, but they’re verbal, more frequent, and there’s no limit to how many can be given. If you don’t typically have all-staff meetings, use your company’s bulletin board and provide post-its or slips of paper that allow employees to publicly thank each other. If your company has a digital or printed newsletter, shout-outs can be sent in to the newsletter editor to be featured in the upcoming issue.
Most of us want to work in an environment that fosters creativity, right? Encourage employees to think differently by introducing an innovation award. This award could recognize anything from a new product idea to the implementation of a more effective workplace recycling program. An innovation award, especially if it’s taken seriously by senior management and accompanied with a meaningful prize (remember, “meaningful” doesn’t always mean money), can help shape company culture.
Workplace awards can recognize anything from tidiness to project management, and they can take the form of plastic bananas or gift cards. The key is to identify values that are meaningful to your company and find creative, fun, and maybe even silly ways to encourage your coworkers to exemplify them.