4imprint, LLC

| Updated: March 26, 2024

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2019 and has since been updated to incorporate the latest research on recognition plus new employee of the month gift ideas.

A recognized employee is a happy employee. Twenty-seven percent of senior managers say their companies are “nailing employee recognition,” which means for 73% of companies, there’s at least some opportunity to improve.

Ten buildings. Eight are grayed out.


Furthermore, 57% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with their current job if they feel recognized.


Three coworkers at desk with rewards, plaques and recognition ribbons.


If you want to show your employees how valued they are, consider creating an employee of the month program with employee recognition gifts. We have some best practices plus unique employee recognition gift ideas to help show your staff how much you care.


Set employee recognition goals

Before you hand out your first award, determine why you want to recognize employees. For example, 80% of employers use employee recognition programs to create or maintain a positive work environment.


Top view of cake that says congratulations with cut slices and beverages around it.


Companies also use them to increase sales, recognize special achievements or create healthy, fun competition within or between departments.

Knowing what you want to focus on will help you determine if your employee of the month program will help your company achieve its goals.


Employee recognition gifts: The who, what and how

Now that you know what you’re encouraging, set ground rules for selection, like specifying criteria and involving peers in the process.

  • Do managers determine winners or can employees select them?
  • What criteria should be considered? Most sales? Most improved?
  • Can employees win the award more than once? If so, how often?
  • Can there be multiple winners? Should winners be selected from different departments or by using various criteria?

Knowing all these things in advance ensures fairness.


Explain qualifications to employees

Once your recognition rules are in place, clearly explain them to employees. Because you have already determined what you’re trying to achieve and why you want to offer rewards, employees who hope to achieve this recognition will know where to focus, whether selling more products or bringing positivity to the office.


Select innovative employee of the month awards

Many employee of the month ideas tend to recognize the same things:

  • Length of service
  • Performance that goes above and beyond
  • Behaviours tied to business initiatives
  • Peer-to-peer recognition
  • Retirement

While these are all worthy of recognition, selecting fresh award ideas provides an opportunity to acknowledge more employees and encourage important company values. Here are a few novel ideas:

Novel employee of the month award ideas

  • Problem-solver award
  • Collaborators of the month
  • Office cheer award
  • Favourite mistake
  • Spotlight employee of the month award


Problem-solver award

Sometimes in business, even the most well-thought-out plans have hiccups that call for improvisation. Recognizing those in your organization who come up with a solution under pressure will encourage staff to think on their feet and outside the box.

A multi-tool is an excellent employee of the month gift that reminds staff always to be prepared to solve problems.


Collaborators of the month

As the saying goes, “There’s no I in TEAM.” More importantly, it’s rare that any project or accomplishment is the work of just one person.

Celebrate the group demonstrating all the benefits of teamwork with matching polo shirts for men and women. This employee of the month gift promotes unity and reminds each person that they’re an essential part of an incredible team.


Office cheer award

When the going gets tough, the tough may appreciate a good laugh. Give this award to the team member who keeps people smiling during late nights and tight deadlines, or just by bringing in some muffins to help everyone have a better day.

A stress-relieving screen cleaner is a fun reminder that the winner brought a smile when it was needed most.


Favourite mistake

The truth is, people working hard and innovating will make mistakes, whether trying a new program that doesn’t work or finding the bugs in a new process.

Help people own their mistakes (and learn from them) by celebrating the slip-ups that help move the company forward. An employee recognition gift like a centre-stage coaster can be a fun way to remember that some errors can lead to great things.


Spotlight employee of the month award

If you want to recognize those who don’t always stand out, consider offering an employee of the month gift to give everyone a chance to shine.

Pick an employee and call out how they represent company values. Do they exhibit honesty or integrity? Do they take care of their fellow employees? This award gives you a chance to recognize what each employee does best.

Give them a framed certificate for their workspace as a daily reminder of what you most appreciate about them.


Recognized employees know how much they’re valued

Acknowledging your team with a monthly recognition program—and using employee of the month gift ideas—can keep your staff engaged and excited to come to work. For more employee recognition ideas, check out our article on employee recognition gifts.