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Employee awards do not have to be elaborate or fancy. A simple certificate can show that management cares, notices and rewards its people. Whatever you do, keep the awards positive. Nobody wants an award for being the last to arrive in the morning, or first to leave. You want the award to motivate the recipient through recognition and motivate fellow employees to work harder. Use humor both in the certificate and in your presentation. Give out the awards frequently, accompanied by free lunch or treats.
General Awards and Specific Awards
Pick a phrase that you can use for a variety of circumstances. For example, “The Nose to the Grindstone Award” recognizes hard work and can be funny with an appropriate graphic. You can also include specific awards such as “Great Catch!” for a person who saved the company from making a mistake. Or, recognize those who are active in charities, such as “The Dracula Award” for a person who has given 10 pints of blood.
Match the Award to the Ceremony
Match the award title with a gift or ceremony theme. A phrase like "You Take the Cake” can be an award for any kind of excellence. The ceremony can feature a variety of cakes, or cupcakes, and the recipient also gets a dozen cupcakes. “Top Dog” is a way of awarding the person who achieves the best numbers in sales, or the fastest production on the line. The ceremony might feature a food truck that serves hot dogs. If your part of the country knows the term “Hero” for a big sandwich, have giant six-foot-long sandwiches from a deli accompany your “Heroes” awards, which can also be for any achievement. Grinder is also a term for such sandwiches, and can fit with your "Grindstone" awards.
Nate Lee was senior editor of Chicago's "NewCity" newspaper and creative director in a global advertising agency. A playwright and published poet, Lee writes about the arts, culture and business innovation. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Tulane University.