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30 Employee Award Ideas (And Why They’re Important)

By Erika Miller
Illustration of a laptop screen with a trophy displayed on it.

If you’re here, you probably already know that employee awards are a great way to motivate and engage your teams, aside from just being really fun! Or, you might be here because you’re curious about what employee awards could do to help your culture. Either way, you’re on the right track and we’re happy to have you!

Before we just jump into a list of ideas, let’s talk a little bit about the different kinds of awards you can introduce in your company and why they each play an important role.

What are Employee Awards?

image with text - Employee awards are a great way to acknowledge the hard work your employees are doing.

Employee awards are a great way to acknowledge the hard work your employees are doing. They’re commonly given out when employees crush goals, performed well, or for some other awesome achievement.

However, you can also give awards for smaller tasks, like completing safety training, step challenges, and more. Maybe in your organization, you also like to give out funny awards to help connect your team, like company superlatives, or who has the cleanest desk. We like to call those Recognition Awards.

What’s the Best Way to Give Awards?

While employee awards have traditionally taken the form of plaques, trophies, or some other physical item, more and more companies are shifting to digital awards—often included in their employee recognition and rewards programs.

image with text - using digital awards integrated within your employee recognition program streamlines the process of giving and receiving awards.

Moving toward digital awards is a great way to lighten HR’s administrative load. Rather than managing swag, physical awards, and monetary gifts until you go cross-eyed, using digital awards integrated within your employee recognition program streamlines the process of giving and receiving awards, especially on remote teams.

30 Employee Award Ideas

We’ve compiled a list of award ideas for you to implement in your organization. No matter what you choose to do, when you introduced employee awards, you’re sure to see a slew of benefits (and have a whole lot of fun at the same time)!

Recognition Awards

1. Employee of the Month

This is the traditional, tried and true recognition award. While we don’t recommend solely relying on a singular monthly award, we do think that this might be a fun way for you to motivate your employees to do their best work — especially if you’ve tied a monetary incentive to your digital award.

2. Most Improved Player

Maybe not all of your employees are on the A Team yet, but they’re probably trying to work toward it! No matter the KPIs you use to identify the most improvement, introducing a Most Improved Player award gives everyone something to work towards.

3. President’s Award

Do you have a numbers-based goal system? If so, the President’s Award could be a really great fit for you. This is an award for those that go above and beyond to crush their quotas while maintaining integrity in their processes. Whether that’s sales, production, customer service, or just about anything else – you should think about introducing a tip-top award like this.

4. Chief Closer

This is a pretty traditional sales award! It’s perfect for the people on your team that end the month with the most deals closed! It’s a great option for teams that might not be able to judge success by the dollar amount brought into the company.

5. Legends Never Die

Raise your hand if you like fun retirement awards! Make retirement a big deal with a fun award and monetary gift to celebrate a long career. For those teams still in the office, you can add this to your normal retirement party. But it’s also a perfect solution for remote teams that aren’t able to get together to celebrate.

6. The Idea Generator

This is for the person on your team that seems to be a never ending stream of ideas. They’re constantly adding great insight, new perspectives, and the best ideas you’ve ever heard. While this isn’t a traditional award, it’s a great way to incentivize your team to start thinking about the bigger picture and tapping into their creative muscle.

7. The Motivator

We all know that one person that seems to be endlessly positive and motivational — no matter the circumstances. Recognizing and rewarding those team members is a great way to encourage your other employees to follow their footsteps in positive behavior.

8. Quarterly Top Sales

Similar to the Chief Closer Award, this is great for the sales person with the most deals closed or most money brought into the company in a given quarter. While these kinds of infrequent awards are more traditional and seen in corporate environments, they can also be a fun way to motivate your team if you do it the right way.

9. Customer Hero

Let’s not forget about your awesome customer service and support teams! We often see awards geared towards the sales side of things, and forget about other groups. But the Customer Hero award is great for employees that are strong advocates for customers and create positive relationships with the people you serve.

10. Leadership Award

This is a great way to encourage leadership throughout all levels of your organization. The Leadership Award is not a management-exclusive award and should be used to recognize those team members who exemplify leadership characteristics like honesty, positivity, hard work, and whatever else a leader looks like to you.

11. The Energizer Bunny

You probably know someone in your company that seems like they have a never-ending stream of energy. Rather than stifling that, award it! It’s a great way to positively influence where that energy is channeled at work.

12. Key Contributor

Have an employee that seems to have a part in basically every project? Yeah, us too! Take the time to recognize their incredible contributions with a fun award that lets them know you see their hard work and appreciate all they do to make your team and company better.

13. Team Player

It can be hard to work with everyone — especially if you’ve got some major differences. The Team Player award is for those team members that seem to be able to work with everyone, no matter how different they might be.

14. Positive Power

Similar to the Motivator and Energizer Bunny, the Positive Power award is meant for those people on your team who are positive in the face of everything. Whether things are great or not so great, they’ve always got a smile on their face and a positive slogan in their back pocket.

15. The Person Behind the Curtain

Maybe you’ve got someone on your team who doesn’t get recognition for all the things they’re doing to contribute to the success of the company. That’s where this award comes in. Take the opportunity to award and recognize the great things that are happening, even if no one else sees them.

Achievement Awards

16. 10,000 Steps

Wellness challenges should be included in your Achievement Awards! If you’ve got a company step challenge (or even if you don’t...), award your employees for hitting and exceeding the daily step goal.

17. The Company Influencer

If you’ve got someone (or someones) on your team that is a superstar at promoting your company on social media or interacts with every post, you can gamify the experience and create an award to celebrate their activity and encourage other team members to get engaged on social media, too!

18. Safety Expert

Getting team members to complete safety trainings can be a chore. But when award employees for completing the necessary tasks, they’ll start to associate the hard work they complete with the dopamine rush and satisfaction they feel when they’re awarded.

19. Referral Machine

The best new hire employees come from interal referrals! Creating an award experience for the employees with the most new hire referrals is a great way to encourage all team members to get involved in the well-being of the company.

20. Office Parent

This award is for the person on your team who always seems to take care of those around them. Whether it’s remembering important days like birthdays and anniversaries (Motivosity makes that easy), having headache medicine, or running the company carpool — they’ve always got the needs of others in mind and take special care of everyone.

21. Walking Encyclopedia

Have someone on the team that seems to always have an answer for everything (like, everything)? Us, too. We like to call them walking encyclopedias. This is the perfect award for the brainiacs on your team that know something about everything.

22. Never-On-Time

While this might seem like a weird thing to celebrate…it’s a funny way to help people feel a part of the team! Finding little things to award keeps people on their toes and creates a tight-knit bond between team members.

23. Company Superlatives

Remember in school when people were voted most likely to take over the world or best dressed? Try introducing company superlatives as a fun way to help employees interact with one another. It will get everyone engaged and is a fun activity for everyone to be a part of.

24. Gym Membership

Getting back to wellness challenges...maybe you’ve got an initiative to have everyone in the office living a healthier lifestyle. Not only does this help with health benefits, but creating an award to reocgnize the people with gym memberships and maybe even giving them a monetary reward to reimburse the cost is perfect to get more people on board with wellness initiatives.

25. Call Crazy

The Call Crazy award is a mix of both a recognition and an achievement award (a recog-chievement, if you will). If you’ve got team members that make calls for their positions, creating a competition for the most calls in a day is a fun way to tap into your employees’ competitive spirit and see some positive numbers coming your way.

26. Captain Planet

We all know the employee that has the world’s greenest thumb. They’ve got a desk full of plants and carry the responsibility of keeping the office plants alive (ahem…Julie Lee is ours). Make an award that is specific to their personality to show that you care about them as a person.

27. Book Club

Do you have a company book club? Or want to start one? Use the Book Club award to recgonize those team members that take part in the reading and discussion of a company-chosen book. This award is great for large amounts of people, not just restricted to one.

28. Business Expert

This award is for the people on your team who know your business in and out. They’ve proven that they understand your product or services and can talk about it in their sleep. Maybe you’ve got a demonstration certification or a business knowledge quiz — recognize their outstanding performance with a Business Expert Award.

29. Onboarding Champion

Awarding your new hires for completing the onboarding process is a super fun way to introduce them to your recognition-based and people-first culture. It takes a lot of work to fill out W-2s, insurance paperwork, complete trainings, and more. So...award them for it!

30. Office Competitions

If you’re looking for a way to engage all employees, whether in the office or not, creating office competitions with corresponding awards is a fun way to get employees involved, interacting with one another, and more. It could be best Christmas sweater, coolest Zoom background, or something else your company is passionate about. Try it out!

So?

We hope this list of awards was helpful to you and got some ideas flowing! Company awards are very individual to what works best for your team and their needs. We’re proud of you for making this an initiative and finding ways to engage your employees.

Here's your award for being the best company award researcher, and for reading this whole list!

image with text - Badge with text that says: Best Company Award Researcher