Via Davidlohr Bueso On Flikr
via Davidlohr Bueso on flikr

Workplace Awards

Once upon a time, years ago at HP, an excited employee burst into his manager’s office, announcing how he had just solved a difficult problem. His equally excited boss, in the middle of lunch, handed him the closest available “prize” — a banana, which has since morphed into the Golden Banana Award.

We’ve come across some fantastic award systems in our travels. Although often given for a job well done or living core values, awards themselves can vary greatly. Recognizing great work is crucial, but even more so is having a system — infrastructure in place — by which to recognize. Habitual celebration of excellence makes for a consistent environment of appreciation and support.

Ben Kirshner at New York’s Elite SEM awards a bottle of wine every time an employee gets a phone call from a recruiter. Solstice Mobile has employees nominate and vote every week on who gets to occupy the Awe-fice, reserved especially for the most awesome person that week. John Phelps, CEO of the Arizona Bar Association, hands out medallions with that year’s core value engraved on it whenever he sees an action that deserves it. An executive manager at IBM treated a problem-solving — or just really positive — junior employee to lunch every month.

No matter the frequency or scale, award systems have a huge impact on motivation and morale. We know a bunch of them, but we’d love to hear more! What employee reward systems — especially offbeat ones — do you use or have come across? And can you tell us any great stories you’ve heard about winning such an award?

To kick things off, here’s top 25 Culture Awards we’ve seen or thought of. You can download it here — and be sure to let us know what you think!

Pamela Kaye does PR and Communications for Stories Incorporated. Questions, comments, concerns, poetic insights? Let me know at; I’d love to hear from you!

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