There’s nothing quite like being recognized for outstanding performance at work. When the honor is as exclusive as Employee of the Month recognition, the business of conferring the title sends this message: Our employees are as important as our bottom line and we want to broadcast the news. Establishing an Employee of the Month program takes planning and buy-in from everyone from upper managers to lower-level staff, but once it’s in place, you’ll give everyone on the payroll a goal to strive for.

Step 1.

Convene a meeting of executives, department managers and representatives from the rank and file to explore the subject of setting up an Employee of the Month program. Discuss nomination and selection criteria, and suggest appropriate awards. Allow everyone to weigh in on these topics to sleuth out potential problems to be addressed before the Employee of the Month program launches.

Step 2.

Create a policy that outlines your Employee of the Month program. Include criteria that must be met for an employee to be considered, how the committee will evaluate nominations and include mention of the award(s) given to the Employee of the Month (e.g., a gift certificate, cash, the use of a prime parking space, etc.). Spell everything out so there’s no confusing language in the policy.

Step 3.

Publish the announcement of the Employee of the Month program in multiple places. Send e-mails to staff, describe it in the employee newsletter and handbook, and post the announcement on bulletin boards, in break rooms and other common areas. Ask division and department heads to announce the program at staff meetings. Set up a system of nominee collection boxes if your program is open to the entire community. State deadline parameters for candidate submissions -- e.g., Dec. 1 to nominate someone for the January award.

Step 4.

Prepare for problems that may arise after naming of your first few Employees of the Month. Work with the human resources department to short-circuit shenanigans that can result from a system that sets a great example for all employees to strive for excellence while bringing out the worst in others who may have their own motives for stuffing ballot boxes or otherwise disrupting this important staff recognition effort.

Step 5.

Continue to promote the Employee of the Month program as a positive force for change. You don’t have to follow the example of the University of Alabama’s Chief Human Resources Officer who, as part of the Employee of the Month program, splashes the winner’s name across a huge electronic marquee for an entire month, but use this fun example to inspire appropriate rewards for your valued employees.