How To Use Spot Awards To Keep Your Staff Engaged

Cassy Aite
May 1, 2024
How To Use Spot Awards To Keep Your Staff Engaged

Employee recognition has grown exponentially over the past few decades as employers learn more about its role in happiness and productivity. An Oxford University study backs it up. According to this study, employees were 92% more likely to complete a task in a similar fashion if they received an award or recognition for it.

Historically, recognition for exceptional performance was reserved for the end of the fiscal year, company-wide meetings, or special occasions. Only recently has this trend reversed for the better with the emergency of spot awards.

Intended to reward employees for exemplary performance, spot awards don’t wait for a specific time to engage in hoopla and recognition. They’re on the spot, providing instant gratification and motivation for employee performance to remain in top form no matter what the occasion.

If your employee recognition program lacks pizzazz or has grown stale, spot awards might just be the answer to reviving it.

What Are Spot Awards?

Also known as “on-the-spot awards,” spot awards are a type of immediate recognition given to employees for special contributions or great work. Unlike other types of merit-based recognition, managers — and sometimes peers — can bestow these honors on a person when they exhibit outstanding performance.

Spot awards can come in the form of either a cash award, gift card, or gift certificate, as well as a non-monetary perk. The type of reward you choose will depend on your budget, company goals, and the scope of the work.

The Benefits of Spot Awards

Spot awards are an integral part of employee engagement, but they also provide other benefits. By implementing a spot awards program, you can also reap these advantages:

  • Improves overall team performance
  • Celebrates hard work with perks and monetary incentives
  • Makes employees feel valued
  • Increases the positive behavior of team members
  • Encourages teamwork
  • Increases the volume of recognition awards and adds another recognition platform, allowing more staff members to gain recognition
  • Acts as a powerful tool in increasing the employee experience and employee well-being
  • Improves employee retention

How To Give Spot Awards

A woman holding a spot award trophy in the office

Depending on the type of program you initiate, spot awards don’t necessarily have to be at the exact moment the task occurs. However, the timeline from task completion to the award should be streamlined to take place as soon as possible.

If you fear that instantaneous awards could disrupt workflow or distract coworkers, you can have spot recognition awards through nomination. Create a nomination form or template like this one from Princeton University. Have employees or managers write down their nominees, pass along the form to human resources, and approve them as soon as possible. Don’t stall on the last step, as this can destroy the entire concept of the spot award.

You should also avoid favoritism in spot awards — or the perception thereof. Spot awards are meant to celebrate the contributions of each worker based on their abilities. You may have a golden goose, but don’t let them hog the attention. We recommend that you disperse spot awards fairly but without them turning into a participation trophy.

When To Issue a Spot Award

Now that you know how to give spot awards, the next step is determining what activities or tasks warrant them. Spot awards and accompanying spot rewards aren’t for simply meeting job responsibilities and duties. You want to award those who go beyond the bare minimum.

We believe that spot awards could be based on accomplishments, including:

  • Finishing a project ahead of time or under budget
  • Offering help or instruction to coworkers without being asked
  • Showing accountability and initiative on a task or project
  • Being mentioned by a client or customer for having exemplary service
  • Using critical thinking and problem-solving skills to craft a unique or creative solution to a problem
  • Demonstrating proven leadership among peers and coworkers
  • Completing tasks and duties outside of written job descriptions
  • Contributing to company culture through any means, especially diversity, equity, and inclusion

Managers and coworkers can also use an eye test and their own judgment to decide who’s worthy of spot awards. Although these may fall outside the listed reasons for a spot award, they entrust managers and peers with the opportunity to acknowledge great work, adding autonomy and excitement to the equation.

7 Gift and Reward Ideas for Spot Awards

As mentioned, spot award gifts can be monetary or non-monetary. No one’s going to turn down cold, hard cash, but other rewards are equally enticing to your employees. The only caveat is that spot rewards shouldn’t replace other perks or benefits, such as an annual bonus, global employee benefits, or unlimited paid time off.

We recommend a few of these ideas to shore up your spot award program.

1. Monetary Rewards

Nothing beats the motivational appeal of cash. Though money may appear like a thoughtless gesture, the idea that a cash prize accompanies added effort could exponentially increase your employees’ work level, productivity, and teamwork.

The amount of a monetary award will vary based on your budget and the action itself, but your employee will surely appreciate a prize of between $20 and $100.

2. A Trophy

If you’re a sports fan, you may have noticed professional and collegiate teams wearing outlandish trophies, necklaces, and other hardware for hitting a home run or initiating a turnover. To wear such hardware is an honor; you’re the king or queen, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Well, you can take that same idea to the office. Create a trophy or hardware that an employee can wear or put on their desk that surrounds the person with prestige, unlike any other prize. (And, of course, a little cash prize on the side wouldn’t hurt.)

3. Lunch Voucher

Bread and a salad sitting next to a laptop

Due to inflation and perceived supply chain issues, the cost of a meal has risen between 22% and 29% since 2020. Unless an employee has the foresight and time to make lunch for themselves each day, that’s a sizable increase in daily costs for fast food or sit-down restaurants.

A lunch voucher is an excellent option to offset these costs and offer a filling option for your spot awards. As humans, we all have different tastes, so a food-based virtual gift card or short-term food allowance gives your employees the option to choose what they want. From Dunkin’ to Panera, a lunch voucher provides a filling experience for your spot award recipient.

4. A Day Off

If someone continuously flashes moments of grandeur, they’re probably working in excess. Even in times of crisis, they’re cool, calm, and collected, offering a steady hand and mind.

So when you want to celebrate their achievements on the spot, an extra day off is a welcomed prize — paid, of course.

5. Public Shout-Outs

Not every company has the capital for monetary spot awards, but you can still recognize individuals for their contributions to the company with public shout-outs. Take to social media, your company newsletter, or a company-wide email to celebrate the achievement.

6. Do What You Want Day

An intriguing, personalized, and spontaneous spot award is one that lets the employee let their imagination shine. So what better way to reward the individuals than a Do What You Want Day?

The employee remains in the office that day or the following day. However, they are allowed to do whatever they see fit, provided it does not distract others. During the day, they can take a nap, cook a meal, watch TV, play a video game, read, or do anything that suits their fancy.

You could give them the day off, but that’s not nearly as fun. It gives the individual the chance to relax while also giving others the motivation to get the same spot award.

7. Virtual Party

Maybe the days of the office pizza party are far in the rearview, but when you can spontaneously celebrate a work milestone or achievement with your coworkers, it definitely feels like a win all the way around.

The type of virtual party will depend on your company, but an end-of-day cocktail party, catered affair, or a dance/karaoke party will put your team in good spirits with your spot award recipient as the guest of honor.

Get Spot Awards on Demand With Hoppier

Stocking up on prizes and rewards helps you integrate a spot award program easily. The only downside is that housing an inventory of physical prizes can seize valuable office space. Rather than having a dedicated spot prize room, turn to digital options with Hoppier.

Hoppier is a virtual gift card provider that allows you to customize the style, expiration, amount, and vendors on each spot award. In a few clicks, you can create an e-gift card and send it to your award recipient(s), allowing them to choose the gift that suits their needs. Any extra amount used goes back into your bank account to boot — reducing the wasteful costs often associated with gift cards.

Hoppier Starbucks gift card

They’ll get the perfect gift and feel valued, while you’ll receive the adulation of being an excellent boss, manager, and leader. Consider it a mental and emotional spot award you’ll remember far into the future.

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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