Employee of the Month

employee of the monthOkay, on day six I already had nothing to say, so forget NaBloPoMo. But of course now I have enough for the next couple of days. Isn’t that how it always goes? That’s why I never committed before. And I probably won’t next year.


Last night R and I were watching an episode of Monk, and it reminded me that I have been meaning to write about this whole employee of the month thing for a long time. I just keep forgetting.

The first time I heard about it was during a job interview in the Netherlands. It was at Oracle, and it was my first encounter with an American business model.

At some point the interviewers were telling me how much fun it was working for Oracle, and in this context they mentioned Employee of the Month awards. The idea was to motivate people to always do their best.

I didn’t know you needed an Employee of the Month award for that.

I would think it puts a lot of stress on people. If you’ve been employee of the month, then what else is left, except being awarded employee of the month over and over as often as possible? And what if you never get the award again, does that mean you’re losing your touch?

And what about employees who never get the award? Are they constantly worried that they’ll be the first to get fired when cuts need to be made? Do they think that everyone hates them?

It’s obvious that you’re only going to be employee of the month if the person in charge of it likes you and what you do. I was the only librarian at a police school and at an archaeological service, and management tended to overlook me. I often had to fight tooth and nail to get what I needed to do my job properly. Sometimes I had to get seriously pissed off before anyone paid attention.

The result was that I got what I needed for the library, but it sure wouldn’t have gotten me the Employee of the Month award.

So, to me the Employee of the Month award seems like a divide-and-conquer tool, something that will result in vicious competition and lots of ass-kissing, but not necessarily in better work.

But that’s just my Dutch take. Give me your thoughts and experiences.

One response to “Employee of the Month

  1. Fortunately in teaching there doesn’t seem to be an Employee of the Month (or certainly haven’t been in any of the schools I have worked in) and I think it there was one I would always be thinking ‘well, it won’t be me’. I think it might be ok in the sort of job where there could be some kind of competition to get it, for example a sales target (which would drive people to try harder), but just receiving it because you were the management’s flavour of the month seems wrong. Seeing someone win it several times would just demoralise me, rather than fire me into action, and make me wonder what the point of it was, therefore having the opposite effect that the company was hoping for.


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