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Spot Award

>> HR Glossary/  Compensation & Benefits / Spot Award

What is a spot award?

A spot award is a spur-of-the-moment employee recognition for employee performance and exemplary behavior as and when it happens. The prize can be both monetary and non-monetary. It is used as a retention tool to let employees know their efforts have been recognized and reinforce the organization’s values. 

The two characteristics of a spot award are:

  • It is instant – The award is given at the moment. Recognizing an employee three months after their performance would not be considered a spot award. The word spot indicates the award is given “on the spot.” 
  • Monetary and non-monetary – Employees can receive non-monetary recognition (such as a certificate) or monetary (cash, bonus, gift certificates, etc.)

A good spot award program has a balance between monetary and non-monetary incentives.

Spot award examples

Non-monetary spot award examples

  • Social media shout-out – To recognize an employee by giving them praise on company social media platforms. 
  • Wall of fame – A wall, in the office or virtual, is used to put up photos of employees doing great work. 
  • Enjoy a meal on the company – Giving an employee a free lunch, for example, paid for by the company. 
  • Rotating trophy – A trophy that can recognize an employee who exemplifies a particular value or goes beyond the call of duty on the job. It can be given to a different employee every week or month. 
  • Spontaneous treats – Giving employees free coffee or snacks. 
  • Virtual party – Throwing an on-the-spot virtual party to recognize either a team or individual achievement for remote workers.
  • Company swag – Giving an employee branded employee goods, such as a hoodie, mug, or notebook. 

Monetary spot award examples

  • Gift card – A relevant gift card for a particular store for shopping, travel, or dining. 
  • Cash incentive – Money awarded to the employee on the spot. 
  • Paid vacation leave – An extra day of paid vacation leave is granted to the employee. 

When to give spot awards

Consider the following acts to be noteworthy for a spot award: 

  • Going beyond the call of duty to help a customer or complete a project.
  • Implementation of a creative idea to solve a problem.
  • Voluntarily taking the lead on a project.
  • Consistent exhibition of one of the values of the organization. 
  • Assisting a peer when they are struggling.

Spot awards best practices

  • Ensure your spot award program is practiced consistently and fairly to avoid overly competitive behavior.
  • Do not use it as a replacement for annual bonus awards.
  • Ensure social visibility. In other words, make a big deal about it. A spot award is a proud moment for an employee, and sharing it with a larger group will amplify its importance.
Spot Awards Best Practices
  • Consider leveraging technology, such as an internal employee recognition platform, email, and social media. 
  • Empower line managers with the necessary toolkits to properly use spot awards. 
  • Avoid awarding it to the same employee all the time.
  • Ensure that you communicate the process of spot awards in a transparent way.
  • Create a threshold for managers to ensure the awards are in line with the company budget. 

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