7 Employee Recognition Awards That Should Make You Cringe: A Halloween Chamber Of Horrors

What could be more frightening than handing out the same tired, interchangeable, off-the-shelf, clichéd employee recognition awards? Maybe receiving one.

Related PostWhy Choosing the Same Tired, Schlocky Employee Recognition Awards Hurts Your Business

Looking for creative employee recognition awards?

Good luck.

Because let’s face it: trying to find passable, let alone creative employee recognition ideas can be excruciating.

There’s an inescapable irony here: at the very time you’re seeking to recognize exceptional employee performance—to celebrate individual character and achievement—your options seem to consist almost entirely of pre-fab, cookie-cutter clichés and oddments.

Full disclosure: our company designs and manufactures custom employee awards—so, yes, we’ve got a vested interest in pushing alternatives to the usual schlocky fare. (Also, customization can—and frequently does—provide a fresh take on many of the ideas below).

Nevertheless, because of the nature and severity of the problem, we feel duty- bound to offer up this list—-and more as a public service than a sales pitch.

So, just in time for Halloween, we present….

The First 7 Inductees into The Employee Recognition Awards Chamber of Horrors:

1) The incomprehensibly contorted Hunk-Of-Metal Award
Nothing says “Job well done” as unmistakably as a mangled hunk of metal—-especially if the vendor has taken the additional time and care to give it some swanky name in an attempt to confer class and prestige. The Rochambeau. The Secretary General. The Earl of Sandwich.

2) The incomprehensibly contorted Glob-Of-Crystal Award
A close relative of the Contorted Metal Piece, this award’s cachet lies in its…uh, uniqueness. Extra points—and cash for your valued employee at some future yard sale—if there’s some sort of flame motif.

3) Almost anything in the shape of the number “1”
At this point, most executions of this idea are so trite–so incredibly platitudinous— that you might as well just hand your model employee one of those oversized sponge hands with the single outstretched finger.

4) Almost anything involving an eagle
“Eagle with talons”. “Eagle crouching”. “Eagle lurching”. “Eagle cresting”. “Eagle Diving”.“Lurking, cresting eagle with talons”…Does the world really need another eagle award? Do your employees really want to see another eagle award?

5) The pseudo mythological figure award
Who exactly is that heroically posed guy on the award, again? Is it…Prometheus? Wait, wasn’t he the guy who ended up chained to a rock? “Hey, can someone double-check what we’re honoring this guy for?!”

6) The ubiquitous Star trophy
Almost any off-the-shelf variation on this theme is almost too scary to contemplate. Again, a customized employee recognition awards alternative can make this idea work.

7) The “Ring-Around-The-Rosie” Award
The clear-cut winner in the team award category, this one typically depicts faceless stick figures of indeterminate gender formed in a ring and holding hands.

Is it too late to try out for another team?

David Parry is the Director of Digital Strategy for The Corporate Presence, which specializes in deal toys and custom awards.

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