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What Are Spot Awards And How To Nail A Spot Award Program In 2024

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A spot award or on-the-spot recognition is one of the best and quickest ways to deliver meaningful rewards and recognition to your employees.

Today, organizations understand the significance of appreciating their employees. But instead of service awards or "employee of the month" awards, spot awards are more commonly offered in modern reward systems.

This shift is often perceived as a positive one. Because when done right, spot awards can serve as instant motivation for employees while also being cost-efficient for businesses.

This article will talk about the spot award and how it can provide value to your employees and your organization.

Let's start with some basics.

Key Takeaways

  1. Concept of Spot Award
  2. When to Give a Spot Award?
  3. Examples of Spot Award
  4. Spot Award Programs Best Practices
  5. Common Challenges of a Spot Award Program

What Is A Spot Award?

What is a Spot Award

Spot awards are a form of employee recognition where you recognize exemplary performance or behavior as and when it happens.

The main purpose of spot awards is to let employees know that you have noticed their efforts. At the same time, it reinforces the values that are important to your organization.

Two of the most important characteristics of spot awards are:

1. They are instant rewards.

We call them "spot awards" because they are delivered "on the spot".

In today's world of instant gratification, employees find little value in getting praise for something they did months ago.

Also, the workforce today consists mainly of millennials, who prefer on-the-spot recognition to yearly reviews. They need acknowledgment as soon as they achieve a goal or excel at work.

2. They may involve monetary or non-monetary benefits.

Spot awards may include non-monetary forms of appreciation, like a social shout-out, certificates, company logo items, etc.

You see, sometimes a pat on the back could be all it takes to get an employee through the daily grind. These gestures help build an emotional connection between the company and the employee.

However, spot awards can also involve monetary benefits like cash, bonuses, or discounts. In fact, it works the best with a point-based reward system where you can give monetary incentives to employees for their efforts.

When Should You Give A Spot Award?

Spot Awards should be presented at moments when an employee's contribution significantly exceeds the expectations of their role, directly impacting project success or enhancing workplace culture.

Here are some examples of moments or ideal opportunities for spot awards -

1. Exceptional Performance:

Reward your employees with spot awards when they significantly surpass their job responsibilities. Celebrate outstanding performance that contributes to the success of a project or the organization.

2. Innovation and Creativity:

Reward your employees for the development of innovative solutions or creative problem-solving. Celebrate innovation that enhances efficiency, reduces costs, or drives the organization forward in a meaningful way.

3. Leadership and Teamwork:

Recognizing individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities, foster teamwork, or contribute to a positive team environment, especially under challenging circumstances.

4. Customer Satisfaction:

For contributions that directly lead to increased customer satisfaction or resolve complex customer issues, highlighting the importance of customer focus in the organization’s values.

5. Operational Improvements:

Acknowledging efforts that result in significant operational improvements, process optimizations, or quality enhancements, contributing to the organization's efficiency and effectiveness.

6. Cultural Contributions:

Celebrating actions that significantly contribute to the organization's culture, such as embodying core values, promoting diversity and inclusion, or enhancing employee engagement and morale.

What Is The Importance Of Spot Awards

People like to be recognized. From the new hire to the veterans, everyone in your company wants to know that their work adds value to the organization. In fact, research says that the primary reason for employees quitting jobs is not getting enough recognition.

To retain and motivate your people, your organization needs a vibrant recognition culture. And spot awards can be a perfect addition to your reward and recognition program to drive your organizational outcomes.

They can help organizations build a value-based recognition culture by rewarding employees who go above and beyond their duties while encouraging initiative and creativity.

Some benefits of having a spot award program are:


Spot awards involve giving recognition to employees for their good work almost immediately or as soon as possible. This timeliness of spot awards makes them extremely effective in motivating employees.

When given regularly, spot awards can increase overall employee satisfaction.


With higher motivation, employees become absorbed and enthusiastic about their work. They see the organization's vision as their own and make an effort to drive business success. Thus, the spot award can be vital to employee engagement.


It is a well-acknowledged fact that rewards and recognition help enhance the performance and commitment levels of employees. People are more likely to put in consistent efforts over time if they sense their efforts are being noticed and acknowledged. In this context, spot awards have emerged as an extremely powerful tool in boosting the workforce's effectiveness.

Getting appreciated boosts morale by creating 'oxytocin' in the body. People under the influence of this 'love hormone' perform better, and it helps them understand what they're doing right. Their dedication increases, and their performance levels improve.


According to a Glassdoor survey, 53% of employees say they would stay longer in a company if they felt appreciated. When employees are content with their jobs, they are less likely to hunt for new ones. This is why, in the long run, spot awards can help raise employee retention rates.

Spot Award Examples

Monetary Spot Award Examples

1. Cash Award - A straightforward monetary reward for immediate recognition of exceptional work.

2. Gift Cards - Versatile rewards that can cater to the interests of the employee for shopping, dining, or travel.

3. Bonus - Additional financial incentives that can be given instantly for surpassing project goals or exceptional performance.

Non - Monetary Spot Award Examples

1. Social Media Shout-Outs - Public recognition via company social media platforms or internal channels, celebrating the employee's achievements and making them known across the organization.

2. Certificates and Trophies - Personalized awards that recognize specific accomplishments, contributing to the employee's sense of achievement and pride.

3. Time Off - Additional personal or vacation days as a reward for hard work, offering rest and relaxation as a form of appreciation.

4. Company Swag - Small but meaningful tokens of appreciation, such as treats or company-branded merchandise, can make employees feel valued and recognized.

5. Wall of fame – A wall, in the office or virtual, is used to put up photos of employees doing great work.

6. Digital Recognition Badges - Digital recognition badges are virtual symbols given to employees to recognize their achievements, contributions, or skills. These badges serve as tangible, visual representations of excellence, motivating individuals and boosting workplace morale, productivity, and retention.

Spot Awards Programs Best Practices

Spot award at workplace

As we discussed, the primary objective of spot awards is to recognize employee efforts and behaviors instantly.

To get the best possible outcome from this method of recognition, organizations can adopt the following best practices:

Establish Specific and Diverse Criteria

Define clear, diverse criteria for awards that cover a broad spectrum of achievements and behaviors. Make sure that the employees clearly understand the wide range of contributions they can offer to win a spot award. For example, criteria could include -

  • Innovation,
  • Teamwork,
  • Customer service excellence, and
  • Leadership.

You can also provide examples of past winners to offer clarity and inspiration.

Train And Empower Managers

Empowering managers to offer spot recognition can make the program truly successful.

Manager-to-employee recognition helps build a strong culture of appreciation at the ground level. Employees feel truly happy and proud being instantly recognized by their superiors. It also assures them that they are on the right path in executing their business goals.

You can support managers with a digital employee recognition tool, sufficient budget, and a clear recognition workflow involving minimal approvals. They should be trained on when and how to offer spot awards (such as public or private recognition). This would encourage managers to reward and recognize employees when they see good performance or behavior.

Promote a Culture of Peer Recognition

Encourage a culture where peer recognition is valued alongside managerial recognition.

Choose a platform where employees can nominate their peers for Spot Awards. This not only increases the avenues for recognition but also builds a more cohesive and supportive team environment.

Utilize Technology for Efficiency and Visibility

Adopt digital recognition platforms that facilitate easy nomination, tracking, and announcement of awards. These platforms can offer visibility across the organization, allowing all employees to see who has been recognized and for what achievements.

In 2021, we conducted a study on R&R trends for remote working. Based on 248 responses from industry experts, we got the following key findings:

  • 58% of HRs said adopting digital R&R platforms impacts overall engagement and retention.
  • 79% of respondents want an agile R&R platform for remote employees.
  • 55% of respondents want mobile-friendly R&R platforms for remote workers.
  • 53% of respondents said digital R&R platforms enhance HR efficiency while working remotely.

Moreover, using a digital platform helps streamline the administrative process. It makes managing the process easier as the company scales up.

Incorporate Recognition into Regular Communications

Regularly include recognition stories and Spot Award winners in company communications, such as newsletters, meetings, and intranet posts. Sharing these stories can amplify their impact, inspire others, and reinforce the behaviors and achievements that the organization values most.

Calling out successful employees publicly for their achievements makes them cherish such moments for a long time.

For more social visibility, you can announce through social media, a digital recognition platform, a "Wall of Fame" feature, or a team meeting.

Ensure Transparency and Fairness

Develop a transparent process for how Spot Awards are decided and distributed. Ensuring a transparent process includes

  • Clear communication about the criteria,
  • The nomination process, and
  • The selection mechanism.

Fairness can be further ensured by having a diverse committee review nominations or by rotating the decision-makers periodically.

Measure Impact and Gather Feedback

Implement mechanisms to measure the impact of the Spot Award Program on employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

To find out the impact, you may ask questions to employees like:

  • Are you clear on the organization's goals and what behaviors we expect from our people?
  • Do you think you'll get recognized if you do good work?
  • Are your satisfied with the type of recognition you get?
  • Do you feel motivated to keep giving your best at work?

Regularly gather employee feedback about the program's effectiveness and areas for improvement. Use this data to continually refine and adjust the program to meet the needs of the workforce better.

Common Challenges In Implementing Spot Award Program

1. Ensuring Consistency

You may have to deal with multiple departments while recognizing employees. So, ensuring consistency while rewarding employees across various teams and departments is crucial.

Inconsistencies in award distribution can create perceptions of favoritism or bias, undermining the program's fairness and effectiveness.

2. Budget Constraints

Financial limitation is another important factor that comes into play while rewarding employees. It can restrict the number of awards given or the value of each award.

Thus, you must balance budget constraints while still making the awards meaningful for your employees.

3. Managerial Engagement

The success of Spot Award Programs often depends on managers who need to recognize and nominate employees for awards.

Getting busy managers to actively participate and use the program effectively can be challenging. That is why it’s important to train and empower managers.

4. Cultural Fit

Integrating a Spot Award Program that aligns with the company culture can be difficult for some organizations. For example, organizations with a more traditional or hierarchical structure may require a change in their mindset.

Thus, some organizations may require a shift in their company culture towards a more recognition-focused mindset.

Master Your Spot Awards Program With Vantage Rewards

Spot Awards And-Employee Motivation through Vantage Rewards Program

Vantage Rewards is an AI-based tool that helps automate and simplify your spot award programs. The tool, with its real-time interactive feed, enables instant employee recognition.

Managers can recognize their team for a spot award and reward them with monetary benefits in the form of reward points. They can view their allocated budget in a budget wallet and nominate employees accordingly. They can get it approved by a panel of approvers.

We offer an extensive and Global Redemption catalog for employees to redeem their reward points for gift cards, experiences, merchandise, and more.

Our rewarding system is based on the SOLI (Standard of Living Index) framework to help companies recognize global employees. It ensures equal and fair regulation of rewards points against currencies for employees across the globe.

Furthermore, our cross-channel integrations enable your employees to appreciate one another while collaborating across different HRMS or communication tools.

Vantage Rewards also comes with a data-driven Dashboard that enables you to check the spot award distribution pattern in the organization, budget insights, etc.


In recent years, spot recognition has emerged as one of the most effective ways of boosting employee motivation and engagement. It harnesses the power of showing gratitude. And when leaders share their gratitude, positivity spreads among employees, and they want to continue doing good work.

But every employee has unique needs. Remember to put a little thought behind your spot recognition strategy.

Use digital tools to make recognition regular, efficient, and seamless and align your rewards with the company goals. When executed properly, a timely and authentic reward program can be "the" best way to foster an appreciation culture.

This article is written by Nilotpal, a content marketer at Vantage Circle. When he is not reading or writing content, he is probably clicking some photographs. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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