Sometimes in media (but most often in a Work Com), companies may introduce an employee of the month award, designed to get people working more efficiently. Although this is usually just for bragging rights, occasionally something more rewarding, like a trip elsewhere or even a promotion, may be awarded as well. This is usually used in two ways:
- An employee may be shown to be Married to the Job by having either a wall covered in Employee of the Month awards which they earned or otherwise having been mentioned to have won the award.
- Alternatively, a company may introduce the award, which leads to everyone being more proactive than they usually are in a bid to win it and earn validation.
The award may be used to provide An Aesop about competition and how it can ruin friendships, especially if it leads to an All for Nothing situation where none of the main characters win. It may also be seen as Serious Business. If it does ruin a friendship, but only temporarily, it can lead to a Feud Episode.
Conversely, it may Compliment Backfire and make the recipient demoralized to realize their biggest achievement in life is a minor award from a Soul-Crushing Desk Job or Soul-Sucking Retail Job. It may inspire them to Pursue the Dream Job, flip out and say "Take This Job and Shove It", or maybe just learn to accept Happiness In Minimum Wage.
This does not necessarily have to be an employee of the month award - it can also be given out as an Employee of the Week as well, for instance. As long as it's an award given out to make employees work at a better pace.
This is Truth in Television with the Employee of the Month award being an actual award given out by employers which recognizes employees for achieving excellence in their field, as well as those who were the best worker across all fields. The purpose of said award is to encourage the staff to work harder and more productively. It can also be put on an employee's resume to prove to a potential new employer how hard that worker has done in their previous company.
See also the Swear Jar, which can also be used to improve a person's behaviour.
Not to be confused with the 2004 Black Comedy Film starring Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate. Nor is it to be confused with the 2006 American Comedy Film (although the trope is used in the movie itself).
- An ad for CareerBuilder showed a woman having a minor existential crisis on realizing she had been Employee of the Month each month for an entire year, inspiring her to go out and hunt for a more rewarding job.
- A radio ad for Regional Help Wanted contrasts the Employee of the Month you could find through their recruiting service vs. Dave, The Slacker who fakes being sick to go to ball games. Don't be a Dave.
- Guess who is Employee of the Month at GEICO? The Gecko doesn't even seem to mind that the honorary parking space is way too big for his miniature sports car.
- The Dilbert strip for Thursday 29 December 2005 has the Pointy-Haired Boss issue an Employee of the Month Award to Tina, though he can't cite a specific reason. Tina is aghast that her work goes unnoticed, and that her contributions are ignored. It's clear the Boss is doing this pro forma, as he cluelessly responds to Tina's concerns with "You're welcome."
- Monsters, Inc.: In the early part of the movie, we see that Monsters Inc. has an employee of the month program; and every single one was won by James P. Sullivan.
- The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie reveals that SpongeBob has won 374 consecutive Employee of the Month awardsnote . He therefore believes he's a shoo-in for the manager's job at the Krusty Krab 2, only to be crushed when the job goes to Squidward instead.
- Employee of the Month (2006): A major part of the movie is Zack trying to win the award at the local "Super Club" (A Warehouse Club), so that he can win the affections of the new cashier, Amy Renfro. He is also competing with Vince Downey, who has won the award 17 times in a row. He is eventually successful at getting the award.
- Employee of the Month (2004): Dave works at a small bank. A minor plot point is that the boss's son-in-law Kyle has held the Employee of the Month title for several years in a row. When Dave accuses him of nepotism, his boss flatly denies this, despite calling Kyle an idiot in the same sentence. After being fired from his job (based on a review authored by Kyle), Dave goes out of his way to be the worst employee of the month by Going Postal on his last day.
- The Way, Way Back: Duncan becomes successful enough at the water park that he wins Employee of the Month, to the surprise of his parents.
- The Brittas Empire: The episode "The Disappearing Act" has Councillor Drugget bring in an Employee of the Month Competition, with the eventual award of two tickets to Paris. At the end of the episode, Brittas decides to award the tickets...to no one, since he never liked the concept of the award. Not that it would have mattered anyway, since Julie's niece has been sent hurtling to France on the Eurostar and her parents take the tickets to pursue her.
- Corner Gas: In "Knit Wit of the Month", Lacey puts up an Employee of the Month plaque for Josh, her only employee. Wanda starts feeling unappreciated because Brent won't do the same for her at the gas station, but he thinks it's rather pointless to do when you only have one employee. He seems to come around when Lacey says it will make him look like a good employer... but instead he names himself Employer of the Month. Lacey tries to make Wanda feel better by naming her Customer of the Month, leaving Brent feeling unappreciated as a customer and he decides to no longer eat at the Ruby. Soon Lacey discovers that not only is Wanda a really disruptive and ungrateful customer, but that Brent actually makes up a significant portion of the Ruby's profits. Brent settles things by making Wanda Employee of the Month and returning to eat at the Ruby, but he makes sure to draw graffiti on Wanda's plaque just like he warned her would happen at the beginning.
- Danger Force: In "Monsty", Mika desperately seeks to be named Employee of the Month, but her overzealous attempts to prove her worth just end up causing trouble.
- Fresh Off the Boat: Eddie receives this for his work at Cattleman's Ranch in Vice Mommy", which is an indication that Nepotism is starting to take effect for him.
- Monk: One episode (Mr Monk And The Employee of the Month) features a criminal whose plan hinges on being made this trope so she can get the rights to a specific parking spot with access to a manhole leading to the sewer below the store. The episode also begins with the previous Employee of the Month dying after a tv is dropped on her head.
- The Office (US): Part of the plot for the episode "Scott's Tots", revolves around the setting up of an Employee of the Month award by Jim to increase office morale. This is sabotaged by Dwight, who collects money from each of the employees as part of an unauthorized cash prize, and it ends with Jim announcing the Employee of the Month, only to find that he accidentally picked himself. Making matters worse is when Jim decides to forgo the award, only to discover that the next best employee is his wife Pam.
- Out of This World (1987): Season 2's "The Secret of Evie's Success" sees Evie get hired at a diner and become so successful at her job that she's named "Waitress of the Month", but she soon gets distressed when she finds out the previous "Waitress of the Month" not only lost the title because of her, they lost their job. She proceeds to sabotage her own position, culminating in her gladly getting fired.
- When Leslie gives Ron an employee of the month plaque in Parks and Recreation, Ron dramatically gets up, grabs the plaque, and immediately disposes of it as if it were a dead body.
- The Sopranos: The episode Employee of the Month offers a much, much darker take on this. When Dr. Melfi goes to the sandwich shop, she recognises the titular Employee of the Month..as her rapist who got Off on a Technicality
- Superstore: Cloud 9 has an "Employee of the Month" award, which frequently goes to Mateo and is relevant in some episodes.
- In "Toxic Work Environment," Glenn wants to give the award to Kelly to deter her request for a store transfer, even though she's not a good worker. When Mateo protests, Glenn instead invents a new award, the "Golden Vest," to give to Kelly. Mateo gets jealous and tries to get this award, but Kelly thinks it's meaningless, as is the "Employee of the Month" award. Mateo takes the Golden Vest at the end after Kelly leaves the store.
- In "Myrtle," Myrtle is posthumously made Employee of the Month since she never won the award in her life.
- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: A Season 2 episode of the show involves Mr. Moseby promising a paid vacation to the winner of the Employee Of The Month award. All the employees end up creating a series of problems in a bid to impress him, leading to him calling off the competition after only a week. When he's pressured to pick a winner anyway, he ends up going for Carey, who had been taking sick leave, and therefore was the only one who didn't create any problems.
- "Employee of the Month" by They Might Be Giants is about a guy bragging about being named Employee of the Month at "the crumb factory". The music, especially the vaguely ominous slide whistles that continue into the outro, gives the impression of someone clinging to a minor accomplishment to keep themselves from going crazy.
Got a job at the crumb factory
It's my very first job
I'm working at the crumb factory
It's my number one job
I'm employee of the month
Number one crumb-making son of a gun
I just need one sandwich
And I'm set all day for making crumbs
- A print ad for spreadsheet software has the banner headline: "The annual sales figures said 'star.' The breakdown said 'dog.'" An Employee of the Year trophy is shown with its head cut off. The honoree used to skate by on house accounts, selling bulk quantities of marginal-profit items, which inflated his gross sales total, but tanked his expense-to-profit ratio. The spreadsheet exposed his dogging, so the award got the axe, and possibly the dog's job as well.
- PopCap game Big Money has the rank "Fry Cook of the Month'' for when your score is between $4000 and $5000, being one step up from a regular fry cook and two steps up from a minimum wage slave.
- Grand Theft Auto V: Lamar is confused when Franklin gets a Premium Deluxe Motorsport Employee of the Month award from Simeon. He insists that he works hard enough to deserve Employee of the Month himself and considers it to be a badge of honor worth fighting for, unlike Franklin, who couldn't care less about winning it.
- Hades: After the Lounge is unlocked, a portrait next to the Wretched Broker's area honors an Underworld employee who has performed well, similar to Employee of the Month (it rotates every run or so). Zagreus can interact with this portrait and will often express pride for the friends who make it on there. And after the ending, he will occasionally be featured.
- Poptropica: On Night Watch Island, you take up a job as a night security guard at a mall. During your training, you stop a robot running on an escalator, which is promptly shredded when it reaches the bottom. Later, in the manager's office, you can see a photo of this same robot, captioned "Employee of the Month".
- Psychonauts 2: The first level has the Psychonauts make a psychic construct of an Employee of the Month contest in order to trick Loboto into revealing his employer. Poor dude is actually quite excited about finally winning such an award, which makes him just a bit bitterer when he realizes he's being tricked and decides to resist.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants Employee Of The Month: The plot of the game is kicked off when SpongeBob wins another Employee of the Month Award, which makes him Employee of The Year and earns him two tickets to Neptune's Paradise.
- One of the many amusing posters in the Madness Combat series is one proclaiming a generic Mook named Rich to be Employee of the Month. Rich later makes an appearance in Madness Project Nexus, where he has been Employee of the Month at a power plant for 30 years straight. He also seems to be the only employee of the said power plant.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-254 is a blank frame labeled "Employee of the Month." When hung, a model employee appears, with their picture occupying the frame. For the next month, they will have excellent performance, but degrade in quality afterward until fired.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The episode "Men at Work" has Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen getting jobs at McSpanky's burger joint. Their boss is a guy named Skeet, who is also the Employee of the Month, even though he seems to have been the only person working there before the trio came along. He apparently cherishes his award so much that he initially refused to leave the building after it goes haywire, that is until he's almost crushed by a falling pillar.
- Bob's Burgers:
- In "Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise", Bob hires Louise's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Logan to work at the restaurant so Logan's mom Cynthia will give Bob a plot in the community garden. Logan doesn't do anything except make a mess and pick on Louise, but when Louise fights back it upsets Cynthia and Bob is forced to give Logan an Employee of the Month award to keep Cynthia happy and avoid losing his garden. Even though she knows the award is meaningless, the gesture still upsets Louise so much that she quits.
- In "Driving Big Dummy", Linda and the kids are left working at the restaurant while Bob is away. With a big rush of customers coming in and the kids being as unhelpful as ever, Linda tries to entice them to work harder by offering an Employee of the Day award; the winner gets twenty seconds worth of soft-serve ice-cream from the machine.
- Family Guy: Pawtucket Brewery employee Opie is mentioned to have been Employee of the Month at least twenty times.
- King of the Hill: One episode started with Hank winning the award, apparently for the 41st time in a row. Its also hinted at that this is the reason why he was asked to hire the next associate for Strickland Propane.
- The Loud House: Downplayed in "The Boss Maybe", which begins with Leni being awarded Employee of the Month and, being The Ditz, thinking it's her birthday.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Following Twilight Sparkle opening a school of friendship, one of the things she does is a teacher of the month where the students choose their favorite teacher. Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash seek to get their frame up for one month to a competitive degree. However, Fluttershy achieves the award every month without even trying as hard as either of them.
- Pixar's short cartoon Perl has bright and girly Perl arrive at her new workplace, where she soon becomes an ill-fitting oddity. While sitting in misery at her desk, Perl looks at the office wall where framed Employee of the Month photos are posted. Perl recognizes a commonality to them, so the next day, she has dressed in grey and started acting mannish. She finds that she's fitting in much better in the office culture this way.
- The Simpsons:
- The episode "Deep Space Homer" features a variant with the "Employee of the Week" award. Homer is hoping to win the award, since he is the only employee to not have won it yet and the company handbook states that each employee must win it regardless of their incompetence. To his dismay, however, the award ends up going to an inanimate carbon rod instead.
- In "Homer Defined", he actually does win Employee of the Month after saving the power plant from a catastrophic meltdown. This comes with perks like a reserved parking space next to Mr. Burns. Notably, the hall of fame of the previous Employees of the Month are all Waylon Smithers.
- Spongebob Square Pants: A major part of the episode "Employee of the Month" is SpongeBob and Squidward competing with each other to earn the award at the Krusty Krab. It's also shown in that episode that SpongeBob has won the award at least 26 times.
- In fact, the Best Day Ever music album even had a song based on this.
- Teen Titans: Beast Boy ends up working as a Burger Fool to pay for a moped in the episode "Employee of the Month". He manages to earn the titular title, though this is more than likely because he's the restaurant's only actual employee. And his "boss" can't seem to get his name right.