Why Every Office Should Have Its Dundies

Employee engagement is the new corporate mantra that has largely driven the rise of gamification in the workplace. Skills, productivity, loyalty, and creativity are all good and indispensable but will never unfold to the full without engagement. And if the latter is the magic door that leads to all these coveted treasures, where can employers find the secret key?


Is Recognition the ‘Open Sesame’ of Engagement?

Many different approaches have been proven to work in specific contexts. There is the path of  gamification that uses our appetite for competition and status; there is the CSR path, where Corporate Social Responsibility programs foster engagement by living up to employees’ values, principles, and need to ‘do good’. And there is one key that never fails to fit the lock: in all related studies and statistics, recognition emerges as one of the most powerful factors for employee engagement and satisfaction.  

Recognition-at-work-infographicSource: growthengineering.co.uk


So here’s one simple idea to make your employees feel valued and appreciated – institute your own office awards and celebrate everyone’s unique strengths and input at a special ceremony.


There are basically two ways to go about it. Either the manager can do all the work, taking time to single out unique qualities and contributions by each staff member. Or, it can be a collective project – everyone will be asked to share ideas about possible awards; once the best-liked categories have been decided, staff members will be invited to nominate co-workers. (The manager should have the decisive vote because if there’s one thing more powerful than peer recognition in terms of motivation, it is probably recognition by a supervisor.)


As seen on TV

If you don’t happen to be a fan of the TV show The Office, “the Dundies” are awards presented annually by Michael Scott, regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Because they are meant to boost morale and self-confidence, everybody gets a Dundie. In different seasons, these have included a “Redefining Beauty Award”, “Whitest Sneakers Award”, “Kind of a Bitch Award” and many others that fail to recognize actual job performance so you may want to go elsewhere for inspiration 🙂


Judging by the low rate of employee engagement worldwide, not many office workers care enough to hang themselves for lack of recognition as in Michael Scott’s story above. Yet, he does make a compelling case for instituting office awards 🙂

Whether you go for a serious tone and real achievements or unusual and funny categories, make sure everyone gets an award, if possible one encouraging good work practices and habits rather than white sneakers 🙂 Here are some resources to help you get started!