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Awards overkill?

A collection of Oscar statuettes in Brentwood, California on February 24, 2012
A collection of Oscar statuettes in Brentwood, California on February 24, 2012
Toby Canham/Getty Images

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It’s awards season in Hollywood, but celebrities aren’t the only ones passing around golden statues. These days, you’re likely to see awards given out in every industry under the sun, from best closet organizer to longest beard. Not to mention the thousands of “recognitions of participation” certificates handed out on a daily basis. Surely preciously trees need not be slaughtered to remind someone simply that they were present at something, right? Or is there a method to this seeming madness?

Businesses swear by these events as a means of boosting employee morale, especially during these post-recession times when workers are logging more hours in understaffed offices. What exactly goes into putting on one of these events? How do they recreate the sensation of being on the red carpet at the Oscars with a very non-Oscars budget? And what about after the awards are over? Some people proudly show off their awards for all to see. Do they get a motivational kick from seeing them?

Meanwhile, others get awards which get shoved in a drawer or thrown in the trash. What gives? Are they ashamed of the attention, or just generally over it? Does it have more to do with one’s personality than the awards themselves? Do awards actually inspire employees to produce better work? What do you do with your awards?


Troy Halsey, founder and CEO of The Halsey Group LLC author of “Freelancer’s Guide to Corporate Event Design” (Focal Press, 2010)

Beth A. Livingston, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations