Since 1991, the Optimas Awards have been a source of ideas, direction and inspiration for human resources professionals. The Optimas Awards celebrate HR’s success at solving some of the biggest business challenges of our time. Each year, the Optimas Awards are given by Workforce magazine to recognize human resources and workforce management initiatives that achieve business results for the organization.

The 2016 Optimas Awards entries deadline has passed.

Look for the 2017 entries to be made available in spring 2017.

You can download the worksheet here.


If you have any questions about the awards, selection process or nomination form, contact Rick Bell, at

The Optimas Awards include more than 21 organization recognition awards across a range of categories, recognizing workforce management initiatives at organizations worldwide. They include:

General Excellence
Our top award, while not open to general nominations, will be selected by judges and given to the organization whose workforce management initiatives have met the standards established for at least six of the other nine categories.

This award recognizes organizations that designed, developed or implemented innovative benefit programs that achieved organizational goals.

Business Impact
This award recognizes organizations that have developed a program to deliver significant financial impact or forge or maintain a winning edge over the organization’s competition.

Corporate Citizenship
This award recognizes organizations whose corporate citizenship programs are demonstrably and successfully linked to its employee recruiting, retention and engagement goals.

Global Outlook
This award recognizes organizations that have created a program or strategy to help the organization succeed in the world marketplace.

This award recognizes organizations that have developed an innovative workforce management strategy that addresses a fundamental business issue.

Managing Change
This award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated adaptability and agility in successfully developing a program in response to the changing business environment.

This award recognizes organizations that have developed or implemented a program in partnership with another constituency, either within the organization or outside of it.

This award recognizes organizations that developed and implemented an innovative and effective recruitment initiative that helped the organization source, attract and recruit job candidates.

This award recognizes organizations that developed a targeted training program that addressed a significant corporate priority and delivered measurable results.

This award recognizes organizations that anticipated internal or external trends and responded creatively, effectively and proactively.

Optimas Award Basics

What are the Optimas awards?

Workforce magazine’s Optimas Awards were developed to recognize human resources and workforce management initiatives that achieve business results for the organization. Awards are given annually across 10 categories. There’s also the general excellence award, selected by the judges, which is given to the organization whose workforce management initiatives ‘ met the standards established for at least six of the nine categories.

How are Optimas Award nominees identified?

Workforce management professionals nominate their own workforce management initiatives. While many of the initiatives begin with the leaders in human resources, eligible entries can begin elsewhere in the company provided that they involve significant participation by the organization’s workforce management leadership. Workforce editors also collect information to identify organizations that have the potential to be winners.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the awards, selection or nomination form?

Contact Rick Bell, at

What’s new in 2016?

The categories, rules and judging process will remain the same as 2015.

Nomination FAQs

Who is eligible for nomination?

Organizations of all kinds are welcome, including private and public companies, educational and government organizations and nonprofits. There are no restriction regarding scope, size and focus of the workforce management initiative. Consultants with clients are eligible to enter and encouraged to work with the client company in preparing and submitting the award submission form.

Our organization has more than one program we would like to nominate; can we submit more than one nomination?

Yes. More than one application may be submitted from the same organization. Each submitted nomination form will require its own application fee.

Can my organization nominate more than one program in the same submission form?

No. Each nomination must be specific to one organization initiative.

I completed the application template; can I mail in my submission?

No. All nominations must be submitted via the online submission portal for judging.

How do I apply for the awards?

To be considered for judging, nominators must submit a completed nomination form via the online submission portal. Nominations must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. CST on the closing date. Please note the closing date for 2016 has now passed. The 2017 submission portal will be available in spring 2017. Nominators can download the nomination template, which includes instructions and applications, in advance. Completed applications must be submitted via the online submission portal.

Nomination Form Template>>

Online Submission Portal>>

Are there any fees to submit a nomination and what does it cover?

Yes. There is a onetime $195 application processing and handling fee per submission. To be considered for judging, payment must be received. Payments will only be processed through the online submission portal.

When is the nomination period?

The 2016 nomination period runs from May 20 through June 24.

What should my award nomination include?

Each nomination must include a completed form describing the business challenges, the program and how it addressed those challenges, and the results of the initiative. Please do NOT send supporting documents with your entry. Workforce will request documents as needed.

Judging FAQs

Who are the judges?

Judging is completed by Workforce magazine editors. Each nomination is reviewed by multiple judges to minimize bias.

What is the judging process and criteria?

Judges look for organizations whose initiatives have a strong human resources component and an emphasis on bottom-line business results. Winners achieve tangible business results.

A panel of judges has been established for each category of awards to ensure the submission can be judged consistently and fairly. Winners will be determined by averaging scores assigned by judges to each entry. In the event of a tie, a select group of judges will review competing entries to determine winners.

What are the criteria for evaluating an Optimas Award nomination?

The nominations will be judged upon the following criteria:
— Is there a clearly identified business issue?
— Are there quantifiable data that help clarify this business issue?
— Is there a strong HR component to the solution of the business issue?
— What is the HR program and how does it address the business issue?
— What are the quantifiable business results of the HR program?
— What are the nonmeasurable results that have a payoff to the organization?
— Does this initiative serve as a model for other organizations?
— Does this program demonstrate how HR has an impact on the business results of the organization?
— How long has the program been in place?

How are the nominations scored?

The scoring has been set up to be consistent across the award categories and judges will provide numerical scores for each of the following criteria. Each of the nine award criteria is judged on a scale of 1 -7:

7 (Breakthrough and/or Role Model): Initiatives considered “breakthroughs” and/or “role models” for human resources and workforce management initiatives that achieve business results for the organization.
4-6 (Outstanding): Initiatives that did an outstanding job, met or exceeded all of the criteria as described and accomplished all goals. The complexity was significant and significantly impacted business results.
2-3 (Meets the criteria): Initiatives that met the criteria, but did not or could not provide clear of reliable evidence to identify initiatives as breakthrough or outstanding.
0-1 (Does not meet the criteria): Did not meet the criteria established or failed to document how the criteria were met.
Winner FAQs

Who is an Optimas winner?

Optimas winners demonstrate business results. Optimas Award winners have helped open new markets around the world, reinvented city government, slashed bureaucracy in the federal government, established Mexico’s first HMO, taken health care to rural America, revitalized failing business units and improved the acquisition process. Not surprisingly, Optimas Award winners have pushed their organizations to record profits, greater market share, higher stock value and better corporate reputations. In short, they have produced tangible, measurable business results. The Optimas Award winners prove that HR at its best can be practiced anywhere: in family businesses and the public sector, in the Fortune 500 and in small organizations, in big cities and on the farm, in industries of every sort.

When will the finalists and winners be announced?

Winners will be announced during the month of December. Finalists will be announced in late September and will be posted on the award website.

What do award winners receive?

Award winners will receive a specially designed award, custom press kit and winner logo. They will also be recognized in a special section in the December issue of Workforce magazine.

What happens if our nomination is a winner?

If your organization receives a Workforce Optimas award, announce your great news. We will provide you with a custom press release and media kit to help you spread your recognition. Winners will receive a custom engraved award shipped directly to their office. The winner’s story will also be featured in on and within a special section in the December Workforce Issue.

Can I order additional copies of the award for our organization?

Yes. Additional awards are available for purchase. Contact Taylar Ramsey, at for more info.

Are there logo usage guidelines?

Yes. No-cost logo uses include: press releases, corporate websites and advertising that runs in or on properties run by MediaTec Publishing Inc., Workforce’s parent organization. Reprints, merchandising and logo licensing beyond the uses described above. Contact Taylar Ramsey, marketing manager, for more info.