Employee Recognition

I. Why is Employee Recognition Important?

Employee recognition programs offer benefits not only for the employees, but for the University as well, including:

  • Increased employee morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased positive employee commitment and loyalty
  • Decreased turnover and increased retention of mid to high performers

II. Goals and Objectives of an Employee Recognition Program

  • Recognize and promote positive behaviors that support individual, groups, divisions, and departments in achieving the University’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Assist in creating a culture of mutual respect, reward, and recognition for employees at all levels.
  • Provide timely recognition to employees in a non-monetary award based on the significance of the contribution.
  • Improve employee productivity and quality of work.

III. Our Formal Awards

A. Annual Fall Awards

Secretary of the University Annual Fall Awards Ceremony

This event is held each fall, usually in October. Details for each category is available below.

University Staff:

Four University Staff employees will be identified through a competitive nomination and review process for going above and beyond the call of duty, extraordinary workload over an extended period of time, temporarily assuming additional responsibilities, or having a direct impact on and benefit to one’s respective department, division, and the University in general. Award: $1500

Academic Staff:

Academic Staff Outstanding Performance & Service Award: Recognize someone who possesses: Excellent performance evaluations, contributes in for of committee work, special assignments, or other extraordinary activities, provides to the community in capacities that will enhance UWM, serves in professional organizations, with awards and recognition, and demonstrates factors as initiative, innovation, and dedication to the job. Maximum of 4 awards. Award: $1,500

Academic Staff Outstanding Teaching Award: Recognize someone who demonstrates continued excellence in teaching, motivation for learning, demonstration of classroom effectiveness, innovation in delivery of content, investment in curricular development, service to the University as it relates to campus/community/professional citizenship. Maximum of 4 awards. Award: $1,500

Regents Academic Staff Excellence Awards: Recognize a non-teaching academic staff employee who provides essential services to the university while demonstrating excellence of performance, personal interaction, initiative and creativity, and outstanding achievement. UW-System will recognize two individuals. Award: $5,000 to be used to support the recipient’s professional development or for other activities approved by the recipient that enhance a university program or function.

Regents Academic Staff Program Award: Recognize a non-teaching academic staff program that provides essential services to the university while demonstrating excellence of performance, initiative, and creativity, and outstanding achievement. UW-System will recognize two programs. Award: $5,000 to be used to support program enhancements such as professional development, program-related supplies and expenses, or other activities that enhance the university program or function.

Faculty:

Faculty Service Awards: Honor a UWM colleague for outstanding work at the University or in the community.

UWM Distinguished University Service Award: Recognizes outstanding service to the University’s community. Award: $1500

UWM Distinguished Public Service Award: Recognizes outstanding service in Milwaukee, Southeast WI, or the entire state. Award: $1500

UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award: Recognize outstanding undergraduate teachers. Award: $1500

Faculty and Academic Staff Teaching Awards:

Regents Teaching Excellence Awards:

Individual Awards: Recognize some of the finest of our dedicated faculty & academic staff, reflecting the UW’s strong commitment to teaching or long-term career development and achievements in teaching. Two people to be recognized throughout the whole UW-System. Award: $5,000

Program Awards: Recognize an academic department, program, or unit that demonstrates exceptional commitment to and effectiveness in teaching. Unit or program is recognized by the UW-System. Award: $5,000

Joanne Lazirko Award: Recognize a full-time faculty or teaching academic staff with not less than three years of service at UWM for their innovation in the effective use of learning technologies to promote student engagement, active learning, and critical thinking.

Regent Awards:

Diversity Awards: Recognize individuals, teams, or units from UW System Institutions in recognition of institutional change agents that foster access and success for historically underrepresented populations. Award: Up to three $5,000 awards are given.

Graduate School Research Awards:

Office of Research/UWM Foundation Research Awards: Recognize and encourage junior UWM faculty who have shown the potential to achieve distinction in their academic disciplines through research, scholarship, creative activity, and the dissemination of knowledge. Open to Assistant and Associate Professors. Award: Each awardee will receive $1,500.

UWM Research Foundation Senior Faculty Awards: Recognize researchers who have a long history of significant contributions to their fields of research. Open to full Professors. Award: Each awardee will receive $1,500.

Research in Humanities Award: Former Associate Dean for Research Robert A. Jones and his spouse Mary B. Jones, established the Research in the Humanities Award at the UWM Foundation for the purpose of recognizing outstanding scholarship and research in the Humanities. This award recognizes someone who has demonstrated a comprehensive grasp of the subject(s) of inquiry and research and will have made a substantive contribution to humanistic thought through a monograph or other scholarly publication during the period of 2012-2014. Award: $1,500 every other year.

LGBT:

Ally of the Year Award: Recognize a UWM individual who demonstrates commitment to improving climate, diversity, and inclusivity at UWM, Has introduced new or improved existing policies and practices to positively affect LGBT+ students and employees, works to increase awareness of issues that affect LGBT+ individuals; and/or provides administrative, institutional, or personal support to LGBT+ campus constituents.

Ally of the Year Award

B. Annual Spring Awards

Length of Service Awards

Length of Service Awards are held annually each spring, usually in April.

The University identifies the honorees who are recognized for continuous UWM service in a creditable appointment based on the calendar year January 1–December 31.

Award Years: 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50.

University Staff also celebrates 5 years.

IV. Informal Awards and other recognition given at UWM

Recognition mechanisms and ideas that are already occurring across campus

Title change: Promotion/Progression: Unclassified Personnel Guideline #4 (see section 4.06); you may also contact your unit Personnel Representative for more information.

New employee recognition and onboarding – Example: New Employee Onboarding Program

Supervisor leadership development program: Consists of four full day sessions, a two hour workshop, out of class work with assigned triads and other optional programs, and a recognition event at the end of the year. Also includes a 360 assessment and discussion. At the recognition event, employees are given completion certificates earning CEUs. – Supervisor Leadership Development Program

School/College annual awards banquet: Recognize outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members – Example: HBSSW Awards

School/College newsletter and website updates with faculty, staff, student recognition – Example: e-Newsletter

Academic Staff Group Professional Development Award LINK

Academic Staff Individual Professional Development Award LINK

Annual Alumni Employee Awards LINK

Spirit Days LINK

Student Employee of the Week LINK

PPD student employee awards: Student Serving Students, Above & Beyond the Call, Rising Stars, Most Valuable Player, Stellar Scholars, The Vice Chancellor Award LINK

Annual UWM Alumni Employee Appreciation Lunch

Faculty and staff gatherings to acknowledge contributions (achievements, research, planning)

Dean’s random acts of kindness awards: A way to thank someone who helped you in a special way. (Personally funded by Dean)

Annual School/College specific research awards

Annual School/College specific retirement celebration

Semester gold star teaching awards for faculty with high teaching evaluations

Annual S.T.A.R. awards: recognize outstanding contributions, appreciate individuals for exceptional performance, and encourage innovation and creative thinking

All-hands meetings

Electronic/bulletin board announcements/recognition

Thank you memos from Dean/Administration

Weekly email update

Birthday lunches

Host a “tea” with tea and cookies to have people gather and relax

Working Well Subcommittee: Some occur before and after faculty and staff meetings. Examples are: 3rd Friday Wine and Cheese Social, Monthly Birthday Recognitions, Final Exam Snacks, Meditation Corner, Chair Massages, Wellness Wednesday emails discussing things like nutrition, heart health, etc., Holiday Boutique, Champion F.I.S.H., Hip Hop Abs, Yoga, and Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon

Student employee recognition lunch or breakfast

Annual graduate student showcase: Highlight the work of graduate students

STUeys: Recognize students with an “Oscar” nominating approach

Lunch and learns

Public praise/recognition

Administration will recognize birthdays or life events of an employee and will pay for it out of their own pockets.

Traveling trophy (or something silly to hand out) to recognize an achievement

Supervisors cover phones while employees are at lunch

Supervisor provides lunches in office or take employees out to lunch

Greet employees each morning; make an effort to get to know your colleagues

Give individuals the opportunity to participate on committees and task forces

Upper management stops in at the first meeting of a special project team to express his or her appreciation of the members’ involvement.

Send letters/emails to every team member at the conclusion of a project thanking them for their contributions.

Potluck luncheons just because

Morale boosters: elbow plank & stair climbing competition, cookie decorating, staff cooking lessons, chili cook-off

Invitation to after work hours event to mingle and enjoy one another’s company.

Personal gifts for Administrative Professionals Day and Christmas

Personal gifts to student employees each semester

Administration offer tickets to Panther Basketball games to employees

Employees receive UWM gear to wear/use

V. Other Recognition Ideas

Wall of fame: Somewhere in the Union or in schools/colleges

Dedicated service award: To recognize people who consistently demonstrate a high degree of excellence in the performance of their duties and who provide their willingness to extend themselves to help others and go above and beyond the normal expectations of their job responsibilities. Quarterly awards (ABCD Awards: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty)

Employee recognition week: workshops, drawings for prizes, benefits fair, ice cream social

Monthly: People nominate someone to the dean in each school/college. The dean selects the winner to recognize in a public message to the school/college. Then the dean sends the winner to the chancellor and the Chancellor sends each individual winner a personalized note/email.

Prepare a short video montage that celebrates the employee’s accomplishments. Have media students go interview co-workers and put a short video together. The Chancellor can send out in the updates email.

Opportunity to attend training of choice

Social media recognition: younger generation would like this, easy to share

Reward people for: time, work or money saving ideas, solution to difficult problem, outstanding one time achievements, outstanding attendance, general on going contributions that you just want to acknowledge, improvement in employee’s effort

Post a thank you on an employee’s door

Have staff vote for top manager, supervisor, employee and rookie of the year

Annual “Staff Appreciation Day” where the managers supply, cook and serve food

Pizza parties

Yearly campus picnic or luncheon (perhaps in summer when there is no current all-campus event)

Breakfasts with groups of employees based on certain criteria

Send out birthday cards/emails

VI. Tips to Remember

Focus on something that your unit/department values

Reward the right things, make it personalized when available, keep it positive, and be genuine, timely and specific

Empower employees, give them the opportunity to give back/volunteer their time. Don’t have them do something and create extra work for them

When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible. (Face-to-face is best, email or voicemail are good in a pinch)

Focus on recognition that you can provide without a lot of money

When thinking about programs, ask your employees what they want to be recognized for, makes it more meaningful

For the formal awards we already have, it would be beneficial for each department to develop a system that works for them to ensure that the information that should be recognized, is regularly forwarded to someone for consideration for the fall awards. Don’t assume that everybody knows this information – there are always new people and it is not easy to remember something that only happens once a year.

VII. Employee Recognition Program Models

There are three different guides that other universities use that are listed below. Feel free to combine sections from different models to develop an employee recognition program that works best for you and your department/school/college.

  1. Adapted from Indiana State University’s concepts

A Guide to Developing a Successful Employee Recognition Program

All employees like to be recognized and appreciated for the work they do for their employer. Employee recognition programs provide an opportunity to recognize and thank staff and faculty for their contributions, dedication, and commitment to the ISU community.

Each year the University recognizes employees through The Employee Recognition Reception to recognize the contributions of employees who achieved a length of service milestone during the calendar year. The reception provides an opportunity to recognize employees for their valuable contributions to ISU and congratulate them on reaching a length of service milestone.

The University Medallion was established in 1997 to recognize Indiana State University staff displaying a history of loyalty, dependability, and service to the University and the Terre Haute Community. The University Medallion is the highest honor that can be conferred on an employee by the University. ISU staff nominate individuals they feel have shown exceptional spirit throughout their years of service to ISU, distinguished achievement in their career, and involvement in the community.

The ExtraMile Award certificate can be given by any individual, full-time, regular employee, department, committee, or unit.  The nomination form for this award can we found on the Office of Human Resources web page. The award is given to an individual or aforementioned organizational unit to show appreciation for exhibiting the ExtraMile attitude, for catching them doing something right, or for outstanding performance. Supervisors are encouraged to give this award to their employees.

However, recognition is most effective when it takes place on a regular basis and in a variety of different ways. It is also important that recognition activities be aligned with the culture of your division and/or department. An employee recognition program provides managers and supervisors different opportunities for acknowledging staff members, peers, and colleagues.

It is essential that every manager and supervisor be aware of their responsibility to provide effective feedback and positive reinforcement to their employees. To cultivate a successful recognition program, all managers and supervisors should:

  • Learn ways to motivate and inspire others;
  • Learn how to communicate needs, expectations, and goals clearly;
  • Explain how the program works and how employees can receive recognition; and
  • Provide employees with an understanding of how they impact the organization’s goals, mission and success.

There are numerous reasons for recognizing employees:

  • Exemplifying the University’s values
  • Identifying a process improvement
  • Identifying areas of monetary savings
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Creativity in new and innovative methods and procedures
  • Performance or service above normal duties
  • Improving safety in the workplace
  • Positive attitudes
  • Team players
  • Initiating productivity enhancements
  • Contributing to a one-time, outstanding effort, which benefited the department or the College
  • Initiative to get the job done

Informal recognition can be used every day to acknowledge contributions of individuals, teams and work groups. As with all recognition, it should be tied to a specific behavior or activity that you want to reinforce. What does your division/department value? The types of contributions that might be recognized are:

  • staying late to help someone prepare a presentation for the next day
  • volunteering to cover for a co-worker who is out sick
  • going out of your way to help boost morale or create a positive, inclusive work environment
  • exceeding expectations for a goal or milestone in a long-term collaborative project

Employee recognition tools and templates are provided for supervisors, managers, and peers to use to recognize and reward employees and teams. You can find these in the Employee Recognition section of the Office of Human Resources web page.

Formal recognition supports the objectives and strategic goals of individual department or division. Check with your department’s administrator to learn if your department already has a recognition program or use the “Seven Steps to Developing a Successful Employee Recognition Program” to start one. What is this?

Why is Employee Recognition Important?

Employee recognition programs offer benefits not only for the employees, but for the University as well, including:

  • Increased employee morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased positive employee commitment and loyalty
  • Decreased turnover and increased retention of mid to high performers

Goals and Objectives of an Employee Recognition Program

  • Recognize and promote positive behaviors that support individual, groups, divisions and departments in achieving the University’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Assist in creating a culture of mutual respect, reward, and recognition for employees at all levels.
  • Provide timely recognition to employees in a non-monetary award based on the significance of the contribution.
  • Improve employee productivity and quality of work

Seven Steps to Developing a Successful Employee Recognition Program

The Employee Recognition Program Guidelines are provided to assist Indiana State University departments and/or divisions with the development and implementation of recognition program(s). These guidelines are provided as a tool to support departments with their recognition efforts and do not imply that each department must have a recognition program. Additional recognition resources are provided on the Office of Human Resources website for all departments to use in their recognition plans.

A department’s recognition program may include recognition for employees, supervisors and student workers; as well as, formal and informal recognition methods or both. A recognition program should strive to be aligned with a department’s mission and/or core values to help create a positive work environment for employees, increase employee performance, engage employees, and improve employee morale. The steps outlined below will guide departments through the process of developing a recognition program.

Step 1: Establish an Employee Recognition Committee

An employee recognition committee’s role is to identify, develop, and implement a recognition program for their department. When establishing an employee recognition committee, you will need to determine who will serve on the committee. The committee should consist of employees, management or both. Representation from each group is important to the overall success of the recognition program. Having employees and management serve on the recognition committee, ensures that each groups interests, ideas or preferences are included in the recognition program. Furthermore, if there are many units within a department, obtain equal representation from each unit to ensure all units share input into the recognition program.

Next, you will need to identify how committee members are selected to serve on the committee. Committee members may be identified by having employees volunteer to serve on the committee, elected by the employees in the department or appointed by management. After the committee members are selected, the committee will need to elect a chair or co-chairs to oversee the development and implementation of the recognition program.

Finally, the committee will need to determine the length of service terms for serving on the committee. The length of service terms can range from one-year or as needed. Some committee members may have to serve a longer term, to ensure the training of new members and the continuation of the committee without interruption.

In the next step, the employee recognition committee will identify recognition program objectives for their department.

Step 2: Identify Recognition Program Objectives

The employee recognition committee will need to identify recognition program objectives for their department to provide opportunities for the employee to be recognized and rewarded. There are many factors to consider when identifying these objectives for your department. Here are some important factors to consider in this process:

  • The recognition program should meet the needs of the employees in the department or complement the kind(s) of job behaviors and performance the department wants to recognize and reward.
  • The program should be linked to the mission statement or core values of the department, division or the university.
  • The program should be fair and flexible to the employees in the department.
  • The recognition program should comply with university rules and regulations related to awards.

To assist with this process, gather input from the employees in the department. This can be accomplished by developing an employee survey to identify work behaviors and job performances to recognize and reward, identify employee eligibility criteria and award criteria, and gather informal, formal, and other recognition ideas such as retirement, birthdays, years of service, etc.

After the recognition program objectives are identified, the committee may determine that informal recognition programs are better suited for their department. Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for recognition ideas and certification/card templates.

Finally, whether the committee decides that formal or informal recognition program objectives best serve their department, be sure to follow the SMART philosophy of Jim Brintnall, author of “What Makes a Good Reward?”. Jim states that rewards should be:

Sincere – above all else, a good reward should reflect a genuine expression of appreciation. Token acknowledgements leave something to be desired.

Meaningful – to endure a motivating influence, rewards should be aligned with the values, goals, and priorities that matter the most.

Adaptable – the diverse workplace demands alternatives. Consider creative options to keep your program fresh. No single reward format works for everyone all the time.

Relevant – some personal dimension is essential to a good reward. No matter how formal or informal, expensive or affordable, the relevance of any recognition will be improved with a personal touch – it’s a little thing that makes a big difference.

Timely – it is important that rewards respond to the behavior they are intending to reinforce. Don’t let too much time pass or the reward may be devalued and credibility eroded.

The remaining steps will focus on the recognition committee setting-up a formal award program for their department.

Step 3: Identify Award Selection Criteria

The recognition committee will need to identify selection criteria. The selection criteria may be linked to a department’s mission or core values or positive behaviors. To help with this process, create an employee survey to find out what qualities or attributes the employees value and think an employee should exhibit to be nominated and receive an award. Also, seek input from management on the types of behaviors they want to be recognized. Here are some examples of selection criteria:

Teamwork

Going the Extra Mile

Customer Service

Professional Development

Award for Excellence

Creativity and Innovation

Performance Excellence

Leadership

Commitment

Flexibility

Innovative

Once you’ve established the purpose and criteria for the award make sure everyone on staff knows the purpose and the criteria. Communication greatly increases and employees will exhibit the behaviors you want them to and you are not accused of favoritism.

It is important to note that a formal recognition program does not take the place of informally appreciating or recognizing employees on a daily basis. A formal recognition program serves to supplement informal, day-to-day recognition of employees.

Step 4: Identify Award Eligibility Criteria, Award Frequency and Award Selections

The committee will need to identify funding, determining award eligibility, award frequency and award selection processes. The committee will need to determine who is eligible to participate and/or be nominated for an award. They will also need to make sure that the award eligibility criteria complement the work environment of the department. Components of award eligibility criteria to consider are:

  • Employee status: are temporary workers, part-time employees, or student workers eligible to be nominated?
  • Length of service: is there a minimum length of service an employee must have with the department or University?
  • Can an employee win the same award more than once in year?
  • Are recognition committee members eligible to participate or be nominated?

After award eligibility criteria are identified, the frequency of awards will need to be determined. There are some factors to consider when determining the frequency of awards for a department such as:

  • Are department funds available to cover the cost of multiple awards?
  • Are there too few employees in the department to participate in the program?
  • Are there other recognition programs in the department?
  • Will awarding many employees devalue the award itself?

After you have identified the frequency of awards, you will need to determine the types of awards. The awards selected for a recognition program should be meaningful and relevant to the award recipient(s). The following are examples of awards:

Cards

Flowers

Award plaque

Lapel pin

Tickets

Framed certificates

The recognition committee should involve the employees in this process by determine the types of awards the employees want. Please note the cost of the awards should be within the department’s budget and in compliance with Indiana State University Rules and Regulations.

Step 5: Award Nomination and Selection Process

The recognition committee will be responsible for carrying out the nomination and selection processes of a formal award program. The committee should determine the following factors about the nomination process:

  • Is the nomination process confidential? Should nominators be known or remain anonymous.
  • Which employees are eligible to submit a nomination?
  • What employee information should be provided on the nomination?
  • How should the nominations be submitted? (email, electronic submissions, etc)

The committee will need to determine the following items for the selection process:

  • Defining rating procedures and processes
  • Determine who will review and score the nominations
  • Determine the length of membership for the selection committee
  • Determine who will make the final decision on the winning nominations
  • Determine if past recipients should serve on the selection committee
  • Determine if selection subcommittee is eligible for nomination

Step 6: Market Award Program

The recognition committee is responsible for providing public announcements to their department regarding the award program. Public announcements should be made prior to the award program to announce the award program, after the award program and immediately following the recognition of the award recipients to recognize the employees. Here are some examples of how to market your department’s award program:

  • Email to department employees
  • Department newsletter
  • Department website
  • Department bulletin boards
  • Department meetings

Step 7: Finalize and Monitor Award Program

After the recognition committee has finalized the award program, the committee will need to confirm approval of the award program with the employees and management in their department.

Last, the committee will need to monitor the award program in its first year to determine its effectiveness and employee satisfaction with the award program. The following are factors to consider overtime to determine if changes need to be made to your department’s award program:

  • department reorganization
  • department size
  • changes to award program budget
  • overall employee satisfaction of program

The seven steps provided in the text above outline guidelines for establishing a recognition program. Remember, recognition programs may consist of formal recognition, informal recognition or both. Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for recognition resources such as ideas, certificate/ card templates.

Adapted from the University of Washington, Texas A&M University, and the University of Michigan

Updated 7.25.11

Adapted from University of Washington’s program

UNDERSTAND

Formal recognition supports the objectives and strategic goals of individual department or units. Check with your department’s administrator to learn if your department already has a recognition program or use the “Five Steps to Developing an Employee Recognition Program” to start one.

ACT – Five Steps to Develop a Recognition Program

STEP 1: Establish the purpose and criteria of the Recognition Program

For a recognition program to be meaningful to both the awardees and the others in the department, it should be tied to the department’s goals, mission, or values. As a leader, you can determine the goals and purpose of the program on your own, or you can ask that a team of employees provide you with suggestions. Another idea is to conduct an employee opinion survey. It can assist a recognition committee in identifying preferred types of awards, establishing nomination and selection procedures, and determining the frequency and method(s) of award presentation preferred by employees.

Most importantly, the recognition program must be fair. All employees must know and understand the criteria used for formal recognition.

Some suggestions for recognition programs and criteria:

  • Tie the program to a departmental initiative. For example, your department may be engaged in process improvement efforts. Providing awards for suggesting or implementing process improvements can help to communicate how serious you take the process improvement effort and how everyone can be involved.
  • Tie the program to your department’s or the University’s core values. Many organizations have values, but frequently these values are just words and never get translated to behaviors. Recognizing employees for exhibiting behavior consistent with the values help the values come alive and build understanding and buy-in of the values. If you don’t have core values in your own department, use the University’s values: Innovation, Excellence, Teamwork, Diversity, Respect, Integrity.
  • Tie the program to your department’s core purpose. Does your department exist to serve students? Does it exist to provide technical expertise? Recognizing outstanding customer service or new technical skills gained or technical proficiency makes sense to be recognized in this situation.
  • Tie the program to other circumstances that your department may be facing. For example, your department may be facing a difficult challenge that might get everyone stressed or down. What better time to establish an award for positive attitude?

Some suggestions for types of awards include:

  • Teamwork
  • Going the Extra Mile
  • Customer Service
  • Professional Development
  • Award for Excellence
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Performance Excellence
  • Leadership
  • Commitment
  • Flexibility

Once you’ve established the purpose and criteria for the award make sure everyone on staff knows the purpose and the criteria. Doing this greatly increases that employees will exhibit the behaviors you want them to and you are not accused of favoritism.

It is important to note that a formal recognition program does not take the place of informally appreciating or recognizing employees on a daily basis. A formal recognition program serves to supplement informal, day-to-day recognition of employees.

Step 2: Form a Recognition Committee

Getting employees involved in the recognition program can help to ensure that the program is viewed as fair and it helps create shared ownership of the program. You may even delegate the development of purpose and criteria to the committee. Many departments have an employee representative from each functional work unit serve on the committee to ensure equal representation. The recognition committee might determine the components of the recognition program and ensure compliance with the University’s recognition program policies, as well as helping to determine criteria, soliciting nominations and selecting awardees.

If you decide to form a standing recognition committee, keep the following ideas in mind:

  • Establish term lengths for members on the committee. At least one member should stay on the committee across any two terms to ensure continuity and cross-training (ie, begin a “rolling” membership cycle to ensure a partial carryover of members each year).
  • Set committee membership through election, appointment, or volunteerism.
  • Appoint a chair or co-chairs.
  • Determine the “sponsor” of the committee (this might be you, or someone else on your management team)
  • Include employees from each work group/area to ensure diverse representation.
  • Define an appointment period for membership — for how many award cycles may an individual serve consecutively on the selection committee? It is often helpful to have at least one committee member serve on two consecutive award cycles to ensure some continuity of process.
  • Set the final decision-making body for the award — does the Selection Committee make the selection or does it forward a recommendation to management?
  • Address the participation of past recipients — some programs establish that the one or two most recent recipients of the award then serve on the selection committee for the next award cycle.
  • Define voting procedures — this may include the processes by which the nominations will be reviewed. Some committees may establish a numeric ranking system for evaluating nominations.
  • Ensure consistency in the voting/selection process.

STEP 3: Determine Award Eligibility & Award Frequency

Once the purpose, criteria and committee have been established, eligibility for the award and how often you will give the award should be determined. Some components to consider for eligibility include:

  • Employment status: Is the award available only to permanent employees? Temporary employees? Full-time/part-time employees? Will faculty be included?
  • Length of service: Is there a minimum length of service that the employee must have with the University or the department in order to be eligible for the award?
  • Participation in the selection process: Can a member of the recognition program selection committee be nominated for the award? (If so, the employee must exclude him/herself from the selection of that particular award.)
  • Frequency of receipt: How frequently can the same individual receive the same award?

Once you know who is eligible, you or your committee must determine how often the award will be given. Factors to include in making this determination are:

  • The available resources of the department
  • The number of employees and number of other recognition programs available within the department
  • The scale/significance of the award relative to the frequency of its nomination cycle.

Finally, the selection committee must determine how nominations for awards are made.

  • Is the nomination process anonymous or confidential? (i.e., must the nominators self-identify? Will the nominee be allowed to know who nominated him/her?)
  • Who is eligible to submit a nomination? (Permanent employees? Temporary employees? Can an employee self-nominate?
  • What information is required on the nomination?
  • Must nominations be submitted on hardcopy, or are electronic submissions possible?
  • What details are necessary in order for the selection committee to make its choice?

STEP 4: Determine a Budget, Select Types of Awards & Publicity

Recognition programs do not have to be expensive. Awards can range from an award certificate to gifts. Be sure that your awards are in compliance with University policy. Awards should be aligned with the department’s resources and should be determined with an eye toward sustainability. You might have extra funds this year… but can you sustain the recognition budget for subsequent years? Many departments coordinate ceremonies or meetings as forums for presenting awards.

Public announcement of an award recipient is essential to giving employees appropriate recognition. Departmental newsletters and other University publications are valuable and cost-effective ways to market the award as well as to recognize the award recipient(s). Some departments display a plaque or trophy publicly. Even a letter of certificate given personally to an employee by a supervisor or director can mean a great deal.

STEP 5: Establish and Monitor the Program

It’s easy to let a recognition program, once established, continue without many changes. Resist the urge to keep the recognition program the same for years at a time. As your departmental goals and needs change, so should the recognition program. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely overhaul the program and start over. It’s a good idea to review the awards and their criteria to make sure they are still relevant and meaningful to employees and the department. Adding an award to an existing program to highlight a new initiative may be all that is needed to keep the program relevant. Or the recognition committee may need to rethink the program completely. It’s important to keep recognition fresh and updated. Consider doing an employee survey to gauge the effectiveness and value of the program and for other recognition ideas and enhancements. This is particularly important within the first year of the program’s implementation to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the department or work unit.

All proposed changes should be approved by you and communicated to employees in a timely manner following approval.

 

Adapted from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s content

Introduction

The Employee Recognition Program Handbook has been prepared to assist University departments with the development and implementation of departmental recognition programs. The Handbook does not present a complete discussion of every detail needed to develop a program. Rather, it provides an overview of the program development process with step-by-step guidelines.

STEP 1: Form a Recognition Program Development Committee

It is beneficial to establish a recognition program development committee to guide program design. In most cases, managers and employees should share jointly in the development and administration of the program to ensure that the interests and preferences of all groups are represented and incorporated into the program. Many departments have an employee representative from each functional work unit serve on the committee to ensure equal representation. The recognition program development committee does not necessarily have to serve as the award selection committee.

The recognition program development committee must determine the components of the recognition program, ensure compliance with the University’s recognition program policies, and coordinate with department administration to register the program with the University’s Awards Registry through the Benefits Services Department in the Office of Human Resources.

The recognition program development committee may serve to develop a single recognition program or to develop all the department’s or work unit’s recognition programs. The work unit may create recognition program development committees on an ad hoc basis, or may establish them as standing committees. Items to consider when forming a standing recognition development committee are:

Establish term lengths for members on the committee. At least one member should stay on the committee across any two terms to ensure continuity and cross-training (ie, begin a “rolling” membership cycle to ensure a partial carryover of members each year). Set committee membership through election, appointment, or volunteerism and appoint a chair or co-chairs.

STEP 2: Identify a Program Purpose

Before a recognition committee can develop a program that effectively meets the needs and preferences of the department’s employees, it must determine the program purpose. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a recognition program that is fair and flexible, that meets the needs of employees and that provides an opportunity to recognize and reward their efforts and accomplishments formally.

Factors to consider when developing the program purpose:

  • Tailor the program to suit the needs of employees and to complement the type(s) of work done in the department.
  • Tie the program to the mission of the department.
  • Emphasize core skills and functions within the department (including those that may need strengthening) by incorporating them into the award categories. In this way, the program can facilitate performance improvement, increased productivity, and goal achievement for the department.
  • Conducting an employee opinion survey can assist a recognition committee in identifying preferred types of awards, establishing nomination and selection procedures, and determining the frequency and method(s) of award presentation preferred by employees.

Other resources for recognition program development are:

  • The University’s “Departmental Recognition Program” policy, which includes requirements for program development and use of monetary and paid time off awards.
  • Models of existing departmental recognition programs at the University, available through the University Awards Registry located on the Office of Human Resources website.
  • Sample employee opinion survey questions (available from the Benefits Services Department).
  • Publications about employee recognition. The Office of Human Resources has some printed materials available for loan to departments.

It is important to note that a formal recognition program does not take the place of informally appreciating or recognizing employees on a daily basis. A formal recognition program serves to supplement informal, day-to-day recognition of employees.

STEP 3: Define Award Themes & Selection Criteria

Identifying precise themes and criteria of achievement for an employee recognition program ensures that employees understand why an award has been given and provides goals toward which all employees can strive. Selection criteria and award themes must be communicated well in advance to all employees in a department.

Some example award themes are:

  • Award for Excellence
  • Customer Service Award
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Employee/Team Player of the Month/Year Award
  • Extra Mile Award
  • Personal Achievement Award
  • Workplace Safety Award

Numerous suggestions for selection criteria can be found in workplace management literature and from the Benefits Services Department. As mentioned in Step 2, an employee opinion survey can assist the Recognition Program Development Committee with identifying pertinent award themes and selection criteria. Awards should recognize excellence in performances as well as contributions to the department; that is, the recipient of the award not only performs all assigned duties with competence, but also goes above and beyond the job description.

The following list offers some examples of potential criteria or categories for recognition awards:

  • Teamwork
  • Technical Achievement
  • Ambassadorship
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Performance Excellence
  • Leadership
  • Commitment
  • Flexibility
  • “Beyond The Call of Duty”
  • Educational Achievement
  • Skills Improvement
  • Heroism or Bravery
  • Community Service
  • Departmental Service
  • University Service

STEP 4: Define a Recognition Program Selection Committee

The Recognition Program Development Committee must identify how the recognition program selection committee will be established. (The selection committee may or may not include the membership of the development committee.)

Factors to consider in defining a selection committee:

  • Include employees from each work group/area to ensure diverse representation.
  • Define an appointment period for membership — for how many award cycles may an individual serve consecutively on the selection committee? It is often helpful to have at least one committee member serve on two consecutive award cycles to ensure some continuity of process.
  • Set the final decision-making body for the award — does the Selection Committee make the selection or does it forward a recommendation to management?
  • Address the participation of past recipients — some programs establish that the one or two most recent recipients of the award then serve on the selection committee for the next award cycle.
  • Define voting procedures — this may include the processes by which the nominations will be reviewed. Some committees may establish a numeric ranking system for evaluating nominations. (The Benefits Services Department can provide guidance in defining evaluation processes.)
  • Ensure consistency in the voting/selection process.

STEP 5: Determine Award Eligibility & Award Frequency

After the Recognition Program Development Committee has determined the award theme(s) and categories, the next step is to select criteria that specifies who is eligible to receive an award. Each department should tailor eligibility criteria to its particular work environment. Some components to consider for eligibility include:

  • Employment status: Is the award available only to permanent employees? Temporary employees? Full-time/part-time employees? SPA employees? EPA non-faculty employees?
  • Length of service: Is there a minimum length of service that the employee must have with the State (or the University or the department) in order to be eligible for the award?
  • Participation in the selection process: Can a member of the recognition program selection committee be nominated for the award? (If so, the employee must exclude him/herself from the selection of that particular award.)
  • Frequency of receipt: How frequently can the same individual receive the same award?

When award eligibility criteria have been determined, the next task is to establish the frequency of awards. Factors to include in making this determination are:

  • The available resources of the department
  • The number of employees and number of other recognition programs available within the department
  • The scale/significance of the award relative to the frequency of its nomination cycle.

Finally, the Development Committee must develop its formal nomination process. Nominations must be made in writing. The development of nomination processes should take the following under consideration:

  • Is the nomination process anonymous or confidential? (i.e., must the nominators self-identify? Will the nominee be allowed to know who nominated him/her?)
  • Who is eligible to submit a nomination? (Permanent employees? Temporary employees? SPA or EPA employees?) Can an employee self-nominate?
  • What information is required on the nomination form? (Consult with the Benefits Services Department for examples of nomination forms.)
  • Must nominations be submitted on hardcopy, or are electronic submissions possible?
  • What details are necessary in order for the selection committee to make its choice?

STEP 6: Select Types of Awards & Publicity

Within University policy, the types of awards given to award recipients can range from the creative (e.g., departmental decorations, cards, balloons) to the conservative (e.g., a savings bond). Awards should be attuned to the department’s resources and to the creativity and the preferences expressed by employees during the development of the award program. Many departments coordinate ceremonies, meetings, or special meals as forums for presenting awards.

  • Event Tickets
  • Gift Certificates
  • Trophies/Plaques
  • Monetary and Paid Leave Awards

NOTE: Cash and non-cash awards are considered employee income, and appropriate taxes will be deducted for any award amount given.

Public announcement of an award recipient is essential to giving employees appropriate recognition. Departmental newsletters and other University publications are valuable and cost-effective ways to market the award as well as to recognize the award recipient(s). Some departments display a plaque or trophy publicly while others, such as the campus libraries, put bookplates in books to honor their employees. Even a letter of certificate given personally to an employee by a supervisor or director can mean a great deal.

Suggestions for public notification and marketing include:

  • Department website
  • University Gazette
  • Daily Tar Heel
  • Departmental Annual Report
  • Recognition at staff meeting
  • Day of Appreciation (with decorations, etc.)
  • Photo display with commentaries by fellow employees

NOTE: Per University policy, all employees who receive monetary or paid leave recognition awards from their departments must be nominated by their departments for the Chancellor’s Award Program.

STEP 7: Establishing and Monitoring the Program

Once the Development Committee has completed its work and the recognition program is approved by department administration, the program must be registered with the University’s Award Registry. The registration form is available on the Office of Human Resources website.

A departmental recognition program should be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis to assess its effectiveness and to obtain feedback and suggestions from employees for enhancements to the program, either by the Recognition Program Selection Committee or the Recognition Program Development Committee, in conjunction with departmental administrators. This is particularly important within the first year of the program’s implementation to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the department or work unit.

All proposed changes should be approved by departmental administrators (if appropriate) and communicated to employees in a timely manner following approval. A copy of the modified written recognition program description must be forwarded to the Benefits Services Department to update the University’s Awards Registry.

Content in these sections were adapted from the following websites:

Indiana State University

University of Washington

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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