Guide for Creating a Recognition Program

It is recommended that departments have a written recognition program that has been reviewed annually by the Senior HR Representative and the local Budget Officer for adherence to the Taxation of Gifts, Prizes, and Awards to Employees, Operations Manual. The following information, and departmental awards examples, will assist you in developing your program.

Recognition Program Outline

The following outline will help to facilitate the process of writing a recognition program. Organizations or departments may use any format they deem appropriate. This outline contains the necessary elements to illustrate opportunities for all staff to be recognized and appreciated. It is intended to assist the developer in creating the program for review by the Senior HR Representative and the Budget Officer.

  • Name of Program/Event: What is the program/event title?
  • Description of the Program: What is the goal of the recognition program and what positive outcome(s) are expected?
  • Eligible Staff: Who will be eligible to participate (P&S, Merit, Grad Assistants, etc.)?
  • Business Purpose: What is the primary benefit to the University and its mission?
  • Process: What process will be utilized in the implementation of this program and who is responsible? For instance, twice a year nominations are reviewed by a departmental committee.
  • Awards: What type of recognition effectively acknowledges the effort demonstrated by your staff? Awards should validate the magnitude of this effort.
  • Funding Source: What funding source will support this program? Tailor the degree of detail necessary for your Budget Officer to review.
  • Communication Plan: How will you communicate the program to your staff?
  • Implementation: How will you ensure your plan meets the needs of your staff and University guidelines as defined in the Taxation of Gifts, Prizes, and Awards to Employees, UI Operations Manual.
  • Evaluation: What process will be utilized to evaluate the program? What is needed to maintain the program and what follow-up processes will be utilized?

Purpose of Program

To ensure an open, planned process to recognize the efforts of staff who support the UI mission and accomplish departmental goals.

  • What outcomes are you looking for?
    • Examples of outcomes: Improves unit goal accomplishment, Supports a culture of “Workplace of Choice;" Valuing staff effort supports the University’s mission; Staff will recognize the importance of their efforts.
  • What policies and practices will drive your recognition program?
    • Examples of practices: Recognition is clearly linked to unit goals; Open and fair process of awarding; Management and peer-to-peer opportunities, presented in a meaningful way; All staff have an opportunity to be recognized.

Description of Program

What variety of strategies will you include in your plan, including supervisory, peer to peer recognition and unit celebrations?

  • Informal efforts, e.g. thank you notes (paper, email, on-line), traveling trophies, Welcome Buddy system (staff orientation), “Everyone can be a leader” stickers, newsletter inserts, etc.
  • Formal programs, i.e. results-based (project completion), customer satisfaction based, people working together (behind the scenes support), innovation-based (process improvement) and length of service.
  • Appreciation efforts for:
    • Unit - Activities may include: Retreats, holiday parties, potlucks, Staff Appreciation Luncheon.
    • Teams/Workgroup - Activities may include: Friday pm popcorn break, Support Staff Day, celebrations for training graduations.
    • Individual - Activities may include: recognition for work anniversaries, birthdays, end of probation, promotions, welcome cards to new staff, time for staff development, etc.

Program Funding

In order to use University funds for staff recognition and appreciation efforts, a written program needs to be reviewed by and filed with the Senior HR Representative and the Budget Officer. An annual review of the program is required.

For recognition and appreciation efforts that are paid with University funds, please include:

  • the funding source (Fund number, e.g. 050, 240),
  • the classifications of staff who receive the recognition or appreciation, and
  • the business purpose for the use of the funds.

Note: The Senior HR Representative and Budget Officer will check that these elements are covered.

Business Purpose

A business purpose may be defined as an effort that is of primary benefit to the University and its mission.

  • Examples of business purposes include: to recognize unit goal accomplishments, to acknowledge performance that supports unit goals, to celebrate the success of a major change initiative, to recognize improvement in processes and services, etc.

Communicating the Program to Staff

What methods will be used to ensure that staff are aware of events, peer recognition opportunities, staff celebration, etc.? Use the questions below to maintain the continued success of your program.

  • How will your area keep the program current and vital?
  • How will you evaluate the success of your department’s efforts?
  • What outcomes occurred?
  • What will be changed in the future?

Implementing Your Program

  • Ensure that your program meets the Taxation of Gifts, Prizes, and Awards to Employees, UI Operations Manual.
  • The Business Office and Accounts Payable welcome the opportunity at this time to review with departments their proposed program to ensure that University funds are being used appropriately. Contact the following for assistance:
    • Payroll Reporting: Terri Hein, Director, UI Payroll Tax
    • Processing of Payments: Deb Zumbach, Director, UI Purchasing
    • Taxability and Documentation Requirements: Tom Peifer, University Tax Manager
  • Provide a copy to your Senior HR Representative and your Budget Officer for their approval and signature.
    • The departmental recognition program should be available to all staff, i.e. shared drive, posted centrally, etc.
  • All staff who submit costs for staff recognition or appreciation must report their written program to Accounts Payable.

Also include the following:

  • Prepared by:
  • Campus Address
  • Phone Number
  • Name of Department Head/Designated Official
  • Senior HR Representative
  • Budget Officer