The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Creative Ways to Recognize and Reward Employees

thumbs-up-blogHow do you do employee recognition? Does your program truly celebrate people and their accomplishments, or just reward longevity? Is there any element of surprise, or do employees know exactly what to expect year in and year out (like, say, the annual employee recognition/awards luncheon)? What if you could create some buzz and excitement around rewards and recognition without breaking the bank?

University of Michigan human resources has done just that. From treating a working team to ice cream sundaes at the end of a project, to giving a deserving employee a long lunch break, to buying a subscription to a trade magazine for an employee or team, UMich HR practices small, frequent acts of recognition and encourages other departments and campus units to do the same. In addition to its formal UMatter staff recognition program, UMich HR has posted on its website a list of 101 ways to recognize employees at any given time for a job well done. These ideas are simple, effective, easy to implement and show employees that their great work is being noticed.

“At the University of Michigan, we’ve found that building a culture of recognition is extremely valuable in fostering employee engagement and retention,” says Diane Vasquez, the university’s director of HR operations. “People work differently, engage differently and are motivated differently. One size does not fit all. In a world of constrained resources, having a variety of low-cost or no-cost ways to recognize and reward your staff and show them that they matter, that they are an important part of the university’s mission, is powerful.”

So if you’re looking for meaningful, creative, inexpensive ways to let your employees know you appreciate what they do, take a cue from UMich and celebrate them regularly!

For more resources on awards and recognition, see the Employee Awards and Recognition toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center.