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Marketing, Communications, and Engagement

Employee recognition overview

Employee recognition opportunities abound at the University of Washington. From Service Awards that celebrate those who make long-term commitments to their careers at UW to the University’s highest honors bestowed upon staff: the Distinguished Staff Awards and the Thorud Leadership Award. Individual and team achievements are celebrated every day through formal and informal departmental programs that encourage timely recognition of a job well done either by supervisors, peers, or both!

Taking time to applaud valuable contributions builds community and stronger teams in the process. Recognition that comes from a manager or from a peer are equally important. When staff demonstrate excellence, integrity, innovation, diversity, and respect, it’s time to congratulate them on a job well done.

For example, if you manage a department that values innovation, when you applaud exceptional innovation, you reinforce your group’s key value and send a positive message about your collective purpose.

Managers can survey their own teams to learn the preferred methods of recognition. More introverted individuals, for instance, may want to remain low-key, while others appreciate being publicly praised. Professional & Organizational Development surveys staff on the types of recognition that they value. In order of popularity, UW staff report they appreciate:

  • Time off, overtime, discretionary time (rules vary depending on job classification)
  • Food (pizza, coffee and baked goods, monthly fruit box delivery)
  • Peer recognition
  • Gift cards, prizes, sports tickets
  • Personal thank you note or award certificate printed on quality card stock
  • After-work activities, team bonding time
  • “Rock star” status, gold stars, traveling trophy, gnome of recognition
  • Office parties or campus tours at a UW museum or the UW Botanic Gardens
  • Public recognition (employee of the month, newsletter spotlight, All Hands shout-out)
  • Professional growth opportunities; take a professional class or attend a conference
  • Opportunities to participate on a committee or a high visibility project
  • Increased responsibilities
  • Cross-training
  • Take to lunch or to coffee
  • Workspace changes
  • Remote work opportunities, flexible schedule
  • Off-site retreat for project team
  • Vertical appreciation up organizational chart
  • Recognition in their professional field
  • Networking opportunities; lunch or coffee with a senior leader
  • Leading expert training