Recognition Overview







The future chapters of UCI are rooted in continued growth with excellence. A vibrant and expanding institution – one that invests in new programs and people – is able to attract talented and diverse faculty, staff, and students in areas of strategic importance and societal need, with an eye toward making an even stronger difference in the world. In order to attract and retain the best employees, we must create an environment where staff efforts are supported, appreciated, and acknowledged for their contributions.

UCI staff members provide essential support for faculty and students, enabling those groups to focus on advancing our academic mission. With aspirations to expand academic programming, faculty, research, and enrollment, we will recalibrate staffing levels and develop and implement programs to encourage our most experienced and productive staff to remain committed to UCI. (UCI Strategic Plan 2016)

Definition of Recognition

Recognition is defined as activities supported by communication between management and employees that acknowledge and reward them for reaching specific goals or producing high quality results in the workplace ( Recognizing or honoring employees for this level of service is meant to encourage repeat actions, by reinforcing positive behaviors and cultivating an engaged workforce who know their work is valued.

Why Recognition is Important

Recognition is an Investment in Positive Organizational Culture

Organizations that invest in both employee recognition and years of service programs experience better cultural and business results. This focus on creating a thriving, stronger culture is more attractive to prospective employees and helps to retain current employees. It is apparent that recognition is an important ingredient to many companies in building best places to work. (SHRM (2015). Employee Recognition Report: Culture As A Competitive Differentiator. SHRM/Globoforce Survey. 1-22.)

A “Culture of Recognition” is one of 4 key drivers of a positive work environment. A positive work environment is one of five elements that drive engagement in “Irresistible Companies.” (Bersin, J. (2015). Becoming Irresistible: A new model for employee engagement. Deloitte Review. 16, 146-163.)

Recognition-Deficient Work Environment Impace to the Organization and Employee

A recognition deficient work environment is among many factors that can lead to employee frustration and can hinder employees’ productivity. Focusing solely on the relationship between engagement and performance is not enough. Just like other organizations, UCI faces fluctuating economic trends, as well as changes in its' business operations, staffing models, leadership and the like. These changes can cause employees to be ineffective despite being engaged. (Towers Watson (2013). The Power of Three: Taking Engagement to New Heights. Towers Watson Perspectives.1-6.)

30% of employees report a lack of supervisor support, including lack of recognition and feedback, as a cause of work-related stress. (Towers Watson (2014). 2014 Global Workforce Study – At a Glance. Towers, 1-6.)

The number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.(Gallup, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, 2001)

Recognition Programs

Manager Tool: Employee Recognition Questionnaire

Employees are motivated differently.  Managers are encouraged to ask each employee what types of recognition they value and how they liked to be recognized.  See the Employee Recognition Preferences Tool to help identify each employee’s recognition preferences.

While most employees certainly appreciate monetary awards for a job well done, many people merely seek recognition of their hard work. For supervisors and managers with more ingenuity than cash available, no-cost and low-cost forms of recognition provide many options for acknowledging employee efforts in unique and special ways.

Recognition does not always need to be monetary

An effective recognition program is a separate program from the organization’s pay for performance or merit review system. This separation ensures a focus on recognizing the efforts of employees. To this end, although the recognition may on occasion have a monetary value (such as a luncheon, gift certificates, or plaques), money itself is not always given to recognize performance.

Timing and flexibility of recognition methods is important

Recognition must occur so that the performance recognized is still fresh in the mind. If high performance continues, recognition should be frequent but should not be presumed. The method of recognition needs to be appropriate for the achievement to ensure that actions supporting strategic goals receive the most attention. There should be multiple flexible methods of recognition to meet different employee motivations. Finally, employees need to clearly understand the behavior or action being recognized. Managers must be specific about what actions will be recognized and then reinforce this by communicating exactly what an employee did to be recognized.

Types of formal recognition

Recognition can take a variety of forms. Structured programs can include regular recognition events such as banquets or breakfasts, employee of the month or year recognition, an annual report or yearbook which features the accomplishments of employees, and department or company recognition boards.

Types of informal recognition

Informal or spontaneous recognition may be an email or written note of recognition, recognition in a team meeting, taking an employee to lunch, break snacks for a team or employee, etc. A job well done can also be recognized by providing additional support or empowering the employee in ways such as greater  choice of assignments, increased authority, or naming the employee as an internal consultant to other staff. Symbolic recognition such as plaques or coffee mugs with inscriptions can also be effective, provided they reflect sincere appreciation for hard work.

For more ideas, see the "Low cost/no cost" page.

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