Staff recognition tips & techniques

Reader demonstrates effective staff recognition
is not about spending money

No budget for staff recognition? No problem. At least, it hasn’t proven to be a problem for Briefly Noted reader Gina Fowler, a supervisor in the office of Alberta’s Auditor General.

She wrote that because she works in a government office, “we are not allowed to use taxpayers’ monies for staff recognition.”

Having to use her own funds, Gina has had to be creative in how she recognizes staff. “Last year I purchased (on sale) funny file folders from Grand & Toy and stuffed them with free stuff: ‘Alphabet for Life’ book markers; ‘Know how you feel’ magnets (they have a picture frame that you can place over faces depicting how you might feel: happy, goofy, confident, chatty, confused, etc.); ‘wacky’ paperclips shaped like fish, stars and moons; and some funny Post-it note pads. My staff really seemed to like and appreciate the gesture.”

Another time, she made “a bunch of ‘bendy’ people with really fuzzy hairdos (made from pipe cleaners, beads and yarn). Each was made using a favourite colour of each one of my staff and I attached a little card that said, ‘Although we are each different, together we make a great team!’

“As I walk around the office, I can see each one of those silly little bendy people proudly displayed in each person’s area, as if it was an Olympic medal!”

Last month, Gina let her staff know they were appreciated in a unique way. She gave them something more valuable than money—the gift of time. She used some of her banked overtime to “give each of my staff two hours to go Christmas shopping during office hours.”

She says that at first the human resources department had difficulty with her plan, but in the end, agreed to the request to exchange some of her overtime for shopping time for Gina’s staff.

“Since it was just a matter of exchanging bodies (mine, for each of my staff) and not an adjustment of funds (that may have impacted taxes, etc.), they understood and agreed to my request.”

Gina believes that what she has done to recognize staff has made a difference.

“One staff member, who I inherited as a problem, has turned a complete 180 on her work performance and attitude. She recently received great positive feedback from the same staff member who just last year gave quite negative feedback.

“Another staff member came back from her overseas vacation this past October and brought me a little leprechaun holding a Guinness mug (my favorite beer). She said ‘You’re always recognizing us and giving us stuff. I wanted you to know I recognize you, too.’

“Well, that almost did me in!” Gina concluded.

Do you have a staff recognition story to share? Maybe it’s about a time when you recognized someone or a time when you were the recipient of well-delivered recognition. Others will benefit from reading your story of recognition success in a future issue of Briefly Noted. Like you, they want to learn new ways to let staff know they are appreciated. Contact us here.

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