Informal Recognition

Recognition does not need to involve formal events or large sums of money.  Informal recognition is just as important as grand gestures.  Whether you’re in a supervisory role or peer-to-peer, you can show employees that they are appreciated and valued. 

intrinsic and extrinsic icon
  • First, think about the employee(s) that you wish to reward.  Are they intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? Not everyone will appreciate the same thing.  Some people don’t even like public praise! 
  • Next, think about the organization.  What is the current budget situation and what competing priorities exist?  Once you weigh what motivates the employee along with what is reasonable in the current environment, you will have a better idea of what can actually be provided. 
  • Click here for a motivation and rewards job aid. Perhaps, you’d like to provide a bonus but that is not possible in the current state.  You might reach out to some other University departments to see what they can provide within your budget.  Still depending on the specific employee’s motivation, you might find that rewarding the employee with some flex time or simple office arrangements will work best. 

Rewards may be just as different as each employee’s personality.  When choosing how to show your appreciation, it may help to consider the following:  

  • Is the employee intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?  What was his/her reason behind the job performance that you would like to reward?
  • Does the employee enjoy being recognized in a crowd or is he/she more likely to appreciate a one-on-one “thank you”? 
  • What does the employee like or dislike (food, sweets, trinkets, animals, etc)? Personally acknowledging that you know an employee’s favorite things can say a lot!
thank you mint

Small Examples:

  • Does the employee like sweets or gum?  You might write a catchy card with “Kudos” candy bar or Extra gum for going the “extra” mile. 
  • Does the employee enjoy public praise?  Thank him/her in a meeting or newsletter. Hang a banner or balloons over the employee’s desk.
  • Reward an employee or entire team with a "casual dress" day when a team has met a deadline or milestone.
  • Take the employee out for a coffee and 15 minutes of your time.
  • Provide a traveling trophy that displays on different employees’ desks over time.
  • Set up a bulletin board in the breakroom or an online Teams channel for employees to leave notes of thanks and shout-outs to each other.
  • Send the employee a “thank you” email, detailing how their support made a difference.  The email should CC any higher-ups that may also want to acknowledge appreciation.