Recognition tips for managers

Managers and supervisors can help build employee engagement by noticing, acknowledging and recognizing the efforts, contributions and accomplishments of their staff and colleagues. 

One of the best and simplest ways to find out what forms of recognition are meaningful to a specific employee is to ask.  Find out how, when, where, why and by whom they would like to receive recognition. You can keep a record of what foods they like best, whether they prefer to receive praise face-to-face or in writing or prefer a lunch invitation to a certificate.

The answers you receive may vary by the situation or accomplishment. View our SUN Award and ASU Service Awards

Meaningful recognition should be one of the following: 

  • Relevant to the person.
  • Appropriate for the achievement
  • Timely, sincere and specific.

Funding policy

Financial Services Manual, Policy 420-04

  • Employee non-monetary awards not exceeding $100 per person. For example, departments, non-sponsored, non-state agencies or organizations may purchase plaques, pens, and clothing by departments without VP approval and notifying HR.
  • Employee non-monetary awards exceeding $100 per person require pre-approval by the vice president and the department must notify HR for taxation.
  • Employee monetary awards, including cash equivalents such as gift certificates and gift cards above $25, must be processed through the payroll system as additional employee compensation.

 Recognition ideas

All ASU employees are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of their coworkers.

  • Allow the employee to attend training of his or her choice as a reward.
  • Allow the employee to participate on a committee, team, or task force of his or her choice.
  • Bring in food items to celebrate accomplishments.
  • Create a graffiti wall with a poster board where staff can write notes of praise to coworkers.
  • Create a humorous or creative certificate or award.
  • Create a wall of honor that displays employee accolades and accomplishments.
  • Email a message to the team that describes the employee’s accomplishment and how it supports the unit’s goals and objectives.
  • If funding allows, invite the employee out to lunch as a reward.
  • If funding allows, present a small personalized award to the employee—e.g., coffee mug, favorite food, certificate. Include a description of the outstanding work. 
  • Pass on positive remarks about a colleague to that person and their supervisor.
  • Praise your employee for work well done - privately or publicly, depending on what that person prefers; be sure to state the specific attitude, behavior, or contribution you recognize.
  • Publicize the accomplishment of individuals and teams via departmental newsletter or website.
  • Send the employee a SUN Award.
  • Tie a balloon to the employee’s chair with a note of congratulations.
  • Write a letter of commendation and cc the employee’s personnel file and unit/department head.
  • Write a note of thanks or send a personal email.

Planning an award presentation

How a recognition award is presented can be more important and meaningful than the award itself. ASU service awards and retirement certificates are tokens of appreciation given in recognition of the employee’s ongoing commitment and contributions to Arizona State University. The goal of any award is to make the recipient feel valued and connected to ASU.

Make the presentation a meaningful celebration that honors the award recipients for their commitment and contributions to ASU. Involve peers in the celebration to build camaraderie and a spirit of community. Make the award recipient feel valued.

Plan the celebration

  • Plan the celebration. Decide when and where to hold the event.
  • Obtain the award or certificate.
  • Plan for refreshments.
  • Invite others to attend.
  • Ask the employee’s supervisor and colleagues for positive input.
  • Consider the personality and preferences of the employee being recognized. For example, does the employee prefer to receive recognition in a public setting with lots of people or a quieter setting with the team?

Prepare a thoughtful presentation.

The presentation should include the following information about the employee being honored:

  • Recipient’s name. Know how to pronounce it correctly.
  • Employee’s anniversary date and years of service.
  • Current job title and responsibilities.

Recognize the highlights of the employee’s contributions and accomplishments during the presentation. Specifically, describe the employee’s contributions and how they support unit and department goals.