Human Resources

Reward and recognition ideas

Further information

Reward and Recognition Policy

There are many ways to provide employees with both informal and formal rewards and recognition.

This is not an exhaustive list. Be creative in devising the most meaningful means of recognising the efforts of individuals and teams. Be aware of the culture of your team and your style as manager.

Some of these ideas may seem comical or would be interpreted as disingenuous in your environment, but even so may spark your imagination!

If you have some ideas, check with Human Resources or Financial Services first to ensure they can be accommodated.

  1. Fringe benefits tax
  2. Informal recognition
  3. More formal rewards
  4. Converting bonuses to other benefits

Fringe benefits tax

Whenever University funds are expended for employee rewards other than through the salary system, fringe benefits tax (FBT) must be taken into consideration. For instance, a celebratory event after the successful completion of a project can attract FBT under certain conditions. Financial Services can advise on the FBT implications of such events.

While incurring FBT may considerably increase the cost of a reward, it is not necessarily a reason not to proceed, as long as the FBT component is factored into the allocated budget. For instance, the provision of a service to an employee such as casual childcare to enable attendance at a conference may be more appreciated by an employee in particular circumstances than a cash bonus provided for the employee to pay for the service.

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Informal recognition

  • Post a thank-you note on the employee's or team member’s office door.
  • Have your Director call an employee or team member to thank him or her for a job well done, or have the same person visit the employee at his or her workplace.
  • When discussing an employee's or a group's ideas with other people, peers, or higher management, make sure you give credit.
  • Acknowledge individual achievements by using people’s names when preparing status reports, and copy them in on relevant emails.
  • Ask five people in your department or company to go up to the person sometime during the day and say "(Your name) asked me to thank you for (the task or achievement). Good job!"
  • Write five or more Post-it notes thanking the person for a job well done and hide them among the work on his or her desk.
  • Have lunch or coffee with an employee or a group of employees you don't normally see.
  • Make a thank you card by hand.
  • Lunch outings for the entire group as an everyone-pays-their-own-way event. The value is in the going, so encourage but don't force anyone who isn't comfortable going with the group.
  • Let the person you are recognising know what you are doing or requesting on his or her behalf (i.e., send the person a copy of your requesting memo). Even if upper management doesn't approve the request, the person will know you were trying.
  • Share verbal accolades. Don't forget to forward voice mail messages that compliment a team member’s work. Ask a person to teach or share his or her accomplishment with others as a way of recognising the person's ability and role.
  • Recognise an individual's accomplishments in front of peers - yours or theirs. Set aside time at staff meetings to recognise team and individual achievements.
  • Ask your manager to attend a meeting with your employees during which you thank individuals and groups for their specific contributions.

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More formal rewards

  • Devise a peer nomination scheme, where staff are encouraged to nominate their peers for recognition.
  • Make a large calendar that can be posted. Call it the "celebration calendar" and use Post-Its and written notes of recognition tacked onto specific dates to honour contributions made by  team members.
  • Name a continuing recognition award after an outstanding employee. 
  • A personal letter of thanks to the employee or team member from a senior manager for a significant contribution (you might need to get the information to this person before the letter can be written).
  • Write a letter of praise recognising specific contributions and accomplishments. Send a copy to senior management and the employee’s personnel file.
  • Movie tickets.
  • A framed memento/letter/certificate.
  • Inscribe a favourite book as a gift.
  • Purchase a plant or flower arrangement with appropriate message.
  • Buy the person something to use in his or her hobby.
  • Take the person to lunch as a form of thanks or to mark a special event.
  • Organise a morning tea to celebrate a particular team accomplishment or event.
  • A "funny" trophy that is passed among team members based on "inside" criteria.
  • Submit the person's name for a Wall of Fame award.
  • Gift vouchers that can be used at local department stores, specialty shops, or local merchants; especially appropriate for ones that can be easily assessed during the workday.
  • Something engraved with the person’s name, such as a pen set, business card holder, plaque, or portfolio.
  • Paid subscription to a professional magazine or newsletter.
  • Authorise a non-standard stationary item; set a maximum limit.
  • Authorise time-off; full day or half-day.

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Converting bonuses to other benefits

  • Professional development course/trip
  • Conference
  • Care arrangements for dependents to enable conference attendance
  • Payment to research account (can then be used to pay casuals, short term research assistants, equipment and the like)

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