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Case Study: Essential Piece Inspires Staff Recognition Program for University

Interested in giving your staff recognition program a creative jump start in the New Year? Below is one story detailing how creating your own staff recognition program can give your organization an energy boost.

When Alex Henn began his tenure as Director of Human Resources at American Intercontinental University (AIU) in Los Angeles, California, the university lacked a staff recognition program. Alex had hoped to put his own creative twist on a regular employee appreciation award.

"I didn’t believe in typical employee of the month recognition, but when I saw Baudville's Essential Piece recognition theme, I really liked it," he said. The university President loved Alex's staff recognition program proposal, and the Essential Piece of the Puzzle staff recognition program "took off like gangbusters."

Alex’s staff recognition program is open to all university employees, from maintenance personnel to the President, a total of 175 ‘puzzle pieces’ are eligible to be nominated. Anyone can nominate a staff member by completing AIU’s custom nomination ballot. Each month,  the staff recognition program committee reviews the ballots and selects one or multiple individuals to receive the Essential Piece of the Puzzle award for demonstrating outstanding service. Winners receive a certificate, Essential Piece lapel pin, and a small gift, such as a coffee mug or t-shirt.

Essential Piece Recognition Theme
The Essential Piece Recognition Theme

A thorough communication plan reinforces the prestige of the staff recognition program and the award. A bulletin board displays the names of each month’s recipients. Alongside the individual names, a picture puzzle is displayed. On a monthly basis, an additional piece of the puzzle is added to the bulletin board. Employees are encouraged to guess the identity of the picture for a prize, which maintains interest and engagement in the staff recognition program.

A public celebration is held monthly to honor Essential Piece of the Puzzle winners. Hosted by the campus Fun Committee, the event includes cake and coffee and invites the entire campus to attend. The President of the university makes announcements at the event.

American Intercontinental University’s monthly staff recognition program has achieved successful results, and Alex is looking forward to future staff recognition program expansions – although everything will remain within the Essential Piece theme. “I think it’s important that expansions to the staff recognition program are consistent,” Alex said.

Alex’s creative staff recognition program has energized and engaged employees at AIU. Employees are active in every part of the staff recognition program process, from the nomination ballot to the celebration announcement, motivating staff members and increasing engagement throughout the campus.

Have you created a custom staff recognition program for your organization? Does your office have a favorite staff recognition program activity? Let us know about it! Email us at recognition@baudville.com

Team Building Activity
The Essence of Team
Identify elements of successful teams

Participants Required: 6-20
Time: 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the number in the group.
Supplies: Flip chart and markers, You Make the Difference certificate seals

1. Ask participants to think of a time when they were part of a team that was both successful and rewarding.
2. Draw a vertical line down the length of a flip chart. Write “Successful” and
“Rewarding” at the top of the two columns.
3. After each person tells her story, the leader asks the group to name one- or two-word characteristics that made the team successful and/or rewarding. Record these characteristics on your sheet (expect words like “goals,” “open communication,” etc.).
4. Ask, “What behaviors can we try in the next five days to create this experience for our team?” Record answers on second sheet.
5. Make plans to meet one week later to report behaviors that have been “spotted,” and record them on the sheet.
6. Ask each person who reports a behavior to place a You Make the Difference certificate seal next to the comment and initial.
7. Give recognition to those reporting and doing the behaviors.
8. As a group schedule another follow-up meeting and repeat steps 5-7.
9. Post the flip-chart paper in your work area as an everyday reminder.


Shared Experience

This shared experience comes to us from Anita Negron, Manager of ISO and Internal Controls First Advantage. Anita shares a creative staff recognition program created in her office. Thanks for sharing, Anita!

A supervisor in our Consumer Relations department came up with this staff recognition program.  It's called the "On a Roll" program.  Each month, the Consumer Relations team nominates an employee from another department who has contributed to his department in some manner: assistance with a task, research, data collection, etc. The associate that wins is invited to the Consumer Relation's Recognition meeting held once a month. The award recipients are honored with an artificial dinner roll and a certificate.  They are thanked for their contribution and recognized in front of the group. The staff recognition program encourages teamwork and communication, and it has been well received by others. This staff recognition program is inexpensive (the rolls are fake and from a dollar store) and fun. The recipients have gotten a real kick out of the staff recognition program concept.


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