Guidelines and Informal Recognition Ideas
Informal recognition can be used every day to acknowledge contributions of individuals, teams and work groups. As with all recognition, it should be tied to a specific behavior or activity that you want to reinforce.

Informal recognition can be used every day to acknowledge contributions of individuals, teams and work groups. As with all recognition, it should be tied to a specific behavior or activity that you want to reinforce.

What does your unit/department value? The types of contributions that might be recognized are:

  • staying late to help someone prepare a presentation for the next day
  • volunteering to cover for a co-worker who is out sick
  • going out of your way to help boost morale or create a positive, inclusive work environment
  • exceeding expectations for a goal or milestone in a long-term collaborative project

Download and Print a UVU Recognition of Appreciation Certificate

Sincere thanks never grow old. Ongoing, meaningful rewards and recognition provide an effective, low cost way of raising morale and encouraging higher levels of performance. Here are ideas to help you embed employee recognition into your everyday work. Find ideas that work best for you and your team.


  • Employee recognition gifts and rewards that involve a cost may include, but are not limited to: certificates of achievement, letters of acknowledgment, movie tickets, food, or bookstore gifts and apparel
  • Cannot exceed $50 (one-time) or $75 annually per employee.
  • Cash or cash equivalent gift cards/certificates are not permissible (see UVU Policy #211). Gift cards to the UVU Bookstore are permissible as the Bookstore will insure the purchase of tangible gifts versus the conversion of the gift cards to cash.


20 Employee Recognition Ideas (no cost)

  1. Post a thank you note on an employee’s door.
  2. Take time to explain to new employees the norms and culture of your department.
  3. Create and post an “Employee Honor Roll” in reception area.
  4. Acknowledge individual achievements by using employee’s name when preparing a status report
  5. Establish a place to display memos, posters, photos and so on, recognizing progress towards goals and thanking individual employees for their help.
  6. Swap a task with an employee for a day – his/her choice.
  7. Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight.
  8. Nominate the employee for a University formal award program.
  9. At a monthly staff meeting, award an Employee of the Month and invite co-workers at the meeting to say why that person is deserving of the award.
  10. Encourage employees to recognize their peers, such as creating activities/events by a peer group that decides what they will give and why they will give it.
  11. Send a letter to all team members at the conclusion of a project, thanking them for their participation.
  12. When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible (Face-to-face is best, e-mail or voice mail are good in a pinch).
  13. Support “flex-friendly” schedules, where appropriate.
  14. Actively listen to co-workers, especially when discussing their accomplishments and contributions.
  15. Widely publicize suggestions used and their positive impact on your department.
  16. When someone has spent long hours at work, send a letter of thanks to his/her home.
  17. Acknowledge and celebrate birthdays.
  18. Arrange for an outstanding employee to have lunch with a dean or director.
  19. Recognize a team accomplishment by designating that team as consultants to other teams.
  20. Smile. It’s contagious.


10 Employee Recognition Ideas (minor to moderate cost)

  1. Create a Hall of Fame wall with photos of outstanding employees. (May require Space Committee approval)
  2. Find out the person’s hobby and buy an appropriate gift.
  3. Inscribe a favorite book as a gift.
  4. Give the person a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to their work. (Memberships require VP approval).
  5. Design a “Stress Support Kit” that included a relaxing tea, windup toys and a stress ball – or design your own.
  6. Design and give magnets with appropriate messages.
  7. Give a deserving employee a mug filled with treats.
  8. Give a framed poem (poster or card) as a thank you.
  9. Bake/bring a gift (cookies, bread, etc.) for an outstanding employee or team.
  10. Send birthday cards to employees’ homes, signed by dean or director.



  • UVU Policy #204 – Appropriateness of Expenditures
  • UVU Policy #211 – Employee Appreciation and Recognition
  • HR Tip Sheet – Recognizing Employees


(Adapted from: The University of Michigan and the University of Washington)