The Labor Program Office sponsors annual campus-wide recognition activities, but the best form of recognition occurs on an on-going basis within labor departments. To guide departments in recognition activities, the Labor Program Council offers the following principles:

Worker recognition is an integral component of the Berea College community, as stated in the Workplace Expectation “Celebrate Work Well Done.” The Labor Program Council established the following principles to guide departments in the recognition effort:

  1. Recognition should be a sincere acknowledgement and affirmation of work well done.
  2. It should be offered in a timely manner and in a way that is meaningful to the recipient.
  3. Choosing the form of recognition is left to the discretion of individual departments, but should not include additional monetary compensation or excessive rewards.
  4. Recognition activities must conform to the College’s “Policy for Use of College Funds.”
  5. Students must not be offered rewards to meet basic position requirements.

The following list suggests why some supervisors are reluctant to engage in recognition and offers suggestions for making this practice more user-friendly:

I’m unsure how to provide recognition to workers effectively.

Discuss potential recognition strategies with colleagues and seek feedback on your own recognition behaviors, so as to learn from your past efforts and enhance ongoing effectiveness. Resource guides for supervisors may be borrowed from the Labor Program Office or purchased independently.

I don’t feel that providing recognition is an important part of my position.

Recognition is tied directly to Berea College’s Workplace Expectation: Celebrate Work Well Done. The expectation is that recognition is not an optional activity but an integral part of our daily endeavors, both locally (in our workplace) and as a campus community.

I don’t have time to recognize my workers.

Some of the best forms of worker recognition (personal or written praise, public recognition, positive voicemail or e-mail messages, and the like) require very little time. Simple techniques, such as listing the students who report to you on your weekly to-do list and checking off each name once you’ve “caught them doing something right” can make worker recognition simple and intentional.

I’m afraid I might leave somebody out.

This can be combated by double-checking who and how you recognize so as to avoid inadvertently omitting someone who should be included. This may mean checking with someone to make sure you have all the names of people who assisted with a project before commending the team in public. If at any time someone deserving is left out, it is perfectly acceptable to simply apologize and make amends with that performer.

Here are additional tips to help supervisors motivate their students:

  • Find out what your workers want—don’t assume you know.

    Involve workers in determining what would best reward or recognize them for doing good work.

  • Realize that one type of recognition no longer fits all.

    Having a few traditional (and predictable) recognition activities is not enough. Update recognition activities to make them exciting and relevant. Experiment, learn, and discuss recognition ideas on an ongoing basis.

  • Lead by example—model the behavior you expect others to follow.

    Having leaders practice worker recognition sets the tone for others and symbolically says, “If I can make the time to do this, no one else in the organization has an excuse not to.”

  • Use every communication as a chance to recognize workers.

    Exchange praise and recognition in departmental communication venues (e.g., an “applause” bulletin board). Use a few minutes of group meetings to go around and have everyone share one thing they’ve done to recognize someone on their staff since the group was last together. Translate your good intentions to daily behavior! Put 5 coins in your pocket each morning and transfer a coin to another pocket each time you give positive feedback to a worker; the habit will catch on. Keep thank-you cards on your desk and spend a few minutes at the end of the day or week jotting notes to people who “wowed” you.

Other ideas for recognition:

  • Send a copy of your recognition/thank-you note to the Labor Office to be put on file; this action provides helpful material for future recommendations and consideration for awards.
  • Be specific with your praise: say what it is exactly that deserves recognition and the positive effect that behavior has had on the workplace.
  • Have a thank-you/praise box for workers to drop notes in about good work they observe; these notes can be read at labor meetings or other group get-togethers.
  • Bring refreshments to meetings from time to time.
  • Nominate students for awards.
  • Consider interesting position assignments, attendance at a conference, or other leadership opportunities.
  • Take advantage of myriad internet sites with motivational tips and messages for workers.