Feb. 27, 2018

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day: Start a recognition committee

Take a look at two enthusiastic recognition committees for ideas you can use to salute your colleagues
Members of two recognition committees say recognition has made all the difference in their workplace.

Members of two recognition committees say recognition has made all the difference in their workplace

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

To Andrea Torraville, recognition is more than a buzzword thrown around once or twice a year. To her, it’s one of the reasons she loves working at the University of Calgary and why she keeps that culture of appreciation alive all year round at the Haskayne School of Business.

“Recognition helps individuals come to work and feel like they belong and are part of a family,” Torraville says.

In addition to her role as MBA career consultant at the Career Centre in the Haskayne School of Business, Torraville is one of four members of the Recognition Committee for the faculty. Two years ago, Torraville joined the small, high-energy committee with one goal in mind: make everyone feel seen and a part of the UCalgary culture. The other members of the Haskayne recognition committee are Sherry West, Gillian Ayers and Darrin Ambrose.

“When you’re in a job that’s a little more siloed, you don’t always feel visible — sometimes it’s nice to feel like people see you,” she says. “So when I joined the Recognition Committee at Haskayne, it was to have short-term and long-lasting impact.”

Get the ball rolling

Haskayne’s recognition committee started two years ago with the express goal of increasing faculty and staff members’ everyday engagement. Their starting points were recognition resources already available to staff, or as Torraville puts it, the low-hanging fruit.

“The university has recognition cards, and we wanted people to be more aware of them as well as make them more accessible so they were more likely to be used.”

The committee members went around the building, handing out recognition cards. They caught the whole process on video and the results were incredible. “We saw a huge increase in engagement,” Torraville says. “The cards we stocked for staff were completely gone in a month and we started to see them around everyone’s desk at Haskayne.”

Torraville says that trend has continued as the committee has continued to up the recognition ante over the last two years. Potlucks, employee appreciation days, staff events, and even small things like promoting the use of recognition cards and eNotes have all led to higher employee engagement and retention.

“More people remember each other’s names, more people are saying hello in the hallway and are generally more welcoming overall,” Torraville says. But this isn’t an isolated success, she says. Any faculty or department can make their own recognition committee for their area that works for them.

For Employee Appreciation Day last year, the Haskayne Recognition Committee (Andrea Torraville, Sherry West, Gillian Ayers and Darrin Ambrose) offered students, faculty and staff an opportunity to share words of encouragement on posters in the main hallway.

Last year, Haskayne offered a chance to share words of encouragement on posters in the main hallway.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Keep it simple and start a recognition committee

Just look at Active Living — starting a recognition committee there was piece of birthday cake, according to Evan Smibert, Mini University co-ordinator and chair of the recognition committee for that area.

“The Recognition Committee was a unique way fill in some of the gaps we were missing, specifically birthdays,” Smibert says. “Before the committee, they were celebrated inconsistently, and now they’re a great, simple way everybody can be brought together and enjoy each other — recognition can be that simple. Recognition comes in all shapes and forms — even a thoughtful comment in passing can make someone’s week or month.”

The other members of the Active Living recognition team are Margo Visser, Belinda Schulz, Monica Schulz, Emma Smith, Crystal Brown, and Patti Remus.

Join the Haskayne School of Business and Active Living — start a recognition committee for your department or faculty. Check out the recognition resources online and contact recognition@ucalgary.ca with questions.

Recognize your teammates today

There are easy ways to recognize someone who inspires you in the workplace, ranging from a simple note to a formal spotlight in front of the whole university community:

Now is a great time to celebrate your team since Employee Appreciation Day is just around the corner. On March 2, join the university, as well as the whole country, in recognizing the people around you who make your workplace a great place to be.

“It doesn’t have to bombastic — whatever your environment’s culture is, identify it and use it for recognition with the support of leadership,” Torraville says.

Visit the recognition website for even more ideas.

Recognition is one of the 13 factors illustrated in the National Standard. The University of Calgary is a recipient of the Excellence Canada Mental Health at Work Silver Level Certification in this area. Visit WellBeing and WorkLife to learn more about the implementation of the National Standard at the University of Calgary and to learn about existing programs and resources that support each of the 13 Factors.

The Active Living Recognition Committee (Evan Smibert, Margo Visser, Belinda Schulz, Monica Schulz, Emma Smith, Crystal Brown, Patti Remus) took advantage of resources available on the UCalgary recognition website for inspiration.

The Active Living Recognition Committee took advantage of resources on the recognition website.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary