Non-monetary award ideas in Federal Government

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 5 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #179906

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    I am trying to implement a non-monetary award program here in the USDA, Risk Management Agency. I am looking for some details from some successfully implemented programs across the spectrum of the federal government so I need not invent the wheel.

    What I figured I would do is get the details for several different programs and then, using population voting, conduct a survey of all our employees to see which ideas they liked best.

    Step one, however, begins with you. Please send me the contact information for the people in your Branch, Division, Agency, Department, or Office who might have the details on the inner working of any non-monetary award programs. Of course, if you have those details, please share with me.

    You can send the information to me at: [email protected]

    Thanks everyone,

    Dave

    816.926.2397

  • #179954

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    In past jobs, I’ve had:

    -Time off awards – at end of big projects, I was given 16 to 40 hours of time off

    -If team hits quarterly goals, whole team takes off late afternoon for a group activity (like Dave & Busters)

    -Versions of “Employee of month” – listed on plaque, boss takes out for lunch, shout-out elsewhere
    -Special project – winner gets time to work on a special project of theirs, detail that’s prestigious, etc

    -Existing resources – I’ve seen awards that are like extra training (if already bought and use) or great trip (someone needs to represent agency at X conference – winner gets to do it)

  • #179952

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Good stuff. We’ve been told no TOA (Time Off Awards) and nothing that costs any money (so no afternoon’s of and no Dave & Busters).

    Do you happen to have any details on how these programs work/worked?

    Thanks,

    Dave

  • #179950

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    If no $ and no time off awards, it’s tough.

    Honestly some of these the managers just paid out of their own pocket as not expensive (like a group activity)

  • #179948

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster
  • #179946

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Excellent. Thanks!

  • #179944

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    I agree. If you don’t spend any time or money your options are limited to paper certificates. Folks often confuse non-monetary awards. There is always a cost. The difference is that cash is not offered. Medals, plaques, coins, logo merchandise, and even certificates cost something. The best solution is for managers to pay out of their pockets. This will be even more appreciated by employees. Buy lunch, coffee, ice cream, or some other treat to show appreciation. There are books like 101Ways to Recognize Employees which are full of ideas.

  • #179942

    David B. Grinberg
    Participant

    First off, if feds need anything these days it’s a welcome morale boost. Thus good thinking Dave!

    But would you consider making it even more employee-centric,especially due to the resource contraints and/or paying out of pocket (not sure how many folks you manage). This may enhance morale by immediately empowering them as key players and decision makers in the process. You may also come across some very creative ideas no-cost ideas.

    Therefore, consider this:

    • Ask employees for their ideas at the outset, then choose the most popular ones (as you deem appropriate), then go to the “powers that be” for approval (as needed). What do you think, Dave, Steve and Terry?
  • #179940

    David B. Grinberg
    Participant

    Excellent tips, Steve! I’ll take the time off award or the trip.

  • #179938

    David B. Grinberg
    Participant

    Great suggestions Terry!

  • #179936

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Great idea David. This is the first step in getting that done.

    As we all know, the Devil is in the details so what I would like now is to find some ideas and some descriptions about how they worked. Then the employees would have a better idea of what was available. If I use population voting, the employees get to chose which would be the most popular. The trick, of course, is to only offer, for voting, those ideas which would be both feasible and ‘affordable’.

    As a side note, the leading contender right now is to permit extra telework days as an award reward.

  • #179934

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    Never underestimate the power of the most senior person in the organization dropping by your office/desk, unannounced, and saying “Don’t worry about the mess. This is not a big ceremony, and you’re certainly not getting fired. I just wanted to thank you for doing X. Terrific job. Really helped. We’re lucky to have you.” No grandstanding, no plaques, no speeches, no trips to the podium. Just a simple personal thank you from someone who matters and has the birds-eye view of the organization and its outcomes.

  • #179932

    Andy Green
    Participant

    The Telework idea is great but may leave out those who are not telework eligible or don’t have an agreement in place. Although ‘Time-Off Awards’ may be off the table as an Agency wide policy, supervisors still have the authority to grant employees up to 1 hour of Admin Leave without submitting award nominations.

    In my experience the best no-cost option and best morale booster is recognition for a job well done. Supervisors and managers should be personally expressing their appreciation to employees regularly and even if a plaque cannot be issued an all employee email or and/or posted notice identifying and thanking an employee for an exceptional accomplishment goes a long way to boost morale. This can also be done on a more regular basis with ‘Employee of the Week’ or ‘Employee of the Month’ announcements.

    Such accolades can also be effective when a higher level manager or executive mentions an employee’s accomplishments in a more public forum such as on the Agency’s website or during a public speech or meeting.

  • #179930

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Great ideas Andy. Although, technically supervisors have the authority to grant 59 minutes of Admin Leave, here, that authority has been removed from first and second line supervisors. 🙁

  • #179928

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    That’s an interesting take. I hadn’t considered that one. Thanks.

  • #179926

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    This is great stuff y’all. Keep the ideas coming. You are all being very helpful. Thanks, Dave

  • #179924

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    Telework should not be used as a reward. That sends the wrong message. Telework is work and everyone should be encouraged to do it. It’s not a vacation.

  • #179922

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Yes, Terry, you are correct. Good point. With no money (as in zero), and with no authority to grant (any) time off, we are scrapping the bottom of the barrel looking for ideas.

  • #179920

    Jane
    Participant

    What about offering them the option of flexing their hours?….IE 7-4 instead of 8-5? 10 hour days to get a three day weekend? for a week or whatever timeframe would work.

    How about getting a bag of bite size $1,000,000 bars to give out with a note ‘thanks a million’ for your hard work’

    How about taking fortune cookies and putting your own fortune on them? IE We are so fortunate to have such a great employee.

    I truly think that just an honest ‘thank you, we have noticed and appreciate the hard work’ is one of the best rewards.

  • #179918

    Lori Zipes
    Participant

    We recently did some silly awards to try to boost morale. We identified some people who had done some good work – maybe not even anything herculean – just good stuff well done and maybe some twist to it, then came up with a mock award and accompanying silly gift. So someone who had been handling a lot of things no one else wanted to do was “Queen of crap jobs” and got a tiara. One who handled a lot of problems caused by others (outside our organization) got an award for “Cleaning up Messes” and received a pooper scooper (painted gold!) A young employee who did a great job repairing some ancient hardware no one else would touch was “I can fix anything older than me” and a toy toolbox. We did about 10, enough to send the message, but also leave room for another round in the future. A few of us ponied up for the gifts. It was really well received. It’s fun for the “award committee” too – boy we laughed a lot as we came up with the ideas!

  • #179916

    Carol Kruse
    Participant

    I was thinking along your lines, Lori and Jane, but didn’t have any specific examples — thank you for yours! I’m going to work on getting something similar going here. Gag gifts from the local dollar store or ARC- or Goodwill-type shops shouldn’t cost that much, same for bags of little candy bars. Even just providing donuts or sweet rolls occasionally boosts morale.

  • #179914

    Jane
    Participant

    We also had a stuffed animal going around for a while….If I recall, a stuffed whale….for those that were doing ‘a whale of a good job’…..

  • #179912

    Dave Bell
    Participant

    Nice!

  • #179910

    Anne Steppe
    Participant

    I totally disagree. Please keep your paper certificates. They are meaningless to most recipients, including me and many I work with. I haven’t kept a one I’ve received – even those “framed” (gotta love those cardboard frames). At FSA, most times the supervisors spring for a pizza lunch for the division, which usually goes over quite well, or sandwiches from a local shop (Potbelly’s in the DC area is most often used). Would rather have a free lunch than any other “momento” and definitely more than a stupid (IMO) paper certificate anyone can print off a computer.

  • #179908

    Anne Steppe
    Participant

    Extra telework days would be a huge boost to employee morale! I think I’ll use that suggestion myself. Love it.

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