University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Reduce turnover, improve morale with a staff recognition program

School food service staff serving lunch to students

If you’re a manager or director, you may be thinking about how to thank staff for their hard work this school year. We think that’s a great idea!

Staff recognition has many benefits, such as:

  1. Improved employee morale
  2. Higher productivity
  3. Better teamwork
  4. Less turnover

To start off, think about what actions and behaviors you value from staff. What actions and behaviors are expected? And what actions and behaviors go beyond basic job expectations?

Maybe you value staff who welcoming to students. Or maybe you would like to recognize team members who consistently show a positive attitude and contribute to making the kitchen more efficient. 

But one size does not necessarily fit all. According to research published in the Journal of Leadership Studies, employees prefer recognition that is PERSONALIZED. Once you have identified values you want to recognize, let your staff help tailor your recognition towards them. While it is easy to use the same one or two methods of recognition for all their employees, remember, every employee is unique.

You can discuss with staff during performance evaluations. However, some folks may not be comfortable sharing in face-to-face conversations. Short surveys are a great way to get around that and find out what kind of reinforcement is preferred.

We’ve developed a sample survey that can be downloaded here! Feel free to use as-is, or use it as a guide to creating your own if some of the questions don’t apply, or you want to add more answer options.

Stay tuned next week for more tips on employee recognition!