Work Fulfillment


GW Employees


Recognition is an important part of engagement and a way to show appreciation for your colleagues. From day-to-day recognition to formal recognition, letting others know the positive impact of their work is a great way to build relationships and provide feedback. Employee recognition also is a powerful way to develop and retain employees, enhance performance, and build university culture.

Mark your calendars for recognition related events like the Proud to be GW Festival and Career Milestone Awards.

Recognition Toolkit

The Recognition Toolkit provides ideas and resources to help you provide and promote meaningful recognition.

Recognition can be given in many ways: through saying thank you, giving praise, supporting flex-friendly schedules and more. Many studies on the workplace have shown that being recognized for specific achievements and knowing that overall contributions matter to colleagues and the organization all have a considerable impact on employee satisfaction, commitment, and motivation.

For more information about GW Recognition Programs, please contact us at [email protected].

Day-to-Day Recognition

By providing genuine, informal expressions of appreciation, day-to-day recognition has the greatest ability to impact employee performance. It is typically low- or no-cost, often intangible, and helps peers and managers communicate gratitude. These can include thank you notes, certificates that employees give to one another, and verbal praise.

Day-to-day recognition can create a great place to work by establishing higher levels of employee motivation, engagement, and retention throughout your immediate workplace and the university.

Employee Recognition Profile (PDF)

Not all employees like to be recognized in the same way. A good starting point is to have your staff complete the Employee Recognition Profile to learn more about how they like to be recognized for their good work.

The Power of “Thank You”

A simple “thank you” or “great job” can be one of the most meaningful forms of recognition, yet basic praise is often overlooked or too vague to be effective. Follow these straightforward steps to make sure that your praise is truly meaningful:

  • Thank the person by name.

  • Specifically state what they did that is being recognized. It is vital to be specific because it identifies and reinforces the desired behavior.

  • Explain how the behavior made you feel (assuming you felt some pride or respect for their accomplishment!).

  • Point out the value added to the team or organization by the behavior.

  • Thank the person again by name for their contribution.

Day-to-Day Recognition Ideas

  • Certificate of appreciation (PPT)

  • Hand written thank you cards

  • Submit a Positive Vibe

  • Personalized sticky notes

  • Recognition Print & Post Cards (PDF) - fun cut-out cards you can send to colleagues to express appreciation

  • Bring in breakfast (bagels, doughnuts, muffins, etc.)

  • Start staff meetings with recognition of recent tasks completed

  • Show you care about what's important to your employees

  • Send an email to your boss praising an employee (CC the employee)

  • Keep a recognition box in your office for all employees to recognize their co-workers for a job well done

Informal Recognition

Informal recognition focuses primarily on performance achievements, goal accomplishments, and other milestones by individuals or teams. It provides an atmosphere of continuous and spontaneous praising and rewards. It may occur monthly or quarterly and impact fewer employees than Day-to-Day recognition. The types of contributions that might be recognized in informal programs 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.

  • Implementing a business process improvement idea.

Employee Recognition Profile

Not all employees like to be recognized in the same way. A good starting point is to have your staff complete the Employee Recognition Profile to learn more about how they like to be recognized for their good work.

On the Spot Recognition & Rewards

On the Spot Awards are delivered at the time of achievement. These acknowledgments provide praise for contributions when the desired behavior occurs. This type of recognition can be given to individuals, teams, or work groups. They may come in the form of candy, flowers, lunches, group events or outings, movie tickets, etc. These awards should not exceed a value of $100 per individual per year. Make sure you are familiar with the GW Policy on the Taxation of Gifts, Prizes and Awards to Employees.

Positive Vibes

Publicly thank, congratulate, or recognize a GW colleague on either a job well done or a special occasion. Positive Vibes peer to peer recognition can be used by employees and managers to recognize and appreciate each other. This is a great nonmaterial recognition vehicle.

Other Informal Recognition Ideas

There are many great no-cost and low-cost ways to give recognition. The Recognition Profile should be used to find out employees preferred ways to be recognized.

  • Write a letter/email of praise recognizing specific contributions and accomplishments. Send a copy to senior management and the employee’s personnel file.

  • Print and distribute these creative GW Employee recognition cards.

  • Allow employees to leave early or take a long lunch.

  • Support “flex-friendly” schedules

  • If you have a department newsletter, publish a “kudos” column and ask for nominations throughout the department.

  • Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.

  • Establish a place to display memos, posters, photos, and so on to recognize progress towards goals and thank individual employees for their help.

  • Send handwritten thank-you cards to employees who go the extra mile. Optional: include a set of movie tickets or a chocolate bar (based on preferences).

  • Invite employees to workshops/seminars or plan a brown bag lunch for your team.

  • Give Certificates of Appreciation or Recognition (PPT) highlighting what they did.

  • Hold informal retreats to foster communication and set goals.

  • Bake/bring a gift (cookies, bread, etc.) for an outstanding employee or team.

  • Encourage and allow employees to attend university events.

  • Plan a surprise achievement celebration for an employee or a group of employees.

Formal Recognition Programs

Formal recognition is different from informal and day-to-day recognition in that it is typically supported by a defined structure and process. GW’s formal recognition programs foster a sense of unity and promote institutional goals and values across departmental divisions.

Faculty, Staff, & Students

Multicultural Student Service Center - Martin Luther King Jr. Award

The MLK Award is the highest honor someone can achieve in recognition of service within the GW community. Students and staff member are recognized for their contributions to the GW and D.C. communities with the university’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.

Student Activity Center - Excellence in Student Life Awards

This recognition program is presented by the Dean of Student Consortium, Hallmark Events and honors individuals, student organizations, and university employees whose efforts have enhanced the university and student life at GW. Offices from across campus come together to present over 20 awards during GW's largest celebration of excellence. One of the awards is the Wall of Fame, which is dedicated to the men and women who, as students, staff, and faculty, provide leadership and service and contribute to the quality of student life at the university.

Faculty & Staff Only

Proud to be GW Festival

This HRMD-sponsored event recognizes all faculty and staff for their contributions to strengthening our academic excellence and making to make GW a great place to work.

GW Holiday Party

The GW Holiday Party is an opportunity for faculty and staff to come together and enjoy each other’s company while celebrating the holiday season. The holiday party is planned and executed by an all-volunteer committee. This committee plans the decorations, promotes the party, selects the menu, organizes the popular door prizes, and also organizes charitable initiatives such as the blood drive, Toys for Tots, Give a Gift, and the GW Faculty/Staff Campaign Fund.

Student Activity Center - Excellence in Student Life Awards Presented by DOS, Hallmark Programs

The Spark A Life Award is granted to a selected number of faculty and staff who have significantly impacted the holistic development of a student or registered student organization thus causing a “spark” of inspiration. Individuals eligible for this award are faculty, staff, and GPS Guides who have formed a positive mentoring relationship which has impacted the development of the student or registered student organization and the contributions they make to the GW and or Washington, DC communities.

Staff Only

Career Milestone Awards

The annual Career Milestones Celebration honors those who have achieved milestones (every five years of service at GW). Employees are notified of their milestone during the month in which it is achieved and are encouraged to choose a recognition gift.

In December, recipients from the past calendar year are invited to celebrate their milestones together. Employees celebrate milestones of 20 or more years are invited to a luncheon in their honor. Employees celebrating milestones of 5, 10, or 15 years are invited to a reception in their honor.

View a photo gallery from the 20+ year celebration on December 18, 2017 and a photo gallery from the 5, 10, 15 celebration on December 20, 2017.

For questions about this year's Career Milestones Celebration, please email us at [email protected].

Upon request, employees who achieve a Career Milestone (of 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, or 45 years) and retire before the occurrence of the Career Milestones event, will be eligible to receive their gift. To request a gift, please call Brenda Singletary at 202-994-6551.

Alumni Only

GW Development & Alumni Relations – Alumni Recognition Programs

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the highest form of recognition given by the university and The George Washington Alumni Association to an alumnus/a on an annual basis. Each recipient has made a lasting impact on society though outstanding professional, voluntary, or philanthropic accomplishments.

The Alumni Outstanding Service Award is given to those alumni who advance the mission of the university through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs, thereby ensuring the university's impact on our community and future generations of students.

The Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award is awarded annually to a faculty or staff member who is also an alumnus/a of the university and who consistently advances the mission of the university through dedicated volunteer efforts in support of its programs, thereby ensuring the university's impact on our community and future generations of students.

Recognition Resources

These resources provide guidelines as well as ideas and materials for recognition.


Current Positive Vibes

Positive Vibes are a free and easy way to publicly thank, congratulate, or recognize a GW colleague on either a job well done or a special occasion! Submit a Positive Vibe today! 


Alexander Pullen

Thanks so much for offering to help when I was out of the office. The "care" you showed for a colleague was much appreciated!

From David Iselin


Caroline James

For always being willing to help! Thank you for all you do to help our office be excellent!

From David Iselin and Ed Gillis

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Sharon Bucher

I really appreciate the approach you bring to your work. You are always willing to be transparent and talk through the pros and cons, and your integrity is unmatched! I am grateful that I get the chance to work with you!

From David Iselin


Naomi Rothwell

You are always so positive and upbeat; your dedication and thoroughness with all that you do is noticed and very much appreciated - THANK YOU!

From Catherine Anderson


Denise (Riebman) Fowler

Denise -- thanks for always being such a great collaborator on events and sharing information with students with other programs at GW. Your help and positive spirit is always appreciated! Thank you.

From Mag Gottlieb 

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Danny Parra

Danny -- thanks for covering the Capitol Hill lunches and taking pics. Everyone in the office appreciates your bringing back some samples and your good humor!

From Mag Gottlieb


Staci Fowler

Staci -- Thanks very much for going "above and beyond" this year in providing so many great site visits for GW Students. I know our folks really appreciate all of the opportunities you have provided them to meet some great employers! Thanks!

From Mag Gottlieb


Michael McKenzie

Michael -- all of the students really appreciate all of the good work you and your team do to provide "Handshake" job postings and event offerings to them in addition to what our school provides. We appreciate your efforts!

From Mag Gottlieb

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Tara Duprey

Tara-- thank you very much for planning the WB site visit. Your timing was impeccable and the students are all very excited about the opportunity. Thank you!

From Mag Gottlieb


Hannah Hahn

Thank you for consistently going above and beyond duty in your role! Today, I overheard you on a phone call with a prospective student. I realize that admissions is not part of your job, so I commend you on your professionalism and helpfulness. This is true customer service!

From Jennifer Hayes-Klosteridis


Zendra Barr, Glenna Bennett

Thank you and everyone in your office for your guidance, patience and promptitude in helping us stay on roll with our Payroll :)

From GW Law

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Smitha Pannala, Corinne Calef

Thank you for resolving all complex issues and ensuring AP Invoice Automation project success. You are a great team player and we couldn't have done it without you.

From Haritha B. Karpurapu



Janis Nicholas

Janis is a coworker that feels more like a friend. She never hesitates to give a hand whenever we call on her. She is a valuable asset to GWU.

From Dennis Duncan


Shane Seger

Shane, Thank you so much for being my co-facilitator for the OUR GW culture training. It was great to work with you! You did a fantastic job presenting, you were an excellent partner and you made it fun! Thank you for helping ease my anxiety by meeting with me to prep; it made a huge difference!

From Leah Rosen

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Christina Dietrich

Thank you for remembering and recognizing our former colleague and friend, Gianna. For those of us who have been at GSEHD for some time, it is our friendship, respect, and appreciation for each other that makes this a great place to work. You definitely contribute to that culture.

From Rick Jakeman 


Laura Engel

Thank you for being a great thought partner on how best to recruit and market the IEP program. You are a great leader of a caring and responsive group of faculty members! And, a lot of fun to work with!

From Rick Jakeman


Cynthia, Holly

Shout-out to the transcripts people this morning, Cynthia and Holly! What wonderful, diligent, efficient, humble people! They are amazing!

From Dr. Philippa Kelly

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Katherine Dvorak

Thanks for all of your help on the magazine! I think it looks incredible!

From Your Colleagues in SMHS Communications and Marketing 


Ashley Rizzardo

Great job on the magazine! It looks incredible! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to make us all look good!

From Your Colleagues in SMHS Communications and Marketing


Raul Zavala

Raul came to the CCSC and fixed holes in the wall from a plumbing repair and an old camera installation. The walls are perfectly flat, and in four of the five rooms, he was able to re-paint the walls today. His careful work really contributes to making our counseling rooms more attractive. Thanks so much!

From Linda McCullough on behalf of our Counseling Interns and their Clients

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Isabella McCallum

Thank you so much for all your help with the Jiangsu Cup! You've really been amazing!!

From All of Us at the Confucius Institute