Work Fulfillment


GW Employees


Recognition is a critical component of our Total Rewards Strategy. We strive to align our recognition programs with the GW Values and to make recognition of our employees meaningful and consistent. Check out the wealth of resources in our Recognition Toolkit and mark your calendars for recognition related events like the Proud to be GW Festival, Career Milestone Awards.

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Recognition Toolkit

Employee recognition is a powerful way to develop and retain employees, enhance performance, and build a values-based culture.

Employee recognition can be given in many ways: through saying thank you, giving praise, providing professional development opportunities, and showing respect. Many studies on the workplace have shown that being recognized for achievements, knowing that one's contributions matter to the organization, and having the opportunity for growth and professional development all have a considerable impact on employee satisfaction and commitment.

Why Recognize

Recognition and engagement are business strategies. Research findings show that formal, , and day-to-day recognition programs, when linked to organizational values and goals, can create a culture of recognition that enhances employee engagement, performance and retention. You should recognize individuals and teams, in a timely and effective way, for their exceptional contributions to their office, their department, their school, or to the institution itself.

There are many reasons why recognition is important in an organization. Recognition offers a low-cost strategy with a big-impact effect on morale, performance, recruiting, and retention, all of which are important to engagement.

  • In the United States, disengaged employees cost the economy $300 billion a year, whereas companies with high employee engagement yield higher sales, higher productivity, and higher retention than companies with low employee engagement.

  • Lack of appreciation in the workplace was found by the Department of Labor to be the number one reason for voluntary turnover, ahead of compensation or benefits.

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has found that individuals with higher engagement are “more likely to go the extra mile and deliver excellent on-the-job performance.”

  • When employees were asked by Watson Wyatt to identify “very significant” motivators of performance, 66% of respondents answered “appreciation,” as opposed to only 15% who reported financial reward.

  • In a study conducted by the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, managers who used reward and recognition services rated non-cash programs superior to cash for motivating staff to achieve business objectives.

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

GW Celebration of Excellence

This recognition program:

  • shows appreciation of exceptional service provided by individuals and departments throughout the university.

  • recognizes the achievements of those individuals, departments, and/or partnerships that have contributed meaningfully to service excellence at GW.

  • provides training and knowledge sharing to reaffirm our commitment to the GW Values and to service excellence at all levels.

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 Colonial Community-sponsored event recognizes all faculty and staff for their contributions to strengthening our academic excellence while incorporating our GW values 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, Adopt-a-Family, 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 George Washington University's annual Career Milestones Celebration honors those who have achieved milestones (every five years of service at GW). Career Milestones Celebration 2016 honorees achieved milestones in 2015. All honorees received an invitation to RSVP and could bring one guest of their choice. All award recipients received a certificate of recognition and were encouraged to select a gift from the Career Milestones Gift website.

View a photo gallery from the celebration on May 2-3, 2016. View photos from the 20+ year event on May 2-3, 2016 below.

For questions about this year's Career Milestones Celebration, please email us at

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) 994-655

Alumni Only

GW Alumni Department – 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.

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 praisings 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.

  • Nominate the employee for a University formal award program, such as the Celebration of Excellence

  • 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 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.

Day-to-Day Recognition

Day-to-Day Recognition, occurs most often (daily or weekly) and has the greatest ability to impact employee performance. This type of recognition provides genuine everyday expressions of appreciation to reinforce and reward positive behaviors. It is typically low- or no-cost, often intangible, and helps peers and managers communicate expressions of appreciation. These can include thank you notes, certificates that employees give to one another, or verbal praise. Day-to-day recognition can create a great place to work by establishing higher levels of employee motivation, engagement, and retention throughout the university.

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.

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 stating 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

  • ePraise Cards - free and easy to send to anyone, anytime

  • Hand written thank you cards

  • Personalized sticky notes

  • Recognition Print & Posts - fun cut-outs you can use around the office

  • 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

Recognition Resources

Below is a list of resources to support your recognition efforts, as well as links to external sites that provide valuable information.

Manager's Resources

Downloadable PDF Forms and Documents

Recommended Vendors for Promotional Gifts

Recognition White Papers

Web Resources

  • Recognition Professionals International

    • A professional organization for workforce recognition that provides recognition education and innovation.

  • Real Recognition Radio

    • The show that is all about building relationships, inspiring greatness, and creating a workplace where people can thrive.

  • Nelson Motivation Inc.

    • Bob Nelson is one of the leading speakers/authors on employee motivation and recognition; his web site has articles and a list of his books.

  • The Forum

    • Research, develop, and share knowledge about communications, motivation, and management so that businesses can better design, implement, and manage people-based initiatives inside and outside an organization.

  • Terryberry

    • A company that specializes in helping organizations worldwide develop cost-effective recognition programs.


  • 1501 Ways to Reward Employees (2012)

    • Author: Dr. Bob Nelson

    • This book covers low-cost and no-cost ideas, best practices, latest trends, proven strategies, and ways to motivate the Millennial generation.

  • Make Their Day! - Employee Recognition That Works (2003)

    • Author: Cindy Ventrice

    • This is a great resource; it addresses many of the common challenges inherent in developing a successful recognition program.

  • The Carrot Series

    • Authors: Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

  • 365 Ways to motivate and reward your employees every day: With little or No Money

    • Author: Dianna Podmoroff

  • First, Break All the Rules

    • Authors: Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

For more information about GW Recognition Programs, please contact us at

GW Recognition Best Practices

Learn more about the many recognition programs offered for faculty, staff, students, and alumni throughout the university.

EVP&T Operations TOPS IN OPS Award and Recognition

TOPS IN OPS is a peer nominated program that provides the opportunity to award and recognize individuals and teams within Operations who have contributed to the overall mission and success of the Division. TOPS IN OPS represents nine categories of awards that are awarded at quarterly All Hands meetings.

TOPS IN OPS Kudos - a monthly newsletter recognizing and celebrating employees within the Division of Operations; the newsletter provides an opportunity to share staff recognition that comes both from within Operations and also from Operations external customers.

EVP&T Division of IT Recognition Program

The Division of IT Recognition Program is designed to honor the contributions of Division of IT employees and support the mission, vision, and values of the George Washington University.

The program recognizes employees for their contributions in initiative, teamwork, leadership, and customer service.

Submit a “GW Best Practice”.


For more information about GW Recognition Best Practices, contact us at 202-994-6551 or

See Recognition Resources below for more resources, do’s and don’ts, and Managers Tips.

Positive Vibes

Positive Vibes are a way to publicly thank, congratulate, or recognize a GW colleague on a job well done or a special occasion.

Positive Vibe Features:

  • Posts message publicly on Colonial Community.

  • A quick, convenient, and effective way to appreciate an employee who has contributed to your work/life!

Your full name and GW email address is required in order to verify your status as a GW employee. The full name and email of the person/group being recognized is strongly suggested, in order to ensure the correct person/group receives notice of their "vibe."

Submit a Positive Vibe Now!

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!

Read current positive vibes.

Share Your Pride

We’d like to know what your department or division does to recognize faculty and staff. Submit your recognition program to be added to our list of GW Recognition Best Practices.

As another way of honoring your service, tell us why you are Proud to Be GW. What makes GW special for you?

Contact Us

For more information about GW Recognition Programs, please contact us at

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. Submit a Positive Vibe today!



Gelman Night Shift/Ian Lewis

To Ian Lewis and his Gelman Library team they had a pop up special project that took place on 11/3/17 and they showed up and showed out by doing an outstanding job John Neal they were so pleased with the floor work Kudos to this team on a job very well done.
From Veronica Franklin



Polly Dean


You are a rock star, thank you for all the extra work you did while i was out for Vega & Kuiper :)

Thank you!

From Massino Babies



Jeffrey Reinsch

This is a sincere THANK YOU to Jeff Reinsch from DIT - Technical Operations team for the great support he always provides for our DIT Walk-Up Support Center. His willingness to help on the spot and pro-activeness to make our job and our student staff job a lot easier does make an incredible difference on our day to day!

Once again thank you so much for always giving a hand, especially today when you helped us convert our data jack in B151. 

From Libny Tovar




The TAR Team

Ian, Diane, Becca, Olivia, Yeraldine and Briana,

Thank you for always being so respectful, positive, innovative and professional.

Talent Acquisition Team rocks!

From Ximena



Earsline Miller, Jamie Freedman, Patricia Jackson, JaNine Crawford, Natalie Fields, Kasey Brezanski, Njeri Bailey

Thank you for all that you do!


From Hank Molinengo


Elizabeth Field, Kara Tershel, Jessica Moreno, Emily Branham, Karen Outen, Maggie Gerheart

Thanks for all that you do!

From Hank Molinengo



Maida Demirovic, Jossif Ezekilov, Prerna Balasundaram

Thank you for all that you do!


From Hank Molinengo




Thank you, Daina Bolsteins, for all your help, knowledge, and great spirit in bringing me up to speed with the GWCC. Your willingness and assistance has been extremely valuable!

From Cindy