Staff Appreciation and Recognition Policy


From time to time there are occasions when it is appropriate for department heads to recognize an employee’s contribution on behalf of the department or institution. There are also times when it is important to celebrate or acknowledge certain life events. How these are addressed within departments is likely to vary depending upon the situation and the individual. The purpose of this policy is to assist managers in making these decisions with an awareness of IRS regulations, fiscal prudence, and reasonable, consistent practices within the college. The policy also applies to student employees.


Williams recognizes the importance of acknowledging special events and circumstances in the course of establishing and building a cohesive motivated employment relationship. Managers are encouraged to identify creative opportunities in appropriate forms to thank the staff for work well done. These may be non-financial or financial. Financial acknowledgments must be consistent with IRS guidelines, be outside of the college’s compensation programs, and appropriate to the circumstance.

NOTE: Internal Revenue Service regulations stipulate that cash bonuses and awards of any amount, including gift cards and gift certificates, are taxable income reportable on an employee’s W-2 form.

Guidelines have been developed to assist managers with the options available to them depending upon the circumstances.

  1. Recognition should be for special circumstances, not routine work.
  2. A genuine “thank-you” for a job well done whether expressed verbally or in a personal note is frequently appreciated most. While often overlooked, this form of recognition continues to be described as the thing that employees most want, yet rarely receive.
  3. Any recognition outside the college’s annual service recognition and retirement events must be approved by the department head and the respective member of senior staff.
  4. When gift-giving on behalf of the institution is appropriate i.e., retirements, resignations, etc., gifts should not exceed $100. Where an occasion may warrant more significant recognition, the department head may authorize something more with express approval from their respective member of senior staff.
  5. It is appropriate to recognize certain life event changes by sending flowers or making a donation in the name of the employee. Contributions should not exceed $50. In the event a department wishes to do something beyond this amount, members of the department are asked to contribute.
  6. Recognition may never be in the form of cash or cash equivalents (gift cards or gift certificates).
  7. Appreciation and/or recognition cannot take the form of “paid time off.” Paid time off is regulated by state and federal guidelines and College leave and pay policies.
  8. College resources may not be used to provide holiday gifts.
  9. Department events are appropriate from time to time as a way to say thank you, to strengthen the unit, or may take the form of a working retreat. Such events should have a specific goal, be infrequent and create an opportunity for the entire group to participate. Cost of the event should be reasonable and must be supported by the required documentation (receipts).

Managers are responsible for factoring this policy into all gift-giving decisions. Questions should be directed to the Controller or the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Appreciation Day

Williams administrative (exempt) and support (non-exempt) staff are recognized for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of service at an Appreciation Day luncheon. Employees with 25 years of service and retirees are recognized at an Appreciation Day dinner. In addition, each employee reaching one of these milestones is entitled to choose a gift from this Appreciation Day gift selection.

Updated: August 2011