By CELA on 4 Feb, 2020

According to a report in Psychology Today which surveyed 200,000 employees in 500 companies, the most highly rated workplace motivators for most people are: peer support and camaraderie (20%); the intrinsic desire to do a good job (17%), and getting recognition and encouragement (13%).

Experts warn not to wait until the end of the year to give praise and acknowledgement. Memories are short and recognition needs to come closely after people have put in the effort – and then it can be recognised again at the end of the year more formally.

Here are five workplace reward ideas that you could consider for your team in 2020.

Acknowledgement and thanks goes to the lively EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions Facebook group for many of these great ideas.

Say thank you and give praise

It may seem obvious but how often do we praise each other for a job well done, or a new skill developed? Acknowledgement from a team leader, manager or director is much valued and can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Say thank you in person, preferably in front of other staff
  • Write a handwritten note or card, include specific acknowledgement of what each staff member has achieved or does well. Include mention of personal milestones like family events, running a marathon, their volunteer work will help show you care about them
  • Create a public thank you board or wall – invite everyone to post their ‘thank you’ to other staff members
  • Download shapes from Educators Day Resources, or make your own – provide coloured copies for parents and staff to write thank you notes on
  • Create a ‘love’ jar or ‘positivity’ box and invite all staff to write positive and uplifting messages to each other

Walk up to them and say, ‘you are doing an amazing job, I am so proud to have you as a part of our team’, and then list some things you really value from them. Listen to their input too. Belle via EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions

I’ve always appreciated my boss just pulling me aside and saying that she’s noticed something specific that I’ve done, letting me know she’s noticed and simply saying thank you and well done. Angela via EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions

This Queensland service made a festive Thank You Board which was enthusiastically embraced by all the staff – thanks to Zoe Kirk for initiating the idea and Courtney Cook for the photo

Staff Awards & Certificates

These can be serious, acknowledging achievements, capabilities and skills developed through the year, or fun – you can ask staff to nominate humorous awards that highlight a quirk or endearing quality about their colleagues.

  •  Use templates to create Certificates of thanks and appreciation

KU has a very strong reward and recognition program, we grant awards to staff who go above and beyond or exceed in nine areas: Making the Difference for Children; for Families; for Communities; for Staff; through Quality; through Sustainability; through Innovation; through Reconciliation and by Representing KU. Jane Robinson, KU General Manager of People Services and IT

Delicious treats

Hold a celebration morning or afternoon tea, or lunch. Bring in relief staff to ensure that everyone gets to participate together.

  • If the budget is very tight, ask everyone to bring a plate, or invite parents to bring yummy treats for the staff

I often bring in biscuits or make a slice or cake to put in the staff room. You could order pizza for lunch one day. Suzie via EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions


Small thoughtful gifts

A small gift can really show appreciation, especially if it reflects each staff member’s personal interests:

  • Examples could include a small plant in a pot with a thank you message or a notebook to use as a reflective journal

  • Cinema gift vouchers are the number one most-redeemed gift card, according to the Vice President of business incentive company B1 Worldwide

I received a small jar of hand-made strawberry jam with a little thank you card from my boss.This is the best gift I’ve ever received. Kitty via EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions

Time or leave

Finding ways to give each staff member a little extra time is a fabulous way to give recognition.

  • Allow time off, while being paid for the full day
  • Re-work the roster to give everyone extra non-contact or quiet time, or a longer lunch break
  • Create gift cards that entitle staff to a paid RDO of their choosing over the year

A previous director I worked with arranged for us to start work a couple of hours late or leave a couple of hours early for one day each to get Christmas shopping done. It took a couple of weeks to get through us all, but it was really helpful. Marg via EYLF/NQF – Ideas & Discussions

We hope these ideas have inspired you to reward staff or to make suggestions at your service for how educators and other staff can receive due acknowledgement for all their efforts over the past year.

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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