Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week

Staff Appreciation & Recognition

Staff appreciation (or employee recognition) is the open acknowledgment and expressed appreciation for an employee’s contributions to their work or organization. This seemingly simple “task” has the power to impact everything from motivation and productivity, to engagement and retention. Many of the world’s most successful organizational cultures have successfully implemented staff appreciation programs in place.


Those programs all have a few things in common:

Recognition is timely

Recognition has the most potential for impact when it is given in a timely manner. The longer you wait to recognize someone, the less associated the contribution becomes with its recognition.


Recognition is frequent

Recognition is most effective when it occurs on a regular, or frequent basis. Employees make countless contributions to the organization throughout each week. Providing regular feedback ensures that those contributions have the opportunity to be appropriately recognized and rewarded. Infrequent recognition can leave employee’s feeling undervalued in their positions.


Recognition is specific

It’s important for employee’s to clearly understand which contributions they make to the organization are considered most valuable. This provides an opportunity for feedback and learning while also recognizing success.


Recognition is visible

Public recognition within your organization offers several advantages. Being recognized publicly magnifies its impact, giving other colleagues an opportunity to join in the recognition (peer recognition is also very powerful). This also allows you an opportunity to provide an example of commendable behavior, actions or contributions that other employees can repeat.

Resources for Appreciation Efforts

Here are some free resources to help with the implementation of your staff appreciation program:

Ideas and Inspiration

This list of Ideas and Inspiration from the National AfterSchool Association is a great resource for not only staff appreciation, but shares ideas for families, managers and community groups!

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Recognition in the Real World

The Recognition in the Real World blog is published by Recognition Professionals International. The blog contains information written by RPI professionals and academics, shares real world applications of recognition programs and more.

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Applauz is a free online customized employee recognition tool. It allows for peer-to-peer recognition, calendared events, award recognition badges, company polls, pulse surveys and more. No monthly fee or credit card required to get started.

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The Officevibe blog

The Officevibe blog includes entertaining, yet educational articles and infographics about employee engagement, company culture, and how to improve both. Officevibe’s blog also features ‘culture talks,’ where industry thought leaders share valuable information over video interviews.

Learn More

Ways to Recognize Team Members

Here are 10 easy ways to show appreciation:

1Share the love
A staff recognition wall in a shared space like a faculty lounge, hallway, or meeting space is an easy way to allow for employees to recognize each other on a regular basis. Consider a whiteboard or chalkboard where they can share praise and accomplishments.

2More love
Don’t have a whiteboard or chalkboard? Consider a regular bulletin board with staff names and pictures, and a bucket of stars employees can award each other on the board for others to see.

3Show it Off
Create an honorary symbol of recognition for staff. Perhaps it’s a sash, button, silly hat, or golden jacket that is passed from peer to peer during staff meetings to recognize that individuals’ achievements to fellow staff members as well as students.

4Perks as praise
Some people shy away from public recognition; others are remote employee’s that don’t get the same benefits from seeing their recognition on display. Consider special trainings, speakers or conferences that you may be able to reward these employee’s with for a job well done.

5Budget Perks
Don’t have the budget for conferences or trainings? Try perks like a premiere parking space for a month, an extra day off, or special lunch in honor of your star, paid for by the organization.

6Drop by
Often over looked, the power of your presence speaks volumes to your employee’s. Something as simple as stopping by their location to spend time, asking what they need or complimenting their efforts in real-time goes a long way. You’re showing employee’s that even though you have important work to do, they’re important as well.

7Write it down
While it may be old-fashioned, a handwritten note of thanks to an employee is still one of the best ways to make them feel appreciated and seen. Along these lines, sending an employee something via email, like an article you see that aligns with their interests, shows that they’re a valued member of your team and makes them feel seen.

8Spot bonuses
A spot bonus is a small token of appreciation, best given as a surprise to employees. These small gestures go a long way, especially if you’re able to personalize them to a staff member’s needs. Things like a free car wash, a gift certificate for gas, or coffee are quick and easy tokens of appreciation.

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Consider keeping a stash of branded items like sweatshirts, coffee mugs or water bottles that you can hand out on the spot to thank an employee for going above and beyond. This visible reward may also motivate other employees to deliver their best.

While many managers see enrichment as simply more responsibility, employee enrichment is much more. When an employee has done an exemplary job, it is important to provide them with enrichment that shows them their trust, and value. Things like increased autonomy at work, the opportunity to be creative with a lesson plan or to present ideas in a meeting show the employee and staff that they’re being rewarded and respected.

Keep things fun, and don’t be afraid to try new things! There are countless staff appreciation tips and tools available to you on the internet, and don’t forget to ask your staff how they’d like to be recognized.

Best of Colorado Afterschool

Join CAP in recognizing individuals who are believers in the power of afterschool!

CAP is looking to highlight individuals who:

  • Are active in the afterschool community, and making contributions that improve programs, communities, and afterschool across the state or country.
  • Possess passion for the afterschool profession and for their work as an afterschool leader; have a clear purpose in their efforts to support others beyond their program and their immediate peers; and show persistence in their work to grow as a leader in the field of afterschool!

Consider submitting a nomination for one of our categories recognizing outstanding professionals and supporters of afterschool:

  • Program Coordinator/Director
  • Program Staff Member
  • Community Volunteer

If you know of a candidate worthy of CAP’s “Best of Colorado Afterschool” Award, nominate today!

Nominations will be accepted through

April 26th at 5:00 PM

Learn what you can do to support out-of-school time programs in Colorado, today!