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 Tuesday, July 10, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Human Resources rewards teamwork and performance
by Melanie O. Massengale, Mailing Services

Zan Johns, director of Human Resources (HR), believes in building social capital at CU-Boulder. If social capital can be identified as "the spirit of community," then Human Resources has already made a considerable investment in its employees.

With important input from her staff, Johns launched the Employee Recognition Program in 2001 to reward HR personnel for outstanding service and performance, not only as individuals but as members of departmental and ad hoc teams. Working together, employees designed an awards plan that would allow them to demonstrate respect and appreciation for one another. "Peer recognition is key," said Johns. "We wanted to emphasize the core values of Human Resources—not only excellence in service but also teamwork and collaboration."

Teamwork has become natural and even spontaneous within Human Resources. For example, in 2003 a departmental team received recognition for creating a "Guide to Motivating Employees" which is available on the Human Resources website. Ana Johnson, assistant to the director of Human Resources and chair of the HR Recognition Committee, also noted that Spanish speakers in Human Resources are often called upon to make translations, and an informal Spanish speakers team was recognized for their impromptu contribution. "Team formation is now seamless across the department," Johnson said.

Employees nominate each other for the awards and a selection committee determines the awardees. "Even if an employee doesn't win the award, a nomination is a form of recognition and peer approval," said Johnson. Award categories now include Excellence in Customer Service, Creativity and Flexibility, New Ideas and Technology, Building Community and Respecting Diversity, Teamwork and Cooperation, and Internal Spirit/Bright Outlook. "Our 'Tao' Award recognizes the employee who demonstrates grace under pressure," said Johns, "the ability to adapt well to change." This year, HR will also recognize a new employee as the "HR Rookie of the Year".

Departments interested in forming their own employee recognition initiatives may visit the Human Resources Guide to Motivating Employees site or they may contact HR at (303) 492-6893. "Our program serves as a model for employee recognition for departments across campus," said Shashi Pillai, HR communications coordinator and trainer in Organizational and Employee Development. "What a nice way for peers to honor each other."  

Johns agrees. "An employee recognition plan can provide the incentives for achievement that employees prefer, that are more meaningful to them," she said. "Our surveys found that time off, gifts, and training are important forms of compensation. Most of all, peer recognition matters." That's social capital at work at CU today.

The 2007 Employee Recognition Awards will be presented on Sept. 18.

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