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How East Coast College gets everyone involved in recognition

I’m a big believer that recognition is a team sport, with every employee having a critical role to play. In my book Appreciate it! The Playbook for Employee Recognition, I call this a ‘crowdsourcing approach’, where the team works together to create and have collective responsibility for recognition. And by doing this, all of the positive impacts of recognition are multiplied, with more eyes, ears and hearts looking for, capturing and celebrating recognition moments.

At East Coast College they take this to the next level by not only having their employees involved, but their students as well. And while students play a different role, they are still integral in delivering the ‘appreciation feeling’ which is oh so important. 

Here are a few examples of how East Coast College involve employees and students throughout the various elements of their recognition program:

Recognition Cards

The first level of their program are recognition cards, which anyone can give to another person at any point in time. They have a range of cards (e.g. thank you cards, ‘you are a star’ cards, congratulation cards and teamwork cards) to reflect the many ways and times that appreciation can be shown. And by not limiting these to just managers, all of the everyday recognition moments are captured and celebrated.

Star of the Month

The next level is their Star of the Month program, where all staff are encouraged to vote for a member of staff who has been their star of the month. Nominations can be for any reason, but they encourage them to be linked to their company values. 

The winner gets a spin on the ‘Winner’s Wheel,’ which was made by students in their carpentry department. Prizes include an extra day of holiday, a meal for two at their onsite restaurant, free lunch in their canteen for the week or an Amazon voucher. I love that students created the wheel (how proud must they be of it!), and also that the prizes are low cost as they’re leveraging their restaurant and canteen.

Staff Celebration

Another element of their program is a staff celebration that is held every year in July, and is a chance for all staff from both of their sites to get together and celebrate how amazing they all are. They have a selection of awards that are given out on the day to individuals and teams, and like the monthly award, are voted for by their staff.  In addition to awards, the event is all about having fun together, with lots of activities such as axe throwing, yoga, cake decorating, reflexology, a photo booth, an ice cream van and much more! They again had carpentry students involved, having them create a giant Jenga game which could be played. Here's a photo of one of their Chef’s after he’d been to see a media makeup students, love the beard!

Star Performers Award Event

The final level of their recognition program is an annual event to celebrate what I call the ‘Best of the Best’ level, or what they call their Stars of the Year. Each department manager puts forward a member of their team to attend the event, along with an explanation as to why they were selected.  As Lynsey Wright, Development and Wellbeing Lead explained, “It’s a great way for staff to meet other winners while enjoying a meal and completing Ann’s famous quiz.”  

Students have a large role to play with this event. Since it’s held at their onsite restaurant, students who are completing their catering qualification cook the meal, hospitality students serve the meal, and other students provide musical entertainment on arrival. And to make sure that they feel appreciated, at the end of the evening they make a big deal out of thanking them all.

I hope this inspires you to find your own way to get your people involved in recognition. Whether it’s your leaders, managers, employees, students, etc., remember that together you have the best chance of delivering the ‘appreciation feeling.’


Please contact me if you'd like to discuss how you can create innovative and effective recognition programs at your company.


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