40.011: Employee Recognition Awards




October 16, 2013

Initiated by:

Colleen Bendl | Chief Human Resource Officer

Endorsed by:

Pam Benoit | Executive Vice President and Provost

Approved by:

Roderick J. McDavis | President

Signatures and dates on archival copy
  1. Overview

    This policy contains guidelines for providing employee awards as incentives or as recognition of an employee's one-time, exceptional achievement. Rewards and recognition are used to improve performance, motivate employees, build confidence and increase employee retention. Departments may choose whether or not to develop a defined reward program. In absence of a defined reward program, units may give awards in recognition of extraordinary performance or achievement.

  2. Types of awards

    1. Defined reward program

      These are documented reward programs developed, communicated, and implemented in consultation with the university human resources (UHR) compensation office. Defined reward program awards may be offered to provide incentives to measurably increase:

      1. Productivity (work quality and or quantity)

      2. Attendance

      3. General employee morale or health.

      All such programs or events must be monitored for results, and the program, or event sponsorship, should be continued, adjusted, or terminated as indicated. To be renewed, on-going incentive programs or events must demonstrate measurable positive results within twelve months of inception or occurrence.

    2. Recognition of extraordinary performance or achievement

      These are awards offered to provide after-the-fact reward for performance or achievement that is outside the bounds of what is ordinarily expected in the position, in these three areas:

      1. Successful cost savings suggestions or effort

      2. Successful one time project or accomplishment

      3. Exceptional service - performance above and beyond the call of duty

    3. Not allowable

      1. Compensation for the permanent assignment of continuing departmental duties:compensation for continuing duties cannot be addressed through this recognition award policy. If an employee's duties have been permanently altered to include higher level duties, contact the university human resource compensation office, to determine if a position upgrade, or other compensation option, is indicated.

      2. Compensation for the temporary assignment of pre-existing departmental duties:compensation for a temporary assignment that is not related to a one-time-project, but instead involves temporarily doing higher level duties (e.g., to cover for an open position during a lengthy search), cannot be addressed through this policy. Contact the university human resource compensation office to determine if a temporary position upgrade, or other compensation option, is indicated.

      3. Compensation for extra hours or overload duties: Do not submit a request for an employee recognition award based on overtime worked for standard or additional duties performed. Contact the university human resource compensation office to learn about overtime, overload, and additional compensation options.

      4. Recognition of a holiday or personal event: employee awards cannot be given in recognition of a personal occasion or event (e.g., a birthday or a personal accomplishment) or a holiday (e.g., Christmas). See the finance division's "Gift-buying Guidelines" at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/ for further details.

  3. Methods of reward

    Award may be via cash or gift, according to the "Employee Recognition Award Guidelines."

  4. Dollar amount considerations

    1. Maximum

      Awards may not exceed a total of three thousand dollars (gross) in value, per employee, per fiscal year, unless specifically requested by the department with supporting documentation to be reviewed by the UHR compensation office. Awards over three thousand dollars (gross) in value will be submitted to the president, the vice president for finance and administration, the vice president for student affairs, the vice president university advancement, or the executive vice president and provost for approval.

    2. Taxability issues

      Cash awards are always taxable and are required to be reported on employees' W2 forms. Gifts to employees are also taxable, with the exception of retirement gifts meeting value and other requirements. Please contact the tax compliance section of finance for advice.

    3. All awards

      All employee award purchases, regardless of dollar amount, must have a business purpose, and are subject to the restrictions listed in this policy, and to all university purchasing and expense policies.

  5. Eligibility

    All university employees are eligible for awards as described in this policy, including student employees.

  6. Authorizations and audits

    The "Recognition Form Appendix A" and the "Employee Awards Request Form" (EARF) require authorization by the direct supervisor and the planning unit head, and are then forwarded to the UHR compensation office, for approval and submission to payroll for processing.

    Requests will be audited by university human resources. Requests not in compliance with this policy will not be processed for payment.

    All employee recognition awards, programs, or events are subject to audit, at any time, by university human resources, the finance division, the Office of Audit, Risk, and Compliance, or external auditors from the state or federal government.


Proposed revisions of this policy should be reviewed by:

  1. Deans

  2. Director of Compensation

  3. Payroll Manager

  4. Director of Procurement Services

  5. Administrative Senate

  6. Faculty Senate

  7. Vice President for Advancement

  8. Chief Financial Administrative Officers