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The Art of Staff Recognition

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 What is Staffulty?

"Staffulty" is a combination of "staff" and "faculty," often used to refer to the collective group of employees and faculty members within an educational institution or organization. It encompasses all personnel involved in the institution's administration, teaching, support, and operation. The term highlights the interconnectedness and collaboration between different roles and departments within the organization, emphasizing the importance of unity and teamwork in achieving common goals.

In the bustling world where deadlines loom large and targets demand attention, it is crucial to recognize that the efforts of your staff must be balanced. I've come to understand that acknowledging hard work and dedication boosts morale and fosters a culture of appreciation and loyalty within the organization. Here are ten expert tips for recognizing staff members, ranging from simple gestures to more impactful acts of appreciation to help you get started with REAL recognition. What is recognition?


Recognition is not a one-size-fits-all process!

  1.  Praise

Verbal Praise: Sometimes, a heartfelt "thank you" or a few words of acknowledgment can go a long way in making your employees feel valued. Whether it's during team meetings or one-on-one interactions, take the time to recognize and commend their efforts openly.

What to say:

Hey, way to go!

Oh, I see what you did there

I appreciate what you did

I like that

Thank you for

Nonverbal Praise
Nonverbal praise refers to expressions of appreciation, recognition, or approval conveyed through gestures, actions, or symbols rather than spoken words. While verbal praise directly communicates positive feedback through language, nonverbal praise communicates similar sentiments through nonverbal cues. 

Here are some common forms of nonverbal praise: 


Thumbs up

High Fives

Fist Bumps


Pat on the Back


Eye Contact 


Sticky Notes: A small yet effective way to show appreciation is to leave personalized sticky notes on your teachers’ desks. These notes highlight specific achievements or simply convey a message of gratitude for their hard work.  Admin, if you are entering the classroom for a simple walk-through or a formal observation, let the teacher know what they are doing right.  Find something incredible happening in the room.  

Start with these phrases, and then add the specific achievement. 

Way to go

Good job

Proud of you

Keep it up


  1.   This Bud’s for You: Model this process by starting the meeting by passing out a single flower with a verbal complement in front of your staffulty.  Invite other staff members to continue until the bouquet is gone.   For the next meeting, you can simply put the flowers at the entrance of the meeting, and the staff members will know just what to do.  It starts your meeting on a positive note. This gesture adds a touch of color to their workspace and shows that you care about their well-being. If flowers remain, take them to one of your unsung heroes of the school. 


  1.  Secretaries: Gang, we all know that secretaries are critical members of the school ecosystem. Secretaries support everyone in the school, including students, parents, teachers, aides, administrators, and custodians! Be sure to find a way to show your appreciation beyond Administrative Assistants Day. Get their favorite drinks, give them a break on a sunny day, answer the phones, or even give them a simple shout-out during the morning announcements! 


  1.  Token of Appreciation 

Bowling Pin: For a fun and memorable recognition idea, consider presenting a bowling pin to standout employees. Not only does this serve as a unique trophy of their achievements, but it also adds an element of excitement to the recognition process. Each time the bowling pin (or other token) is passed, add something special to it! You won’t believe how excited people will be for this one! 


Tire-less Educator: Another humorous way to show staffulty appreciation is the “Tireless Teacher Award.” The funny twist is that the award is a giant tire that could be decorated and painted in your school colors.  Like all the other ideas, the important part is to state why this staff member has earned this distinction.

Tea Time: Grab a teacup and saucer from a local store and turn it into a token of appreciation. Staff members nominate each other for this recognition. The principal surprises the receiving teacher with class coverage to give the staff member uninterrupted tea time.


  1.  Parking Space: Offer dedicated parking spaces as a reward for exceptional performance. This coveted perk provides practical convenience and symbolizes the recipient's elevated status within the organization. Ensure there is an official parking sign and it is in the best location. 


  1.  Parent Pick-up: The drop-off line has extraordinary energy on the last day of school! Local stores will donate coffee, donuts, muffins, and anything else to send the parents on their way for their last kid-free day of the school year. 


  1.  Bus Drivers: Extend your appreciation to essential workers, such as bus drivers, by organizing special recognition events or providing small tokens of gratitude. Acknowledging their efforts shows that you value their contributions to the community. For example, you could give them a coupon book for local businesses, hot cocoa on cold days, or a thank-you note from the kids. 


  1.  Custodians: Can you imagine your school without a custodial team? Recognize the often-overlooked efforts of custodial staff by publicly acknowledging their hard work and dedication. Whether it's through verbal praise or small gestures of appreciation, let them know that their contributions are essential to the smooth functioning of the workplace. Create a sign to post in the hallway for an extra special touch. “This hallway is professionally maintained by” certificates with custodian names (and their photo) posted in the buildings.


  1.   Dress-Down Passes: Introduce dress-down passes as a reward for meeting or exceeding performance goals. This flexible benefit allows employees to enjoy a casual dress code day as a token of appreciation for their exceptional efforts. These are so popular that the passes have become currency!


  1.  Cafeteria Staff: How often do you recognize your cafeteria staff? Yes, they are a part of the school family as well.  It doesn’t matter if your food services are contracted out or not.  They matter.  Each month, take a photo of a cafeteria worker and post it on a board.  Ask some questions about them to get interesting information to hang with the photo.  Make sure you highlight the posting during your announcements so that the school family will take notice. It is a small gesture that will go a long way.  Tell the students it is National Smile at a Cafeteria Worker Day.  Do it all day and see whether they notice. 

Staff recognition is not merely a nicety but an essential component of fostering a positive work environment and driving employee engagement. By implementing these tips, you can demonstrate your appreciation for your team members' hard work and dedication, ultimately leading to increased morale, productivity, and loyalty within your organization. As a leader, never underestimate the power of recognition in cultivating a culture of excellence and achievement. Don’t forget to check out the previous podcast on student recognition. Check this out!


Looking for free or low-cost ideas to recognize your staffulty? 

Gang, I have the perfect collection of free and inexpensive ideas to recognize your staffulty.  You can purchase a copy or sign up for 23 Ideas for 2023. 


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