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FAQ for Employee Recognition
 
Asset Management Building Maintenance Construction Forces Executive Division Facility Services Finance & Special Operations Fleet Services Fuel Services & Env. Compliance Mail Services Management Information Services Office of Public Safety Parking Services Personnel Services Publishing Services Standards Supply Services It is true. GSD has great employees who deserve recognition for their excellent performance. But, we humans tend to focus on the issues ahead of us rather than the good deeds behind us. The following FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) are here to let GSD supervisors know that there are ways in GSD to recognize good work ranging from a “thank you” to plaques, trophies, lunches, speeches, photographs in newsletters, and gift certificates. Oddly, one way we “thank” good employees is by giving them more work . . . because they are so good and make us all look great.

  1. What is “employee recognition” and its real purpose?
  2. Isn’t is a “bad” practice to single out employees for recognition? Doesn’t that lead to morale problems among other employees who feel they deserve some of the credit?
  3. How can I single out one or two of my employees for recognition (who deserve it), but do nothing for my other employees (who don’t deserve it)?
  4. I have heard some supervisors say that a job and a paycheck is all the “reward” employees deserve, no matter how well they do their jobs. Shouldn’t we allow supervisors to decide how or when they recognize employees?
  5. The City’s way of recognizing employees is a joke! Why not recognize employees by giving them bonuses or time off with pay?
  6. So, what types of recognition are available for my employees?
  7. What is the Career Service Award, and how do I get one for an employee?
  8. What is the “MVP” and how can I recommend an employee for this award?
  9. I have heard mention of awards for working safely. Is there such a program in GSD, and how does it work?
  10. I know about BBQ’s, the form for “Notice of Commendation”, appreciation days, and evaluations – to recognize employees. But, what is the “Special Commendation” referred to elsewhere in these FAQ’s?
  11. I supervise five employees. One is outstanding, three are very good and one does not carry his weight. Would it be best to “recognize” the whole shop, all but one, or only one??
  12. The nature of our work leads to letters from “clients” who appreciate what we do for them. Sometimes our employees solicit complimentary letters from “clients.” What is the GSD policy on what to do with these letters?
  13. I noticed that you do not include the Suggestion Award program in the discussion on recognition. Why?
  14. I am not comfortable with deciding the level of recognition. How am I supposed to know what level of recognition is warranted?
  15. What if an employee working for a different supervisor deserves recognition, what can I do?
  16. I think the whole shop deserves special recognition for outstanding work under difficult conditions. Is there a way to recognize groups of employees (like a “unit citation”)?

What is “employee recognition” and its real purpose?
Recognition is a means for the employer to express appreciation for good work behavior and performance. It is intended to instill pride among employees, to raise morale, and to encourage others to do good work.

Isn’t is a “bad” practice to single out employees for recognition? Doesn’t that lead to morale problems among other employees who feel they deserve some of the credit?
First, do not ever consider recognition a “bad” practice or morale buster. Recognition is not the problem. Problems arise if supervisors do not do it right. That is, supervisors have to be careful to recognize employees who deserve it. Recognition should be for the right reasons – good work.

Recognition is the supervisor’s tool to show appreciation for good work and encourage others to do the same.

How can I single out one or two of my employees for recognition (who deserve it), but do nothing for my other employees (who don’t deserve it)?
It really is not that hard and, if done for the right reasons, appreciated by all of your employees. DO NOT EVER THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO TREAT ALL EMPLOYEES THE SAME (GOOD OR BAD).

I have heard some supervisors say that a job and a paycheck is all the “reward” employees deserve, no matter how well they do their jobs. Shouldn’t we allow supervisors to decide how or when they recognize employees?
Absolutely. But, a supervisor who neglects to acknowledge excellence is losing out on a great tool to motivate and keep good employees, and encourage other employees to be better.

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The City’s way of recognizing employees is a joke! Why not recognize employees by giving them bonuses or time off with pay?
There is no good answer to this “question.” Monetary awards are extremely delicate in a non-profit, tax-supported, public agency. This is most likely because of the potential for abuse, or appearance thereof. Also, there is no way to justify monetary bonuses because there is no visible effect on the “bottom line” (because there is no bottom line).

So, what types of recognition are available for my employees?
.Career Service Award (Citywide recognition program)
.MVP (“Most Valuable Performance”, unique to GSD)
.Special Commendation (unique to GSD)
.Safety Incentive Awards (unique to GSD)
.Notice of Commendation (City form)
.Performance evaluations, employee appreciation functions such as barbecues, presentations, career expos, etc.

Note: GSD Personnel Directive No. 6 gives details on GSD recognition programs.

What is the Career Service Award, and how do I get one for an employee?
A Career Service Award is primarily for long-term City employees with a history of achievements that benefit the City. It can also be for an employee performing an extraordinary act of daring or rescue.

The City Personnel Department asks department General Managers to nominate employees for this prestigious award once each year – usually around December or January. But, don’t wait until to nominate someone. You can write up your nomination any time, and send it to the Personnel Services Division (Room 307, City Hall South, Stop 508). Be sure to indicate that the write-up is for the Career Service Award.

Examples of past recipients of the Career Service Award, from GSD, include Lily Cornejo, Bill Mickow, Judy Jacobs, and Lendard Morris. GSD has been successful in having one or two of our employees receive the Career Service Award each year.

Recipients of the Award receive a beautiful, large, framed scroll from the Mayor and City Council.

What is the “MVP” and how can I recommend an employee for this award?
The MVP (Most Valued Performance) is awarded quarterly – seasons – to one or two employees in GSD who the General Manager finds has performed well above the call of duty during the “season.” Nominations can be sent by anyone at anytime to GSD Personnel Services in Room 307, City Hall South, Stop 508, on a Nomination for Most Valued Performance Award Form.

The criterion for this award is that the employee has completed or continues to perform an extraordinary work-related accomplishment. At the end of each “season” (quarter) the General Manager will select the recipient(s) from among nominations by supervisors and coworkers.

Recipients receive a framed plaque and a trophy or cup with the name, division and “season” engraved on it. The General Manager presents the award to the recipients at a gathering of managers, family and coworkers, and the employee’s name is added to a wood scroll in the Lobby of City Hall South.

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I have heard mention of awards for working safely. Is there such a program in GSD, and how does it work?
Yes, GSD has its own “Safety Incentive Program” run by the Department Safety Officer and division Safety Coordinators. Employees in “risk” divisions who work without a “time-lost” injury for six months are eligible for gift certificates at various local retailers. There are too many rules and procedures to discuss here, but more information is available in the “Safety FAQ’s” or by contacting the Department Safety Officer.

I know about BBQ’s, the form for “Notice of Commendation”, appreciation days, and evaluations – to recognize employees. But, what is the “Special Commendation” referred to elsewhere in these FAQ’s?
Several years ago, the GSD General Manager noticed that there is a gap between the official, half-sheet Notice of Commendation Form, and the periodic MVP (quarterly) and Career Service Award (annual). Also, there could only be a few individuals recognized at any point through the MVP and Career Service Award.

Thus, GSD started the “Special Commendation” program. It is intended to recognize any outstanding employee or accomplishment, at any time. The recipient is awarded a beautifully framed scroll citing the accomplishments, signed by the General Manager and the Department Personnel Director and presented by the employee’s division manager.

If you have an employee who deserves more than a Notice of Commendation (maybe already has a number of them), you should recommend the employee for a Special Commendation. Your recommendation should go to your division manager for approval, and then to the GSD Personnel Director. Staff of Personnel Services prepares the scroll, gets it signed by the Personnel Director and General Manager, and has it framed. The framed scroll is given to the division manager for presentation to the employee, and a copy of the scroll is placed in the employee’s department personnel file.

I supervise five employees. One is outstanding, three are very good and one does not carry his weight. Would it be best to “recognize” the whole shop, all but one, or only one?
You are a good supervisor – to even ask this question. You should consider a Career Service Award, MVP or Special Commendation for the outstanding employee. The very good employees should get good evaluations, special thanks from you, and possibly Notices of Commendation for specific accomplishments. You should counsel, offer assistance (training) to improve, and discipline the fifth employee (poor) if that employee continues to slack off.

Most likely the three very good employees are going to have greater respect for you for recognizing the outstanding employee, and for dealing with the poor employee.

The nature of our work leads to letters from “clients” who appreciate what we do for them. Sometimes our employees solicit complimentary letters from “clients.” What is the GSD policy on what to do with these letters?
These letters should be forwarded to the division manager. The division manager should have them filed in division employee folders for consideration during the performance evaluation process. (In exceptional cases, the division manager may ask the General Manager to approve placing the letter(s) in the employees’ department personnel file.)

You want to make sure that employees who do good work are recognized for that good work. It is nice to receive letters from clients, but often these letters express gratitude and do not really reflect work above the call of duty.

Remember this principle; you, the supervisor, are in the best position to evaluate the work of your employees, not the clients. We do not want letters, especially those solicited by marginal employees, to become “commendations” in the department personnel files.

I noticed that you do not include the Suggestion Award program in the discussion on recognition. Why?
A suggestion award program is NOT an employee recognition program! Awards for suggestions is designed to elicit ideas to improve service, morale, safety, etc. They are not intended to encourage good work – just encourage good ideas.

I am not comfortable with deciding the level of recognition. How am I supposed to know what level of recognition is warranted?
Start with learning the different types or levels of recognition available for your use (like reading these FAQ’s). Find out what previous recognition was given to the employee you are considering for recognition (former supervisors, your supervisors, division files, and the employee’s department personnel file – in GSD Personnel Services).

Knowing what is possible, and what has been done should help you decide the level of recognition you think appropriate. If you need more help, talk to your division managers and to your Liaison Analyst in Personnel Services.

What if an employee working for a different supervisor deserves recognition, what can I do?
Tell the other supervisor – in writing if necessary. Chances are that you are not the only one who appreciates the work of the employee.

I think the whole shop deserves special recognition for outstanding work under difficult conditions. Is there a way to recognize groups of employees (like a “unit citation”)?
Not really. But, anything is possible. Discuss your recommendation with your division manager. One option available to your division manager is a Special Commendation for a group of employees. The framed scroll could be kept in the work area and copies could be placed in each employee’s department personnel file.

If your division manager wants to explore a group Special Commendation, contact your Liaison Analyst in Personnel Services.

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