Recognition Ideas for Student Employees

Recognition is important to expressing appreciation for the valuable work student employees provide to your department/agency. There are a variety of ways in which a supervisor may recognize student employees for little or no cost. The following are some ideas that can help you recognize your student employees in a special way.

Please remember that departmental funds may not be used to pay for gifts, meals, gift certificates, or other items with an associated cost.

  • Treat Day - full-time staff bring in treats/lunch for student employees.
  • Food - reward students for a job well done with a treat of their choosing.
  • Take pictures - post employee pictures and list what wonderful things they do for your department.
  • Coupon Booklets - this is always a hit with students!  Insert coupons for a free can of soda, movie night at the boss’ house (everyone needs to redeem for this one), one dozen home baked goodies, etc.  Be creative in designing your own coupons
  • Notes Home - send a note to the families of your student employees.  Let them know what the student does, how their work impacts your department, and how terrific the student is.
  • Have your staff wear special name tags honoring student employees (STUDENT EMPLOYEES ARE GREAT EMPLOYEES – WE APPRECIATE OUR STUDENT EMPLOYEES)
  • Buy low cost, blank certificates and make up silly awards for students: best telephone voice, best web-surfer, etc.
  • Friendship Plants - take cuttings from a plant in the office and give to each student as a live “connection” to the office.
  • Bright Ideas - spray paint a light bulb gold, screw into a jar of play-dough and make a label around the jar naming who is receiving the “Bright Idea” award.
  • Take your student employees to lunch or buy them pizza.
  • Give “gag” awards: “hazardous duty” (cleaning coffee machine); longest drive, etc.
  • Good Egg Award - buy plastic Easter Eggs, fill with goodies and give out with “Good Egg” certificates.  List what the student did to deserve this award.
  • Handwritten thank you notes on cards sent to on campus P.O. boxes.
  • Bake cakes for student employees on their birthdays.
  • Buy low cost gifts and gift certificates to reward students for a job well done.
  • "Kudos" certificates attached to a Kudos candy bar.
  • Give stickers to all employees and ask them to hand them out when they see someone doing a good job. 
  • Traveling trophy - each recipient hands it off to the next recipient.
  • Develop a token system to earn points for items.
  • Surprise incentive - put a reward somewhere in a project that requires persistence (filing) to surprise the student.
  • Pat on the Back - Draw an outline of your hand on a piece of paper.  Photocopy enough copies for all students in your office.  On each hand write a note that tells the student why they deserve a “Pat on the Back”.
  • Change the department phone message to recognize student employees.
  • Look around the office or at home for a white elephant item.  Name the item for the award (Employee of the Month/Week, Great Idea Award, Gotcha Award - catch someone in the act of doing something good).
  • Decorate an office bulletin board or the office door in recognition of your students.
  • Chalk the sidewalk in front of your office saying “thanks” to your student employees.
  • Verbally thank students for their contribution to your department.
  • "You Rock" award - print "You Rock" on a rock and present it to someone when they go a good job.  Encourage the student to present it to another member of the staff when they observe someone doing a good job.
  • Nominate students for CSB or SJU Student Employee of the Year or CSB/SJU Student Team of the Year.
  • Develop a peer recognition program (e.g. employee of the month/week - other students can give input or feedback) and place on a tag board or poster for public recognition.
  • Promote students to higher level positions in your department.
  • Ask students what motivates them and implement a recognition program that is based on individual preferences.
  • Ask students to share their expertise with other student employees by offering a training session.
  • Offer to be a mentor for student employees.
  • Provide flexible scheduling and a choice of projects for student employees that have proven themselves in your department.
  • Acknowledge personal achievements in a group.
  • Provide letters of recommendation for students who do well in your department.