University and Academic Professionals
Monetary and non-monetary non-base pay incentives, also referred to as bonuses, may be awarded per fiscal year as follows: up to $5,000 or 10% of base pay (whichever is greater) and up to five days of leave granted per leave year. Sign-on bonuses and contractual bonuses are excluded from the fiscal year bonus thresholds, as are any annual merit bonuses. Wage employees may be awarded up to $5,000 per fiscal year.
Bonuses are intended to recognize employees for outstanding performance or contributions such as day-to-day support, customer service, or teamwork. Bonuses encourage excellence, create positive morale, and may lead to the retention of top employees. Schools/units should clearly communicate bonus programs/opportunities, and ensure equal opportunity in the design and implementation of bonus programs. Use the Recognition award form to recognize eligible employees.
Spot Awards recognize excellent work on a project, task or activity including outstanding support of day-to-day assigned business activities. They are intended to acknowledge and demonstrate immediate and spontaneous appreciation for the contributions of individuals. Spot awards are small to moderate in value. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Outstanding handling of an emergent customer service issue;
- Exceptional response to an emergency or urgent situation;
- Identifying an immediate process/system error or safety hazard;
- Resolving a pay issue or other immediate need quickly;
- Project completion of a regularly assigned project before the deadline or under budget;
- Repeated recognition by customers for excellent service; and
- Proposal of a new or modified work practice, training or educational achievements, etc.
Spot Awards can be given in amounts up to $500 (University and wage) and/or four hours of recognition leave (University only) for each occurrence. Use the Spot Award form form to start this process.
Because Spot Awards are intended as more immediate forms of recognition, they can be processed each pay period, following the same deadlines as used for PAFs. They require only supervisor and Dean/Department Head approval; HR approval is not required. Spot Award forms can be found by on the forms section of this site.
Other forms of recognition (monetary and non-monetary) not covered by the provisions of these guidelines include, but may not be limited to the following:
- Service Awards for VCU and the VCU Health System
- Retiree recognition
- Departmental or holiday recognitions that are open to all employees
- Events for volunteers for activities, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC)
- President's Awards for Staff and Administrative and Professional Faculty
- Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment (PACME)
- Finance and Administration Division Customer Service Awards
- Provost and Academic Affairs Division Customer Service Awards
- Dorris Douglas Budd Award (DDB)
The monetary value of these awards, if any, is not included in the 10% of base pay or $5,000 per-fiscal-year monetary award cap, whichever is greater. However, many of these other forms of university recognition will result in taxable income to the employee. Contact the VCU Controller’s Office (828-0388) or Payroll Office (828-0740) about the inclusion or exclusion of any payment or gift as taxable income and the tax withholding implications (approximately 38.4%).
Additional no/low-cost recognition ideas
- Say “thank you” for a job well done or present a certificate or handwritten thank-you card that can be displayed in the work area.
- Recognize faculty and staff colleagues who help each other, a customer or coworker by completing a quick and easy online recognition form on the HR website. Words of appreciation will be posted for recipients and others in the VCU community to read.
- Send an email “thank you” to the employee with a copy to the team.
- Post a “thank you” on department bulletin board, newsletter or web site.
- Suggest a personal “thank you” from senior management.
- Invite the senior manager to attend a staff meeting when recognizing employees for their achievements.
- Include the employee in a special project or target him/her for a premium assignment.
- Provide more opportunities for specialized training and professional development.
- Assign a mentor from an area in which the employee is interested in learning.
- Periodically remind employees of the importance of their job and how their efforts relate to the mission of the university and their department/unit/area.
- Encourage the use of “flex time” (work days outside of the normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule) or telecommuting, where appropriate.
- Encourage employees to participate in service projects and social activities; i.e., Heart Walk, charity golf tournaments, food drives; after-work concerts, basketball games or other activities.
- Provide time for a breakfast or lunch with staff bringing in prepared food.
- Celebrate staff birthdays or special events (i.e., weddings, births, adoptions) with a card, cake, or other recognition.
- Plan department events outside of work time, such as a picnic or dinner at a local restaurant, where staff pay their share of the costs.