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Appreciation and Recognition Toolkit

Appreciation has been linked to benefits such as better mood, satisfaction with life and an “upward spiral in human wellness.” In addition to being a motivator, it’s a malleable concept - meaning you can find ways to feel and express gratitude that are a good fit for you and your team.

Go Beyond Recognition Portal

Appreciation is one of the core Mountaineer values. The Go Beyond portal makes it easy to recognize the people who make our University special. Benefits-eligible faculty and staff have access to the portal. From there, you can:

  • Send e-Cards (either private or publicly)
  • Comment on a coworker’s wall to thank them for going the extra mile
  • Identify unsung Mountaineer heroes with the touch of the Applaud button

To get started, navigate to and log in with your WVU username and password. View the user guide for full instructions.

Viva Insights in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has several built-in applications to help supervisors manage their workday. If you regularly work in Teams, consider launching the Viva Insights app. In addition to helping you monitor your work/life balance or find focus time on your calendar to work on important projects, it's also equipped with a praise tool to recognize the contributions of your employees and coworkers.

Use the praise tool to send recognition shout-outs in a private chat, or for wider recognition, post the praise in a Teams chat. The tool allows you to set reminders to help you remember to send praise, and it even gives you suggestions based on the people you collaborate with the most. To learn more about all of its features, visit Viva Insights.

Tips for Showing Appreciation and Recognition

Refer to these guidelines from organization BI Worldwide to make sure all of your employees (no matter their work arrangement) feel appreciated and recognized:

  1. Make every interaction count – Interactions that employees have in a hybrid working environment mean more to them now than they did in an office environment at the start of the pandemic.
  2. Make it personal – More than ever, successful leadership involves a strong appreciation of each employee’s abilities, aspirations and how they work best. Success with this rule is critical to achieving all the others. Get to know your team's preferences by having each member complete the "Tell Us About Yourself" form.
  3. Make it real, genuine and authentic – Empower your team members to own the recognition that they received. Your employees have an opportunity in every interaction to engage their peers, their managers and even their clients.
  4. Check in – While regularly taking time to say hello to employees and check in with them might seem like an unnecessary drain on manager productivity, these interactions are valuable points of connection for your team and for you.
  5. Conversations – Conversations are a very effective way of strengthening relationships. With digital fatigue becoming more common, making a virtual call with your employees to just “have a chat” can help support individuals.
  6. Virtual celebrations – Celebrating a birthday or service anniversary? Make a video call together for lunch or a drink. Decorate your backdrop, play games, wear hats. Being virtual is a great opportunity to get creative. And remember to treat your hybrid colleagues equally.
  7. Instant recognition – In a hybrid environment where you can’t walk over to a person’s desk to thank them, it’s important to make the recognition instant over video to make it meaningful and maximize impact. Understand from the person you are praising whether they are comfortable to be praised in front of a group (during all-team video meetings), or directly person-to-person on a video call.

Additionally, our friends over at Gallup have some suggestions for showing appreciation:

  1. Start your next team meeting by recognizing someone on the call who did exceptional work in the past week while working remotely.
  2. Every Friday, think of three people who really helped you this week. Recognize them privately or publicly, based on your knowledge of what they prefer. If you don’t know how they like to be recognized, just ask.
  3. Find creative ways to make recognition special.

Ideas for Showing Appreciation

When considering creative ideas for showing recognition, always consider employee work arrangements.

Remote and Hybrid

Even though remote and hybrid employees are not often physically on-campus, we still need to find ways to engage with them. We may not be able to pass around birthday cards or gather for lunches or celebratory meals, but there are other effective ways to show support and appreciation for remote employees:

  • Virtually celebrate work anniversary celebrations, starting at one year
  • Mail them a birthday card or a handwritten note (you can use this 4x6 branded notecard template)
  • Treat on you! Send them a $5 or $10 gift card to their favorite lunch spot or coffee shop
  • Use your Teams channels to share small wins and public thank yous to co-workers
  • Write LinkedIn recommendations
  • Set up one-on-ones with upper management for achievements
  • Host a virtual escape room or trivia night

Remote Employees Who Are Within Commuting Distance to Campus

Some remote employees still live in the Morgantown area and are willing to commute to campus for a particular event. Largely, this group can be recognized in the same ways as other remote employees, but they should also be considered when on-campus events are offered. Supervisors can encourage their team to engage in person, as we all benefit from continuing to build community within our smaller and larger teams.


It is important to show appreciation within the office to support your in-person teams. You can:

  • Host a board game/trivia night, ice cream social or happy hour
  • Take your employees out to lunch
  • Encourage your employees to get outside and away from computer screens by picking a time for all to meet and walk on the rail trail or around campus
  • Get together with other supervisors and rent a food truck and invite your employees to grab some food
  • Bring in treats or candy to the office (you can use this branded candy tag template)
  • Spruce up the office and workspace by bringing in new greenery or artwork for a fresh mindset

Some Things To Be Mindful Of

  1. Talk with your employees and fellow coworkers and ask them how they want to be recognized and receive appreciation. Is it pubically or privately?
  2. As state employees, we cannot gift or receive anything over a $25 value.
  3. Try and keep things during working hours, or if hosting things beyond the normal workday, provide plenty of notice so others can adjust their schedules.
  4. Celebrate the small stuff. It’s easy to celebrate the big victories, but showing appreciation for all the small things your team does along the way can make a world of difference.
  5. Appreciate all the hard work they put in at work and at home. Encourage your team to share their wins outside of work including buying a new home, continuing their education, getting married, nailing a new recipe, getting a new pet, etc. Appreciating not only the work they do, but the person they are, creates a more genuine, authentic and supportive culture where we truly lift one another up.

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