The University of California, San Diego, just recently hosted their third “Recapalooza,” a student staff appreciation event where the 300-or-so students are recognized and awarded. The event came to life after their recently implemented student advisory board program decided it was time to schedule an event exclusively to show appreciation to the student staff and to get all areas of the recreation center together.
The location has varied over the past three years, but the event allows staff to participate in minute-to-win-it games, log rolling and numerous other activities before the staff is then given awards, such as “male/ female employee of the year,” “most outstanding male/female,” and “most physically fit male/female.”
Jason Dillon, the associate aquatics director, said the student-staff appreciation events ultimately make for a happier staff. “I think when people come on, we kind of let them to know there’s a signature event at the end of the year for them,” he said. “It perks them up, it’s something to work towards… to stay with the recreation department throughout the year.”
While this is the biggest student staff appreciation event, different departments in the recreation center take time to do things for their student employees throughout the year as well. Along with handing out baked goods during finals week and different employee of the month programs, some departments, such as the aquatic department, partner with local businesses (Dillon gave the example of Chipotle) in the area to give their student employees donated gifts.
Along with giving them these small things as tokens of appreciation, there is a recreation center newsletter where employees can get their fill of information. “We put it around the facility for them [student-staff employees] to look at,” said Dillon. “We also recognize our employees on Facebook pages, for all internal student staff, along with alumni.”
Implementing an employee appreciation program is a good idea to be able to keep your student-staff engaged, with a goal to work towards. How do you appreciate your employees?
I love this idea! Students should be recognized for their contributions. However, I am concerned about the contest to recognize the “most physically fit” male/female student. This type of contest reinforces the general perception that campus recreation centers are full of perfectly sculpted, fat-free bodies and that average or less fit students are not welcome. If we recognize students for hard work, genuine effort and good character, we can build a culture that values people as a whole, not just their bodies.