In our school district we are always looking for ways to give reward our staff members, especially around the holidays. But unlike many for-profit businesses where Christmas bonuses and other perks are commonplace, the financial resources needed to drive these incentives are relatively scarce. As a result, we have had to get creative in finding ways to demonstrate appreciation for our employees.
A couple summers ago I heard Joe Sanfelippo deliver an outstanding presentation at the School Administrators of Iowa annual conference. During his speech, he mentioned his district gives away "free" vacation time to staff members. Joe explained that the vacation time was covered by internal staff members. I thought this was a brilliant idea and set forth to implement the idea here in our school district.
The way it works in our district is as follows: All 13 district administrators and directors randomly draw the name of one employee who works in his or her school or department. For the full dramatic effect, this drawing is completed in front of all 250 staff members at our district celebration. When an individual's name is drawn, our staff lets out a loud cheer and we bring the lucky employee forward for an honorary picture with their supervisor. The two then work to find a half day (either AM or PM) where the supervisor will cover the duties of the employee during the month of December. In schools the month of December can get really long, so staff members enjoy having the opportunity for a much needed day of relaxation before the holiday season.
We have found this special drawing to be one of our employees' favorite traditions. Not only do our staff members usually come up with something fun to do during their time off (one person I covered for went shopping and got a massage!), our administrators and directors have reported developing a greater sense of respect and understanding of their employees' jobs after covering for half a day.