Popular spot-award program increases payout for performance

Hundreds of hardworking staff have earned hundreds of dollars apiece this way. For 2008-09, it’s worth even more

| 12 November 2008

Though raises for many campus staff are not in the picture this budget-crunched year, that doesn’t mean that cash rewards for exemplary performance are entirely passé. The campus Spot Award Program, which funds one-time payouts to employees whose supervisors, customers, or colleagues deem their achievements particularly noteworthy, has been renewed for a third year. In addition, the once-per-annum ante for each rewarded staffer has increased from $250 to $400.

Hundreds of employees received spot awards in each of the past two years: 985 in 2007-08, and 836 in 2006-07, the program’s first year. More than half a million dollars was awarded over that time to approximately 9 percent of the campus’s non-represented staff, whose nominators regarded their contributions — as collaborators, initiators, and stewards, and in other workplace roles — as especially outstanding.

The full award (less taxes), which an employee can receive one time each year, is conferred as long as the employee’s length of UC service is at least six months; part-time employees who meet all other award criteria receive the full amount as well. Also eligible are staff in limited appointments, contract staff whose eligibility is stated in their contract, and student employees.

Because the program is funded by an assessment on the payroll of non-represented staff, spot awards are not available to represented employees, whose assessment was negotiated into their salaries as part of the bargaining process. Also excluded from the program are per diem and academic employees as well as administrators in the Senior Management Group.

Noting that recipient numbers were so similar each previous year, managers in Human Resources were able to apply unspent carry-forward funds allocated to the program to this year’s sure-to-be-welcomed 60 percent increase, says Rich Lau, the campus’s compensation director.

Lau adds that while it’s not yet clear whether $400 will remain the award value in perpetuity, it will be in place for at least the rest of this fiscal year.

There’s no specific set of activities or benchmarks that an employee must achieve or complete to receive a spot award. Rather, a nominator submits a spot-award form that outlines the specific achievement deserving recognition, linking that nomination to such established criteria as teamwork, furtherance of diversity goals, resourcefulness and initiative, and “inspired service” to students, faculty, staff, or the public.

For more information, including access to a spot-award nomination form, visit