Category: Public Librarians Symposium

153 - Warm Fuzzies: Boosting Staff Engagement with a Traveling Gopher

Tuesday, May 22
2:00 PM – 2:55 PM

Objectives: An institution-wide employee engagement survey was conducted fall of 2014. One survey metric centered on gauging employee perception on how they were valued and acknowledged for their contributions to the organization. While the results were generally favorable, management decided this could be higher as staff recognition is core to employee engagement, satisfaction, retention, and ultimately patron satisfaction with the organization.

A staff recognition committee was put together to brain-storm ideas of how to recognize employee contributions that didn’t involve the more standard recognition types like “employee of the month”. One of the ideas that rose to the top was that of a “traveling award”. The idea is for staff to present the traveling award to an individual from whom they received great service (to either patrons or a fellow staff member) or who made their job easier in one form or another. The traveling award is meant to be a peer-to-peer and the award nominator is encouraged to submit a brief description to the internal bi-weekly newsletter of who received the award and why. In addition, all persons receiving the traveling award have their names entered into a quarterly drawing to enjoy coffee or lunch with the library director.

To make the traveling award more fun, a pair of stuffed institutional mascots was purchased (in case of one traveler going astray). The designated traveling award and its cousin were ready to start visiting staff in May of 2015 and proved to be a huge success. Since its roll-out, the traveling award has visited staff 28 times with accompanying write-ups posted in the library’s bi-weekly emailed newsletter. Staffs has embraced the traveling awards and have used them to call out colleagues for a wide variety of reasons such as project leadership, administrative support, great customer service, or just “general awesomeness.”

Staff wants to be respected and valued for their contributions and respond to appreciation through recognition of their good work because it sends an extremely powerful message that their work is valued and that they are an important part of the organization. Staff that feels that their contributions are valued by their peers and the organization is more likely to have greater job satisfaction, work better together as teams and feel a sense of pride in the organization’s goals and values.

Keywords: engagement, recognition, respect, appreciation, job satisfaction,

Katherine Chew

Research/Outreach Services
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Katherine Chew, MLS, is an Associate Librarian and the Research/Outreach Services Librarian for the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Minnesota. She provides research support and consultation to University of Minnesota researchers in the Academic Health Center including support for NIH Public Access Policy Compliance. As Outreach Librarian, Katherine provides education and training on consumer health and health information literacy issues to health professionals, public librarians, and the general public across the state, including exhibiting at health fairs and other health oriented events on National Library of Medicine resources. Before becoming the Research/Outreach Services Librarian, Katherine was the Collections Librarian for the Health Sciences Libraries for over 10 years. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota in 2001, Katherine has been an Air Force Base Librarian in Montana, Colorado (Air Force Academy) and Germany (Sembach Air Base), before switching career paths into medical librarianship. As a medical librarian she has worked in community, urban and academic health sciences libraries and has presented at regional and national conferences on collections, scholarly communications and metrics.

Andre Nault

Veterinary Librarian
Veterinary Medical Library
St. Paul, Minnesota

Andre Nault obtained his BSc in Wildlife Biology at McGill University in Montreal and worked in wildlife research until he began managing and working at a mixed veterinary practice in North Dakota. He subsequently worked in a veterinary lab, and in 2005 obtained his master's in library science from the University of Rhode Island. He began working that year as the head of the Veterinary Library at the University of Minnesota and is currently an associate librarian and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. His current research interests include critical thinking and evidence based veterinary medicine.