New program spotlights P&S employee excellence

University human resources (UHR) has created a new way to recognize outstanding work by Professional and Scientific (P&S) employees -- the Spot Award Program.

Presented to individuals with excellent performance or a notable accomplishment, the Spot Award rewards P&S employees for short-term or responsive work that goes beyond normal expectations for their position. The program launched on April 1.

Award details

Ranging between $50 and $500, the Spot Award is a taxable, one-time payment. Spot Awards are not to be used as a substitute for ongoing performance-based salary adjustments or to supplement base pay. The awards can be given at any time during the fiscal year, and a P&S employee can earn a Spot Award up to three times per fiscal year.

Spot Awards can be given to a current regular or emergency P&S employee -- term or continuous and full or part time -- who has worked at Iowa State in a P&S position for at least three continuous months at the time of the award. The employee does not need to have a current performance evaluation on file. Funding for the award can be provided by the employing department, a non-employing department or jointly by employing and non-employing departments.

Learn more

Visit the UHR Knowledge Base for more information about the Spot Award and EMPP.

Another tool for recognition

"The intention in creating this additional program is to give managers another tool in their box to reward and recognize efforts of varying impact," said compensation analyst Whitney Grote. "Recognition can help foster a culture in which employees feel valued, are engaged in their work and are motivated to perform."

A complement to the Extra-Meritorious Performance Pay (EMPP) Program, the Spot Award offers flexibility, less restrictive eligibility requirements and a simplified approval process. Opportunities to consider a Spot Award can include: 

  • Completion of a special or significant project by an individual or group of employees
  • Recognition for earning certifications related to their position
  • Leading a project or committee
  • Supporting student, faculty or staff needs in a crisis situation

Once the award has been approved, supervisors or nominators can let the employee know about the recognition. The award payment is processed in Workday and will be applied to an employee's scheduled paycheck.

Spot Award vs. Extra-Meritorious Performance Pay

Like the Spot Award, the EMPP recognizes exceptional performance or a specific accomplishment that exceeds expectations, includes a one-time payment that's not added to base salary and is not a substitute for ongoing performance-based salary adjustments. However, there are a few key differences between the two programs.

  • P&S employees may receive an EMPP multiple times per fiscal year, but the total cannot exceed 10% of their base salary. Spot Awards also can be given at any time during the fiscal year up to three times.
  • EMPP can be awarded to any regular current employee -- term or continuous and full or part time -- who has served in a P&S position at the university for at least one continuous year at the time of receiving the EMPP. Current regular and emergency P&S employees who have served at least three continuous months are eligible for a Spot Award.
  • The P&S employee must have a satisfactory performance evaluation on file from within the past 12 months for EMPP. A performance evaluation is not required for the Spot Award.

Faculty and merit

EMPP and Spot Awards are for P&S employees, and faculty have a similar initiative called the Faculty Exceptional Performance Pay Program. Merit employees also have a Pay for Exceptional Performance program outlined in the Merit System rules.