1. What is the scheme?

The University recognises and values the hard work, commitment and achievements of all staff. The ‘Making the Difference’ (MTD) awards are intended to provide recognition to those staff from any level or job family whose exceptional contribution on a one-off or short-term basis has been outstanding and is worthy of particular note. The scheme provides staff, managers and colleagues the opportunity to nominate an individual or a team for a recognition payment worth up to £250 per person.

The University also recognises and values outstanding contribution of a sustained nature. Staff should refer to details of the 'Rewarding Excellence' scheme for information about awards of that kind.

2. Reasons for the scheme

2.1 To provide staff with a tangible reward for an outstanding contribution of a short-term nature.

2.2 To assist progress towards achieving the objectives of the University by motivating staff to achieve excellence.

2.3 To reinforce the values of the University by publicly acknowledging achievements which embody those values.

2.4 This scheme is not intended to replace the process of promotion (for academic, research and teaching staff) or of role review (for all other staff). In considering the role and/or the contribution of a member of staff, individuals or their managers should consider promotion or role review in the light of the guidance given for those processes.

3. Principles of the scheme

3.1 The scheme is intended to reward those who can demonstrate outstanding achievement or excellence of a short-term nature which is of such a high standard that it has made a difference to students, customers, colleagues, the department or the University as a whole.

3.2 The exceptional contribution may have been made within the normal role of the individual but at a level demonstrably greater in the short term than would normally be expected, or it may have been made through taking on short-term responsibilities or tasks outside the individual’s normal role. Where, however, the individual has taken on the duties of another member of staff at a higher grade for a period of 1 month or longer, the contribution should be recognised through the Temporary Responsibility Allowance facility. Where the individual takes on responsibilities outside the role that are of a long-term nature then discussions should take place with their manager about whether the changed duties are sufficient to warrant submitting for promotion or role review.

3.3 The scheme will be administered within departments in order to provide them with the opportunity to reward high-quality contribution in a tangible and immediate manner. In order to ensure that reward follows contribution promptly, departments should ensure that applications, which may be made at any time, are considered on a frequent basis.

3.4 Departments may select the means of rewarding staff that is most appropriate or valuable for their particular circumstances. For example, they may choose to offer only collective awards if they believe that the pattern of contribution within that department is largely team-based, or they wish to promote the concept of team-working. Details should be communicated to staff so that they are aware of the skills or behaviours that are considered particularly worthy of reward.

3.5 Departments should develop decision-making processes to administer the scheme that are suitable for them. It is a requirement, however, that they should operate with consistency, fairness and transparency in order to retain the confidence of staff. For that reason nominators and nominees should not be involved in the decision-making process for that nomination, and a minimum of two people should be involved in decision-making for every case.

3.6 Once a scheme has been agreed within a department, written details should be forwarded to the Rewards Team within Human Resources who may then submit them to the HR Policy Committee for review if there are concerns about their fairness or possible adverse equal opportunities impact. Documentation for a “model” scheme has been developed and made available to all departments.

3.7 The scheme should operate with equality of access across job families and grade levels, and with broad equality of outcomes as one of its aims. Departments will be required to provide award statistics for central monitoring of the scheme to ensure that awards, over time, reflect the workforce of the University regarding gender, ethnicity etc.

4. Eligible Staff

4.1 All staff with 6 months’ service or more (at the time of the award being considered) and who have not achieved a similar award within the last financial year are eligible to be nominated. Staff who have been nominated within the last financial year but have not been successful are eligible for nomination again immediately.

4.2 Staff are eligible to be nominated either individually or as teams. Where nominations are for consideration as a team the group of staff must be generally recognised as such by the department.

4.3 Where an individual is in receipt of a Temporary Responsibility Allowance (TRA) a Making the Difference award is not applicable for the same contribution

4.4 Staff are not eligible for an award if they are subject to current formal disciplinary warnings or poor performance procedures

4.5 Staff who have had a period of absence (through sickness, etc.) are eligible for the scheme as are individuals whose pay is currently Red Circled, Protected or subject to Special Protection

4.6 In the case of a team award, it is possible to nominate a team member with less than six months’ service although supporting documentation that confirms a similar level of contribution or achievement as the other team members would need to be submitted

4.7 Where individuals have been submitted for an award on more than one occasion, and particularly where they have been successful more than once, consideration should be given as to whether it is more appropriate to submit them for a ‘Rewarding Excellence’ award for sustained, outstanding contribution within a role.

5. Application process

5.1 All members of staff should have an agreed, up-to-date Job Description that clarifies the expectations of their role. Many will have, in addition, specific objectives agreed at Performance Review and/or a person specification that identifies the competencies required for their job. These documents are useful reference points for the identification of outstanding contribution.

5.2 Heads of Department/Line Managers have a responsibility to monitor the contribution of all their staff and respond accordingly. As part of the monitoring process managers should identify cases where an exceptional contribution has been made. Nomination for an award may be considered appropriate at that point.

5.3 Individuals or teams may be nominated for an award by their Head of Department, line manager or a colleague or they may nominate themselves. Nomination forms should also be made available to students, clients and customers, with clear instructions for where they may be sent for submission.

5.4 Nomination forms should be directed to a central point in the department to be checked to ensure all necessary information has been included.

5.5 Departments are advised to identify a sum of money to set aside for this scheme at the beginning of the financial year, and departmental budgets will in future include a specific code for this purpose. Departments may identify a maximum number of awards to be made within a year and prioritise applications with that limit in mind. Alternatively, they may consider each case on its merits and make awards as appropriate.

6. Monitoring process

6.1 Departments must provide an annual return to the Rewards Team of nominations and awards made over the last financial year.

6.2 The Rewards Team will provide the HR Policy Committee with annual data on the operation of the scheme. The HR Policy Committee will look for evidence that outcomes are broadly equal over time for job families, grade levels, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and other relevant categories of staff.

6.3 Departments should retain all records associated with the scheme for a 3-year period. HR Policy Committee or its nominee/s may wish to review records in further detail where unacceptable inequalities become apparent.

6.4 The operation of the scheme will be reviewed every 3 years to ensure it continues to meet its stated purpose in the most appropriate way.


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  • Last reviewed: 31 August 2006