Who’s True Blue? U of T launches everyday recognition platform

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U of T has a lot to celebrate – with over 20,000 faculty, staff and librarians helping 88,766 students realize their goals every day. Now, employees across all three campuses can easily recognize each other’s daily accomplishments through the revamped U of T True Blue recognition program.

The program, accessed through an online recognition platform, allows members of the University community to nominate colleagues for formal awards like the U of T Excellence Through Innovation Award, and submit informal, day-to-day recognitions to simply show appreciation.

“The University of Toronto ranks as Canada’s leading institution of learning and is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities because of the vital daily contributions of everyone who works for our community,” says Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice president of Human Resources & Equity. “It is important that we recognize those contributions – not just through formal recognition programs, but as a part of our everyday practice.”

The platform, launched on May 8, was developed by Human Resources and Equity in partnership with Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI). Users can recognize others for citizenship, collaboration, equity, innovation, leadership, service, as well as personal and professional milestones.

“We saw an opportunity to expand our formal True Blue awards program,” says Fady Makar, employee recognition and engagement manager with Human Resources and Equity, and project leader. “Now employees can send and receive everyday, real-time recognitions. We’ve made saying ‘thank you’ so simple – it takes ten seconds to send a recognition and it makes such a difference in everyone’s overall work experience.”

Peer-to-peer recognitions are posted on a news feed within the platform, and email notifications will be sent to those recognized along with their managers.

“The fact that U of T is expanding its recognition program says a lot about how much it values its employees,” says Carla Baptista, undergraduate counsellor with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and former True Blue winner. “When I won the yearly True Blue award, I felt like the University really cared. This platform is great because now employees can be recognized year-round.”

Until the end of May, anyone who writes a thoughtful recognition has the opportunity to win a $50 credit, which is redeemable on the platform. In addition, each month, the True Blue team will also select up to ten recognition recipients to be honoured with the True Blue Award and $50 in points.

To develop a solution that meets everyone’s needs, the team consulted with business officers, Chief Administrative Officers, Divisional HR Offices, as well as managers and frontline employees.

The app is part of a larger U of T initiative called the HR Technology Roadmap, projected to save the University $1.5 million annually. Over the next three to five years, HR and Equity and EASI will embark on this program to modernize HR systems and launch new tools for a more cohesive and efficient digital workplace.

“This application is one of the first to launch as part of the HR Tech Roadmap,” says Cathy Eberts, director of EASI and HR Technology. “We’re transforming HR at U of T to meet our employees’ needs, and recognition is a key component to a healthy and productive workplace.”

The team plans to expand the program to include divisional awards in the future.

“We had 70 nominations for the True Blue award program in 2017,” says Makar. “Our goal for 2018 is to go from 70 nominations per year to 70 recognitions per month. We want to recognize everyone’s contributions, foster a culture of appreciation and further elevate the U of T work experience.”