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Making a Difference Guidance Notes

1. Purpose – what’s the scheme for?

“Making a Difference” is St Mary’s employee recognition scheme that celebrates the excellent contribution staff make to the success of the University. Introduced in 2015, the scheme enables timely and meaningful recognition to occur for work that is significantly above and beyond expectations, and also reflects the University’s core values:


We celebrate differences, recognising that everyone is born with a unique identity. St Mary’s is a place where students and staff can reach their full potential and make a positive contribution to society.

Generosity of Spirit

Our generosity of spirit sets us apart. It can be seen in the encouragement, collegiality, empathy, helpfulness and service to be found across the University.


We respect everybody. We treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated


We strive to be the best at everything we do. We seek professionalism through setting high standards and continuous improvement in all our practices and work.

By using St Mary’s values, the scheme supports the University’s aim to create a culture and an environment in which staff feel valued and where going the extra mile is noticed and appreciated by one member of staff to another. It is not designed to provide additional reward to staff who are performing at a fully satisfactory level or to normal expectations for the role. This scheme forms part of a suite of University initiatives designed to recognise the excellent contributions of staff. This includes:

  • The Outstanding Performance Awards 
  • Long Service Awards

2. Examples of what constitutes “Making a Difference”

Examples of how an individual can “make a difference” are:

  • • Adding value by having a direct and positive impact on the University, Faculty or Department’s strategic objectives that are over and above that expected of their role;
  • • By helping others in ways that are an inspiration;
  • • By going the extra mile to achieve the best outcome i.e. not just settling for “OK”;
  • • By proactively delivering a better quality of service to students, colleagues or stakeholders that exceeds their needs and expectations.

3. Scope – who is eligible for nomination?

The scheme is applicable to all staff employed on St Mary’s contracts of employment who are in grades A – L (covered by the National Framework Agreement and the London Living Wage), regardless of working hours. The scheme will operate across all faculties and departments of the University.

4. Who can nominate?


Managers can nominate a staff member for work carried out over and above expectations.

Peer-to-peer (NEW in 2019)

 Colleagues can now also nominate other colleagues as a thank you for help or assistance they may have received beyond the call of duty, and which truly demonstrates St Mary’s values.

Nomination link

5. What voucher value is appropriate to give the nominee?

Recognition should match the individual’s effort and results – it should not be proportionate (based on whether part time or full time) or be based on the individual’s salary. Every faculty/department has been allocated vouchers for the Making a Difference awards each academic year, based on headcount. The budget holder will be responsible for managing the voucher budget for their team. A central budget is managed for peer to peer nominations.

For manager nominee’s, the amount is determined by the budget holder - the average amount is £50 and the maximum is £100. Peer nominee’s will be entered into a monthly prize draw for £150 of vouchers. The monthly draw will be operated by HR. Please remember, the Making a Difference Award vouchers are a token of appreciation, a “thank you”. The nominated individuals do not pay tax or NI contributions on the voucher value.

6. What is the process for authorising vouchers?

  1. The nominator (either the manager or peer) wishing to recognise a member of staff or peer, completes a Making a Difference Award form (See Appendix 1) – which includes details of the reason for the nomination.
  2. The Making a Difference Award form should be sent to The Rewards and Benefits Manager, by emailing . The Rewards and Benefits Manager is responsible for administering the scheme and distributing the vouchers.
  3. The vouchers will be sent to the nominating manager who will then give them to the member of staff in person, or in the case of a peer to peer nomination, the card will be sent to the nominee by the Rewards and Benefits Manager.
  4. It is intended that Making a Difference Award recipients will be published on StaffNet and/or in the staff newsletter.

7. Recording, monitoring and reviewing the scheme

The University will take steps to ensure that this scheme is applied fairly, equitably and consistently across all areas. It will also review the scheme regularly, to ensure it remains “fit for purpose” All applications made under the Making a Difference Award scheme are administered by Human Resources. Human Resources reserves the right to query applications and regularly analyse team spend. This will ensure the scheme remains fair and equitable. This scheme does not form an entitlement to staff and may be withdrawn or amended without notice.