Alberta Public Service recognition directive

This directive covers employee recognition programs in the Alberta Public Service.


​​This directive describes the purpose and approaches to employee recognition programs and aligns with this Human Resource Policy statement on recognition:

'The Government of Alberta compensates, rewards, and recognizes employees based on their contributions to business objectives; the government’s need to attract, motivate and retain a capable workforce; and the fiscal environment of the province.'

The Government of Alberta supports the need for each department and the organization as a whole to recognize employee contributions. The directive outlines:

  • the requirements that departments and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have to provide Alberta Public Service (APS) employees with recognition programs
  • the details of the government-wide recognition programs: Career Milestones, Words of Appreciation, the Premier’s Public Service Awards, Alberta Proud, and Alberta Public Service Week

Guiding principles and overview of programs

The Government of Alberta’s approach to recognition seeks to:

  • create and support pride in the APS
  • recognize the important contributions that APS employees make to delivering on government priorities
  • support the one-employer concept by creating a similar experience for all employees
  • develop and champion an APS-wide culture of timely and meaningful recognition

Eligibility – General

Government of Alberta employees will be eligible for career milestone recognition, if their position reports up to a Deputy Minister and their employment status falls within one of the following:

  • Permanent, Temporary Salaried, Employment Contract, or Wage 2850

Information about employees will be based on available service data, with the benefits service date determining years of service.

Words of Appreciation

Using e-cards accessible to everyone working in the APS, APS employees can send recognition notes to one another, irrespective of department or level.

Words of Appreciation acknowledge daily performance, with a focus on the effort, the enthusiasm, and the energy an employee or team uses completing their work.

The e-cards are administered centrally by the PSC, and are located in the Words of Appreciation area on MyAPS.

Career Miles​​tones

Career Milestones recognize employees for their years of service with the APS. These include:

  • milestones occurring at Year One, Year Five, and every 5 years thereafter until retirement
  • retirement, occurring once on an employee’s retirement

Career milestone recognition gifts

Funded by the employee’s department, the value of each employee’s service recognition gift will be:

At Year One: An employee’s supervisor recognizes the employee with a gift worth up to $10, and congratulates them on their first year of service.

At Year Five and every 5 years thereafter: The employee is recognized by their supervisor with a gift worth $10 per year of service. An employee may choose one of the following options:

  1. selecting a recognition gift from the career milestones vendor gift catalogue found on MyAPS, or
  2. selecting a cash award (minus the applicable tax deductions)

As of January 1, 2021, APS employees have one year from the date of their anniversary to select a gift. Employees on leave will have one year from the date of their return to select their gift.

Celebrations to mark career milestones are at the discretion and direction of each individual department, with the exception of retirement, which is outlined below.

If departments choose to hold celebrations marking career milestones, these should be held in conjunction with annual general meetings or all-staff meetings where possible.


Retirement recognition is intended to acknowledge an employee’s contributions through their career with the APS. Retirement is defined as the point when an employee identifies retirement as the reason for leaving the public service. Applying for or receiving a pension is not a requirement for receiving retirement recognition.

Departments will provide recognition to employees with a minimum of  20 years of service to those who identify retirement as the reason for leaving the public service.

A retiring employee may select one of the following retirement options:

  • a retirement gift item from the vendor gift catalogue valued at $300, or
  • a $300 cash award, minus the applicable tax deductions, or
  • a $300 retirement celebration, arranged by the department involving the retiring employee and their colleagues.

Retiring employees with 20+ years of service are also eligible for a Premier’s letter. Departments will coordinate the Premier’s letter for retirement through the Premier’s Correspondence Unit in Communications and Public Engagement. Branch head approval is required, and the final request must be submitted through

Premier's Public Service Awards

The Premier’s Public Service Awards (PPSAs) are the pinnacle of recognition in the APS, honouring teams and individuals who have done extraordinary work and demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in the APS.

The PPSAs celebrate teams or individuals that have done exceptional work in the areas of workplace culture, service delivery innovation for Albertans, service delivery innovation for the APS and public policy innovation.

Employees may be nominated for or apply for more than one type of award in a given year. 

To learn more about the PPSAs, visit the Premier’s Public Service Awards section on myAPS.

Alberta Proud award

Groups may be eligible for an Alberta Proud award, an award recognizing groups of employees for performing beyond the expectation of their roles in challenging and high-impact times in service to the province. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • launch of a government priority or initiative
  • natural disaster response and recovery
  • significant external stakeholder engagement

The Premier or Deputy Minister of Executive Council (DMEC) may grant this award. The PSC will act as the coordination office when it is identified that there is an individual and/or group that should receive the Alberta Proud award.

Alberta Public Service Week

Each year a week is dedicated to recognizing the APS employees for the contributions they make in providing services to that benefit all Albertans. A combination of departmental events and government-wide events, this week allows for the APS to reflect, celebrate its successes and honour the exemplary work they do every day.

APS week aligns with National Public Service week, which is held on the week ending on the third Saturday of June and beginning the previous Sunday.

There is no prescribed form that APS week events must take. Each department may create its own events or work in partnership with other departments and the PSC.

About this directive

Authority:Public Service Act
Application:Organizations under the Public Service Act
Effective Date:March 28, 2024
Contact:Alberta Public Service Commission: Communications and Engagement