​​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.alberta.ca.

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.

There are 3 types of awards:

  1. Team – Awards celebrating teams of three or more that have done exceptional work in the areas of service delivery innovation for Albertans, service delivery innovation for the APS or public policy innovation.
  2. Individual – Awards honouring individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities, irrespective of whether or not they are in leadership positions.
  3. Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the APS - Presented to individuals, teams or other groups within the APS who have demonstrated exemplary work outside of primary, work-related responsibilities, in the advancement of D&I.

Employees may be nominated for or apply for more than one type of award in a given year. That is, an individual may be nominated for an individual award while also being nominated as a team member for a team award(s).

Further information can be found on MyAPS under the 'Premier’s Public Service Awards' section.

1. Team awards

Teams of 3 or more can be nominated by submitting an application for the PPSAs in either of 3 areas:

  • outstanding service delivery innovation for Albertans
  • outstanding service delivery innovation for the APS
  • outstanding policy innovation

Eligibility and submission criteria

Teams, defined as 3 or more individuals, must be nominated or supported by their Deputy Minister and department Executive Team. The contribution must be work that has been completed no more than 24 months before submitting or work that is ongoing. Submissions need not be project-based. Submitting ongoing work is both acceptable and encouraged.

Teams, or individual members of a team, may submit applications or be nominated in more than one category or for more than one type of award. Team members must be APS employees.

Nominations for team awards must be a maximum of 1,500 words describing the contribution, which must fit one of 3 categories: outstanding service delivery to Albertans, outstanding service delivery to the APS or outstanding policy innovation.

Selection criteria

Service Delivery Innovation for Albertans

Teams that will be eligible for this award will demonstrate they have provided excellent service beyond stakeholder and client expectations. This will be exemplified by:

  • creatively exceeding the quality of service expectations
  • finding more efficient and effective ways of delivering core business responsibilities and providing better service to Albertans
  • demonstrating agility in challenging situations and maintaining resilience in times of uncertainty
  • demonstrating systems thinking approach to problem-solving
  • improving processes by transforming established procedures, establishing new partnerships, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies
  • effective leadership in transferring excellent service behaviours and promising practices to other areas
  • the impact of a situation, problem or issue through service delivered in a manner that reflects the best attributes and values of the APS

Service Delivery Innovation for the APS

Teams eligible for this award will demonstrate they have provided excellent service beyond internal stakeholder and client expectations.

Submissions will exemplify the following:

  • creatively exceeding the quality of service expectations and lowering costs
  • finding more efficient and effective ways of delivering core business responsibilities and providing better service to members of the APS
  • demonstrating agility in challenging situations and maintaining resilience in times of uncertainty
  • demonstrating a systems thinking approach to problem solving
  • improving processes by transforming established procedures, establishing new partnerships, reducing costs, and increasing efficiencies

Public Policy Innovation Team Award

Teams eligible for this award will demonstrate they have provided professional analysis-based policy advice, applied sound risk management principles, and developed opportunities to engage stakeholders in the consideration of key public policy issues.

Submissions will exemplify at least three of the following:

  • developing, analyzing, and communicating innovative, disruptive, and effective policy proposals that respond to government priorities while lowering costs
  • integrating regional and operational perspectives in policy research, analysis, development and implementation while lowering costs
  • demonstrating exceptional ability to work with others by anticipating needs and expectations and initiating joint problem-solving
  • enhancing long term policy research
  • strengthening policy innovation capacity in the Government of Alberta

2. Individual leadership awards

Employees can nominate individuals for leadership awards, regardless of whether or not the nominee is in a leadership position.

Eligibility and submission criteria

Employees who demonstrate the five practices of exemplary leadership are eligible. The award is intended to honour APS members who demonstrate leadership qualities within any position.

Individual nominees must be nominated or supported by their Deputy Minister and department Executive Team. Nominators must inform the nominee that their name is being put forward for consideration.

Nominators will, in a 1,500 word maximum submission, recommend individuals demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities. Individuals nominated for leadership awards may also be part of a team nominated for team awards.

Selection criteria

Using Kouzes’ and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership listed below, the nomination must clearly articulate how the individual demonstrates strong leadership qualities on an ongoing basis.

  1. Model the way: Leaders establish principles concerning the way people (constituents, peers, colleagues, and customers alike) should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow. Because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action, they set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives. They unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action; they put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there; and they create opportunities for victory.
  2. Inspire a shared vision: Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their magnetism and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.
  3. Challenge the process: Leaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.
  4. Enable others to act: Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.
  5. Encourage the heart: Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes.

3. Excellence in D&I in the APS

The Excellence in D&I award is a way to recognize and celebrate employees that embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace, encourage respect, reduce barriers and help foster welcoming and inclusive workplaces.

Eligibility and submission criteria

The Premier’s Public Service Award (PPSA) for Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the APS is presented to individuals, teams or other groups within the APS who have demonstrated exemplary work for the APS, beyond regular, work-related responsibilities, in the advancement of diversity and inclusion.

Nominations of individuals, teams, or groups for the PPSA for Excellence in D&I must be nominated or supported by their Deputy Minister and department Executive Team. When completing the nomination form, please provide the requested information as well as a brief description outlining why the nominee(s) should receive the award. Provide examples to the extent to which the activities have promoted a work environment that is welcoming, supportive and nurturing of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, language and other social and cultural identities. Identify what methodology was used for enhancing fairness and acknowledge differences in the workplace. This information could include the following:

  • Demonstration of leadership in D&I in the workplace
  • Demonstrates passionate and effective leadership through the implementation of programs and initiatives that promote diversity, inclusion, and welcoming and respectful workplaces.
  • This includes creating workplaces that respect and value individual differences while leading programs that advance knowledge and cultivate skills in diversity and inclusion ensuring a workplace that is free from any forms of discrimination.
  • Leadership is also demonstrated by cultivating a workplace that motivates employees to contribute their best by capitalizing on the diversity of ideas, experiences, skills and talents of all employees.
  • Leadership is practicing as a visible champion in recognizing diversity and inclusion.
  • Leadership does not have to be positional leadership – this is open to any member of the APS who demonstrates leadership, regardless of classification or position.
    • Building and supporting a diverse workforce
  • Helps develop or contribute to strategies to build a diverse and skilled workforce that reflects the diversity of our employees and the wider population, therefore, leading to continuous improvement in service delivery.
    • Advancing D&I through identifying and/or implementing education and training and demonstrating a commitment to increasing cultural awareness
  • Identifies and/or implements education/training opportunities in the areas of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency such as cultural education, sensitivity training, human rights, multicultural education, intercultural competence, etc.
  • Demonstrates commitment to learn and to acquire knowledge and increased awareness of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
    •  Other actions that demonstrate support to advance D&I
  • Collaboration across a department or APS to support diversity and inclusion activities (i.e. Celebrating Diversity or Cultural Awareness Days; APS-wide events).
  • Positive action taken to improve inclusion and accessibility for all employees.
  • Demonstration of creativity and innovation to meet diverse employee needs.
  • A work unit demonstrating a workplace culture which eliminates barriers.
  • A work unit who has demonstrated leadership in attracting applicants from diverse groups for employment opportunities, internships, on-the-job training and job shadowing opportunities.
  • A program/initiative that contributes to the enhancement of the inclusion, accessibility, accommodation in the workplace for a particular group, etc.


At an annual awards ceremony, award recipients will receive:

  • A commemorative artwork
    • Individuals – each receive one
    • Teams -  one is awarded per team
  • A certificate signed by the Premier

Applications and nominations

The application and nomination process for all Premiers Public Service Awards  will be open from early October to mid November. The award ceremony will take place annually during Alberta Public Service Week in June.

More information about applications and nominations can be found on MyAPS.

Applications and nominations will be adjudicated in 3 steps:

  1. The PSC will conduct a nominal review for application or nomination completeness.
  2. Executive level review members will score all submissions based on a standard scoring guide. Those applications reaching 75+ points (in the case of team applications) and 25+ points (in the case of individual leadership or Excellence in D&I applications) will be forwarded to the adjudication panels.
  3. Adjudication panels, led by the Deputy Minister co-leads of the ENGAGE committees and composed of six Deputy Ministers, will review the shortlisted nominations, forwarding on a list of recipients to DMEC to present to the Premier.

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 (Section 28)
Application: Organizations under the Public Service Act
Effective Date: October 10, 2019
Contact: Alberta Public Service Commission: Communications and Engagement

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