October 5, 2023 / Ina Xhani

AIHA Unveils Simplified Awards Program

Project Team Excellence Takes Center Stage

AIHA recently introduced a new approach to recognizing the dedication and exceptional contributions of our volunteer groups. The newly established Project Team Excellence Awards are set to replace the former Outstanding Volunteer Groups Awards, Outstanding Project Teams Awards, and Star Awards. This consolidation aims to streamline the recognition process, celebrate teamwork, and align volunteer efforts with the organization's strategic objectives.

The development of the Project Team Excellence Awards was a comprehensive process led by the AIHA Volunteer Group Awards Task Force. This task force was charged with assessing the existing awards and suggesting process improvements. Their efforts included conducting surveys and organizing focus groups to gauge AIHA members' preferences and expectations. The objective was to establish a fair and comprehensive recognition system that rewards alignment between volunteer group efforts, products, and results and AIHA's strategic objectives, bridging the gap between various volunteer groups.

For perspective on these changes, SynergistNOW spoke with two members of the task force: Sandra Barnes, CIH, and task force chair Stephen Chiusano, CIH, FAIHA.

Recognizing the Value of Volunteers

"AIHA's volunteers play an indispensable role in advancing the field of occupational and environmental health and safety," Barnes said. "They dedicate their time, skills, and expertise to support the organization's mission." In the past, AIHA recognized exceptional volunteer groups, outstanding project teams, and Star Award recipients, which led to a total of 22 distinct awards for 50 volunteer groups. However, feedback from AIHA members suggested that this multifaceted approach diluted the recognition of volunteer group achievements.

In response to these concerns, Barnes said that AIHA has overhauled its awards system to focus on the most impactful activities and outcomes that align with its five strategic objectives. This shift allows for the presentation of up to five Project Team Excellence Awards annually, closely aligned with the organization's key priorities.

Key Advantages and Adaptability

For Chiusano, the newly introduced Project Team Excellence Awards offer several key benefits to both award recipients and the AIHA community as a whole. They provide recognition that resonates with AIHA members, emphasizing the value of volunteer group endeavors. Importantly, these awards directly link the activities of volunteer groups and project teams to the fulfillment of AIHA's strategic objectives, ensuring that the recognition remains pertinent and aligned with the organization's evolving goals.

Moreover, the awards program is designed to be adaptable and to evolve in sync with AIHA's strategic objectives. This flexibility ensures that the recognition remains relevant and responsive to the organization's needs.

Celebrating Teamwork and Collective Achievements

According to Barnes, the Project Team Excellence Awards not only celebrate outstanding projects but also underscore the collective efforts that drive success within volunteer groups. "By putting the spotlight on project team excellence, these awards acknowledge and encourage the synergy created through collaborative efforts involving multiple groups," she said.

"This emphasis on teamwork reinforces the importance of collaboration and recognizes that AIHA's accomplishments are the result of combined contributions," Barnes added.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition and Understanding

To facilitate a seamless transition to the new recognition system, AIHA has implemented several strategies:

  • Announcements and informative videos about the Project Team Excellence Awards will be disseminated through AIHA's publications, including Catalyst and The Synergist.
  • Board liaisons will introduce the new awards process to each volunteer group during their regular meetings, providing clarity and addressing any questions or concerns.
  • A revised volunteer group annual report was implemented in 2022 for reporting activities.
  • The Volunteer Group Handbook has been updated to comprehensively explain the Project Team Excellence Awards process.

AIHA's introduction of the Project Team Excellence Awards marks a significant stride in acknowledging and celebrating the outstanding contributions of its volunteer groups. This refined and adaptable awards program aligns seamlessly with the organization's strategic objectives and reinforces the significance of collaboration and collective endeavors within the AIHA community. As AIHA members continue their invaluable work, the new recognition system promises to serve as a fitting tribute to their dedication and achievements.

Ina Xhani

Ina Xhani is AIHA’s communications specialist.


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