UCL Human Resources


Reward Toolkit

Recognition and Reward of Professional Services Staff



1. UCL is committed to recognising and rewarding excellence. This document gives practical advice and guidance on recognising and rewarding excellence by professional services staff.

2. This toolkit was originally developed with consideration to professional services staff within academic Faculties, but the advice and guidance it contains can be applied to all staff, including those in Professional Services Divisions. 

3. By providing a broad framework for recognition and reward, UCL recognises that a commitment to these principles is important to reward, recognise and retain quality professional services staff and achieve UCL’s goals.


4. UCL HR commissioned Southern Universities Management Services (SUMS) to review the job evaluation process for professional services staff.  That review  concluded that at UCL there is perceived inflexibility in rewarding professional services staff members within their grade and that this, in turn, has led to greater demand for jobs to be revaluated to a higher level. This is problematic for UCL as it results in an overreliance on the regrading process for professional services staff. That process relates to the role itself and not the performance of the staff member performing the role. This has the potential for “grade inflation” as jobs may be re-graded without primary regard for their actual value. A role should only be revaluated if it has changed significantly. Other reward mechanisms should be used to recognise excellent performance by professional services staff. These are outlined in this guide.


5. The purpose of this guide is to address the perceived inflexibility in rewarding professional services staff within their grade by highlighting the range of existing alternative mechanisms which can be used to reward professional services staff who make an excellent contribution.

Rewarding Contribution

6. Fairness and equality should be central considerations to reward. All professional services staff should be recognised on the basis of their performance and all high performing professional services staff should be considered for reward on the basis of their contribution. Contribution should be assessed as part of UCL’s Appraisal, Review and Development Scheme.

7. Employee engagement is a priority for UCL. Staff Survey results will inform HR strategy development with the aim of instilling a culture of continuous feedback and improvement to employment policy and practice.

8. Development, effective objective setting and regular appraisals are critical aspects of performance management and subsequent reward. In addition to appraisal there should be regular discussions around a professional services staff member’s progress against aims and objectives. More information on appraisal and guidance on objective setting can be found on the Policy page .

9. Flowing from the appraisal process, training and development is an essential factor influencing individual performance. Training and development can be offered as an effective way of rewarding performance and enhancing commitment and motivation. Appropriate training and development opportunities which enable long term career development should be discussed and offered to ensure that professional services staff understand the long term commitment that UCL has in developing their skills.

Recognising contribution

10. The key message stemming from research is that money alone will not be enough to motivate quality staff. Intrinsic, non- monetary forms of reward such as

  • challenging and meaningful work;
  • professional growth;
  • empowerment;
  • working relationships;
  • work/ life balance; and,
  • flexibility

are often cited as key motivators for high quality performance. What type of recognition motivates professional services staff varies from individual to individual and it is management skill to recognise what recognition and reward will motivate each member of professional services staff.

11. In order to feel valued it is clearly important that professional services staff are given recognition when they have performed well.  Recognition in the form of positive feedback and celebration of achievement should be a matter of daily management and good business practice. The timing of reward and recognition is very important, and should occur as close to the actual activity as possible. UCL encourages the recognition and reward of both individual and team accomplishments.

12. Local recognition could take the form of the following:

  • Letters of appreciation,
  • Publicly recognising the positive impact or achievement, or,
  • Implementation of a staff idea/proposal

These options allow for more immediate recognition than other awards.

Academic promotion and professional services staff re-grading

13. Unlike academic and research staff at UCL, who are promoted to higher graded jobs on the basis of their individual performance and excellence, professional services staff are appointed to undertake specific jobs of work. Professional services jobs are placed in a grade on the basis of the duties and responsibilities that are required to be undertaken by UCL. For a professional services job to be re-graded there needs to be a significant change in the duties and responsibilities that are required of the job. This can happen but should happen infrequently. In order to be promoted, a professional services staff member generally needs to move to another job. 

Annual Increments

14. Similarly to academic and research staff, salary movement within a grade for professional services staff in grades 1-9, occurs automatically on an annual basis, until the normal grade maximum is reached. The average automatic increment equates to about 3% of salary.

15. Professional services staff at grade 10 are not entitled to automatic incremental advancement and any salary progression must be on the basis of demonstrated excellent performance which exceeds expectations.

Accelerated/Additional increments

16. Where a professional services staff member’s performance has been consistently excellent over a period of normally at least a year, and they have had an appraisal in the past six months, Heads of Departments/Divisions may make a request for an award of an additional increment or contribution point. There is also opportunity for this to extend to two increments or contribution points, but this must be under highly exceptional circumstances.

17. The Dean or, in the case of staff in the Professional Services Divisions, the Vice-Provost (Operations), will consider requests made on the basis of the performance criteria outlined above, and will approve or reject the request.

Please see the policy/procedure regarding Request for Accelerated Incremental Progression or Award of Contribution Point.

Honoraria/One off payments

18Honoraria are payments made to reward staff, including professional services staff, where:

  • A member of staff is required to undertake a significant number of additional duties that do not fall within the expectations of their grade (for a period in excess of six consecutive weeks).


  • An employee has made an exceptional contribution. Typically, one off payments are used to reward a significant contribution to a project/piece of work, or to reward sustained exceptional performance where incremental progression is not possible.

19. The amount of any honoraria payment is determined on a case by case basis and the advice of HR Advisory Services should be sought prior to determining an amount.  Typically, a payment for exceptional performance over the preceding year may equate to the equivalent of one increment (around 3%).

If a professional services staff member has been covering some of the duties of a higher grade role the proportion of time taken on those duties and the duration of the arrangement should be taken into account.

Any honoraria should not be in excess of 10% of basic salary.

Please see the policy/procedure regarding Honoraria and Acting Up Allowances for All Groups of Staff.

NB: Applications for accelerated/additional increments or honoraria/one off payments for Faculty based staff should be made to the relevant Faculty Manager in the first instance. In the interests of local benchmarking to assist ensuring fairness, some Faculties have established local arrangements whereby all requests for accelerated/additional increments or honoraria/one off payments are considered at the same point or points in a year. Faculty Managers will be able to advise whether such local arrangements are in place in your Faculty.

Acting Up Allowances

20. Acting up allowances should be used where a professional services staff member is covering the full duties of a higher graded role. The amount of the allowance is determined by the difference between the salary of the professional services staff member’s substantive post and that of the post that the professional services staff member is acting into.

Please see the policy/procedure regarding Honoraria and Acting Up Allowances for All Groups of Staff.

Further information

21. Please get in touch with the given contact in the relevant procedure or with Mark Rice, Head of Reward Policy in UCL Human Resources (m.rice@ucl.ac.uk) if you have a specific reward query not covered in this document.