Mind you, when budgets are tight I understand that there is not much room for employee appreciation gestures, and any effort to thank employees is better than nothing. However, this ribbon seemed impersonal and meaningless, and some coworkers considered it an insult.
I mostly found my ribbon to be puzzling.
I always believed that a lack of money did not mean an end to demonstrations of gratitude, and a heartfelt note or letter would have carried a great deal of significance. We taught our children that some homemade gift created by loving hands meant more to us than a store-bought item, especially if they were short on cash. Perhaps this administrator never learned such a lesson: heck, even a package of leftover humidifier filters would have greater value than a generic piece of printed fabric.
Or perhaps this person is simply far removed from the lives of regular folks, and never considered how strange it might be to receive a ribbon instead of a raise. Anyways, for some reason I saved this gift, and it may one day remind me of the importance of recognizing the hard work of my coworkers or subordinates in a meaningful way.