Applauz Blog

9 Things You Should Do to Write a Meaningful Work Anniversary Letter

Published: June 8, 2021

Last Updated: May 9, 2024

  5 min read

By: Michelle Cadieux


Writing a work anniversary letter for an employee can be easy if you follow these simple best practices!

As a manager, your HR department might be relying on you to write recognition letters for your employee's anniversaries to accompany a gift, trophy, or plaques. 

Or maybe you don’t have an official work anniversary program, but you simply want to formally thank your employees for their loyalty. 

This type of formal recognition is important to show employees they are valued and important.

Either way, writing a work anniversary message to an employee can seem tricky atperformance first. 

You might not be sure exactly what to say. And you might worry about coming across as generic or dull. As a result, the task may fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Writing a sincere, meaningful letter is easier than you think!

Just follow some of these "best practices" below before writing. And you'll be able to craft a great anniversary letter that is impactful and leaves a lasting impression on your employee

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bigstock-Close-up-View-Of-Diverse-Busin-394476605How to Write an Effective Work Anniversary Letter

Make your recognition timely

First off, it's important to note that timely recognition is critical. Giving your employee an anniversary letter too far in advance or late is not ideal. The best thing is to offer a note or your recognition on the day of their work anniversary. Or at the very least, the same week.

Being timely with your recognition shows your employee that you care enough to take the time to write the letter. Whereas if you procrastinate on the task and deliver it late, it sends the message that they are not a priority.

Put the focus of the letter on them

I know what you’re thinking. This seems so obvious!

But you would be surprised just how many people write recognition letters that end up talking more about the company than the employee themselves. 

For example, note the difference between the following examples.

  • “Your hard work has helped us double our sales.”  
  • “Your relentless drive and amazing ability to learn fast have made you an irreplaceable member of our team, and we could not have achieved our goals this year without you.” 

The first example says very little about the unique skills or abilities the employee brought to the table. Rather, it’s all about the result. In other words, this example makes an employee feel more like a means to an end. That sentence could be about anyone.

In contrast, the second example goes way deeper. It flatters the employee and specifies what skills and talents they bring to the team. It mentions the company’s results but in a more passive way.

Be brief but specific

To that end, remember that an anniversary letter does not need to be pages long. Two or three short paragraphs are more than enough. That said, you should be brief, but as mentioned above, being specific as possible is critical.

In short, truly impactful recognition always includes details or specifics about what or how the employee contributed.

For example, saying “you are great” or “you are a model employee” are generic statements that don’t actually say much about how an employee contributes to the team.

To help you dig a bit deeper, follow this exercise:

  • Think about why an employee is so great. 
  • Or what makes them so good at their job. 
  • What skills (soft or hard), knowledge or expertise makes them unique?

Jot down a few of these ideas, and you should already have a clear idea of what to write in your letter.

Bring attention to key milestones and achievements

A personal and meaningful anniversary letter should always include some of the employee's key accomplishments from the previous year.

For example:

  • Did they spreadhead any projects or mandates?
  • Did they take initiative in any important way?
  • Did they deliver an important assignment or project that significantly impacted the company?

In essence, any assignment that was particularly impactful to the company or your team should be highlighted. That said, remember, not every little task or project needs to be mentioned — just the most notable ones. Generally, one or two examples are enough to make an employee feel valued and appreciated.

Highlight their unique traits

Speaking to an employee’s goals or achievements is an important part of writing a good recognition letter. However, a great recognition letter will go a step further by pointing out the key traits or characteristics that make the employee stand out.

Dr. Paul White an organizational psychologist, explains this idea well in his book The Vibrant Workplace. We wrote an article about the book here.

White contends that giving genuine appreciation is not only about acknowledging an employee's work performance or output. Rather, what he calls "authentic appreciation" should be about communicating respect and value for employees as people.

What does this mean in practice?

You should ensure your recognition message brings attention to the employee’s unique abilities, personality, and talents.

For instance, a common example would be to highlight some of the following traits:

  • Curiosity
  • Creativity
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Ambition
  • Resourcefulness
  • Tenacity
  • Sense of humour
  • Good attitude
  • Critical thinking
  • Commitment

Highlighting an employee's unique personality and character traits will make them feel special and add more depth to your recognition message.

Refer to the future

A work anniversary letter should have a positive and optimistic tone to it. As such, it's wise to close the letter by reflecting on the future. Mention how you hope to continue the great professional relationship or that you look forward to working on more projects together.

Referring to the future gives employees a sense of feeling valued and secure. It's an important and easy way to sign off.

bigstock-Close-up-View-Of-Woman-Giving--3945880283 Tips to Boost the Impact of a Recognition Letter

You can offer a simple recognition letter on an employee's work anniversary. However, suppose you want to show some extra appreciation -- maybe for a more significant work milestone. In that case, you can take your efforts a bit further.

Here are some popular ways managers can boost the impact of appreciation on an employee's work anniversary. These ideas are easy to implement and inexpensive, so they are definitely worth the time and effort.

Make a short public announcement

Public recognition can be incredibly impactful. Praise and respect from peers can be potent energizers and motivators for employees. As such, you should consider making a short public recognition announcement to an employee celebrating a work anniversary.

This announcement can be made at the end of a regular weekly meeting. Alternatively, if your team is larger, you can host a monthly “recognition” meeting and recognize employees celebrating an anniversary that month. However, be sure to give the letter on the work anniversary date or close to it so that recognition is timely.

Give a small personalized gift

Offering a small, personal gift that you picked out is the perfect way to show an employee you care. Not sure what to pick, we’ve written a list of common employee rewards and gifts that can be easily purchased and are affordable.

These gifts don’t need to be expensive or extravagant to have an impact. Just a small token of appreciation can really make a difference.

Have a senior leader chime in

While recognition from a direct manager is important, a message of appreciation from a senior leader or company executive can greatly impact. This is especially true for small to medium-sized businesses where employees have a more direct relationship or rapport with senior leaders.

Work Anniversary Letter Example

We’ve written an anniversary letter template to get you started on the right foot. Remember that this letter is not personalized.

It’s important to use this template as a jumping-off point only. Make sure to add a few sentences that express how the employee brings value to your team or highlight their most notable contributions.

Dear [employee name]

I can’t believe how fast time flies!

It seems like just yesterday; you arrived on our team. We can’t express how happy and appreciative we are of what you bring to our team. Without a doubt, your skills and talents have been one of the driving forces of our overall success.

This X year anniversary is an important milestone. It is also a special occasion for our organization since it is a testimony of your loyalty to [company name].

Real dedication and loyalty are rare. And we cannot express our gratitude to you enough for your many years of service.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our mission, vision and company values


[Manager name]

Top 7 Best Practices for Recognizing Employee's Years of Service Download PDF Now

Final Thoughts

Honouring an employee's loyalty to your company is critical in this job-hopping climate. Crafting a personalized letter is a crucial way to show you value your employees' contributions. But writing a work anniversary letter shouldn't be difficult or complicated. 

By using the template and the best practices above, you should be able to craft a simple yet meaningful message, one that will resonate with your employee and make them feel deeply valued and appreciated.

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