Celebrating work anniversaries is a popular way for companies to express appreciation and gratitude to their employees.
We are living in a climate where short work tenures are the norm.
According to a 2018 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure for salaried employees has dropped dramatically. Workers aged between 25 to 34 years of age tend to only stay at the same job for an average of 2.8 years.
Acknowledging work anniversaries validates employee commitment. In other words, it ensures loyalty is recognized and not "taken for granted."
There are two ways businesses celebrate employee loyalty:
First, businesses can put in place an official Service Awards Program.
Companies such as Applauz Recognition provide employee reward services. Businesses like Applauz help with celebration logistics and the gifting process. Employees receive access to an online gift catalogue and can redeem a reward of their choice. Employees even receive easy at-home delivery.
Many growing companies celebrate employee anniversaries without a formal rewards program. Managers can honour employee anniversaries by creating affordable and unique celebrations.
Remember, even if you have a third-party rewards program, implementing these ideas is an excellent way to support your existing program.
The goal is to personalize the anniversary experience. Ensure the experience is memorable and unique for your employees.
So let's jump into the ideas!
Who doesn't like a party? A great way to celebrate an employee's anniversary is to organize a gathering of the employee's team or department. This type of celebration is affordable—all it takes is a small budget for snacks and drinks. This idea is perfect for groups that already show strong bonds and friendships. If the team is already close, they'll love an opportunity to get together and celebrate. On the other hand, if your team is not particularly close, offering to throw a party can put pressure on the team to socialize. Perhaps consider a private or personalized celebration instead.
Who doesn't like a paid lunch? Everyone does! A paid lunch is the type of company "perk" people boast about to their family and friends. If your office is in the vicinity of local restaurants or cafes, consider taking the employee celebrating out for a lunch. This can be a great opportunity for a manager to connect on a more casual level with an employee. If your budget allows, invite their entire team! The employee celebrating their anniversary will genuinely appreciate this generous gesture.
Offering acknowledgment is a tried and true method to celebrate employee work anniversaries. Public recognition might change depending on the size of the company. For small businesses, it's worthwhile to give public recognition in front of everyone. For more prominent companies, a meeting with only the specific team of the department might be more viable. Some companies will shout out over email or chat channels. Whichever way you decide to offer public or private recognition; it's is an essential component of a memorable anniversary celebration.
For an extra memorable anniversary, consider making a short video or slideshow. Compile photos from over the years and include employees' key achievements. This will create an exceptional and fun celebration. A slide show is an excellent celebration idea for teams that are already very close and friendly with each other. As this project requires more effort, consider taking the time to create a slideshow for employees celebrating significant milestones, like 5 or 10 years.
A handwritten recognition letter never goes out of style. Writing a note or letter is a meaningful gesture because it's so uncommon. The best part is it requires little money and time. You can buy a quality card and also get the team to sign it as well. Taking the time to craft a personalized message is a small but essential gesture in making the employee feel appreciated and recognized for their loyalty to your company.
Consider finding your employee a gift that reflects their interests and personality. An employee will genuinely appreciate a unique gift. If you're having a hard time visualizing something, think of gift ideas that reflect your employee's passions and hobbies. Buy a small gift you know will resonate with them on a personal level—for example, a book or a plant for their desk. You can even donate to a charity or cause they support. It's a valuable feeling when an employee feels like their employer deeply understands them as a person.
A common and easy way to honour an anniversary is to decorate an employee's desk. Get the entire team on it too! The effort will show that you and the team care about each other. It doesn't need to be elaborate or expensive. Small creative and personalized touches are all it takes to make the experience memorable. Employees might share the image on social media—spreading a positive message about your company's culture.
In traditional programs, employees were given generic trophies or plaques for work anniversaries. Everyone got the same trophy. It's not surprising to find these celebrations are now outdated. So, if you're working with a younger workforce, you can consider creating a novelty trophy. Inject a little fun and humour into the celebration! For example, create a custom trophy that highlights something great about the employee's personality like "biggest joker" or "best attitude." A work anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate everything the employee brings to the table—not only their hard skills.
A short yet casual speech is a perfect way to acknowledge your employee's contributions. Managers can gather their department or team to let everyone know why the employee deserves to be celebrated. During a speech, it's crucial to highlight specific accomplishments. Also, mention unique traits and qualities that make the employee so great to work with. Again, this isn't a time to be too serious—inject some humour! The speech should be lighthearted and focus on highlighting employee strengths.
If you're on a tight budget, buying a gift certificate is a great idea. Think of a store, restaurant, or cafe your employees will enjoy. If your employees are working remotely from home (or anywhere else), offering a gift card for a work anniversary is ideal. Gift cards are an easy and quick way to show your appreciation. Many companies offer gift cards that are sent and redeemed online.
Of course, this only applies to employees who enjoy a good drink and are legal drinking age. A nice bottle of wine or specialty liquor is a great and affordable gift to give for an anniversary. The team can crack it open for a celebratory happy hour, or the employee can save it to enjoy at home with family and friends.
A shout out is an ideal way to recognize employees. Public recognition is particularly impactful for employees occupying public-facing roles. It's an opportunity for your clients to engage as well! Think about it: your clients have probably interacted with the employee. And now, the customer can also share their positive experiences and appreciation. This applies to staff in retail spaces, gyms, bars, restaurants, hotels, resorts, etc. Sharing employee celebrations on social media demonstrates that your organization prioritizes its employees. This will help to bolster the public perception of your organizational culture.
A low-maintenance way to celebrate a work anniversary is to buy a team a tasty treat. For example, you can buy a cake, pastries, or cupcakes. If your team leans towards savoury flavours, you can opt for a pizza, empanadas, or any other savoury and easy-to-eat snack. A delicious surprise is the most affordable and straightforward way to say 'thank you.'
A work anniversary is often an opportunity for employees to evaluate their careers by asking themselves, does this job make me truly happy? Or, is this job helping me with my long-term goals?
Studies show that over 70% of "high-turnover-risk" employees state that they want to leave their employers because they aren't given a chance to grow in their current position.
In other words: one of the most reliable drivers of loyalty is ensuring employees are continuously challenged, learning, and growing.
A work anniversary is, therefore, a great time to sit down and have a transparent one-on-one conversation.
The goal of touching base with your employees is to ensure they are satisfied in their role and with their responsibilities. The discussion should focus on career and skill development.
An open and candid dialogue will ensure that you're on the same page. Most importantly, it tells your employees you care about their happiness in their role.
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