Celebrating an employee’s work anniversary is a great way to improve employee morale, recognize company loyalty, and let employees know they are valuable members of your team. In addition, there is a war for talent among companies that will continue on for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, it has become very clear that organizations have to dedicate resources to increase employee retention and employee engagement.
An employee service awards program, when done right, is an easy want to increase the engagement that companies need. Work anniversaries mean a great deal to employees — neglecting them (or ignoring them entirely) is not healthy for your company culture or the attitude of your employees.
Of course, coming up with unique, appreciative work anniversary wishes is anything but simple. Take the time to make work anniversary celebrations right: employees notice when you care.
Are These Ideas Only for Anniversaries?
Work anniversaries are a great time to celebrate an employee’s commitment and dedication to your company. However, there’s no sense in limiting appreciative gestures to a single event that rolls around every year. Nearly every great work anniversary idea can be used to celebrate major employee milestones.
What Makes a Great Work Anniversary Wish?
At the core of every employee motivational program is recognition. Companies that build a culture of recognition and appreciation win out every time — after all, the most valuable asset to any company is its employees. The more your anniversary wishes match up with the twin ideas of recognition and appreciation, the better off you’ll be.
The best work anniversaries and celebrations are ones that give your employees a sense of gratitude and optimism. Get creative: there is no shame in going outside the box for inventive, clever celebrations when it comes to your employee’s work anniversaries.
Work Anniversary Wish: 1 Year
Yes, celebrating an employee’s first year at your business is a major milestone. In a world where employees regularly seek career advancement with other businesses, you want to celebrate that first major achievement. After a year of work, your employee likely feels comfortable in his or her role — that complacency may lead them to start disengaging from the company’s culture and values.
Take the time to celebrate the one year mark. It’s worth it.
Ideas for the 1 Year Mark
The goal for this initial anniversary wish is to “reengage” the employee with the company. Offer something memorable that shows you care about the employee’s accomplishments. For example, you might consider:
- Lunch with the boss. This is a great time to socialize with your employee — have a drink, food, and socialize. Show an interest in the employee’s achievements.
- Employee Gift. It's a great time to shower your 1 year employees with a gift or two. Remember, it is not so much about the value of the gift, but the act of giving something, and making a big deal about their first year milestone, ideally in front of their peers.
- Handwritten note. Ever notice how the traditional first-year wedding anniversary gift is made of paper? It’s simple, effective, and incredibly versatile. Do the same with your employee’s work anniversary: a handwritten note tailor-made to your employee’s accomplishments shows gratitude, appreciation, and recognition.
- One-on-one advice session. Depending on the size of your company, it might be possible to have dedicated one-on-one career advice sessions with your first-year employees. Sit down with them and see how they’re holding up — and ask where they see themselves moving forward. This idea works fantastically well after lunch with the boss (or even during).
Work Anniversary Wish: 2 Years
The two-year mark is nothing to sneeze at. Here, many workers are liable to start looking elsewhere for employment. Typically, a two-year stint at a given company is enough to avoid the stigma of “job hopping” that might plague workers who swap jobs at yearly intervals.
Millennials, who make up the largest generation in the modern workforce, overwhelmingly (63%) agree that it’s reasonable to stay in your current position for up to two years before seeking a promotion. Two years is often the make-or-break moment for an employee — it’s at the two-year anniversary that they’ll decide if they want to stick around for another year or move on.
Ideas for the 2 Year Mark
At the two-year mark, flexibility starts to become increasingly important. Successful employees are an invaluable resource to your business — your work anniversary celebrations shouldn’t shy away from emphasizing employee retention.
To that end, consider some of the following ideas:
- A one-off or semi-regular remote day. Depending on the nature of your business, it might be possible to offer remote workdays to qualified employees. Offering remote work right off the bat (for new employees) is still quite rare in the business world, but for proven employees, it can be a major plus. If your organization operates out of an office, there’s a very good chance that one day a week (or one day a month) could be done remotely — and millennials love working remotely.
- LinkedIn recommendation. At the two-year mark, your employee will have an ample list of accomplishments that may parlay fantastically well into a LinkedIn recommendation. This shows your employees that you care about their careers moving forward. That care demonstrates your gratitude, recognition, and appreciation for their work.
- Tickets to a local sports game, a social media shout-out, or even a massage. These gifts show a level of concern and care for your employee that other, less personal gifts might not. If you know that your employee is a big fan of a local sports team, see about gifting him or her tickets to an event (make sure to do it advance, of course!). Likewise, an employee might appreciate an “employee spotlight” on your business’s social media platform.
Work Anniversary Wish: 3 Years
At the three-year mark, employees have by and large proven themselves as capable, effective workers that are ready to take on additional responsibilities. Having spent the past few years working on a particular skill set, it’s possible that your employee might start to feel a bit stifled
Ideas for the 3 Year Mark
Make a big deal about your employee's 3 year anniversary. Gather the team around and celebrate. Consider focusing on a work anniversary gift that stresses your employee’s professional contributions to the business. Consider some of the following:
- Send the employee to a work convention, conference, or professional event. Yes, work conferences or professional events are great learning experiences. More importantly, this gift enables your employee to chance to reach out and network with like-minded professionals in his field. On top of that, professional events allow your employee to act as the immediate face of your company — that shows your appreciation for all that your employee does.
- Transition to regular remote work. Assuming its practical, consider offering regular remote days for your employee. By the three-year mark, you certainly know whether or not an employee can handle telecommuting. Make the offer: if the employee bites, he’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
Work Anniversary Wish: 4, 5, 10+ Years
At this point, all bets are off. If your employee has stuck with the same business for over 4 years, they are likely there for the long haul. They like working there — stick with what works. If an employee truly loves working remotely, allow them to transition to remote work full-time. If your employee enjoys public recognition for their efforts, decorate a wall with their achievements.
For “bigger ticket” ideas, consider the following:
- Additional long-term paid vacation or sabbatical. The length is up to you: a week off for every year of employment might work well, for example. Get your employee out of the office and have them do whatever they want, all without worrying about work. This is the sort of big-ticket item that employees love to see — it shows that their dedication and loyalty to the company is recognized and appreciated.
- Robust gift offering. A formal recognition program will provide thousands of gift options, regardless of your program budget. Allocate enough dollars to ensure that the value of the gifts is meaningful. There is nothing worse than going cheap on gifts, which to the employee, translates into what you feel the value of the person is to the organization.
It’s All About Recognition
The best gift, wish, or message you can give to your employees is that you recognize them. The more you recognize and appreciate your employees, the more engaged they will be with your business. Happy, engaged employees are productive, efficient workers — everybody wins.
Take the time to invest in unique, appealing work anniversary gifts and your employees will be all the better for it.
Feel free to visit CoreCentive here for more information on employee recognition programs and incentives.