Reenergizing the Employee Service Anniversary Program

Posted by Melissa Meunier on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

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Good news – the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 10 years, and workers are staying at their current employer longer! According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Employee Tenure Report, years of tenure have increased over the past four years. The median number of years that workers have been with their current employer is 4.6 years, unchanged from 2012.


We all know the workforce is changing - traditionalists are retiring, and generation Y is settling into their careers. While there is an emphasis on performance programs that recognize results, employee service anniversary programs or length of service programs remain the top recognition program used in many organizations. Some say service awards have lost its edge and even consider eliminating it from the mix. Gasp!

Eliminating a program that recognizes your employee’s loyalty and dedication over time clearly sends the message that you no longer care about them. This quickly leads to a lack of engagement and a decrease in employee morale.

However, if existing programs do not change with the times, how can organizations expect them to succeed? The reality is it may just need a face-lift to remain an important component of any organization's recognition strategy. 

The biggest challenge of the anniversary program is how to keep it fresh and appealing to all employees. The programs of yesteryear consisted of tangible awards that carried a trophy value and recognition that came from the top - the president, which had an impact. Today, organizations need to adapt to the changes in the workforce and consider how to keep their programs appealing to all generations.

What's Your Process?

  • The Schedule

Programs that schedule recognition after five years are missing out on earlier critical milestones and too late for retaining most talent these days. Organizations that expand their programs to include career recognition from day one; at 30, 60, and 90-day intervals; as well as the first year, have the improved chance of capturing a wider audience.

  • The Experience

Award presentations from the C-suite are meaningful, but today it is about the entire recognition experience, especially for the younger generation. These employees seek feedback and recognition from their immediate supervisor and peers who know them best.

  • The Award

Watches, trophies and plaques still make worthy award offerings.  Expanding the assortment to include items the younger generation considers both useful and memorable can deliver a better recognition experience for everyone.

Any reward and recognition program that has been around for years can become stagnant and lose meaning.  However, it is not a reason to eliminate the program.  A successful recognition strategy includes monitoring and quickly changing course when things are no longer working or supporting the initiatives.

Programs like length of service place a substantial value on an employee's longevity and are still highly valued by employees. They celebrate their on-going commitment and loyalty to the organization – something organizations are hoping their employees continue to bring to the table. 

Topics: employee service awards, service awards for employees, service recognition, company service awards