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Spoiler alert: You've been giving employee awards nobody wants.

Apr 30, 2019

Written by: Steve Huffman
(View Author Bio)

Are your employees tossing their service anniversary awards into a junk drawer? The answer is yes. 

Service Anniversary Awards

Whether yours reside at work or at home (or both), the ubiquitous junk drawer is often the final resting place for items too valuable to discard but unlikely to be used. And whether you like it or not, the junk drawer or closet is most often the place where many types of service anniversary gifts end up.

Open your drawers up and take inventory – it’s amazing what you can collect over the years. 

Brand new 10K gold lapel pins
Chances are you have a whole selection of valuable emblems that
you’ve never worn. A recent search on eBay yielded 44,000 results
(most likely a result of cleaning out the drawer!) where these symbols
of achievement end up being sold to the highest bidder. Lapel pins are
a fine way to symbolize appreciation but Millennials won’t wear them.
(And frankly, neither will Baby Boomers.) Anything with precious metal
content could have a significant impact on your budget because of
sharp fluctuations in price.

Dust Collectors
Be it a full lead crystal bowl or a 9” world globe, these very traditional
awards have lost a lot of fans over the last several years. As the
demographics of your workforce continuously change, many of your
participants desire awards that suit their lifestyle at work and home.

Although once a staple in every level of the program, the camera has long
been overtaken by the smartphone, relegating it to the junk drawer.

Desk Sets
A mainstay for years and complete with all of the necessary desk tools,
they have become another dust collector for many and have moved
from the desk top to the desk drawer.

Picture Frames
Typically adorned with the corporate logo and possibly the home of the
printed certificate of recognition you received, these gifts are usually
pushed to a far corner of the desk until they’re put into the drawer.

For years, programs featured hunting knives decorated with a corporate
emblem in many levels of the awards collection. Safety concerns and
changing tastes have all but eliminated knives from most programs.

These were designed to give managers a prop to distribute during a
recognition ceremony. With more people working remotely or connecting with their teams virtually, certificates in many programs have been removed for cost savings and replaced with social recognition tools available from the service anniversary platform.

Leather Portfolios
Replaced by tablets in the workplace, the bulky portfolio is also passé in terms of popularity and utility.

Writing Instruments
Certainly the highest inventory item in the junk drawer, pens of all makes,
models and price points are plentiful and typically out of ink.

Tie Tacks and Stick Pins
Much like the lapel pin, these jewelry pieces are subject to gold and silver price fluctuations and lost their appeal many years ago.

While these types of gifts were once very popular to give as employee awards, they've became outdated and irrelevant to your audience’s constantly changing needs and tastes. From a behavioral economics perspective, the items in your junk drawer give no reminder of how you earned them. Instead, imagine pulling out a Taylor Made Big Bertha driver during a golf outing and pointing out to your fellow players that you earned the club for 20 years of service with your company. You will relive that recognition and feel proud of your accomplishment each time you use it.

Build your program with a range of carefully selected, demographically appropriate awards without overwhelming your participants with too much choice. The selections should feature many items that people won’t justify spending their own money on but would love to earn, like designer handbags or the latest electronics (Air Pods, anyone?) Your awards collection should be continually fine-tuned, on a quarterly basis with one deep dive review annually. 

Let's work together to motivate your employees with the coolest, most desirable rewards - and keep them out of the junk drawer.

Steve Huffman BI WORLDWIDE

Steve Huffman

Vice President
Recognition Services

As VP of Recognition Services, Steve works with an experienced team of Design and Delivery Specialists that are devoted to the development and distribution of symbolic and lifestyle merchandise awards programs. His focus is on the customer’s needs and expectations as they relate to recognition systems and individual award initiatives. Steve has been a member of the Recognition Team for over 25 years and with BI WORLDWIDE for more than 30.