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The Truth About Service Anniversary Awards

Apr 01, 2019

The top 7 myths: Uncovering the truth about service award programs.

Truth about Service Anniversary Awards

There are many misconceptions about service anniversary programs and the companies who provide them. We’re here to set the record straight and offer some insight into how you can get the most from your current provider – or perhaps these myths sound all too familiar and you should be taking your program elsewhere.

Myth #1: All service anniversary award providers are the same.

Reality: All providers are not created equally. Each company is different in both subtle and significant ways.

  • Many providers are also jewelry manufacturers and will urge you to reward your program participants with jewelry. Consider working with a company that is unbiased towards what to offer your audience.
  • All providers feature web-based technology to accommodate redemption of your awards but most are out of date and don’t feature social recognition, reporting or an intuitive user interface.
  • Most providers do not offer a full suite of services and cannot extend the employee recognition experience beyond service anniversary awards.
  • Only a few companies base their solutions on behavioral economics, an understanding of what motivates your audience. Doing so will result in engaged employees who receive relevant awards for their accomplishments.
  • Not all companies provide the same level of assistance to your audience. Make sure you have the full support your audience needs – otherwise the calls will be directed to you. 

Myth #2: It’s important to provide gold and diamonds as gifts.

Reality: People do associate value with precious metals and stones but these materials represent a great deal of pricing volatility. Gold was stable in the 80’s and 90’s at around $350 per ounce but in 2006 it skyrocketed to a high of almost $1,800 per ounce, which resulted in monthly price hikes on anything with gold content. Rather than base your program on awards that are likely to fluctuate in price, design your program with a selection of awards that reflect your audience demographics, corporate culture and budget and will protect you from regular price changes. 

Myth #3: Everyone loves your program.

Reality: You shouldn’t maintain that your program is best-in-class year after year. Is your provider continuously bringing in new ideas, sharing the latest trends and updating their redemption technology to improve your program? Your participants should have a memorable and enjoyable experience each time they are recognized through your program.

Myth #4: All of our managers should embrace their roles in the service award recogntiion process.

Reality: Many or most of your managers are engaged and doing their part in your service recognition program but all need continuous support. Your provider should have a manager engagement plan complete with training, assistance and resources to make their roles amplify the experience for your awards audience.

Myth #5: It's okay to use gift cards in service anniversary programs.

Reality: IRS rules forbid the use of gift cards in service anniversary programs. Use of denomination based gifts will be subject to income taxes by the participant. Seek a provider that offers merchandise rewards, as these comply with IRS guidelines and provide a highly emotional and enjoyable experience for your recipients.

Myth #6: The more gifts you offer, the better.

Reality: People are overwhelmed by too many choices. The behavioral economics principle tyranny of choice explains our inability to process a decision when confronted with too many options. Choose a provider that offers a collection of thoughtfully selected awards that reflect the  demographics of your audience and will make them feel good about what they have accomplished.

Myth #7: Transitioning from one provider to another is risky. 

Reality: A responsible provider will have detailed processes that make the transition from your current provider easy and risk free. Make sure the provider you choose has detailed action steps that will guide you along the way.

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.