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6 Ways to Maximize Your Service Award Investment

Oct 13, 2015

Written by: Steve Huffman
(View Author Bio)

To make attract and retain employees, your company’s service anniversary experience must align with today’s workplace.

Maximize your investment on service anniversary awards. 


Change is inevitable. With today’s fluctuating economy, rapidly evolving technology and multiple generations in the workplace, a long-timer can mean someone who’s been with a company for three years. This means the employer/employee relationship has to change – the paradigms have shifted. So how do you attract and retain talented employees? It starts with a strong culture and part of that culture includes celebrating milestones.

TREND #1: Recognize early.

Most typical service awards programs don’t recognize tenure until an employee hits the five-year mark. But with the increase of Millennials in the workforce, who tend to job hop more than other generations (91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years), it’s quickly becoming less common to make it to a five-year anniversary. All this means going five years without any type of formal recognition for service is a really long time to wait — too long — and can be a contributing factor to employee churn.

Take action: Incorporate formal recognition earlier by including 1-year and 3-year milestones in your service anniversary program. Consider including informal recognition at the 3-month, 6-month and 9-month marks such as a manager giving an employee a handwritten card along with their favorite coffee drink.

TREND #2: Engage managers.
Managers play a huge role in any service anniversary program. Their support and adoption of the program will ultimately determine its success (or failure). Managers are the ones who give milestone recognition to employees and they’re the ones who will make your program memorable, passable…or forgettable.

Take action: Make it a top priority to train managers upon the program launch or when any program updates are made so they understand the importance of milestone recognition and how best to give it. Give them access to resources they can reference when they need them and make sure there are ongoing communications
to keep the program top of mind.

TREND #3: Offer choice.
While company-branded merchandise may be a nice fit for new employees or for getting the word out about new product launches, it shouldn’t be your go-to for service awards. Your employees work hard for your company and are ambassadors for your brand but their service award should be about them…not you.

Take action: Offer a collection of lifestyle awards culturally and demographically appropriate for employees in your organization. A meaningful award is something they’ll be excited to receive but may not buy for themselves. A designer handbag or a golf club is a nice reminder of their recognition and gives them a greater affinity to your organization each time they use it.

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