Skip to Content

Happy Anniversary, Happier Employees.

Written by: Steve Huffman
(View Author Bio)

Service anniversary programs are alive and well (and working).


Contrary to what some industry “insiders” may say, many of today’s employee anniversary programs are transforming and evolving tremendously … and all for the better.

When executed to their full potential, effective and often unexpected employee service anniversary programs have never been more impactful to those employees being celebrated. (Think personalized recognition experiences, intuitive award options and seamless integration with other employee engagement initiatives.) All of these exciting program enhancements are giving employers more effective and engaging tools to recognize employees for their years of service. In return, these organizations are experiencing higher retention rates, employee productivity levels and customer satisfaction ratings.

Because there has been tremendous change in the service anniversary industry over the past several years, programs vary greatly from organization to organization. Remember, any company paying attention to employee loyalty is on the right track. But where does your program fall in comparison to others?

1. Effective (Good)
A basic service anniversary program often:
• Recognizes with emblematic or symbolic awards (lapel pin, certificate, plaque)
• Celebrates only the major milestones (10, 25, 30 years)
• Is used in some departments but not all

2. Enhanced (Better)
Boosting a basic program with minor yet effective enhancements often includes:
• An online platform for celebrating and delivering service awards
• Recognition starting at five years of service and every five years after that (5, 10, 15, 20 years)
• Effective communication to promote the program throughout the organization
• Manager engagement through informal or formal presentation
• A robust assortment of merchandise for award recipients to select from

3. Extraordinary (Best)
Forget average! A best-in-class recognition program typically features:
• Service awards integrated into an all-employee recognition platform
• Company-wide communication initiatives, including a program overview as part of onboarding
• Consistent manager engagement, with training and additional resources readily available
• A collection of merchandise specifically catered to the demographics of your organization
• One- and three-year service recognition in addition to five-year increments
• A meaningful celebration page dedicated to the award recipient,
including Recognition PURL™, a personalized URL featuring
comments, photos and videos from coworkers, friends and family
to recognize the special achievement.

Loyalty matters.
Service anniversary awards are meant to recognize the people who
have invested their time and talent in moving your business forward.
If your program fell into the good or better category and you’d like it to
be best-in-class, consider:

• Offering a collection of awards “hand-picked” to fit the unique
needs and demographics of your organization. The result?
A personalized, relevant selection of awards for your recipients
to choose from.

• Giving considerably less attention to emblematic jewelry or other
items with precious metal content (which is subject to sharp price
fluctuations) and more access to lifestyle merchandise.

• Using a web-based platform that accommodates multiple
employee initiatives simultaneously, including service
anniversary programs.

• Making all program administration, award redemption and
program communications accessible online, eliminating expensive
print catalogs and amplifying instant communication opportunities.

• Introducing a social networking element to the recognition
experience, like Recognition PURL, to magnify success and
make it more meaningful for the recipient.

• Partnering with an award supplier who can guarantee satisfaction
by offering product warranties, allowing returns and exchanges
regardless of the issue or timing.

• Designing a program using applied behavioral economics,
capitalizing on principles like the dopamine effect (the “rush”
people feel after something good happens, like receiving an
award) and re-consumption (being reminded of how you earned
something, like each time you use the golf club you received as a
gift for your service anniversary).

• Understanding cultural differences for your employees all
around the world and working with a supplier with a global footprint
who can reach and recognize employees no matter where they
are located.


Learn more about The New Rules of Engagement.

Contact us