One of the common decisions senior leaders make with length of service awards is their perception that they don’t produce any measurable return for the organization, is dropping them completely.
This rationale of career milestone awards not impacting performance numbers and results has been around for many years.
However, there is definitely an impact made when you give these awards. So, what benefits are there from continuing with milestone recognition? Should you keep going with length of service award programs?
An employee’s career milestone, whether in person or virtually celebrated, is a special event and very important to them. You need to show staff that this is a big deal to everyone else as well—their immediate manager and senior leaders alike.
Celebrating an employee’s work anniversary should be something that is easy to acknowledge. After all, you are thanking them for their length of service with the organization and expressing appreciation for their contributions.
I will lay out for you the 4 P’s you need to follow so you will honor every employee’s career milestone the right way.
Your role in presenting a career milestone award on a person’s work anniversary is to create an experience that the recipient will always remember. Managers must learn how critical it is for them to honor employees on their special day. Follow theses Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Career Milestones and put these steps into practice.
Make managers responsible for milestones. You must assign managers to acknowledge their employees before or on the day of their anniversary. Hold them accountable by following up on what they did and share their employee’s reaction.
Work hard to honor the person. Plan ahead of time to collect information and insights about award recipients to help everyone remember them and their contributions. Allow these musings and memories of years of service be reflective and memorable.
Highlight a recipient’s attributes. Interview previous bosses and colleagues to discover their unique characteristics and attributes. Find out what makes them an excellent employee. As appropriate to the individual share these thoughts in the presentation.
Plan who the attendees should be. Lower year anniversaries are informal and can be their team members or one-on-one with their manager. Longer years of service merit finding out if a senior leader or family members should be present. Always find out their wishes first.
Find the right place to present. Check out your organization’s facilities and see if there is a “perfect” setting to add to the whole award experience. Discover if there are special memories associated with specific spots that could create a unique memory.
Capture memories of this day. Do whatever you can to assign someone else to photograph and video record the presentation. Have a sign in book or cards for people to write their congratulations and thoughts. Or create a video book where people leave messages.
Request the right person present. Whether it is their immedate manager or a senior leader figure out who the best person is to present their award. It must be someone the recipient has a positive relationship with and who they personally respect and admire.
Recognize their achievements. You have the opportunity to acknowledge all the employee has done up to their anniversary date. Let them know how their contributions and work have impacted others and made a difference to the organization.
Treat them like a star. Consider the Oscar awards and treat your career milestone employees as a celebrity, because on their anniversary day, they really are. Strive to turn every service award day into a celebration and not just a presentation.
Connect the employee’s achievements. Make the career milestone recipient’s feel fulfilled by showing them and others how they have lived by the organizational values. Let them know the organization could not be where they are today without their contributions.
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
Sometimes, you and I can fail miserably when we give gifts or awards to people.
You can have all the best intentions. You checked off everything on your planning checklists and you completed the event tasks. But still the gift or award just sits there. Flat. Meaningless. Non-communicative.
Just like the service award gift that one recipient had dutifully selected from the online catalogue. Then, only to find it one day still in the original mailing package, plopped in the middle of their work desk. Not a word spoken. Deathly silence.
Do you celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries at your organization?
It is an interesting question.
Some organizations are for it while others are not.
Organizations using online recognition programs usually have options in their programs for employees to turn on or off the ability for people to know when their birthday or work anniversary occurs. Or, if they allow visibility, when someone sends them a congratulatory eCard greeting, employees can still keep it private between the recipient and giver or make it public to everyone.
And then there are managers who think celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries is like something done only back in high school. At least, that’s the line they are saying to excuse themselves from celebrating their staff.
How do you handle these situations around personal and work celebrations?
In a recent recommendations list for dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, I mentioned the need to “remember to celebrate” your many new employees working from home. Whether birthdays, career milestones, or going above and beyond, along with the display of incredible resiliency of so many employees, there’s always so much to celebrate with our employees. And remember to thank and recognize others who assist you in your daily work and life in general.
How to celebrate employees effectively from a
distance and those around you is not always easy, but it is always possible. To
stimulate some celebration ideas for you, consider the following list.
This is the third post in a series on Embedding Recognition in the Everyday Life of the Company. In Part 1, I addressed integrating recognition into your onboarding strategy and practices. Then, in Part 2, I took up how you can weave recognition into your meetings and learning opportunities.
This post will cover more traditional
recognition moments such as career milestones (length of service anniversaries)
and retirement recognition.
As you read these ideas, evaluate how you are doing with recognition in your organization in these areas, and if there are steps you need to take to improve things.
Career milestone award or service
award recognition programs have been around for many years.
Over those years there have been
the customary plaques, symbolic crystal awards, and gold watches—and these used
to start when a person reached 25-years of service.
But as tenure reduced significantly
with economy and business changes, and retention of employees was harder to
maintain, career milestones now begin at 5 years and 5-year increments
thereafter. Today, you will find many companies now start career milestones at
an employee’s first year of service.
The reality is, whether you give an
employee something tangible or not, they always have a workplace anniversary
every single year.
How do you plan to make the next
round of your milestone recognition celebrations more meaningful and effective?
How are your career milestone or service award programs doing these days?
It seems the majority of organizations have tenure or long service award programs. According to WorldatWork’s 2017 Trends in Employee Recognition, length of service recognition remains the top ranked recognition program with 85 percent of organizations.
Historically, and especially within the public sector, career milestone years were only acknowledged when an employee reached 25 years or longer. Today, most progressive organizations commence with at least 5 years and then celebrate every 5-year increment thereafter.
But when you look at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the average tenure for salaried employees is 4.2 years. That average drops to 2.8 years for the mobile 25 to 34 year old employees.