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How to Put Together an Employee Service Award Program

Your employees exchange their time for work that helps your organization succeed. This dedication deserves to be recognized on a regular, timely basis. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through implementing an employee years of service awards service program at your company. Service awards programs show recognition and appreciation for your employees' commitment to your company as well as their performance. Commemorating work anniversaries is one of the most popular types of service awards programs, as are "Years of Service" awards, which are of a similar sentiment. Through heartfelt recognition shared on days of significant milestones, employees can feel valued and appreciated at their companies, which can then help them experience an increased sense of engagement and loyalty to your company.

Learn how to put together a high-quality service awards program at your organization.

Though it's important to recognize employees for the quality of their work with, it is also essential to show appreciation for their years of service. As Kim Harrison noted for Cutting Edge PR, "Some may believe that recognizing employees for their time served only emphasizes quantity rather than quality - the chair warmers rather than the achievers.

However, the fact is that any significant length of service represents a major investment by an employee from their life. This choice of investment is something to be valued, especially when there is a comparatively high employee ‘churn' (and cost of turnover) these days compared with the past." Many companies operate service awards programs for this reason. A joint survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce revealed several key findings about service awards programs, including:

  • The main goal of years of service programs is employee appreciation, but many such programs "still fall short of the mark for inspiration and quality."
  • Companies that invest in years of service programs see better results.

The survey also found that 74 percent of companies say they have some sort of service anniversary program. However, just 22 percent of these companies say their program is excellent, with 31 percent rating it as fair or poor. Though the programs may not be as fully developed with work anniversary gifts as many companies would wish, the intentions are noble. The survey found that the No. 1 reason companies have years of service awards programs to appreciate employees, followed by increasing employee happiness or satisfaction.

The results of the survey show that while employers have lofty goals for their service awards programs, the content of them is failing to deliver.

Ways Companies Can Strengthen Their Service Awards Programs

Years of Service Award

Companies can strengthen their service awards programs to better suit the expectations of their employees. Before starting your service awards program, or revising your current one, find out what your employees think. Polls and simple email surveys are effective ways to get an idea of how workers feel about recognition programs. With this data, you can then create programs that will be more closely aligned with the employee recognition gifts they want. You can ask questions like:

  • How would you rate the level of recognition at this company?
  • Do you feel like the work you do is valued?
  • What would an ideal service awards program look like to you?

Use this information to design recognition programs that will most strongly resonate with your professionals.

Determine Your Awards Budget

Figure out the most that your company can spend on recognition, and aim to have your budget make the most of it.

Service awards programs should receive a portion of the company budget, as the programs are essential to worker productivity and happiness. If you need a guide for how much money to allocate to these efforts, look to the SHRM/Globoforce survey - it found that the most effective recognition programs used more than 1 percent of payroll.

Determine Which Employee Anniversaries to Recognize

Years of Service Gifts and Rewards

Traditionally, companies will celebrate the major milestones, but it's also important to celebrate smaller anniversaries, especially in today's employment market where individuals stay at companies for shorter periods of time and more frequently hop among jobs, as Inspirus noted. The source recommended that companies with high turnover celebrate "mini-milestones" such as every 90 days, as it helps give a boost to employee engagement levels from the get-go. But the SHRM/Globoforce survey found that:

  • 90 percent of companies celebrated five-year anniversaries.
  • 92 percent celebrated 10 years.
  • 89 percent celebrated 20 years.
  • 28 percent celebrate first year anniversaries.

Executing Your Employee Service Award Program

When successfully implemented, service awards can boost employee happiness levels and create a positive, inclusive work environment. When poorly carried out, however, these programs can have the opposite effect, dragging down morale and engagement. This is especially true when it comes to timing. Letting an employee's work anniversary pass without any mention can make the employee feel like he is not valued and produces negative feelings. Instead, be sure to stay organized and on top of employee milestones, approaching years of service markers and other opportunities for recognition. Setting alerts in your HR, intranet or other internal system can help you manage these dates and stay on top of recognition in a timely and organized manner.

While service awards programs recognize years of service, to make them the most "inspiring" and effective, the recognition should be tied back to company values. When celebrating an anniversary or other milestones, in your presentation reflect on which company values the employee excels in showing, and all the strides she's made since their last years of service celebration. As the SHRM/ Globoforce survey noted, recognition can be even more powerful and resonant when you reward employees for showing a commitment to organizational values.

When creating service awards programs, it's best to take a multi-tiered approach: give the employee a meaningful gift, and then recognize the individuals with an awards ceremony and social recognition.

Present the milestone award: Whether it is a plaque, a lapel pin, or crystal awards, be sure to inscribe the employee's name and the milestone that is being celebrating. This is the formal recognition aspect of your service award program that will stand the test of time.

Write a note: A heartfelt note can mean the world to someone. According to the Harvard Business Review, OGO found in a survey that 76 percent of people save handwritten thank-you notes. Don't use a template or say the same thing you say on every note - instead, personalize the message to reflect the employee's unique achievements and strengths.

Give a heartfelt gift: Employees celebrating service milestones shouldn't receive a generic, one-size-fits-all gift. Instead, the item should be customized to the individual. High-end gifts such as crystal clocks, wine cradles and vases make great gifts for individuals celebrating 10, 15 and 20-year anniversaries - these items are treasures that will last a lifetime. For annual work anniversary celebrations, personalized glassware, tech accessories, apparel or plaques work well. Other gifts could be a framed photo or poster that is signed by the employee's co-workers.

Throw a party: Reserve a meeting room to hold a party for the recognized employee, with food catered. You can put together a presentation about the employee and their accomplishments. For major milestones, you can host the party at a restaurant or function hall.

Give the social spotlight: Another great way to celebrate service milestones is through social recognition in the workplace. For example, you could give the employee a shout-out or blurb in the company newsletter or staff magazine, Kim Harrison noted, or write a special post for him on the employee intranet or homepage.

Research shows that service awards programs are meaningful and powerful ways to recognize employees for the service. Not only do theseprograms boost employee morale, but have long-term benefits for the organization as a whole. With these tips, you can create effective service awards programs at your company. Successories has everything you need to supplement your awards programs, from high-end gifts to stationery for handwritten thank-you notes.

Customer Favorite Years of Service Awards

Updated Wednesday 06-19-2024
Black Mini Star Award
from Shannon of Springfield, IL

Black Mini Star Award

Simple but Effective
We use the stars for 2 different awards programs, one for internal customer service and one for external customer service. One of the titles on them actually conincide with one of our programs "Above and Beyond"
We have been using these awards for 2 years and our employees love them. They have made a competition out of who can earn the most. Several employees have several stacked up in their workstations.
The stars are a perfect addition to our incentive program.

Years of Service Brass Medallion
from Jeanine of Undisclosed

Years of Service Brass Medallion

Yes, with exceptions to shipping
We use these medallions on a yearly basis and present to our teachers for their service. We have repeatedly ordered these for years. It was disappointing that some of the order that came in were damaged. Damaged meaning that the numbers were scratched off so I had to request new ones. Next year, we will have an issue with the medallion holder. You have discontinued the preferred one and we will have some changes in our presentation because we will have two different holders. On that note, the holders seem quite expensive so we may go another route with holders.

2020 Laurel Wreath Medallion Challenge Coin
from Charles Larkins of North Branford, CT

2020 Laurel Wreath Medallion Challenge Coin

I plan to buy this product again next year
This will be an anniversary coin each year.

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