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How to Recognize an Employee's Work Anniversary

Work Anniversary Thumbnail GraphicWork Anniversary Thumbnail Graphic
min read
August 21, 2023

Is someone on your team about to hit a big professional milestone with the company? Well, if that’s the case, it’s time to celebrate! 

Whether they’ve been there for one year or 50, making employees feel appreciated for their hard work and valued as a dedicated part of the team goes a long way.

We’re here to show you a few simple, yet effective, ways that you can show employee recognition to send your best wishes and good luck as your team member embarks on another year with your business. 

Why It’s Important to Recognize Years of Service

When it comes to why this recognition matters, nearly all of the benefits relate to these two reasons. Recognizing employee work anniversaries can:

  1. Boost employee morale
  2. Improve employee retention  

For all business owners, the employee retention rate is an important metric to track. After all, everyone wants their best employees to feel happy in their roles and to not think twice about whether or not they want to stay with the company. And one of the best ways to show your team members how much you care is to celebrate their work anniversary, no matter how many years of service they’ve given you.

Particularly for new hires, the employee experience from their first day and throughout that initial year on the team is a crucial time to build loyalty and ensure that, come their first anniversary, they’re looking forward to continuing their great work with your company.

When employee appreciation is built into your company culture, everyone benefits. You’ll hold onto the best team members for longer and every member of your staff will feel truly recognized and appreciated for the years of work they’ve given to your business.

Ideas for Work Anniversaries

A simple “congrats” really isn’t enough when it comes to employee rewards. It’s important to make a big deal about each employee’s special day and plan a work anniversary celebration they’ll remember. 

Keep a calendar of each employee’s work anniversary and set a reminder for one or two months ahead. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to generate some extra employee engagement among the rest of the team and get everyone excited to celebrate their colleague’s work anniversary.

If you’ve never thought about work anniversary ideas before, now is the time to get brainstorming! Whether you’re looking to give your employees the best work anniversary gift of all time or you’re trying to find ways to make the day fun for everyone, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Send a Personalized Card

Wishing your employees a “happy work anniversary” doesn’t have to be generic and stale. A handwritten note or greeting card from their manager or even the business owner is the perfect way to say “thank you” because it’s probably not a very common occurrence. 

Try to avoid using a template or something that isn’t unique to that employee. If you’re really stuck for ideas, you can adapt messages like:

You could also have the entire team or company send anniversary cards with personalized work anniversary messages about why they love to work with that employee or some personal anecdotes about the time they’ve spent together. There’s nothing like some peer recognition to make people feel that they’re in a truly connected work environment!

Give Them a Gift Card

While you can always go with something simple like an Amazon gift card, you also have plenty of opportunity to make this more specific to your employee. Is there a local restaurant that you know they frequently bring lunch back from? If there is, see if you can get a gift card from there (also a great way to help out another local company) or pre-pay for their next meal as a surprise.

Gift cards are also great gift ideas for remote employees. They’re a quick and easy way to show your thanks for their good work and are simple to budget for each year based on how much you’d like to spend per employee.

Host Service Awards

One of the most important aspects to remember when wishing an employee a happy work anniversary is to remain consistent across the company. You should never look like you’re treating one employee better than another if you want to maintain healthy work ethics, so setting up a formal recognition program like service awards or employee of the month can be helpful.

Particularly for long tenures, years of service awards are a chance to show your appreciation for multiple employees at once in front of the entire company. Not only is this a special moment for the employees being recognized, but it can be incredibly motivating for younger members of the team (like the millennials and Gen Z’ers on your staff) to hear about the progress their supervisors or coworkers have achieved while working there.

But you don’t have to keep it overly formal for the whole event. Novelty trophies are great as humorous prizes to highlight personality traits that everyone loves about certain employees. Open a nomination form where coworkers can nominate each other for “best practical joker” or “worst coffee maker” to add a fun teamwork element. You can even pop an Amazon gift card or some company swag inside their trophy for an added perk. 

Post a Shout-Out on Social Media

Regardless of whether or not your employee has a public-facing role, giving them a shout-out on the company social media channels is an impactful way to recognize your team. It’s an opportunity for your clients who may follow you on social media to post their own positive feedback about the employee and you might even see some of the employee’s loved ones commenting about their big work anniversary.

Sharing your employee celebrations in a public way is also a great way to highlight your company culture, an often overlooked recruitment tool that can help you to find even more excellent employees to bring into the business.

Give Them a Meaningful Gift

Sometimes the best way to show your appreciation is to demonstrate recognition of your employee for who they are outside of work. Gifting something heartfelt and meaningful clearly shows that you understand them, their unique personality and interests, and that you want to create a memorable experience for them.

Since these gifts can often be expensive, it’s best to reserve these for the big celebrations, like a 10-, 20-, or 30-year work anniversary. 

Whether it’s giving the employee the funds to check something off their bucket list, classes for a new hobby that they want to try, or even a raise to recognize their commitment, find a way to say “thank you” that means something to that employee.

If you’re stuck on what types of gifts carry weight with your team members, roll out a survey to collect their feedback on what rewards and incentives are most meaningful to them. Keep in mind that it could be something different for everyone! 

Decorate Their Workspace

Throwing a mini party at the employee’s desk by decorating their workspace is a fun and easy way to show your appreciation. Let the whole team chip in with this one and go as wild as you’d like. Confetti, cupcakes, balloons...there’s really no limit to how much you could put on one person’s desk!

Add a few personal touches with photos or a fun theme, like their favorite band or TV show (putting a stapler in jello can’t be too difficult, can it?). Just make sure that it’s something easy to clean up so that they can actually get on with their work once they arrive in the office.

A Little Thank You Goes a Long Way

Here’s the truth: Employees often take the chance to think about their career progression when it comes time for another work anniversary (plus, celebrating adds a little fun and lightheartedness into everybody’s workday).  

If you want to hold onto your team members, now is your chance to show them just how much you care and appreciate the work that they do.

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