5 Steps To Celebrating Employee Anniversaries

by | Sep 25, 2013 | Blog, Employee Morale, Employee Relations

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or info@integrityhr.com

Celebrating employee anniversaries may seem trivial. It may not significantly add to your bottom line or even be a key initiative in your strategic plan.

But by treating each employee’s anniversary with your company as an achievement and a special occasion, you create a positive work environment and encourage employee commitment (and thus increase your employee retention rate).

The fact of the matter is, employees remember their hire date. It’s the career equivalent of a birthday (and who doesn’t love birthdays?) You know who else remember employees’ hire dates? Great managers, that’s who.

Celebrating an employee anniversary can also has a domino effect around the office. It will get fellow employees excited because they know you will offer them the same celebration upon their anniversaries. In the end, taking a day to show your gratitude for commitment of service boosts employee morale and has lasting positive consequences for your organization.

Now, your event doesn’t have to be ornate or extravagant. Here are some simple steps you can follow to create an Integrity HR approved employee anniversary celebration.

5 Steps to Celebrating Employee Anniversaries

Step 1: Create A System For Remembering Anniversaries

The first step is a no-brainer. You obviously can’t celebrate employee anniversaries if you don’t know when they are.

So first you need to create a system for remembering anniversaries. Prepare a list or a spreadsheet of employees and keep track of their hire dates. Make sure to mark these dates to your calendar and create reminders long before the date so you have time to plan a celebration.

Also, top management should hold immediate managers accountable for remembering anniversaries.

Step 2: Decide How & When You Will Celebrate

As usual, we recommend establishing a policy to designate when you will celebrate anniversaries, whether annually or on more momentous anniversaries such as five or 10 years. Take into consideration the size of your company and the amount of your party budget when deciding how you will celebrate.

It is important to maintain consistency so you do not hurt anyone’s feelings by celebrating someone earlier or more frequently than another. (Remember: it’s the small things like hurt feelings that make people leave an organization.)

Step 3: Be Sincere & Make It Personal

We recommend acknowledging each employee’s anniversary every year, even if it is just with a small gesture (save the big celebrations for special anniversaries).

Make it personal with a card, letter, phone call, personal visit or some other gesture. Don’t worry about making it formal. It just needs to be a genuine expression of appreciation.

A few sincere words from management will be noticed and appreciated by an employee and greatly improve their morale. Often times, just a few sincere words of appreciation are worth more to the employee than an expensive gift!

In this day and age, employees need more than a substantial paycheck to feel good about their job. Feeling appreciated is very, very important to job commitment and success.

As we mentioned before, employees leave organization over small issues like feeling unappreciated. That is why recognizing employee anniversaries is so important! It shows that you care about your employees and that their happiness is vital to the success of your organization. (Watch our video on the Top 10 HR Mistakes to learn more about this.)

Here are some ideas for employee anniversary gifts:

  • An anniversary card. Circulate an anniversary card to all employees and managers to sign and inscribe a special message to the employee. Let your employee know that his/her fellow employees share your excitement and enthusiasm for his/her tenure.
  • An inscribed trophy, plaque or pin. Give your special employee a commemorative token of your gratitude for his/her years of service and convey that you plan to have more celebrations for him/her in the future. This may include a personalized coffee mug or a special magnet for the filing cabinet.
  • A cake! Find out your employee’s favorite kind of cake and order one in advance with special decorations, including name and years of service.

When picking out a gift for your employee, make sure to make it personal by buying a gift that fits his/her personality and interests. This might include a magazine subscription, tickets to a sporting or music event, a special catered or potluck lunch, or a game day at the office.

In the past, virtually all employee appreciation gifts featured the corporate logo. Today, most employees tend to prefer nice gifts without the corporate logo. It’s really up to you whether the gift should have the company logo on it. Perhaps you could change it up every other year so that employees don’t have a pile of logo bearing gifts cluttering their cubical.

In the end, the best gift is one that will be around for years, as a reminder to the employee that he or she is truly appreciated.

Step 4: Really Think Twice About Giving Monetary Gifts

In employer-employee relationships, money is associated with compensation. The last thing you want to do is confuse employee recognition with compensation

When you are celebrating an anniversary, you are expressing appreciation for the employee’s service. Compensation is something that is earned. If a gift is perceived as earned, then it really isn’t a gift. Is it?

You also don’t want it to seem like you are obligated to celebrate an employee’s anniversary. (Since compensation is an obligation.)

Unfortunately, gift cards and gift certificates that include a specific amount of money can be perceived as just another form of giving money. However, if you really put time and thought into giving a gift card (such as one to the employee’s favorite restaurant or one for a pedicure since the employee loves to do that), then it would still be an appropriate gift. Just don’t hand the employee a $50 Visa card and walk away. That wouldn’t be cool.

Step 5: Decide How To Present The Gift

On special anniversaries, such as every 5 years or so, you should really think about how your present the gift.

Whether it’s a special banquet or a 5-minute break during the workday, it is very important to recognize employees in front of co-workers.

This type of celebration is essential because it involves co-workers in the act of recognizing and celebrating the special milestone. Also, it reinforces to other employees the awareness that employees are appreciated, and that length of service is valued.

In the end, it’s important to make it part of your company’s culture to notice and recognize employees. It’s a great gesture to celebrate employee anniversaries, but it’s even better to also frequently celebrate employee successes, accomplishments and contributions as a part of your company culture. (Read our blog about painless performance reviews here).

At Integrity HR, we stress that employees are our greatest resource (this is human resources after all). So be sure to show your employees that they matter to the success of your organization by celebrating their anniversaries and accomplishments.

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