Winners and Losers

With the widely recognized importance of Years of Service Awards, a plethora of programs are flooding the marketplace with ideas and practices. But let’s face it; not all are created equal. Some are boring, some are reasonably effective, and some are sheer genius. Let’s take a look at a few winners and losers in common practices in Years of Service Awards.

Download: Employee Service Award Checklist!


Don’t Be Delinquent: Even a young kid knows that having to wait to celebrate is a total scam. Be careful to stay organized in your recognition so you aren’t playing catch-up and celebrating a five year anniversary in year seven, or worse yet; handing out four or five missed awards at once!

Don’t Be Boring: Generic, impersonal awards are all too common and really, we all know better. Even worse; coffee shop gift cards for non-coffee-drinkers, or a wine club membership for an employee who was showing off their Ten Years Sober chip last week.

Don’t Be an Attention Hog: And then there’s the manager who can’t stand to not be the center of attention and will make every compliment include a mention of their own contribution. There’s nothing worse than getting your moment of recognition and then having to listen to a speech about how great the guy is who’s handing you the plaque.

Don’t Be Disorganized: Or if there is something worse, it might be watching someone get their five-year recognition award even though you’re on year seven with not so much as a handshake in acknowledgment. Lack of consistency can lead to interoffice conflicts and jealousies that will completely sink well-meaning, but disorganized attempts to establish years of service awards programs.

Related: The Modern Guide to Years of Service Awards


Set Small Goals: There’s really no reason why the tradition of waiting until the five year mark to recognize years of service for the first time has to be set in stone. On the contrary, early recognition serves to motivate early loyalty and gives brand new employees a sense of “buy-in” right from the beginning.

Be Personal: Recognizing an individual with a specific note of his or her particular accomplishments, and contributions to the organization; and tailoring a gift to their personality and habits creates a truly memorable moment.

Be Organized: Whatever you do, don’t depend on the spur of the moment recognition, or assume that “it will get done eventually”. Years of Service recognition programs exist specifically to help with this. Find a good one and get it rolling!

Be Generous: While small goals call for little touches of celebration, for the larger anniversaries, go ahead and shoot for the moon. A ten year anniversary deserves a celebration or gift that truly represents the amount of effort and commitment demonstrated by a decade of loyalty and service.

If you want to ensure that your company makes it into the Winners column, and stays far away from “cautionary tale” status, CA Short is here to help. Our Certified Recognition Professionals are full of ideas and tools to help you keep things fresh and creative, and ensure that your company doesn’t end up in a blog post about how NOT to award your employees. You can contact us anytime-- we’re here for you.

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