Happy Anniversary!” A Celebration You Can’t Afford to Miss”

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Celebrating Employee Anniversaries is as important as any other type of recognition. In fact, celebrating Employee Anniversaries can garner higher engagement if done correctly. Sadly, many employers have put their company Anniversary Programs on autopilot. What do I mean by this? The communication is automated and contains little personalization. With this approach, you jeopardize the opportunity to realize the full potential and maximum impact seen in structured personalized Employee Anniversary Programs. Treated as just another day, and the occasion to celebrate the employee and their contributions to your company goes unnoticed. Not acknowledging the date when the employee started working for the company and their contributions is a missed opportunity for engagement.

Tower’s Watson: Employees, especially Millennials, are 67% more engaged & 1.3X’s more likely to stay loyal to their company if their managers take notice and appreciate their work.


Missing an opportunity to engage your employees will likely create extra costs for your organization well beyond any budget established for Anniversary Awards. Conversely, showing appreciation for the contributions and loyalty of your employees increases the level of belonging and reduces turnover.

In a recent study from Gallup, disengaged employees cost companies between $450-$550 billion a year.


The opportunity of work Anniversaries is to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of your employee. It is important to create an Employee Anniversary Program that defines the core reasons for the celebration. Unfortunately, Anniversary Awards are often overlooked and not brought up to “modern” standards. Furthermore, Anniversary Awards have a unique place within the overall Total Recognition as they highlight an employee’s contributions over their tenure.

Defining the Celebration

It doesn’t matter whether your award program is named, Anniversary Awards, Years of Service, Career Milestones, or Service Awards, ALL hold the same special meaning – celebration for the contribution and service of an employee. However, you want to select a name that best suits your organization – show your gratitude through recognition and rewarding the tenure. Over 80% of organizations celebrate employee anniversaries, which makes sense considering how many studies have shown the impact of this type of recognition and the connection to increased engagement, performance, and loyalty. It’s also why Anniversary Awards are still so relevant as they have proven to be effective in retaining employees.

Consider your Audience

According to The Work Institute’s 2021 Retention Report, 33.7% of employees leave within their first year.

Traditional Anniversary Award Program standards are not effective for today’s employees. Historically, Employee Anniversaries are recognized at 5-years. But according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics – Millennials average tenure is 4.1 years. As of 2020, Millennials make up 50% of the workforce, making a traditional Anniversary Program ineffective. In many cases, Millennials won’t stick around long enough to be recognized for their service.

The best way to increase your retention efforts is by acknowledging the contributions of your multi-generational workforce. Consider implementing non-traditional Anniversary Awards that celebrate 1-year and 3-years. With the implementation of early recognition, organizations can step up their retention efforts by utilizing this opportunity to Engage, Motivate and Reward – while creating one more resource to help reduce turnover.

Failure to recognize the in-between years will put your Millennials employees at risk of not feeling recognized or appreciated, negatively impacting turnover.


Making an Impact


The workforce has changed and if your Anniversary Awards haven’t, then it might be a great opportunity to examine the efficacy. Anniversary Awards are no longer just transactional for simply filling a role. Anniversary Awards need to be an element of your organization’s Total Engagement Strategy.

To make a real impact, an Anniversary Award Program should be heavily focused on loyalty and align with connect (struck) Organizational Values – reinforce outcomes and behaviors associated with the organization’s core beliefs, celebrate the person behind the job title, unique skills, contributions, and personality.


Award Selection


According to the IRF – 2022 Trends Report – Curated reward selections and specialty gifts will continue to deliver maximum impact. Merchandise reward options are being broadened to appeal to employees who are spending more time at home. Experiential rewards include tickets to a music concert or sporting event, cooking classes, airline tickets, and hotel vouchers. In addition, many Anniversary Award Programs incorporate the accumulation of points for tenure that now also include charity donation options.

Honoring Anniversaries


Your employees are your greatest asset. Recognize them for their dedication, loyalty, and commitment to your organization. Successful organizations engage their employees and reinforce the right behaviors throughout an employee’s service. The recognition of an employee’s tenure should be a memorable occasion and merits a thoughtfully designed program and presentation. With a wide range of custom and standard presentation options, incorporating brand name and symbolic gifts across an array of lifestyle interests and price points will elevate your Employee Recognition Award Programs.


Celebrating anniversaries is vital to the overall improvement of employee morale while reinforcing organizational objectives & core values. For maximum impact, reward presentation methods should be built around employee preferences. Considerations will include whether the employee prefers a note or call from the supervisor, presentation during a staff meeting, or special home delivery when the employee’s family is present.

Contact All Star Incentive Marketing to learn how we can help you every step of the way to Engage, Motivate, and Reward your employees.


Tara Smith


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