Milestones Matter. Celebrate Them.

Gone are the days when people worked for the same company their entire careers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker stays in his or her job for 4.4 years. So when you encounter an employee who has worked for the same company for 20 years, as I recently did, you realize this is a dedicated and engaged employee—one who deserves to be celebrated.

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 remembers employees’ hire dates? Great managers, that’s who. By treating each employee’s anniversary as an achievement and a special occasion, you create a positive work environment and encourage employee commitment (and thus increase your employee retention rate).

Make sure your company is following these four steps for celebrating employee anniversaries:

Step 1: Create a system for remembering anniversaries. 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.

Step 2: Decide how and when you will celebrate. Establish 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 your 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.

Step 3: Be sincere and make it personal. Acknowledge 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. Feeling appreciated is very important to job commitment and success.

Step 4: 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.

You also don’t want it to seem like you are obligated to celebrate an employee’s anniversary. While easy to provide, gift cards that include a specific amount of money can be perceived as just another form of giving money. A classic choice is to select a relevant and personal gift that includes the corporate logo.

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.

Source: Integrity HR, an Inc. 5000 company and certified Female Business Enterprise, has been operating in Kentucky since 2007. The company provides results-focused human resources outsourcing services, executive and professional search services, behavioral and talent assessment tools, as well as additional HR solutions to reduce HR costs and create more successful, productive and high performance organizations.
Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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