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Home > Employee Service Recognition Guide
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15 secrets to employee service recognition success:
The difference between a great program and a weak program can be significant. Great companies see anniversaries as a wonderful opportunity to express appreciation to their employee for years of service, to build the bonds between employer and employee, to build employee morale, to build a great team. It's an opportunity to celebrate the positive.




Be sincere


1. Be sincere
The purpose of employee service recognition is to express appreciation to employees for years of service.

A few sincere words of appreciation are often worth more to the employee than an expensive gift.  Genuine appreciation, frequently and sincerely expressed throughout employment, reiterated on the anniversary date are especially important for creating a culture of recognition.  And special celebrations for employees on special anniversaries help to significantly enhance your culture of recognition.

Research has shown that employees need more than just a good paycheck to feel good about their job. Feeling appreciated is very, very important. Feeling unappreciated is a major reason why people leave organizations. Happy employees tend to feel appreciated. Find an outstanding company and you'll find a company that works at expressing that appreciation.

A great employee service recognition program entails maintaining a corporate culture of caring about employees, and expressing appreciation for their years of service.




2. Remember employee anniversaries
Most employees remember their hire date. Great managers do, too. It's the career equivalent of a birthday. We recommend acknowledging each employee's anniversary every year. Make it personal, with a card, letter, phone call, personal visit or some other gesture. It doesn't have to be formal, just a genuine expression of appreciation.

A few sincere words from management will be noticed and appreciated by an employee.

Create a system for remembering anniversaries. Top management should also create a system for helping immediate managers remember, too.

On special anniversaries, such as every 5 years, a nice gift that accompanies sincere recognition enhances the recognition and enhances the feeling of being appreciated.









On special anniversaries a nice gift enhances the feeling of being appreciated


3. Do something special on the anniversary day
Many companies group employees together and celebrate their anniversaries quarterly, monthly or even annually. While these companies are on the right track by celebrating employment anniversaries, it can be even better to recognize employees on their actual anniversary dates.

Nothing beats a special presentation to the employee on the actual anniversary date. If the anniversary date does not fall on a work day, or if for logistical reasons it is difficult to arrange a special presentation on the actual date, try to recognize the employee as close to the date as possible.


4. On special anniversaries, give a nice gift
Every 5 years, it’s good to mark the milestone with a nice gift, in addition to words or letters or other verbal expressions of appreciation.

What’s a nice gift? Because everyone’s tastes are different, it’s good to enlist the employee’s help in selecting a nice gift. The best solution may be to offer a selection of gifts, offered in a variety of categories that are sure to cover the broad spectrum of individual tastes and lifestyles.


5. Make the gift a celebration
There is no rule for the price of the gifts. Each company determines its budget based on its financial situation and corporate culture. Typically companies give gifts at increasingly higher values for more years of service. Some companies spend $25 for a five year gift, others spend $500 or more. More important than the cost is the sentiment. The company and the employee should feel that the anniversary gift is a celebration of the relationship, and the gift is a lasting symbol of the celebration. The gift should be something that the employee will truly enjoy and appreciate.



6. What type of gift should you give?
There are lots of choices, but we have a few strong suggestions. Some companies give gifts with their corporate logos on them, others have dinners or gift selected by corporate management. The problem with many of these gifts is that although they are given with the best of intentions, such gifts often do not serve the employer well. The employee may appreciate the gesture, but put the gift in a drawer or closet, never to be seen again. In many cases, these may be expensive gifts.

We recommend giving employees a choice from a selection of nice gifts. The selection should include gifts from a number of categories to help ensure that every person can find a gift that he or she will truly enjoy.


7. Don't give money
In employer-employee relationships, money is associated with compensation.

You don’t want to confuse employee service recognition with compensation. Employee service recognition is an expression of appreciation. Compensation implies something earned. If a gift is perceived as earned, it isn’t really a gift.

Employee recognition should not be considered a payment or a benefit, because it moves it from the category of caring to the category of obligation.

Every company is obligated to pay it’s employees, and a good company that sincerely cares about its employees also expresses its appreciation for years of service.


8. Avoid giving gift cards or gift certificates
Gift cards and gift certificates that bear a specific amount of money are just another form of giving money.

If employees are given a gift card, they know how much money you have given them.

Gift cards or gift certificates which give an employee a specific amount of money to spend are very similar to giving the employee money.

Gift cards and gift certificates may be acceptable for personal gifts to friends and family, but are not the best choice for employers to give employees.









Employee service recognition is an express on appreciation








Employee recognition presentations should be fun and enjoyable


9. Give a tangible gift
The best gift is one that will be around for years, as a reminder to the employee that he or she is truly appreciated.

A gift of money will get blended with other money, used for many ordinary purchases, and have no lasting value.

A gift card or gift certificate can also be used for a variety of items which might include items which would be purchased anyway.

A single gift that the employee will truly enjoy and appreciate can provide a lasting expression of your appreciation. For employee service recognition gifts, a tangible gift is usually the best gift.


10. Give a choice of gifts, but do it tastefully
Giving the perfect gift requires a delicate balance.

Giving the perfect gift will usually require getting the employee’s help, which requires offering a selection. But this must be done in a tasteful manner.

You want to offer a large enough choice to ensure that each employee will receive a gift that he or she will truly enjoy and appreciate. But you don’t want to offer such a choice that it stops feeling like a gift and more like money.

A tasteful selection of gifts will show no prices. This is another reason why gift cards and gift certificates are not the best choice for employee service recognition.


11. Decide carefully whether your gifts should bear your corporate logo
In the past, virtually all service recognition programs featured gifts bearing the corporate logo. Gifts such as pen sets and lapel pins bearing corporate logos were de rigueur in service recognition programs.

Today, most employees tend to prefer nice gifts without the corporate logo, but in some cases the logo is called for. If your corporate logo carries a certain cachet in the public eye, you may want to include logo items in the selections you offer to your employees. Be careful not to let ego get in the way of reality. Many corporate founders are convinced that every employee adores their company logo as much as the founder does. Some corporate executives believe that the company logo is supposed to be on these gifts. When you give a personal gift, you may sign a card that goes with it, but you don't permanently brand your name on the gift, unless you're a celebrity.

Whether you include items with your corporate logo or not, you should always have some items without your logo. With a good mix of both logo and non-logo items, the gifts that employees select will quickly reveal to you whether your corporate logo should be on your service recognition gifts.



12. Present your gift in a nice, personal presentation
Employee service recognition isn’t about just giving a gift and getting it over with. As a sincere expression of appreciation, there is a right way and a wrong way of presenting your gift.

Companies often hire companies to mail recognition materials directly to employees. In such cases the employer neither produced the presentation nor presented it to the employee. While this may be better than no recognition at all, it falls short of the personal expression of appreciation that the occassion calls for.

If possible, the president or CEO should make the presentation. For large corporations with tens of thousands of employees, send your presentation materials to a senior officer (or at least a manager), for a personal presentation.





Make it a part of your corporate culture to recognize employees

13. Make your presentations in front of co-workers
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. It's also a good idea to let the employee and co-workers know about the presentation in advance, and have a photo taken of the employee with his or her co-workers at the presentation.

This has many benefits.

First, 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.


14. Train managers to make great presentations
Presenting can be natural for some, and challenging for others. To help make sure the occasions are fun and enjoyable, train your managers in what you expect them to do.


15. Cultivate an ongoing culture of recognition
Make it part of your organization’s culture to notice and recognize employees. It's a wonderful gesture to celebrate employee anniversaries, but it's even more wonderful to also frequently celebrate employee successes, accomplishments and contributions as a part of your corporate culture.




Need help with your recognition? We can help.
For 30 years we've been helping organizations culture and recognize outstanding performance, teamwork and loyalty. For help implementing the concepts on this page, contact us today. Let us help you build your culture of recognition.




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