Celebrate First Work Anniversaries And Beyond
Congratulations, your employee made it through their first year (or more) at your company! Now it's time to celebrate them for all the hard work they've done. The ideas we'll cover aren't exclusive to the first work anniversary, they can be used for any special milestone to boost employee experience.
Why The First Work Anniversary Is So Important
The first year of tenure at work is crucial. A great year with your employees sets your company up for success. Employee turnover causes more turmoil than most of us want to admit. Some people have estimated that turnover costs $15,000 per worker from lost productivity to the cost of rehiring and training.
One of the best ways to prevent employee turnover is to be genuinely interested in your employees and their development at your company. One way to show your employees how much they care is by celebrating essential dates, like their anniversary date. The first anniversary is your employee's first interaction with how you treat employees as they progress through your company. A simple 'Thank You' or pat on the back won't be enough.
Celebrating work anniversaries helps you foster employee loyalty while showing how much you care.
Before diving into the 17 work anniversary ideas, let's look at some important tips to keep in mind.
5 Tips For Work Anniversaries And Years Of Service
Now that we know why we celebrate work anniversaries, here are some tips for recognizing the first work anniversary.
1. Keep Up With Everyone's Anniversary Dates
You shouldn't be celebrating work anniversaries five days or weeks after the event. If possible, you should be celebrating the day of or earlier (if you group work anniversary celebrations in some way.) You should keep all of these important dates on your office calendar so you can keep an eye on upcoming anniversaries.
2. Get Everyone Involved
Your employees should hear from more than one person on their work anniversary. They have likely connected with countless employees during their tenure with the company. Make sure everyone knows about upcoming anniversary dates, so they can take part in the fun. Use a tool like Nectar's recognition and rewards tool to call out anniversaries publicly (and allow others in the company to comment.)
3. Be Creative And Make It Personal
You don't want to give out a general Amazon gift card, put some thought into your anniversary gift. Their anniversary gift is unique, and it will be seen as the culmination of your experience working with an employee. Make sure that the present feels special and unique to the person you're gifting.
4. Ensure That All Gifts Are Equitable
Don't spoil one employee if you can't spoil them all. We want to ensure that gifts line up across the company and the departments you run. Make sure that all managers understand the gift spending limits you have in place for each anniversary date. Co-workers talk to each other so be careful to ensure that no one feels under-appreciated because of what you give them versus their peers.
5. Don't Think You Need To Spend A Lot Of Money
If you don't have a ton of money to spend, there are many free and meaningful things you can do for your employees. Think outside the box and get what you can to celebrate your employees.
6. Do Different Things Based On Tenure
Tenure matters. In a world where millennials change jobs more frequently than they wash their pants, incentivizing or recognizing tenure is seen as the best practice. If you're going to budget for work anniversary or service awards, make sure to create it in tenure-based tiers. For example, some companies will do something extra special on years 1, 3, 5 and 10.
17 Stellar Work Anniversary Ideas
General tips are great, but what about specifics? Here are some fantastic work anniversary ideas that your employees will love.
1. Customized Company Swag
Custom swag can be a fantastic reward for a job well done, but it also promotes your brand. Over time, your employees will love looking at the swag they've collected. Here are some custom company swag ideas:
For an even nicer impression, get your employee's name embroidered on the items you give them.
Nectar can help you create a custom on-demand swag storefront to make this process seamless.
2. Create a Service Award program
Consistency is key. Avoid being too ad hoc with work anniversary appreciation or you'll run the risk of forgetting people. The best way to stay consistent is to create a formal Service Awards program or predetermined Anniversary Award. This may sound boring, but it doesn't have to be. You can spice it up! The goal with Service Awards or Anniversary Awards is to provide an equitable, personal way to celebrate this special day with each team member. Don't be too old school and give out anniversary gifts like plaques or trophies. Instead, give employees their choice of gift card or company swag. Allow them to choose what they get most excited about.
3. Give them a shout out on social media (LinkedIn)
Who doesn't love public recognition? Create a special post on LinkedIn about them. If you can, include the following:
- A picture of them (along or with you and the team)
- A special, personalized message as to why they're important to your team
- 3 things you've learned from them over the last year.
You could do this as a "spotlight" from your company's Linkedin account or from your personal account. A sincere "Thank You" can go a long way. This is also a creative way to display your company culture and how you treat your staff in a public setting.
4. Check Something Off Their Bucket List
"I went skydivin', I went Rocky Mountain climbin', I went 2.7 seconds..." I know you heard Tim McGraw in the back of your head when you read 'bucket list' above. Everyone has a bucket list of things they want to experience. Create a budget and enable employees to create a memorable experience on you. Each time they remember the unforgettable experience, they'll remember that you cared enough to make it happen. Talk about employee loyalty!
5. Create A Commemorative Video For Your Employees
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand. Videos are simple to put together since most of us have smartphones with amazing video capabilities. Get everyone in the company who regularly works with your employee to record a quick video about their experience. If they work with customers or vendors, get them involved too! Cut the video together, post it online, and send the video link to your employee on their anniversary date. A great tool for recording and sharing videos is Loom.
Here are some things your video can cover:
- How would you describe the employee in three words? Why?
- What is your favorite memory of working with the employee?
- What moment made you the proudest of the employee this year?
6. Offer To Pay For An Online Course To Learn A New Skill
Personal development and investing in your employee's personal growth can make a huge difference. There are so many excellent classes and conferences in your industry. Pick a conference and pay for them to attend it, purchase a course on Udemy, or get a subscription to a site like Skillshare.
7. Help Them Chase A Hobby They Love
Your employees are more than welcome to have passions outside of work. Help them invest in those passions by paying for a class or personalized experience that's unrelated to the work they do for your company. One good option for this is Skillpop, an online platform that offers expert-led classes and workshops virtually.
8. Send Cookies Or Gourmet Soup
A warm delicious care package can brighten anyone's day. Find your local cookie delivery service and order a box of mouthwatering goodness to their place. Alternatively, you can use a service like Spoonful of Comfort to send gourmet soup or gift baskets their direction. If the way to their heart is through their stomach, you can't go wrong here.
9. Donate To Their Favorite Charity
If your employee loves helping others, let them pick a charity to donate to. Donate to that charity in your employee's name and give them a small token of your appreciation alongside the gift. You'll be helping so many people in the process.
10. Upgrade Their Workspace
The space you work in everyday has a significant impact on your productivity. Give your employees a budget for a workspace upgrade or buy them the piece of equipment they've wanted for a long time.
11. Give Them A Day Off
We could all use a day off work. Encourage your employee to take time off and spend some time with friends and family. Don't count this as a vacation day. Make anniversaries a holiday at your company.
12. Send Flowers, A Fruit Basket Or A Plant
If you're looking for a simple way to show appreciation, you could purchase a flower bouquet or get a fruit basket. These gifts can brighten your employee's workspace for the week. Get these items delivered to the office or your employee's home for a special touch. Make sure to include a personal note with a 'thank-you' and tell them why you appreciate them.
Indoor plants can make memorable gifts because every time your employee looks at the plant, they'll be reminded of your company. Your employees might not want the responsibility of taking care of a plant. It probably goes without saying, but don't give someone a plant who may not want one - know your people!
Cover A Meal For Them To Celebrate
Enable your employee to enjoy lunch or dinner with a +1. A work anniversary provides the perfect time for them to celebrate with a co-worker or loved one. You could send them a Doordash credit to have the meal delivered, or offer them a selection of dining gift cards choose from.
Give Them THE Coveted Parking Spot
What can I say? For some reason we crave VIP parking spots, especially when they are earned. Maybe it's the prime location with minimal steps to the entrance, or the fact that it's covered to protect your baby from extreme conditions. It could be the implied status of being special. Either way, give them the white glove treatment by letting them park in the best spot for the day.
Give Your Employees Extra Responsibility And A Raise
If your employees are engaged, they don't want to stay stagnant. Your employee has learned a lot about you and your company over the course of a year. If they are in a smaller role, it might be time to start planning a larger employee role. Make sure you also give them a raise to go along with the extra responsibilities.
If you don't have an opening in your company currently, sit down with that employee to discuss their future with the company. Having a candid career conversation shows that you want to invest in their growth, even if you can't give them more responsibilities right now.
Take Something Off Their Plate
Your employees are busy, and they probably have one aspect of their job they don't like. Ask them to write out a list of all the things they do each week. Ask them to identify all the activities they wouldn't mind getting rid of. Take on that activity, give it to a freelancer, or let the next hire in the department take that activity on.
Give Them A Handwritten Card
Though this method seems dated, a good ole' handwritten card or note just hits different. Go to Walmart and pick out a card or make it yourself using whatever paper you have. The substance is more important that the look. Let your employee know the reasons you appreciate them. This approach may not be the most scalable if you have lots of employees, but people cherish the effort that goes into handwritten cards.
Employee recognition makes all the difference at work. Your employees want to be celebrated and awarded for all the work they do for your company. Taking time to plan their first work anniversary celebration and ongoing years of service can do wonders for employee engagement by creating a positive, dynamic company culture.
To automate bonuses and public shout outs for special events like work anniversaries, years of service or birthdays, check out Nectar!