Rita has been a digital marketer at her organization for nearly five years. She’s motivated, co-operative, and a rockstar at what she does.
She knows she’s valuable, but she realizes that her workplace sees it too when she’s suddenly surrounded by her colleagues, who are bearing cake and giving positive messages.
“Happy work anniversary!”
Recognition is one of the top drivers of employee effort. And since it’s important to recognize a hard sales quarter or laborious project, imagine the importance of recognizing one, two, or even ten years of dedication.
This is especially the case now that changing jobs is so common. That kind of dedication is a major milestone, and showing appreciation leads to lower turnover and higher job satisfaction.
In this guide, we give our top tips for celebrating a work anniversary for all types of employees, whether you have in-office or remote workers.
Let’s start by going over how to celebrate a work anniversary for any employee, whether they’re in-office or remote.
A few of these methods aren’t exclusive to celebrating employee milestones and make great employee incentives, so you can recognize and appreciate your workers at any time.
1. Make sure people remember anniversaries
The first step – ensure leaders remember these important dates
2. Send a thoughtful message on an employee’s special day
Recognize employees through praise and uplifting messages
3. Offer them further training and development opportunities
Support your employees’ career growth by offering courses and lessons
4. Give them some company swag
Offer your workers their choice of company-branded swag
5. Donate to their favorite charity
Give a charitable donation with the money you would have used for the work anniversary present
6. Offer employees a day off on the week of their anniversary
Let your employees put up their feet and relax as a way to show your appreciation
7. Feature them on the company website or social media
Make a post on social media showing off their achievements and years of service
The worst thing about work anniversaries is that no one seems to remember, let alone celebrate them.
If you want to promote a culture where work anniversaries are recognized and rewarded, you first have to build a culture where managers and leaders remember them.
It isn’t just your responsibility as an HR manager to take care of every anniversary yourself, but you can help influence company culture and how your leadership handles them.
Here are our top tips for pulling this off:
Take advantage of automatic reminders and gifts with companies like Caroo
Input anniversaries into Slack and get automatic reminders (and send automatic messages)
Set up a specific calendar just for remembering employee anniversaries and birthdays
Use the above methods to incorporate celebrating work anniversaries into your culture
It may seem obvious, but the number one way to ensure employee work anniversaries are remembered is to weave them into the work routine.
Nurturing a culture around celebrating important milestones boosts employee engagement. Soon, coworkers may start recognizing each other’s work anniversaries before management brings them up.
Work anniversary messages are one of the top ways to celebrate an employee’s special day.
It’s quick and affordable for the business, and most workers would rather receive praise and recognition over material rewards.
Our team at TestGorilla loves thoughtful work anniversary messages. Managers post a shout-out in our group chat program that sends notifications through our different systems. That way, the whole team can see the message and congratulate the employee in question.
Best for: any work anniversary (but especially common for one-year workiversaries)
Why employees love this idea: Simple acknowledgment of excellent work, dedication, and achievement go a long way. Studies show that recognition is the top driver of hard work.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Here are a few examples of work anniversary messages to get the ball rolling:
You’re an essential part of our team. I’m so impressed with your commitment and performance; you’re a great role model. Kudos on your workiversary!
Congrats on your first anniversary here! You’ve shown an amazing amount of dedication and capability in the past year. Here’s to many more years of success.
Happy 10th work anniversary! Time flies, huh? Thank you for your positive attitude, work ethic, and openness. We wouldn’t be the same without you.
Use these as a launching point when writing your own messages. Remember that recognition needs to be specific and personal, so customize these messages for the person you’re writing them to.
Training and development opportunities build an employee’s skills and further their career growth.
When you invest in them, it’s more than a nice gesture – it’s a way to tell them, “We believe in you and see a strong future for you.”
Best for: one- to five-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Investing in a worker’s career growth communicates their value and importance. This sort of gesture instills confidence and loyalty in employees, which is priceless.
According to employees, learning and growth opportunities are the number one factor that defines an exceptional work culture.
The same study found that organizations that facilitate internal mobility retain employees twice as long as those that struggle with it.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Discuss career growth with your workers during regular one-to-one meetings. Make it a normal topic of discussion to get a firm idea of which direction they’d like to go.
When it’s time to put your plan into action, you have many different options. You could pay for the employee to take an in-person or online professional course, offer to pair them with a senior employee in a mentorship program, or sponsor a trip for them to attend an industry conference.
Company swag refers to products designed with your business brand in mind, whether it reflects your company’s style or colors or displays your logo.
There’s a huge range of possibilities for swag, from clothing to tech gadgets to entire boxes full of goodies.
Best for: various anniversaries, depending on the swag in question
Why employees love this idea: Company swag helps build a sense of community and unity with employees, especially when you already have a positive workplace culture that your employees want to align with.
Plus, there’s the plain and simple reason employees like company swag: people love gifts.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Our most important suggestion for company swag is to make it relevant and personal.
No gift feels more inauthentic and rushed than an extra-small shirt for your 6’2’’ creative director.
To avoid this, try sending out a list of company swag for employees to choose from so that nobody gets anything they won’t use.
Another tip is to make sure you give out swag to employees fairly. Here are a few examples:
On their one-year anniversary, employees get a T-shirt
On their five-year anniversary, employees get a pair of sneakers
On their ten-year anniversary, employees get a new office chair
It’s important to reward long-term workers with something nice to celebrate their loyalty. It also shows newer employees that dedication is appreciated at your organization.
For an in-depth article on the topic, read our guide on company swag.
Some businesses give employees the option to celebrate their workiversary by giving a charitable donation to the employee’s favorite nonprofit on their behalf.
Donating to a charity not only means a lot to employees but also helps communicate your company’s values.
Best for: three- to ten-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Some employees don’t use their gifts, and they would much rather company money go toward a good cause.
An example of this comes from Box, a data storage company, which saw great success swapping its employee referral bonus for a charitable donation. The results were highly positive, with referrals increasing and the organization greatly reducing costs.
Our top tip for pulling it off: When choosing charities to support, always try to find a nonprofit whose values match your organization’s.
Aligning your company values with those of the charity accomplishes a lot:
Helps raise better awareness for the charity
Strengthens your own brand
Increases the likelihood that the charities will align with your employees’ values because your workers match your company culture
This way, your employees will have a handful of excellent and meaningful charities to choose from.
There’s no reward quite like a breather – a little extra time for yourself, your hobbies, and your mental health.
Best for: one- to twenty-year anniversaries (depending on the length of time off)
Why employees love this idea: Taking time off eases employee burnout, supports mental health, and gives workers a chance to spend more time with their children, hobbies, and pets. (Fur babies are valid family members.)
Our top tip for pulling it off: A great way to extend the span of time employees get off is by using weekends. Try giving an employee a Friday off so that it runs into the weekend.
This will only cost the business one day of work, and everyone loves a three-day weekend.
You can give long-term employees even longer vacations. Enova, an AI and machine learning company, gives four-year employees a month-long paid sabbatical to help them relax and recharge.
Public recognition of great work and dedication goes a long way to boosting an employee’s morale, and it’s a great way to send best wishes on a workiversary.
Here’s Katie Hudson, a regional director at Leddy Group, recognizing her colleague’s five-year anniversary.
Best for: one- to twenty-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Social recognition means a lot to an employee.
First of all, it provides an opportunity for their team to acknowledge their performance publicly. But beyond that, it shares their accomplishments with their connections and strengthens their opportunities in their professional life.
Our top tips for pulling it off: A simple but thoughtful LinkedIn post is all it takes. But you can also promote social recognition across your whole team.
Nurture a culture of normal, frequent peer recognition, and encourage employees to celebrate each other (like Katie in the example above). This spreads the love and encourages peers to uplift each other with work anniversary wishes.
For more information on creating this kind of culture, read our article on peer-to-peer recognition.
Now let’s look at a few specific ideas on how to celebrate a work anniversary in person.
1. Prepare a care package for them
Gift baskets filled with cookies, crackers, or non-food items like plants and flowers are a great option for in-office and hybrid employees
2. Organize a “work desk appreciation event”
Bring the office together to put cards and gifts on the special employee’s desk to brighten their day
3. Go old-school and throw a classic office party
Throw an office party or take the team out to dinner in an employee’s honor
4. Upgrade their office tech
New office equipment helps a dedicated employee feel valued and boosts their productivity and performance
A care package filled with personalized gifts can mean a lot to an employee. Some great options include small gifts like flowers or potted plants, food and drinks, food delivery, and treat baskets.
Best for: one- to five-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Employees love the idea of getting a small gathering of gifts in one package. It gives them a lot to chew on and increases the odds that they’ll find something they love inside.
Our top tip for pulling it off: We recommend giving employees a choice of several different care packages so that they can pick what they like.
This ensures your workers will get something that suits them. You wouldn’t want Susan to get a cookie gift basket if she’s gluten intolerant.
We also recommend this option for hybrid office models since it’s something that you can ship to a nearby remote employee’s home.
Fill your employee’s desk with cards and gifts from the whole office, celebrating and congratulating them on their special day.
Best for: one- to ten-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: This idea turns the employee’s workstation into a center of celebration and appreciation.
It brightens their mood and motivates them for the rest of their day when a desk filled with recognition and warm wishes is the first thing they see.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Try to get your whole office or team involved in a work desk employee appreciation event.
These events work best when you have a little something from everyone on the desk. Not everyone needs to bring a gift, so encourage cards or balloons from some colleagues.
General managers and the C-suite can show their presence by signing a card.
Throw your employee a workiversary party so that the whole team can spend an afternoon eating cake and good food and chatting a little more off the cuff.
Alternatively, you can take the employee and their team out for a meal at their favorite restaurant.
Best for: five- to twenty-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Who doesn’t love a party in their honor? It’s a great show of recognition and gives employees a chance to enjoy a treat and have a casual chat with their colleagues.
Our top tip for pulling it off: This is definitely something you should get the employee’s input and opinion on.
Personalizing the party to their specifications ensures that they will not only like the food and drink but also have the time and mental capacity to enjoy it.
Surprise parties aren’t usually recommended – your special worker could have a lot on their mind, and it’s best to respect that.
No one likes working with outdated technology. This idea not only makes the employee feel like a valuable member of the team but also improves their productivity and efficacy.
New office tech could include a computer, chair, desk, mouse, and more.
Best for: five- to twenty-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: An employee who works on a creaking chair or with a slow computer can feel unappreciated.
Keeping their office up to date is a way to say “you’re valued” loud and clear.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Have we mentioned personalization and relevance too much? Listen to what your employee needs to complete their work efficiently and productively.
If their mouse has trouble double-clicking, a new keyboard won’t solve that issue.
Here are a few remote work anniversary ideas that will help you celebrate your employees no matter where they are.
1. Do something awesome on their behalf
Do something on behalf of your workers, like doing a charitable adoption or making career recommendations and references
2. Get the team to record a commemorative video about them
Record a video filled with praise and positivity, which can be much more powerful than just a card
3. Give your remote colleague an “experience day”
Offer an experience that your employee has always wanted, like a skill class or trip
4. Help upgrade their home office
Help upgrade your employee’s work situation with new tech or a coworking space
There are many great things you can do on behalf of an employee, including doing a charitable adoption, providing a solid career reference, or verifying their skills through social recommendation.
Best for: one- to three-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Doing something for others in your employee’s name makes them feel special and improves their opinion of your organization and its values. Employees pay close attention to your actions, and showing them that your company does stellar things on their behalf won’t go unnoticed.
Our top tip for pulling it off: You can partner with an organization to make this easier. Try to choose one that’s relevant to your business in some way.
For example, TestGorilla works with the Virunga Foundation to adopt a gorilla on behalf of every employee on their first-year anniversary.
This not only makes the employee feel recognized; it displays your values and brand clearly, too.
Take a short video in which team members talk about memories and qualities they love about the employee.
Best for: two- to five-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: A message from the whole team expressing their appreciation can be much more meaningful than a plain old card.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Get your whole team in on this if possible, and ask them all to record a few seconds appreciating the employee in question.
You can make recording and sharing quick and easy by using a video tool like Loom or Vidyard.
Celebrate a virtual work anniversary by helping your employee experience something they’ve always wanted to do.
Best for: five- to twenty-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: Showing an interest in an employee’s life and hobbies means a lot to them. Providing them with an opportunity to do something they’re passionate about gives them satisfaction and lets them check off an important item on their bucket list.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Every employee is different, so consider a wide range of possible experiences.
Here are some great ideas to get you started:
Creative workshop (including drawing, graphic design, music, and animation)
Class in a kit
Tickets to sporting events or a theater
Vacation or cruise tickets
Try to make the experience relevant to the anniversary you’re celebrating. Tickets to a cruise may only be relevant to 10- or 20-year work anniversaries, for example.
Similar to our in-office recommendation, you could give your employee money or gift cards to help them upgrade their home office or move to a better coworking space.
Best for: five- to twenty-year anniversaries
Why employees love this idea: A better workspace improves concentration and performance. An employee always appreciates a more dedicated and efficient office.
Our top tip for pulling it off: Ask your employee how their current office is working for them and where it needs improvement.
You can find out from them if a quick tech upgrade is all they need or if there are good coworking space options in their area.
Take conscious time to celebrate work anniversaries. It’s worth it in the end.
Appreciating your employee’s good work, performance, and dedication lets them know they made the right choice in working for your organization.
Start with basic work anniversary messages and work your way toward bigger and better celebrations, like parties, career growth opportunities, and new office tech.
Continue bolstering and improving your retention strategy by checking out our blog post on the six ways to reduce employee turnover.
To hire the right people who will still be at your organization one, five, and even ten years later, try hiring your next worker using skills testing.
To address its increased recruitment needs and influx of applicants for roles that include customer support and leadership, Dyninno Group implemented TestGorilla. See how the Dyninno Group of companies improved candidate screening and recruitment productivity by 400%.
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