Employee Milestones and the Significance of Long-term Recognition

Celebrate long-term employees. Discover how recognizing years of service boosts morale and employee engagement.

March 25, 2024
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Engaged employees are every manager's dream. These workers are invested in their jobs at the company and put in effort to ensure the business’ success. 

The effects of engagement are also felt on a company-wide scale. According to Gallup, engaged workers are 18% more productive than disengaged ones. But beyond the profit sheets, you can see the benefits of engagement in other things. Things like an 81% decrease in absenteeism, and an 18-43% decrease in turnover. 

These benefits are why companies spend millions of dollars annually on employee engagement strategies. Unfortunately, they usually overlook one vital aspect: long-term employee recognition

According to Zippia, 80% of employees would be motivated to work harder when recognized for their work. These employees report higher levels of engagement and a greater sense of satisfaction.

However, recognition programs often focus on short-term achievements, neglecting the value of acknowledging long-term milestones like year-of-service awards. 

Building a Positive Company Culture with Tenure Rewards

A positive company culture fosters a sense of belonging, collaboration, and shared success. By celebrating long-term employee milestones, your organization sends a powerful message: dedication and commitment are valued. 

Picture this: An employee reaches their 10th work anniversary, and you publicly acknowledge their contributions with appreciation gifts. Doing this doesn't reflect only on their journey but also on your commitment to providing rewarding careers. This has a few vital effects on the employees:

  • The celebrant feels valued as an integral part of the company and is motivated to stay on. This reduces turnover. 
  • The workforce is motivated to share their knowledge with newer colleagues. 
  • By witnessing and celebrating the achievements of long-term employees, the rest of the company gains a spirit of loyalty, knowing that the company values them. 
  • After a substantial amount of time in a company, an employee would have acquired a network of positive relationships in the workplace. Acknowledging that employee would have a trickle effect on those workplace relationships, fueling their desire to contribute to the company's continued success. 

This positive cycle builds a strong company culture where employees are valued and recognized for their efforts. That keeps them motivated and invested in the organization's future.

Effective Recognition Strategies for Long-term Milestones 

Tenure milestones and other recognition awards are guaranteed to enhance employee engagement in the workplace. 

The key to impactful recognition lies in going beyond generic one-size-fits-all approaches. When implemented incorrectly, especially with poor and uninspired rewards, these recognition programs may serve to demotivate your staff. 

For this reason, some thought is required when implementing your employee recognition scheme. Here are some effective strategies for celebrating long-term employee milestones:

  1. Instant or ‘On-the-Spot’ Recognition

One mistake many HR professionals make is having these recognition programs occur annually. At the end of the year, they gather all the employees who have hit milestones and reward them at once. 

This approach makes it feel less personal, which reduces the program's motivational impact.

Instead of waiting for a yearly review, tools like Assembly can help you track these milestones, remind you when they occur, and help you reward these employees as they happen. 

  1. Recognition From Management 

For many employees, recognition from their managers has the most impact on their motivation. This means that simple words of praise from you can make all the difference. 

At least 33% of workers also value recognition from the CEO and executives. For this reason, you can include a face-to-face meeting with the CEO or an appreciation letter in your Year-of-service recognition awards.

The praise mustn't always be physical. Using the Employee Recognition workflow template on Assembly, you can appreciate and reward employees for their long-term milestones.

  1. Peer-to-Peer Recognition 

While top-down recognition is great, you shouldn't neglect peer-to-peer connections. For some employees, praise from peers, who understand everything they've gone through to arrive at that point, has more impact. 

In this form of recognition, workers are empowered to express their appreciation for their co-workers, especially on their work anniversary. 

So, instead of going for a private affair, you can make the recognition a social one. Have your employees gather around and join in on the proceedings. Or better yet, recognize them with shoutouts on a general platform

An employee recognition software like Assembly is a great platform for this. You can post a message recognizing the employee, and have their colleagues exchange stories on the great things they have accomplished with the celebrant. 

  1. Experiences Over Awards 

For your Year-of-service recognition reward to have the best impact, it must mean something to your employees. For this reason, you should steer clear of plaques and awards. 

The goal is to give your employees a reward they'd treasure, and not an award they can shove into a closet somewhere and forget about. This is why it is best to create an experience for your staff. 

Give them a meaningful experience, like a fun expensive dinner, additional paid leave, or a free spa day. These rewards will show the employee that you care while motivating the rest of your workers. 

Assembly is a valuable tool here. The platform has an expansive Rewards center with 1000+ gift cards, swag, and charities to choose from. You can even include some culture rewards like lunch with the CEO or a free yoga lesson. 

  1. Avoid Financial Rewards 

Many companies default to cash rewards for their employee milestone recognition programs. This might seem like a great idea, as rewarding these achievements with cold, hard cash gives your workers the freedom to spend it on whatever they like. 

While this approach may work, there are a few reasons why it can go wrong. 

  • Monetary rewards are taxable: Every cash reward given to your employee counts as supplementary wages and is subject to income and FICA taxes. This means that they're going home with less than the actual cash reward. 

Some employers ‘gross up’ the reward to cover the taxes, but that makes it more costly for the company. 

  • They are less memorable: Employees are likely to forget about a cash reward as soon as they've spent the money. They are less memorable than experiences like a sponsored family trip or a dinner with the CEO. These would leave some pleasant memories and great stories. 
  • Financial rewards lack uniqueness: One major issue employees have with cash rewards is the lack of uniqueness. These rewards may look impersonal and seem like a mere formality. 

It may seem like you said, “Here's your $100 for being an employee for five years. Now, get back to work.”

In this regard, your financial award may have the opposite effect from what you intended. Rather than showing your employees that you care, it proves to them that you don't. 

  • Financial rewards aren't socially acknowledgeable:

While your entry-level employees with lower incomes might appreciate cash rewards, employees who have stayed in your company for longer may not. 

For something as important as a tenure celebration, they would require something a bit more socially acknowledgeable. 

Even if you post it on social media, cash rewards won't make as much impact as pictures of a company-provided trip. 

  1. Personalized Employee Gifts 

When it comes to employee recognition, personalization is the watchword. 

This is vital for Year-of-service awards. These employees have devoted a sizable chunk of their lives to your company, so dedicating extra minutes of thought to the reward seems like a fair trade. 

Instead of tickets to a random basketball game, ensure that it's to watch their favorite team play. You could take note of their hobbies and cook up a gift basket with some thoughtful contents. 

These options make your employees feel less like a cog in the machine that is the company and more like a valued team member. 

Continuous Improvement and Feedback 

Employees want to be appreciated for the work they do, but you aren't doing this for them alone. Investing in employee recognition programs offers your company some significant long-term benefits.  

  • Cost savings: Reduced turnover rates lead to cost savings associated with recruitment and onboarding.  
  • Enhanced productivity: A more engaged workforce translates to increased productivity and innovation.
  • Positive culture: Positive recognition creates a feedback loop that encourages desired behaviors. It also fosters a mindset of growth in the workplace, while motivating employees to do their best. 
  • Improved morale: Employee morale affects a lot of things, from productivity to customer service. This is why it is important to keep it high. Adequate recognition helps with that by showing your staff that they are valued. 
  • Attractive workplace: It is easier to hire top talents when they know that your workplace is filled with happy employees and recognition is given regularly. 

According to Brian Snedvig, CEO of Jofibo, “A lot of companies underestimate how much stock job seekers put in the comments and opinions they read on places like Glassdoor, but they really shouldn’t.”

Times change, and so should your staff appreciation schemes. As your company grows, you should get regular feedback from your employees to ensure the program resonates with them. 

Assembly's employee surveys would be a handy resource to get this information. With this information, you can continuously adapt your program to maintain its effectiveness across the years. 

Recognizing Tenure Milestones with Assembly 

Acknowledging employee milestones, particularly long-term service, is not simply a feel-good gesture. It's a strategic investment in the well-being and future success of your organization. A workplace culture that celebrates long-term service sends a clear message: Your contributions are appreciated, and you are a valued member of our team. 

Employees who feel valued are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal. By implementing effective recognition strategies, you create a culture of continuous improvement. This, in turn, leads to a thriving workplace where employees feel motivated to contribute their best selves, year after year.

A company intranet like Assembly would be valuable on your journey to a culture of recognition. From the rewards center to the Employee Recognition template, the platform is stocked with tools that help you praise employees who have earned it. Book a demo today and enjoy it for years. 

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered