Office learning

Ideas for Celebrating a Work Anniversary in Your Office

Need some ideas for celebrating employee work anniversaries? These 9 ideas will show your team you appreciate them and boost engagement rates!

Ana Gotter

In the past few decades, job hopping has become more common, especially in younger generations. Instead of hunkering down to try to climb the internal ladder at a single company, increasing numbers of employees are bouncing from employer to employer, seeking new opportunities to rise more quickly in both title and salary.

The median tenure (or length of time at a single company) for those 65 and older has been 10.3 years, while it’s only 3.2 years for those ages 25-34. That’s a significant decrease that’s hard to ignore, especially since employee turnover rates are expensive to businesses once you factor in the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees (the average employee exit costs a business around 33% of their annual salary).

Finding ways to keep your employees around is important, therefore, and one of your best options is just to make your employees feel appreciated. When employees don’t feel like their work is recognized, they’re twice as likely to start the job hunting process. 

When it comes to recognizing your employee’s hard work, it’s best to do so consistently. This includes praise after a job well-done, but it also includes celebrating milestones. Since a work anniversary is more fleeting, honoring the time your employees have committed to your business is a big sign of appreciation, and one that more businesses should be focusing on.

Celebrating an employee's work anniversary can come in a number of different shapes and sizes, so let’s take a look at 9 different options for how to thank your team for their years of work. 

1. Give a Gift 

While a thank you is great and should always be involved when celebrating an employee's work anniversary, sometimes something physical that your team can actually hold on to can go a long way.

Give your team members a physical memento of their time with your company. This can be a certificate, or even a small glass paperweight with the company name and years of employment carved in.

Think about offering up small monetary gifts, too, like a $25 gift card, or a set of movie passes for them and a friend.

You can also set up an employee rewards program and award each employee “points” based on their years of service, which they can redeem for the gift of their choice. Some peer-to-peer recognition tools may enable this, which you can learn more about here

A gift box wrapped with blue ribbon and a thank you note to celebrate a work anniversary in your office.
Image source: Hoppier

2. Feature Them Online 

Most people love getting a public shoutout; it’s showing that you value your team and the work they’re doing, and everybody loves feeling special.

Think about featuring your employees with their work anniversary on your site. This can be on a dedicated landing page, or having a “featured employees” section on your “About Us” page. There’s even the option to interview them for a short piece on your blog or the company newsletter, too.

Anniversary shout outs are particularly well-suited to social media. Share a quick blurb about who the employee is, how long they’ve been with your company, why you love having them, and what they love about their job. Post a picture of them that they get to choose, and upload it to your accounts. This is something that they can share with their own friends and family, allowing them to showcase something they’re proud of. 

3. Throw In an Extra Day Off 

We all experience burnout, and I don’t know anyone who isn’t motivated by the thought of an extra day off. 

For every year that an employee is with the company, consider granting them an extra day off in the form of PTO or vacation time. This is a major benefit that your staff is sure to appreciate, but it benefits you, too; when people have enough time off to enjoy their lives, they’ll be more focused and excited about the work they do.

And it’s important to note that while some of your team members may well take every single vacation day you offer them, there’s a solid chance that most won’t. In 2017, 52% of Americans didn’t use all of the vacation days allotted to them. 

4. Throw a Party 

Everybody loves an office party, and it’s a good way to publicly acknowledge your team with their other team members. Throw a casual party in the office breakroom at lunch, or end work half an hour early before the end of the day to celebrate with cake, delicious snacks, and some words of appreciation. 

How often you’re throwing parties will depend on your business’s structure. Companies like Disney will throw major events for cast members hitting major milestones, like 15 years, once a year. If you want to have a company-wide event, this works well, and you can celebrate everyone all at once.

You can also have individual teams host the celebrations, so you’re only looking at 5-10 events per team per year. This will depend on the size of the team, so using best judgement will be crucial.

No matter what, thank each team member celebrating individually. Appreciation is the name of the game, after all. 

Seven people jumping and celebrating a work anniversary with streamers and balloons.
Image source: Hoppier

5. Private Acknowledgement 

Sometimes we all underestimate the value of a single quiet “thank you.” A lot of employees really want to hear that, even if they don’t realize it, especially from their direct supervisors. We inherently want to know that our work is appreciated. 

Make sure that your team leaders know to take some time and thank each individual celebrating a work anniversary for the hard work they’ve put into the company. If possible, mention specifics, like “You’ve really done an excellent job motivating other team members to sell more, you’re a big asset to us” or “Fantastic job on that client account-- they were extremely happy.”

If possible, have your team leads receive notifications or set alerts on the anniversary days for each of their team members. 

6. Public Acknowledgement In Office 

Private acknowledgement is great, but a little public acknowledgement in the office is certainly welcome, too, even if it’s quick.

During a team meeting or conference call, give the employee celebrating the work anniversary a shoutout for a round of applause. It’s best to do this on the exact day that they’ve joined the company if possible, or at least in the beginning of the anniversary month. Say that they’ve done a great job, and let them have an extra long lunch that day. 

A woman shakes a hand as, with three others faded in the background, to show gratitude for a work anniversary.
Image source: Hoppier

7. Sending a Note 

This taps into that employees want acknowledgement from their direct managers again. 

In a time when we’re all sending a flurry of emails every hour, consider doing something a little more personal. A handwritten note from the team lead or another leader that the individual respects can add a personal touch to the anniversary celebration. Even an e-card with a personalized message can be much appreciated, and it’s a small gesture that can make a big impact. 

A laptop and hands over it writing a thank you note for a work anniversary
Image source: Hoppier

8. Let Them Call the Shots 

Everybody likes having a little bit of decision-making power, and the day of their work anniversary is the best day to hand it over!

Let the employee celebrating choose where lunch is ordered in from, for example. You can give them complete free reign, or offer a selection of takeout menus if you want to ensure that it’s budget-friendly. 

9. Roll Out Major Perks for Major Anniversaries 

It’s clear from the information we looked at early in the post that employee retention rates are decreasing, with tenure getting lower and lower by the generation. Rewarding employees for significant anniversary milestones is absolutely an excellent call, and it’s a good way to keep people around even longer.

If someone has worked for your company for five years, they deserve something special; if they’ve made it 10 years, or even 15, that’s even more impressive.

Reserve major benefits for major milestones. After 5 years, for example, a team member could be eligible for a paid sabbatical, and after 10 they could qualify for a paid vacation. When you consider the profit involved in keeping your top talent compared to the costs of losing and replacing them, this is actually something that can result in higher profitability long term. 

Final Thoughts 

Employee appreciation is directly tied to lower employee churn rates, so taking some time to celebrate work anniversaries is something more businesses should be doing. If you’re celebrating an employee's work anniversary, after all, you can potentially increase the number of anniversaries each employee averages with your company, which is well worth the extra effort. 

Want more ideas for how to show employee appreciation and boost engagement rates? You can check out our Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement here