Rewards & Recognition | Article

14 Ideas for Improving Your Service Awards Program

Want new ways to reward employee loyalty? Here are 14 ideas for improving your service award program.

A service awards program does more than reward individual employees — it helps boost employee engagement and fortify a positive company culture. When you implement a service awards program at your company, you let your employees know you value them and their contributions — and that the workplace is a better place because they’re there. Read on to learn how to improve your service awards program so that it has long-term positive effects on the entire organization.

1. Make Celebrating Early Milestones A Priority 

It used to be a common practice to give an employee their first service award after five years at the company. In some instances, employees wouldn’t receive their first service award until the 10-year mark. But there are earlier milestones and achievements that deserve their own celebration! You can celebrate the new employee joining the company by weaving acknowledgement into the onboarding practice, creating first-day kits, and distributing thank-you cards at 90 days. You can also celebrate employees at the one-year mark and again at the three-year mark. This can help integrate new employees into the company and make them feel more welcome.

2. Give Recognition More Frequently 

In addition to annual milestones, you can incorporate more frequent award-giving when employees reach goals or consistently exhibit exemplary behavior. This makes it easier for employees to understand how they can earn recognition for their work. They’ll also have a better understanding of the goals you’d like them to achieve, which can increase employee engagement and improve the relationship between the company and the employee.  

3. Consider Shifting from Only Service Awards to Employee Recognition Programs

Though sometimes used interchangeably, the terms “service awards” and “employee recognition” aren’t exactly the same. Consider expanding your service award program so that it rewards active participation in achieving goals more than just employee service tied to tenure. This can help encourage more employee engagement and innovation, which benefits the whole company.  

4. Communicate Often and Clearly 

Your company’s service awards program should be a part of an employee’s experience with the company from the time they initially join it. Make sure you communicate your service awards program to the employees clearly and as often as possible. This helps them integrate into your company culture, engage with the program, and get excited about working toward their goals.  

5. Emphasize Benefits

When it comes to recruiting talented employees and keeping them at your company, benefits can prove invaluable. Make sure to communicate with your employees as soon as benefits become available or expand. If you find a creative way to communicate these benefits, it helps makes the entire experience far more memorable. Plus, it can improve the general culture of the company and potentially increase its appeal to desirable job seekers.  

6. Offer Employees Freedom of Choice with Their Service Awards 

A common issue with many service awards? They’re not tailored to the individual. Pins and plaques can be meaningful if they represent a significant component of the company’s overall culture, but if this isn’t the case they can be construed as impersonal. When it comes to service awards, consider offering employees a wide range of choices that reflect who they are. This may even include donating to a nonprofit of their choice in lieu of a physical item if that’s what the employee prefers.

7. Provide Employees with Experiences as Rewards 

Rewards typically come in tangible form. However, experiences can be just as appreciated and even more memorable. If you reward an employee with an experience like a visit to a museum, concert tickets, or travel options like hotel stays and plane tickets, make sure you tailor it the individual as much as possible. This ensures that they’ll feel both seen and valued by the company.

8. Never Let an Employee’s Milestone Pass Unmentioned  

Recognizing employees when they reach milestones is an easy way of showing that you care about them and value their contributions to the company — and it matters. When employees are recognized at their workplace, they’re more likely to engage as well as perform more efficiently and productively. You don’t need to throw a big party to celebrate every milestone anniversary, but some amount of acknowledgment and recognition goes a long way toward maintaining employee morale. Employee recognition programs like ours set reminders for you so you never forget to send an employee an eCard to commemorate them.

9. Add a Social Element to the Celebration 

Another way to improve your service awards program? Turn anniversary and milestone celebrations into more of a social event. Whether it’s at an all-employee meeting or a ceremony created specifically to celebrate these achievements, adding a social element shows the employee how much the company values their contributions. Arrange for the most fitting person to present the award, whether that’s the CEO at a smaller company or the head of the employee’s division at a larger company. 

10. Link Service Awards Programs to Organizational Values 

Your service awards program should be related to the organizational values that your company embodies and should reinforce behaviors that are in line with those values. This helps your employees feel a greater sense of engagement and belonging. It also strengthens the company’s culture since employees can easily see a connection between proper behavior and fair rewards.  

11. Go All Out with the Presentation

When it comes to celebrating a milestone or achieving a goal, the award matters — but so does the presentation. To make sure that the celebration is a “Wow” moment for the person being honored, put thought and care into the event — and involve the entire team in the celebration. This makes it clear that everyone acknowledges that the employee of honor achieved something significant, and that it matters to the company.

12. Survey Your Employees 

You want to give your employees personalized awards, but you’re not always sure where to start. That’s where surveys come in. Send out a survey to your employees to find out what types of recognition are most meaningful to them, then plan accordingly. You can also have managers ask employees their preferred way to receive recognition, then have them follow through. It’s a win-win scenario!

13. Give Employees A Shout-Out on Social Media 

Social media is an increasingly vital part of a company’s online presence — and it can benefit your company’s service awards program as well. When an employee reaches a special milestone or wins an award, have your social media team create a post to honor the particular employee. Something as simple as “Congratulations to (insert employee name here) on winning the (insert award here) on (insert date here)” followed by a few hashtags, including #employeerecognition, will do the trick.  

14. Dedicate Part of the Company Website to Employee Recognition

Your company’s website most likely gets a lot of traffic from your customers and employees, making it an ideal space for employee recognition. Consider using part of the company homepage for this purpose by including employee stories, information about your service awards programs, pictures of celebrating employee loyalty, and more. It’s an easy and effective way of demonstrating that the company values employee recognition.  

Ready to take your service awards program to the next level? Request a demo from us to learn how our comprehensive technology and physical touchpoints can boost employee engagement and strengthen company culture!