Is the time up for tenure-based recognition?

With fewer employees staying with a firm for longer than three years, one business leader says it’s time to rethink year-of-service anniversaries.

Recognition programs based on years of service are failing to connect with the general workforce, said Mark Robinson, executive general manager for UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific at Power2Motivate.
“The traditional models just don’t fit the world now. Very few employees stay with a company for 10 years, let alone Millennials who have an even shorter average tenure.”
To combat this, firms are moving away from the typical 10-year service anniversary, instead offering recognition programs which start much sooner.
At Power2Motivate, staff are recognised every year, Robinson told HRD.
“It has a much bigger impact on the organisation. It’s also more effectively utilising the pot of money you have for recognition programs.”
When setting up these programs, companies may have traditionally offered $1,000 at the 10-year mark. Instead, they could hand out $300 at three years, five years and again at 10 years.
Firms can also hand out non-monetary rewards such as merchandise or gift cards. Thinking outside the box, employees at Power2Motivate accrue points at every anniversary.
“You might get credit that can be redeemed for products or services up to a certain value – it can be movie tickets right through to holidays.”
When creating these types of recognition programs, Robinson stressed that bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, simple gift cards or e-vouchers are often the smarter choice.
“We use our own program internally. For every significant milestone I get notified and the employee’s manager gets notified prior to the anniversary. On the anniversary day, we go to that person and say, ‘Congratulations on your one-year anniversary’.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know how long they’ve been at a company for. Often just mentioning it to them, talking to them and congratulating them can be more powerful than giving them $50.”
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