The most widespread employee recognition program among American employers today is the service award program (years of service recognition). Although most major corporations offer a service award program, many of them wait far too long to recognize employees with it. Many companies start recognition years of service at the 5 year mark. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 the median employee tenure was only 4.2 years!!!
Service award programs are strongly correlated with increased tenure, so these programs really need to start at day one. Some early milestones to celebrate include:
“Welcome to the Firm” – Recognizing a new employee right out of the gate makes any new employee feel special. Consider having the company President present new hire pins with the company logo on them during orientation. The logoed piece becomes a tangible symbol of the company’s regard for the new employee. Seeing the company President take time to deliver this symbol will further tie the employee to the company.
Completion of Probationary Period – Sadly, few companies celebrate, or even acknowledge, the completion of a probationary period. The employee is the only one aware that they have successfully crossed this milestone. The new employee simply hopes he/she does not get let go on that auspicious occasion. However, celebrating the successful completion of this period gives companies yet another excuse to recognize the accomplishments of an employee they have now invested time and training in, and makes it public knowledge that the employee is no longer the “newbie.”
1 year, 2 years, 3 years and So On – As noted above, many employees today do not make the 5 year tenure mark, so recognizing them earlier is imperative if you want your service award program to actually help with retention. There is nothing keeping a company from recognizing employees at each year level – especially at the earlier years. In fact, this gives companies a reason to recognize even move employees each year – increasing employee engagement in the process.
Recognition early and often will not only endear your company’s employees to you, but will help retain them, so that you company’s average tenure rate will improve to much more than merely 4.2 years, and allow you to benefit from the investment you have made in this valuable human resource.