How to Celebrate Employees' Work AnniversariesA key aspect of employee appreciation

Business leaders need to think carefully about employee relations.

A study by the consultancy firm McKinsey has found that employees crave closer social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers.

When those connections are lacking, workers start to question their future.

And right now, a record number of employees are thinking about quitting—no less than 20% expect to leave their job in the next 12 months.

Of course, resignations affect a business’s bottom line—the cost of replacing an employee ranges from half to two times their annual salary.

So how do you foster healthy relationships with staff in 2022? One small but powerful measure to consider is celebrating individuals’ work anniversaries.

Why is celebrating work anniversaries important for employee relations?

Ok, so it might sound fluffy. But celebrating anniversaries can have an important bearing on team morale. Here's how...

It shows you value your employees

Data shows a direct link between employers who show genuine interest in their workers (and their career development) and levels of staff retention.

Celebrating team members’ work anniversaries is one way to demonstrate your interest in them and say “thank you” for their hard work.

It shows you reward commitment

Having a committed workforce is valuable for any business. It means staff are invested in its success and, when needed, will go the extra mile to ensure it thrives.

Plus, when staff stick around longer, they gain more on-the-job experience and performances improve.

Rewarding a long-serving employee for their commitment shows that you value dedication. It may incentivise their colleagues to stay loyal to your business too.

It sets an example for others

When you celebrate an employee's anniversary it’s an opportunity to highlight the qualities that make them such a strong member of the team.

Doing this provides a behavioural blueprint for others to follow.

It’s a chance to reinforce your business values

Increasingly, employees want their business to make a positive difference. Career counselling provider Zety has found that 61% of workers born after 1995 want to work for a company that “goes beyond merely making a profit”.

When you celebrate an employee’s anniversary, it’s an opportunity to show how the individual has, during their career, embodied all the good stuff your company stands for.

This reminds everyone of your all-important business values.

How to celebrate work anniversaries and boost employee relations

Done well, anniversary celebrations can boost morale and become an important part of company culture. We've gathered some pointers for you below.

Planning is crucial

Making employee anniversaries part of company culture requires planning.

You need to map out how you’re going to reward different lengths of service, ringfence a budget and maintain a calendar of events. Failure to do this can lead to inconsistencies (more on that later).

Rewards should be meaningful

Rewarding a long-serving member of staff with a card and a gift voucher probably won’t live long in the memory.

Instead, consider rewards that have lasting impacts.

Funding a training course will benefit both the individual and your business. According to research by The MIT Sloan Management Review, companies that rank highly for employee training see 53% lower attrition.

Alternatively, donate to a charity of the employee’s choosing. It’ll demonstrate that your business wants to make a positive difference.

Praise internally—and externally

Public recognition feels good. So, instead of just celebrating loyal staff internally, sing their praises outside the organisation too.

A social media post expressing why they’re essential to your team will land well with the individual and show the wider world how well you treat your staff.

Employee work anniversaries: what to avoid

Of course, getting anniversary celebrations wrong can damage employee relations. Here are things to avoid…

One-off, token gestures

We’ve established that recognition is important. If you leave saying ‘thank you’ until an employee’s first anniversary, they won’t feel appreciated. In fact, they’ll probably quit before reaching the milestone.

Instead, make celebrations part of a wider culture of recognition. Thank employees for their hard work regularly. Perhaps set aside time each week to reflect on individual and team successes.

Then when anniversaries come around, the celebrations will feel genuine and in keeping with your business philosophy.


Celebrating anniversaries only works if you’re consistent. Rewarding one member of staff for 10 years of service while overlooking another who’s reached the same milestone can severely damage employee relations. Recognition has to be equitable.

Late celebrations

Finally, celebrate on the day of an employee’s work anniversary (or at least as close to it as possible) so it doesn’t feel like an afterthought.

Start scheduling your staff online.

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