Your Employees Deserve a Better Tenure Recognition Program

Your Employees Deserve a Better Tenure Recognition Program

Nichole Gunn

employee tenure recognition program

The average U.S. employee’s tenure is only 4.6 years. When you subtract the time spent training the employee and the duration of time that an employee has mentally “checked out” long before resigning, 4.6 years’ worth of productivity…isn’t much. Not only that but an American Psychological Association survey reported that fewer than half of employees are happy with their job’s employee recognition efforts. The same survey revealed that about half of working Americans reported an average level of work engagement. About a quarter reported low or very low work engagement levels. But there’s good news: employee engagement techniques such as an employee tenure recognition program can help you increase retention rates, job satisfaction and employee motivation.

An employee recognition and reward program can help you express appreciation to long-term employees for their dedication. Recognition for company loyalty creates a positive work atmosphere and high employee morale that makes people value their role at work. If you’re looking to hang on to employees longer, improving corporate culture and foster employee engagement, here are some ideas:

Tweak the frequency of your tenure recognition program rewards.

Many moons ago, when the economy was more stable and the digital age hadn’t disrupted so many industries, it wasn’t uncommon for employee loyalty to last 20, 30, even 50 years. Times sure have changed. Millennials, who make up more of today’s workforce than any other generation, entered that workforce on very uncertain terms. Unlike, say, Baby Boomers, who entered the workforce during a post-war economic boom, Millennials they don’t bat an eye at jumping ship if they spy better opportunities. Their resumes are likely to be filled with 1-3 year stints in various roles. The traditional “10-year anniversary” plaque feels like a myth to them. Reel things back and reward employees for reaching 1-3 years with your company. Be quicker to acknowledge their achievements and make them feel part of the work family. Build their sense of loyalty early on to show them why they should stay with you.

Reward big or go home.

Don’t be stingy in rewarding employees who have been loyal to you for years. They put hard work into your organization, if they’ve been around this long (otherwise… you have bigger problems to worry about). Losing someone who’s been with your company for 10 years means you have to replace 10 years’ worth of investment, experience and training with someone totally unfamiliar with your procedures and policies. Show them now that they are valued instead of feeling that value when they’re gone. Give them a reward emotionally equivalent to the years of productivity and dedication they’ve put in.

Don’t forget your “in-laws.”

Many of us spend a lot of waking hours with colleagues and employees. They’re our workplace “family.” So their spouses, children and other loved ones are sorta like our “in-laws.” They’re very important to your employees; what makes them happy makes your employees happy. Find ways to touch the in-laws’ lives with rewards! For example, offer couple retreats, family vacation incentive travel rewards, or merchandise rewards that entire households will enjoy. You can help your employees be the Hero Mom who surprises everyone with tickets to Hawaii, or the #1 husband who buys new kitchen floors with his reward points.

Make a scene.

There are two goals in rewarding someone for their years of service: to thank them for their dedication, and to motivate other employees to achieve the same milestone. You’re much more likely to accomplish the latter goal if years of service recognition is public. Be dramatic! Turn heads. Give people the warm-and-fuzzies. Recognize employee tenures at company events or department gatherings, send out a company-wide email, congratulate the employee on social media or make the announcement in your company newsletter. Find ways to celebrate together.

We live in an age of high employee turnover and low employee engagement. Employees who stick with you for years through its ups and downs are rare gems, so make them feel that way. Increase employee retention rates by rewarding employees early on for 1-3 year milestones. Reward big for significant achievements. Don’t leave out their loved ones. And lastly, recognize them publicly. If your company is one that employees enjoying working for, company loyalty will be contagious, and everybody wins!