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How a Happy Work Anniversary Affects a Business’ Bottom Line

Anniversaries are important. They’re reminders of past successes and make space for future commitments. While marriage anniversaries are significant and regularly celebrated – preferably with nice dinners and gifts – work anniversaries should not go unnoticed, especially in today’s competitive business climate. Not only are they momentous for the employee, but a crucial way for employers to engage and share success with individuals of their workforce.

Why work anniversaries matter

Harvard Business Review notes a study that found individuals were more likely to turn in their letters of resignation on or around their work anniversaries than any other time during the year. And the highest percentage of voluntary resignation happened around the one-year anniversary.

A few reasons why employees feel compelled to leap could be 401(k) or other incentive vesting schedules, the satisfaction of relocation or sign-on bonus agreements, or perhaps simply a psychological sense of completeness that comes with marking a critical milestone on the calendar.

No matter the reason, it’s important for employers to recognize work anniversaries so they can help slow the tide of unnecessary turnover and show employees that their contributions and tenure matter. To help foster and maintain a robust culture of employee engagement, here are a few tips to ensure your people feel valued at each milestone.

4 recognition suggestions

 Anniversaries are one of many timely examples when employers have the opportunity to engage with their employees and should. More than money or fancy perks, employees want to feel that their work is important in the long run, that they’re making a difference and that their supervisors recognize and appreciate their efforts.

In fact, in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, two groups of people assembled Lego figurines. One group’s figurines immediately were taken apart upon completion, while the other group’s figurines weren’t. Those whose work was acknowledged were as much as 47% more productive than those whose work was dismissed.

Recognition influences the day-to-day productivity of your employees. Here are four ways to do just that including one on anniversaries:

  • Engage employees a few months before anniversaries (or even better, on a quarterly basis) in a one-on-one meeting to talk about their performance and job satisfaction. Ask questions like “What is one of your skills that we’re not using?” or “What is one thing we could change to improve your experience here?” Just giving the employee an opportunity to be heard could help stem anxieties or even potentially avoid costly turnover.


  • While most leaders know to document performance challenges, it’s equally important to document employee successes! Keep track year-round in a notebook or a text document, and mention these successes during the employee’s yearly review. Specificity and thoughtfulness go a long way in employee recognition. If you receive praise for a team member from a peer or client, pass on the kudos to both the employee and his or her leader.


  • Get creative! Recognition doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does need to be genuine. A small gift, a handwritten card or even figuring out an employee’s favorite treat and bringing it to a meeting are all small acts that can have a significant impact. Knowing the employee’s preference is crucial – taking the time for recognition in a way he or she will enjoy will magnify the impact in a positive way.


  • During the month or quarter in which the employee’s annual anniversary falls, acknowledge them during a company meeting or in a special company email announcement. An example of recognition on the date of the anniversary, is to give your employee flowers, such as three roses for three years, and put their picture in a slideshow for display in your company’s common areas. Companies can also send a personalized, hand-written cards to commemorate the anniversary and provide Years of Service Awards and customized plaques.

Year-round engagement

Because your employees have anniversaries year-round, and may plan an exit long before they leave your company, recognizing anniversaries can’t come at the expense of a culture that promotes employee engagement. Low engagement is costly – about $500 billion per year to the U.S. economy, Gallup estimates. That means it’s critical to engage strategic thinking when it comes to employee recognition and anniversaries.

Find ways to recognize and celebrate employees as a whole throughout the year on a company-wide level. Even something as simple as bringing an ice cream truck out on a hot summer day helps employees feel appreciated. At the team level, encourage leaders to perform stay interviews; this simple tool engages employees by providing opportunities for feedback and sharing of ideas.

An employee’s work anniversary is a time of celebration, gratitude and looking forward to the future. Authenticity, planning and appreciation can go a long way in helping your workforce feel valued, and in turn, continue to positively contribute to your business’s bottom line.

About the author
Author picture, Tiffany Gamblin
Tiffany Gamblin
Tiffany Gamblin is an HR Manager at Paycom. Since joining the organization in 2016, she has helped develop and implement processes and strategies across the HR department, including benefits, employee relations, compliance and onboarding. Gamblin holds a Senior Certified Professional designation from the Society for Human Resource Management, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in business from University of Central Oklahoma. She brings more than 10 years of HR experience in a generalist capacity to the team.