Home Blog 5 Instant Benefits of Celebrating Work Anniversaries

5 Instant Benefits of Celebrating Work Anniversaries

Photo of Andy Cakebread Andy Cakebread 09 March 2022
Employee work anniversary celebration

Work. It’s where we spend over a third of our adult waking life. So why don’t we celebrate work anniversaries more? The phrase ‘work-life balance’ infers the two things are completely isolated from each other.

We celebrate life events - birthdays, weddings, engagements, graduations, anniversaries - as a matter of course. What of work events - where milestone celebrations are a bit thin on the ground? Especially work anniversaries. Strange with birthday days off now a common perk in the workplace.

Enlightened organisations with an enabling, inclusive culture lead the way. More need to follow to realise some clear benefits. Ask yourself - when did my boss (or if you’re the boss ‘when did I’) last celebrate a work anniversary?

It’s relatively easy to do and can reap dividends for the whole ‘worklife experience’.

Why celebrate work anniversaries? 5 key benefits.

Employee engagement is one of the greatest challenges a modern workplace faces. With the demands of the post-Covid workforce placing greater emphasis on flexibility and mobility, organisations need to work harder to deliver the experience employees expect.

It is also accepted that organisations who have a collaborative, inclusive and open culture are more resilient and competitive. The following areas are positively impacted by using work anniversaries as an informal, inclusive recognition of employees and their contribution.

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1. Improves employee engagement

The simple act of appreciation of a coworker and their contribution is a powerful driver of how engaged someone feels towards the organisation’s purpose, values and future. Engagement is still the single most important challenge according to WorkBuzz’s State of Employee Engagement study. However it’s measured, employee recognition will be in the mix and a work anniversary celebration is a great way for the whole team to authentically recognise someone’s contribution.

2. Strengthens team cohesion

Improved engagement is even more of a challenge with greater workplace fluidity. The 2022 Buffer State of Remote Work Report cites: 97% of employees want more remote working; 72% of organisations are planning for more remote working - and yet over 50% of employees feel ‘less connected’ as a result. That’s a serious gap to close.

3. Promotes workplace inclusivity

The informal nature of a work anniversary celebration involving the whole team is the polar opposite to the annual performance appraisal. Hierarchy and status is unimportant. Everyone - coworkers, bosses, executives - can contribute as individuals, promoting wellbeing and togetherness.

4. Increases staff retention

This is a real biggie. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index highlighted the effect the hybrid work experience has on employees - 41% of workers were looking for change and the term Great Resignation came into being. Reduce the reasons to leave by doing the right thing and you go a long way to having a ‘not so Great Resignation’.

5. Reinforces a healthy organisational culture

Informal work anniversary celebrations are just that. A celebration. And a celebration is a personal thing. OC Tanner in their Global Culture Report clearly sees workplace culture improvements in organisations with a people first mindset that enable better workplace connections. However, they caution:

It’s a mistake to assume employees will find ways to build those connections on their own—especially virtually. Organizations need to create opportunities for hybrid workers to feel connected both at home and in the office.

Celebrating a work anniversary presents the perfect opportunity for leaders to show initiative and make a transformational statement.

The five fundamental benefits that flow from marking work anniversaries improve work efficiencies, accelerate more accurate decision-making and empower staff. All drivers of greater productivity and profit. That's significant.

How to celebrate a work anniversary virtually?

It’s clear recognising an employee's anniversary is good for both the individual and organisation. Just how do you go about it?

One thing to bear in mind. What you do to celebrate should be consistent for all anniversaries - whether the first year or the fiftieth. What will change is how you choose to celebrate. Perhaps add something extra special for milestone work anniversaries - 5, 10, 20, 50 years for example. Though the days of being in a firm for life are long distant, the important point is to tailor work anniversary celebrations to your culture and typical lengths of tenure.

Hold a celebration

It’s what you do for a birthday. So do the same for a ‘workbirthday’. Word of advice here - given how disconnected remote and hybrid workers can feel we recommend you involve everyone, at the same time. Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate the occasion:

  • Host an all-hands meeting to mark the occasion - technology allows remote and office workers to all join in.

  • Be ceremonial. Have a cake and flowers and have the boss make a toast - whether that’s with champagne or coffee depends on each and every organisations’ culture. Ensure flowers and cakes are sent to the celebrating individual in advance of the meeting if they work remotely. It’s all inclusive, remember!

  • Post a story in internal publications and newsletters.

  • Give a shoutout on social media - let the world know what a great place it is to work. Especially on LinkedIn where an appropriate recommendation boosts the individual and says a lot about your work culture.

co-workers celebrating a colleague on their work anniversary

Mark the occasion with a work anniversary card

Tradition has it that somebody heads to the shops and picks up a card, while the stationery cupboard is minus one envelope for the collection. That works fine (kind of) when everyone is in the same office. However, imagine the delay and effort needed for remote team members and those in satellite offices to be included. Forget anyone in offices overseas!

Thankfully traditions evolve. Increasingly teams and organisations are using online cards and collection pots. Location becomes irrelevant - online means every team member can add a message to the card and make a donation if the anniversary warrants it. The use of a virtual work anniversary card is super efficient - the organiser includes everyone in seconds, not hours or days. It’s also waste free and enables very personal contributions with photos, GIFs and videos. Why not have the organisation leader, or team leader in large organisations, tee up the online card with a celebratory personal video? A very powerful way to recognise people and reinforce values.

Celebrate with an anniversary gift

Nothing says ‘sincerity’ more than a thoughtful gift. Commonsense says the value and nature of the celebration goes up as the years go by. Every organisation will have their own conventions and even traditions around what to honour the anniversary with. What we’re glad about is the days of the carriage clock are long gone. Make sure any gift aligns with your culture and values. Good ideas are gifts that:

  • Are personal and related to interests outside of work - this is a celebration of the person so a gift related to interests and hobbies is a sincere gesture.

  • Add a recognition programme reward bonus. If you have a peer-to-peer programme, work anniversary bonuses are a welcome bedrock reward for service.

  • Let the individual choose. A personal choice is so much more meaningful and memorable.

Online cards like Thankbox include the option for a gift collection. It makes it seamless and highly personal if the person celebrating their anniversary can choose their own gift as a memory of the occasion.

"Thankbox is the best helper for our business - Our company has started using this software to celebrate employees' birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions. We have been going through bad times in the world lately and we need more thanking each other in these times."

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Tips on quotes and wishes for your work anniversary card.

To fully realise the benefits of celebrating a work anniversary it’s critical all activity is sincere and genuine. It means all contributions need to come from the heart of colleagues and coworkers. It must never be a forced, mandated, managerial tick-box exercise. That is cynical. Without putting words into mouths, our recommendations for messages that tick the sincere box are:

  • Be personal. Work relationships are very personal so express yourself with your contribution about why you value your coworker in a way that will resonate.

  • Be relevant. Remember it’s a work anniversary, not a general celebration, so celebrate in a way relevant to the working relationship.

  • Recall special moments and achievements. It may be a specific work project or initiative, or simply excelling at the role and moving the needle for everyone.

  • Mark personal development. Ongoing professional and personal development are essential building blocks in a successful career. Shout them out - especially rewarding for those earlier on in their career.

  • If you’re the boss, be crystal clear about the person's value to the team - from performance and personal perspectives. A great team is a collection of individual talents - recognise them all.

  • And most importantly, celebrate! Add photos, videos and GIFs to your message. Honour memories of time together at work and the fun you’ve had on your journey together.

That’s Why You Should Celebrate Work Anniversaries!

To wrap up. There are a number of significant benefits that come from recognising the value and personality an individual brings to the workplace. This value increases given the current pressures on employee engagement and retention for organisations of all sizes, across all sectors.

Properly conceived and delivered, a work anniversary celebration is very cost-effective and yields high returns for the individual and organisation. Showing the whole team genuinely cares and appreciates someone is an essential element of high-performing organisations.

Lastly, why wouldn’t you celebrate a work anniversary? As the OC Tanner report finds:

Creating strong cultures of recognition, inclusion, and leadership enables employees to accomplish great work

It’s that simple.

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Team motivation and dynamics improve as soon as you create your Thankbox. Invite colleagues and coworkers to contribute and let the appreciation flood in.

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Photos courtesy of Rodnee Productions and Yan Krukov: Pexels.