Gift Programs

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The 5 Ws and 1 H of Planning an Employee Service Award Program – Part 2: What


If you are currently working on planning out your service award program, there’s a lot to take into consideration and it can seem to be an overwhelming task.

In order to try to simplify things a bit, we’re taking a look at the process and what aspects to consider by contemplating the “5 Ws and 1 H” of an employee service award program. Last time we considered “Who” your service award program will recognize and this time we will take a look at “What” the actual awards will be.

Part 2: What
Now that you have decided who your service award program will award and which milestones are deemed important enough to formally recognize, what will you actually use to recognize or award these accomplishments?

What questions to ask:
Will your employees find the most meaning in a pin designating their length of service? Would they prefer a personalized gift selected by their coworkers or manager? Or would the ability for them to select the gift of their choice make the best impression?
The “What” of your service award program is an extremely important part of your planning and it can often take the longest to research and determine because there is literally no end to the ideas of what you can award your employees with. The key is to try and figure out what type of award will have the most impact for your particular workforce. Service awards are given in celebration and thanks of your employee’s dedication to the company so you want them to be meaningful and memorable, not just the cheapest option you can find.

Best practices for fairness:
Along with deciding what type of award you will utilize, it’s important to consider the dollar value you’d like to spend for each milestone year. As mentioned in other posts, fairness and consistency are two of the most important aspects of any employee award program. For this reason, you’re going to want to decide on the dollar value for each milestone and stick with that. While your employees may not know the exact dollar value of each award, it will be obvious if they get a 5 year award of a certain value but their coworker gets one that’s much more expensive the next year. Some companies may set different values for each milestone based on whether an employee is full time vs. part time but the consistency year over year is still there for each employee classification.

Let's talk budget:
How much to award for each milestone is one of the questions we hear most frequently. Industry standard suggestions a meaningful award will run approximately $25 per year of service (5 years = $125, 10 years = $250) but more commonly we see it’s more feasible for companies to try for $10 per year (5 years = $50, 10 years = $100). The actual amount your company is able to budget for each award is going to depend on a number of factors including how many employees you have, the rate of hire (i.e. how many employees would be hitting each of the milestones in any given year) and how important and impactful executives deem a service award program to be in the grand scheme of things.

To sum it up:
Determining what type of awards to use and how much to budget for each milestone will help you continue to structure your service award program. The next step will be to decide the “When” of your service award program – will you recognize all milestones on a certain date each year, possibly at a formal ceremony, or will you present awards on each employee’s specific anniversary date? Sign up for our blog to receive the next post as soon as it’s published!

Does your organization have a service award program in place or are you working on planning one now?
What sort of awards do you utilize for recognizing employee milestones and how well do you think these awards accomplish making the program meaningful and memorable for each of your employees?
How were you able to decide on a suitable dollar amount to budget for each milestone? We would love to hear about how your company awards service milestones!

Next Up: Part 3 - Where & When

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