The end of carriage clocks: Long service awards gifts your employees actually want
Many companies don’t have an effective long service awards programme, if they have one at all. A lot of schemes celebrate levels of tenure which don’t feel achievable for new staff, and the rewards for long tenure are often underwhelming. At the same time, employees still expect to see recognition, and earlier than you think. Most employees anticipate some level of recognition after their first year of service.
However, knowing when it’s important to recognise service and knowing what to use as a token of appreciation for longevity are two different things. Employees are individuals with broad interests and personalities. Employers often find themselves at a loss when it comes to deciding on a gift for their staff.
Instead of trying to find a single catch-all item which you can deploy for any employee, focus on flexibility. Offer the freedom to choose and flexibility in the type of gifts you make available.
10 gift ideas for long service awards:
- Experiences. A tantalising demonstration of gratitude for employee longevity is a unique experience. This could include sporting events, supercars, spa days, skydiving or animal encounters.
- Merchandise. Merchandise is a big tent. It could include your own products, bicycles, tech, hampers, wine, or watches. The tricky part of choosing to reward with merchandise is getting the item exactly right; you’ll need to have an intimate knowledge of what an employee is interested in and what items in that niche would be valuable to them.
- Letter of thanks. A letter of appreciation from senior management makes it clear to an employee that their service is noted, welcome, and valued. While verbal recognition of their longevity in service is important, a physical token can be cherished. It serves as a continual reminder of the employee’s value.
- Vouchers. Paper vouchers remain a massively popular item for our business clients for almost any reward and gift. However, they’re not as effective a gift when you’re dealing with employees counting their years of service by the decade.
- Gift cards. Gift cards have the advantage of functioning like vouchers without worrying about keeping a massive physical stock of paper. They offer greater flexibility over vouchers in presentation, and in the amounts you want to reward.
- E-codes. E-codes offer you ultimate flexibility. While you’re trading off a small amount of the tangibility of vouchers and cards, the choice available is unmatched by other options.
- Cash. It’s natural for staff to ask for cash, and it makes gifts easy, but be wary. Cash is taxed, and doesn’t feel as prized or special as compared to non-cash gifts. Cash is subject to all the same anxieties and stresses as monthly pay, unlike a special one-off gift.
- Certificate of tenure. A certificate or award is a good physical token of the value of an employee’s longevity. Whether they stay in the office or go on the mantelpiece, they’re a perennial reminder of the company’s positive attitude towards the employee.
- Time off. To reward exceptionally valuable employees for their long service, travel is a top idea. Send your employee off for a weekend city break or a tranquil country retreat they’ve been talking about for months.
- Time off. A sabbatical is a great offering for long-term employees. It gives them a chance to take a step back, recharge, and even work on some personal projects. Alternatively, the time could be used to pursue an internal project which has been on the back burner for a long time.
If your head is swimming, it should be. Maintaining a rewards catalogue of this size is impractical. Instead of stressing, take a breath and let a specialist take up the burden of maintaining your gift catalogue.