Recognise This! – Honoring and celebrating employees on milestone anniversaries is an important opportunity to strengthen the emotional connection between the employee and the workplace.

I’m coming up on my seven year anniversary with Globoforce. I’m quite proud of this as my tenure nearly doubles any previous length of service at any one organisation during my career. My husband, however, has me beat. A couple years ago, he celebrated his 30 year anniversary at his place of employment. 30 years! That’s become a rare achievement in today’s business world of rapidly changing opportunities and diminished loyalties (on the part of both the employer and employee).

I wish I could say it was a stellar celebration experience. But that would be a lie. After 30 years, he received a brochure in the mail. It was addressed to “Dear Valued Colleague” and included a selection of 24 items I’m sure are familiar to many readers who have experience such service anniversary programmes – vases, jewelry, off-brand cameras and golf clubs. We flipped through the selection, then went to the website referenced. The selection/redemption process was broken. So we resorted to the phone-based system.

It was the weekend, so we received phone prompts. After the fourth prompt for “enter your next selection item number,” we assumed something was broken. As the family secretary, I called during business hours the next Monday. What was the problem? My husband – after 30 years – was expected to provide his name, his manager’s name, and the manager’s office mailing address to the service anniversary programme provider. Why? The vendor needed to information so they could send my husband’s certificate to the manager to present back to my husband.

I could go on (how my husband came into work to find his certificate tossed haphazardly on his desk with no mention from his manager at all), but I know I don’t need to enumerate the problems in this experience for you. Instead, let me share another story (from TLNT):

“The big, burly man began to choke up as he took in what the company’s internal leadership coach just said. Moments before, this bear of a man, a grizzled veteran of the construction company challenged her assertion that he and his contribution at the company were valued.

“Looking at her skeptically, he asked, ‘How do you know that?

“‘Are you kidding?’ the coach said with incredulity. ‘EVERYONE knows how valuable you are…Jack and Bob (his boss and boss’s boss) are always talking about how valuable you are and how important your contribution is to this company is,’ she replied.

“At that point, his tough guy face softened. With his voice choking, he responded ‘You know, I’ve been here 30 years and that is the first time anyone has ever told me that.’

“He paused and continued: ‘Don’t take this wrong, but…it’s too bad that this had to come from you, and not my bosses….you know what I mean?’

We can do better by our loyal employees. We must do better by our loyal employees. In coming posts on Recognise This!, we will be sharing more on how to revolutionise the milestone anniversary experience.

What’s your most memorable service award experience?