Many companies have some sort of recognition program for tenure whether it be formal or informal, done in house or by a 3rd party contractor. My company is currently looking at implementing a length of service program; we have a mid size staff level of 650 employees, have quite a few tenured employees with 15+ years as well as a large cohort of 5-10 year employees equating to almost 60% of our workforce. We are a prime candidate for a length of service program as we have many employees who have put in significant time working for us, and take pride in their tenure.
When we first set out to look at length of service programs I was impressed with how many third part companies are out there, and the quality and structure of the programs. Many are simple to set up, have low administrative responsibilities and are automated from the providers side making the program easy to run.
The premise of the program is that the employee, once they reach a length of service milestone, will be congratulated and prompted to choose themselves an anniversary gift. The gift will come from a pre selected group of items that correspond to a level of value that coincides with the service milestone- the longer you work for the company the higher the monetary value of the gift becomes. The trick is in the perceived value of the gifts, if the perception of the value is high, that’s great; even better if the perceived value is as high as or higher than the actual value. The gifts tend to fall into categories such as home entertainment, kitchen and household wares, sporting goods, jewelry, and electronics and are usually common items. So let me ask you this, if for 5 years of service an employer has agreed to spend $150 on an anniversary gift for an employee are they better off going the route of the 3rd party gift supplier that offers the ‘selection’ option, or should the employer give the employee, say a preloaded visa gift card? One could argue that the gift card approach is impersonal, but so is an order by mail gift option. The argument comes down to if you are awarding or rewarding the employee for their length of service; the award route would the anniversary gift item, and the reward route would be the gift card or cash route. In your opinion, is there a difference between an award and a reward? Are they not both incentives and celebrate a length of service milestone? I think that offering a gift selection along with a few gift card options is great, it gives the employee choice and the ability to pick their item of choice; but, by default, wouldn’t then every employee pick the gift card route to go and hand pick their item from a store of their choice where there is not only a selection of gifts, but a variety of brands to choose from as well. Does choice not add value to the gift?
I’ll make sure to follow up this article with a short update on our selection. Please do leave a comment- I’d love to hear it!