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Employee Appreciation for Long Services – Here’s How to Do It in Your Firm

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Employee Appreciation for Long Services
In times of rampant job hopping and the “Great Resignation”, employee appreciation for long services is essential to rewarding workers who stick with an organization for most of their careers. Long-standing service can be recognized with something as simple as appreciation letters/messages, or something as lucrative as stock options.Many companies also offer service anniversary awards on employee work anniversaries, which are also known as “milestone” or “years of service” awards. And while employees may not ask for it, they do want to feel appreciated for all their hard work and efforts. So, how do you thank employees for years of service? In the following article, we list down the best ways to appreciate loyal employees.If you want to hold an event to recognize your long-term staff, check out our guides to businesses in the USA, Australia, and Canada that help organize team-building retreats.

2. What are Years of Service Awards?

One of the most common methods of employee appreciation for long service is announcing years of service awards. These awards celebrate the work anniversary of individuals who have served an organization for several years, usually 5, 10, 20 years, etc. Sometimes, these are awarded at the company’s annual events.Traditionally, years of service awards are considered ways of improving employee engagement and satisfaction. But we miss the point when we see them as rewarding years of service only. Rather, these awards are most effective when they celebrate a sense of belonging, and highlight the specific achievements and contributions of employees, not just their tenure.

3. Why Should Organizations Recognize Years of Service?

Employee appreciation for long services remains an effective way to acknowledge the performance, contributions, and overall tenure of employees who stay with one organization for a considerable time.Employee appreciation for years of service helps improve retention, increase loyalty, improve engagement, motivate other employees, and help companies attract and retain top talent.

4. How Do You Thank Employees for Years of Service?

How Do You Thank Employees for Years of Service?
  • One Year Milestone
Today’s employees are not that big on tenure, which means completing a year at one place is becoming a rarity. You can show appreciation for new employees on their anniversary in these words:
Title: You Just Turned One Today!Hello [Employee Name],Congratulations on completing your first year at [Company Name].This is no small feat, and we are proud of all the work you have done, growing with the company.Needless to say, we expect greater things from you, and we will continue to help you develop the skills and resources you need to fly higher.As a token of appreciation, we want to reward you with [Gift] as a remembrance of your first work anniversary at [Company Name].We join our directors, management, and the entire workforce to congratulate you on reaching this milestone. The best is yet to come!
  • Three Years Milestone
Appreciating employees who have been with you for three years takes more than just words of appreciation.
Title: Three’s Company!Congratulations [Employee Name]! It is with great pride and joy that we acknowledge your third year at [Company].It seems like yesterday when you joined our team. Your career trajectory has been nothing but inspirational. Among your numerous achievements, you showed remarkable aptitude and initiative on [Project].Your co-workers also admire you for your [Any Notable Quality].Of course, long-standing service can exhaust you. And that’s why, as a token of appreciation, we are sending a gift card to your desired spa retreat [or any other reward]. As you rejuvenate yourself, think about where you want to see yourself in the next three years and feel free to discuss how we can help you get there.  Thank you for all your hard work. Keep shining bright! 
  • Five Years Milestone
How do you say thank you for 5 years of service? Maybe in these words:
Title: You Have Turned Five Today!Dear [Employee Name], congratulations on achieving five years of service at [Company]. Not every day do we come across employees who, instead of ‘exploring opportunities’, create their own path at their workplace. You are one such gem.We are proud of all your contributions to the company’s growth during your tenure, contributions without which our company will not have reached where it has today.We hope you continue to be a part of this growth and keep us and your coworkers inspired with your brilliance and commitment. You are one of the reasons why [Company Name] is a great place to work!As a token of appreciation, feel free to choose [a gift from a catalog].Thank you for all your services!
  • Ten Years Milestone
Wondering what should I say for 10 years of service? You can say something like this:
Title: Achievement UnlockedCongratulations [Employee Name] for reaching an important milestone in your career at [Company Name]. On your 10th service anniversary, we want to appreciate your unmeasurable and indispensable dedication to our organization.One can talk about your service milestones, maybe a top 10 list of your career hallmarks. But that is just to state the obvious. This is your day, and as a remembrance, we want to give you a gift voucher to get a watch of your choice. It is our way of thanking you for your daily, quarterly, and annual contribution to your team goals. Remember though that the best is yet to come. We hope you continue your inspiring journey with our company, and give us the privilege of celebrating more of your career milestones.Thank you!
  • Twenty Years Milestone
How do you say thank you for 20 years of service?
Title: My, You Have Grown…Dear [Employee Name], congratulations on your 20th work anniversary. As you complete two decades at [Company Name], we want to thank you for all your work and dedication to the organization, as well as your personal goals. In these past 20 years, you have become part of the soul of this organization, and we can safely say that we wouldn’t be here without people like you. Accept this little gift as a token of our appreciation. Your time and dedication to the company and its goals are one for the books! We wish you the best in health, career, and fulfillment. Thanks again, and congratulations!”
  • Twenty-Five Years Milestone
The silver jubilee is a momentous event for any employee. You can share something like this:
Title: Celebrating 25 Years of CommitmentIf loyalty had a name, it would be [Employee Name]. On behalf of our board, management, and team, we want to congratulate you on 25 years of service! Your commitment and dedication are unmatched in the industry. And your singular contributions to team goals and company milestones have enabled us to achieve phenomenal growth over the years. We are proud that you reached this milestone with our organization and wish you a very happy silver jubilee at [Company].As you advance in your career, we want you to present [stock options/promotion/ partnership] should you continue your journey with us (which we hope you will). We have nothing but good wishes for your health, work, and happiness. Keep shining!
  • Thirty Years Milestone 
When it comes to a reputed veteran in your company, how do you say congratulations for 30 years of service? You can send a long service award letter like this:
Title: It’s Not Every Day You Celebrate a 30th Work AnniversaryCongratulations [Employee Name] for reaching this monumental milestone in your career at [Company Name]. On your 30th work anniversary, we want to appreciate your unmeasurable and indispensable dedication to our organization.This is your day, and as a remembrance, we want to give you a gift voucher to get a watch of your choice. It is our way of thanking you for your daily and long-term contributions to the organization. Thank you,(your name)

5. How to Convey Employee Appreciation for Long Services?

How to Convey Employee Appreciation for Long Services?

5.1. Give Awards

While monetary compensation lends to employee satisfaction, workers want more than money. Awards for employee appreciation work well in this regard. There are several gift ideas that you can use. The most common ones include plaques and certificates, noting career milestones like years of service, or a successful campaign or project. You can hand out shields or badges. These allow you to be creative as well. For instance, instead of writing “5 Years of Service,” you can try something like “MVP for 5 Years.”You can also go for prizes, which combine an appreciation for years of service with a monetary aspect. You can award prizes for “employee of the month”, “employee of the year”, “best team player”, “best leader”, etc along with a cash prize or bonus.

5.2. Provide Paid Leaves

Paid leaves can be tricky for businesses still recovering from the pandemic. But if your business cycle allows, you may give an employee paid time off in addition to their vacation time. Employees consider paid leaves as one of the best holiday perks from employers, even if it is just a two-day break.

5.3. Sponsor a Trip for a Vacation

This ties in with the previous point. You can consider sponsoring a vacation or setting up a holiday event for your employees. It can include a weekend trip to a natural retreat or even a week’s stay abroad.

5.4 Personalized Gifts

When all else fails, customized gifts work wonders! It can be anything from a custom photo gift or plaque or a personalized clock. A gift with one’s name or picture creates a more lasting impression than stock gifts.

5.5. Appreciation Letter from Boss/ Leaders

Survey after survey shows that most employees feel their bosses can do better at showing appreciation. In such a scenario, a simple appreciation letter or email (in addition to a reward) works wonders. Here are some sample appreciation letters that you can emulate for your loyal employees:
Dear [Employee Name]On behalf of my entire team at [company], I want to appreciate your outstanding efforts. We appreciate everything that you have done over the past [number of] years. Your relentlessness and professionalism motivate everyone, including me.As you celebrate this career milestone, remember that there are many more to come. And I count on you to outperform yourself. Best regards,[Your name]
Dear [Employee Name]I want to take this chance to appreciate you for all your years of service at our company. You have consistently impressed me with your ability to handle new and challenging work. It has helped us achieve our goals without a second of downtime.Having you on my team also unburdens several tasks. I especially appreciate you training new team members, which makes a huge difference.As a token of gratitude,  we have decided to provide you three days of paid time-off during the holidays. And when you come back, there is a salary raise waiting for you.Keep up the good work![your name]

5.6. Promotions

Moving on, promoting someone is a time-honored method of employee appreciation for long services. Promotions accompany a salary raise (or more benefits) with added responsibilities, both key motivating factors for employees. A change of title also acts as public recognition of an employee’s hard work finally paying off.

5.7. Organize a Celebratory Party for Them

Celebrating employee birthdays is common at the workplace. But you should also create a culture of celebrating career milestones or achievement of goals in the office as a way to appreciate your employees and teams. After all, who doesn’t love a good piece of cake!

5.8. Stocks Make Great Gifts

When it comes to employee appreciation for long services, many companies offer stock options. These can take two forms: employee stock options (ESOs) and stock appreciation rights (SARs). Both are equity compensation options used to retain and motivate top talent. ESOs are usually long-term investments, while SARs offer a quick payout.

6. Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas for Long Service Years

Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas for Long Service Years
In post-pandemic times, employee appreciation for long services also went virtual. After all, companies should make it a point of celebrating employees who survived the pandemic while performing their corporate duties.But how do you virtually congratulate long service? Here are a few suggestions that can help you keep your remote teams motivated and collaborative.

6.1. Arrange for a Virtual Celebration

Why should virtual settings restrict you from celebrating your employees’ special days? There’s no reason not to celebrate work anniversaries online, as these are an integral part of the company culture.A virtual celebration party need not be elaborate. Focus on creating a simple yet enjoyable experience for employees celebrating career milestones. You can host a virtual party with all the team members, or have them record long service thank you messages showing appreciation for an employee.And if your location and time zone allows, you may deliver a cake or goodie basket to a loyal employee so he or she can celebrate with her family.

6.2. Gift Them Some Goodies

If budget allows, you can send an employee a care package filled with appreciation gifts and a personalized note to go along with it. Of course, goodies need not be physical. You can also send them digital gifts like redemption coupons or a one-month gym membership. Just to show you care.Speaking of goodies, also consider gifting company swag to your report employees. Company swag, when done right, is a great way of making hard-working employees feel they belong to a community that values them.

6.3. Send a Personalized Note

Finally, nothing beats a thoughtful long service thank you message. It’s quick and easy to send, but the effects are invaluable, provided you type it yourself. No matter how much we’ve evolved, everyone still likes a surprise letter, or better still a positive long service thank you message from your boss.

7. FAQs

7.1. How do you reward employees for long service?

There are several ways to show an employee appreciation for long services:
  • Gift cards
  • An award to display.
  • Company-Branded goodies.
  • Personalized gift.
  • Tickets for an outdoor event
  • A subscription or membership to a gym, spa, library or entertainment service
  • Appreciation letter
  • Monetary compensation
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