With more and creative opportunities mushrooming across the globe, the notion of decades of loyalty is slowly withering away. Companies celebrating work anniversaries when an employee completes 10 years now understand that every year is a big deal.
This survey by BLS, US Dept. of Labor showed that over half the employees change jobs before they complete 5 years. With the pandemic slowly changing the workspace dynamics, companies have to engage the employees in every way possible to show genuine appreciation. This reinforces the importance of celebrating with employees who choose to stay with a business.
Are you looking for some innovative and traditional work anniversary ideas to commemorate your employees? Here’s 26 of them segregated as per seniority.
If you’re looking to gift someone at the workplace for an occasion, don’t miss our all-inclusive, fun article that covers different types of gift ideas for coworkers here.
1 Why are work anniversaries important?
When you celebrate an employee’s work anniversary, you appreciate them for their loyalty and draw attention to their achievements & contribution and make them feel valued. This study by O C Tanner Learning Group shows that 79% of employees quit their jobs because of a lack of appreciation.
Multiple resources point out the clear connection between employee recognition and productivity. You don’t have to go overboard while celebrating work anniversaries, unlike other celebrations like target achievements. A simple gesture goes a long way in making them feel appreciated for being with the company as a valued employee. Companies that foster such attitudes tend to have a significant advantage over others regarding employee retention.
That being said, cash gifts and bonuses are cliches. Instead, you can choose a gift that will resonate with your company culture as well as the employee’s persona. Here are 26 mindful and innovative work anniversary gift ideas that will resonate with every employee you give them.
2 Work anniversary ideas for your boss
2.1 Potluck from team
Food is one of the best in-house gifts you can give to your boss on their work anniversary—especially the one which has everyone’s “signature” on it. Brainstorm and decide on a full course potluck meal menu that each one (or someone they know) is great at preparing. On the D-day, pack and bring in to give a grand feast to your boss. You can even bring in enough for everyone and have a mini lunch party right in your office cafeteria.
2.2 Gift a care package
The best way to pamper your boss is by gifting them something that they enjoy and feel good with. Find out their interests and likes, pool in with individual items, and put together a package that your manager can relax and enjoy on a lazy weekend. It can range from chocolates, stationeries to even DIY spa kits and housekeeping supplies. You can also refer to these ideas for a great care package.
2.3 Edible bouquet
We repeat – food is one of the best gifts. Fruits, donuts, cookies, assorted chocolates, cupcakes, even a collection of your boss’ favorite meat like bacon or beef jerky can become an edible bouquet. Be sure to check for their allergies and preferences, assemble or get one. Then, present it as their work anniversary gift.
2.4 Team memorabilia
Do you cherish that team trek you went on a while ago? Or the house party at your manager’s? Or the time you won the best team award? Gather up all the memories. Make a poster/bulletin board or a video, add handwritten notes from each team member & some inspirational quotes and present it as a work anniversary gift to your boss.
2.5 Team outing
Have you always been on company- or boss-sponsored team outings? Take it up a notch, pool in the resources, and take your manager out for lunch or a weekend trip. You can even find the best escape room maze in your city and take him there. If you are still skeptical about going out as a large group, gather up and play games virtually.
3 Work anniversary ideas for senior employees
In an age where employees hardly get to double digits in service years, people who have spent a decade (give or take a couple of years) or more in the company have automatically earned a great deal of respect. Your work anniversary gifts to them should reflect your gratitude for their tenure, dedication, and loyalty. Here are some work anniversary ideas to celebrate such milestones.
3.1 Career coaching
If the employee has spent 10+ years in your company, then they have been pretty serious about growing with the organization. In all possibilities, they have already grown considerably. Arrange a session with the leadership team or external consultants and have a candid discussion about the direction they wish to grow further in the organization.
3.2 Paid sabbaticals
10+ years! They deserve a break and a long one at that. Send your senior employees on a long paid sabbatical. Be it a trip around the country, an experience abroad, a staycation at a resort or spa of their liking, or simply a paid time off to learn a new hobby – they are bound to be thankful about choosing to stay with the company.
3.3 Executive dining
Great food, rich ambiance, fancy outfits, one-on-one out-of-office conversations with the leadership team are some of the best work anniversary gift ideas. Book a dinner with the CXO of the company in one of the upbeat restaurants in the city and gift them the opportunity to enjoy fine things in life.
3.4 Feature them on website & social media
If an employee has been with you for this long, the world needs to know about it. So give them a shout-out on the company’s website and social media platforms. This will make your employees feel good and show your clients and customers that your company recognizes its employees well.
3.5 VIP desk or parking spot
Is there a spot in the office that overlooks a lush green spot or a great view of the sea or city? Or the exclusive parking space reserved for VIPs and executives? Assign them to your senior employees as a work anniversary gift as a special thank you.
3.6 Great LinkedIn recommendation
These long-standing employees have exhibited a great number of skills for your company. Publicly endorse their skills and write a recommendation on the one great professional platform – LinkedIn. When a person’s skills are endorsed by the authorized people from their company, their feelings of pride will be priceless.
3.7 Years of service trophy
This is the classic traditional commemoration. Everyone loves receiving a trophy and displaying it on their desks or at homes. Award your long-term employee with a personalized trophy during the company’s annual RnR and mail them the framed photo too. They will cherish it even after they retire.
4 Work anniversary ideas for newbies
In this Harvard Business Review of over 1 million respondents, the turnover rates increased after an employee completes one year in the organization. Celebrating an employee’s completion of one year, or even the second year in a fun and innovative way, can contribute greatly in retaining them. When the employee is celebrated this early in their tenure, they also get the assurance that their contribution will be valued over the years too. Here are some work anniversary ideas for the employees who have completed 1-2 years in the organization.
4.1 Peer appreciation
To be appreciated by one’s peers would be one of the best gifts that a newbie can get, as it would make them feel welcome by their fellow teammates. An email congratulating them, or even a handwritten note is something they will cherish. Alternatively, if you have a company-wide collaboration portal, the employee’s peers can also post it on their public profile.
4.2 Desk decorations
Yet another classic work anniversary gift idea – decorating an employee’s desk, workstation, or cubicle. Rope in the whole team, hang streamers and balloons, prop up cards, all before they could come in to work. If this is their first year anniversary and if they haven’t seen this idea being carried out, this will be a great pleasant surprise when they walk in on the D-day.
4.3 Pizza party
More food. Period. When you throw an impromptu party of everyone’s favorite food, pizza, not just the one celebrating their work anniversary, but everyone will look forward to their own. Mix it up for each team member with their own choice of cuisine (strictly fast food :D) and have a small celebration in the office. You can also throw in a traditional cake-cutting ceremony – Pizza plus sugar rush, who would deny?
4.4 Happy hours
Share a toast literally to the employee who’s been with you for a couple of years and encourage him to go on for more with this alcohol-themed work anniversary idea. Go to a pub of the employee’s choice, or throw a themed house party. They are bound to remember this celebration, at least parts of it. It is called “Happy” hours for a reason. You can also host happy hours virtually and keep it safe for everyone.
4.5 Career planning session
Show your newbie that you are as serious as them in carving out a career path for them in the organization. Arrange a session with the HR or senior manager and show them the options available for growth. You can also provide them with workshops and training sessions options if they wish to acquire a specific skill set.
5 Work anniversary ideas for everyone in between
The tenure of 3-7 years marks a stepping stone for employees and the company alike. The employees with 3-5 years tenure are on the threshold of the average job tenure in today’s market. If they are convinced that they have a bright future ahead, and the company will value them, it becomes easier to retain them. The ones on the 5-7 year mark could be on the verge of peaking and if their work anniversaries are celebrated tactfully, they will continue with renewed energy.
Here are some foolproof work anniversary ideas for the mid-range tenured employees.
5.1 Turn the spotlight on them
Dedicate a space for your “wall of fame”. Add the photo of the employee celebrating their work anniversary along with a note on their achievements or positives. You can also add a blank note or “scrapbook” and have their colleagues add few words about them. If you have a large monitor, projector or display screen, then this can be digitized and have all of it as a slideshow for the whole day.
5.2 Personalized gifts
Personalized gifts are a good idea if you want to give something personal as a work anniversary gift. For example, you can find out their favorite sports team or fantasy character and have a jersey or t-shirt made with their name and years of completion as the number on it. If another employee does not have a favorite character or person but enjoys traveling, then a personalized travel journal or travel kit would be optimal.
5.3 Gift cards
Another classic work anniversary idea is gift cards. Most gift cards have an option to add a personalized message. Add a thank you note and send them a card from Amazon, Sephora, Apple, or any other place of their choice.
5.4 Photo album of work memories
An employee who has spent a considerable number of years in an organization will have innumerable happy memories. Curate photos from anyone who would have them, create an album of memories of team outings, lunches, games played, awards, etc., and present them on their work anniversary.
5.5 Timeline plaque of achievements
Everyone likes it when their achievements are pointed out. If a star employee is celebrating their work anniversary, then a plaque or a video of their achievements during their tenure would remind the employee that the company values their contributions and will motivate them for the future.
5.6 Company branded goodies
Yet another traditional work anniversary gift idea – company swag. We all love the branded tee or the coffee mug with our company logo on it. For someone young in the company, you can gift them one variety each year, and for someone slightly more seasoned, you can give them the option to choose a company-branded goodie, or even better – put together a goodie bag and gift it to them.
5.7 Tech gifts
In this day of digitization, anyone would appreciate a trendy, good quality gadget. Earpods, smart mugs, Bluetooth speakers, smartwatches are all economical options. You can also turn it up a notch and gift your employees virtual assistant gadgets like Alexa, Google Nest; drones, OTE Headphones, Kindle, FitBit, etc.
5.8 Gift a day off
Many of us prefer to take the day off on special occasions like birthdays and wedding anniversaries. If your employee falls in this category, then take a hint and give them the day off on their work anniversary or on a day of their choice. This is best suited for those who prefer a non-monetary incentive.
5.9 Colored lanyards / ID cards as per year
Providing colored lanyards or ID cards with colored strips would be another subtle yet proud-for-employee work anniversary idea. They can wear their experience (literally) with pride as everyone in the office building would know their tenure in the organization.
5.10 Workspace upgrade
A workspace upgrade is a great work anniversary idea for both onsite and remote employees. Gift them a small potted plant or succulent, an ergonomic chair, extra drawers, a new plaque with their name and maybe an adjective describing them, a laptop stand, a chalkboard… the sky is the limit. Find out what your employee would like and gift it to them.
5.11 Donate to charity of their choice
This is particularly heart-warming if your employee feels strongly about a cause. Get details about the cause or the organization they support and make a donation or a contribution in kind as a token of gratitude to the employee.
6.1 What do you get someone for a work anniversary?
Your work anniversary ideas should have a positive impact on your employees and make them feel valued. Each tenure range will have a different set of gifts that should boost their motivation and productivity and make them want to stay on with the company. The more you understand the employee’s interests, the better you can do in giving them something optimal.
6.2 How do you celebrate your work anniversary?
Work anniversaries are special and can be celebrated in many unique ways. Gifting them something monetary, or gifting them an experience, doing something to make their work-life easier and convenient, or even a simple gesture to show your gratitude would be a great work anniversary idea.
6.3 What are some 20-year work anniversary gift ideas?
5 more years and they would celebrate a quarter-century with the company. In today’s world being with one company for 20 years is almost like a record-breaking scenario. They would deserve the highest possible celebrations – an award to their name, dining with the CEO and leadership team, a long sabbatical, or even an abroad trip would suit a loyalty as this.
6.4 What are some traditional work anniversary gifts?
If your employee celebrating a work anniversary would not prefer anything quirky, or (in those rare scenarios) you do not know what they like/prefer, sticking to the traditional work anniversary ideas is a win-win. Gift cards, Wall of fame, shout-outs on the website and social media feed, team outings and in-house parties, company swag, are all safe and traditional options.