Like morning donuts or free lunches, years of service awards are one of the grizzled veterans of employee engagement programs. Even the most straight-laced offices often take time to highlight employees that demonstrate a major commitment with awards like custom lapel pins or corporate challenge coins. These awards are one of the most classic forms of employee recognition, with 85 percent of businesses maintaining tenure-based service awards.

However, too many companies maintain out-of-date approaches with their years of service that fail to recognize their workers on their daily contributions.

Does that mean its time to retire the years of service award? Not so. Companies with years of service awards retain more fulfilled employees. Tenure-based awards reflect well on company culture and increase employee loyalty but to reach their full potential, you need to rethink how and when they’re awarded.

Timely Recognition

Today’s employees are more interested in companies who recognize their day-to-day merit and contributions. However, too many years of service programs are painfully out of touch with modern engagement needs where timely awards are essential. To put it into perspective, the first major milestone for most corporate years of service awards is after five years working with a company when today’s average employee tenure at a job is 4.2 years.

People take pride in managing to overcome a major problem or finish a big project while they’re in the moment. By the time an outdated service award is awarded months or years, employees have probably moved on. When you celebrate major accomplishments at the moment, you’re reinforcing the effort that made that accomplishment happen and encouraging that employee to keep taking those positive actions.

Best Practices For Awarding Years of Service Coins

All About Challenge Coins makes custom-made challenge coins designed for years of service awards, but an award is only as effective as the amount of effort an employer puts into actually recognizing their workforce. While years of service awards are tenure-based, you shouldn’t be awarding them to an employee just for keeping their position for a period of time.

Below, we’ve listed six key best practices for making awarding your years of service pins:

Award years of service coins as a social event

Years of service coins should celebrate your employee’s work and performance, not be a pat on the back for simply sticking around. Work anniversaries aren’t just a big deal for employees, they’re a big deal for a company as well. A five-year anniversary for an employee is also a five-year celebration for a business that’s been run successfully for five years. By turning an award into a big public social event for the company, you’ve managed to turn what might have been an obligation award into a trip down memory lane that involves new and old employees into your business culture.

Award years of service pins publically

One of the reasons why years of service pins are popular is because the actual production of the pins is efficient and quick once you’ve made an initial design. A fact many businesses take advantage of by ordering the pins en masse and simply replacing the text to honor of varying years of service. But slapping one of these pins on someone’s desk when the calendar rings they’ve worked for you for five years is about as meaningful as emailed birthday letter from your insurance provider. It makes that custom pin an impersonal and hollow award. Instead, make it an event! Give your years of service award with both pomp and ceremony celebrating the big projects your employee has taken part in and highlighting the big contributions they’ve made.

Pair the award with a gift

Physical awards of appreciation are made all the sweeter when accompanied by gifts or bonuses but don’t just pair the award with a cash bonus or a $20 shopping gift card. The most memorable service awards are paired with experiential gifts ranging anywhere from a classic free lunch at a posh restaurant on company dime to a free trip or vacation package. Sharing a unique experience with an employee is far more memorable than simple cash or a new blender because experiences stay with us.

Leave an Impact With Your Years of Service Coins

Years of service awards aren’t going anywhere anytime soon but with the tide of new employee engagement programs and recognition programs, they need to adapt to changing times. If you want service awards that your employees are going to remember fondly, then you need to make an effort in how you award them. By keeping your awards timely and making them a unique experience, rather than a business obligation, you’re on track to make an impact.