The adage that it's the little things that matter rings true for your employees.
Of course, they want raises, work-life balance benefits, and career opportunities. But they also appreciate the small gestures that show how much you value them.
Work anniversary messages and gifts add that personal touch that boosts employee engagement and contributes to a better overall experience with your company.
Sending Gifts for Work Anniversaries: Considerations and What NOT to Do
Before sending work anniversary messages, you need to consider your employees, their current situations, and their relationship with your company.
To show true appreciation, you have to lay the groundwork.
A "happy anniversary" isn't a substitute for paying employees what they're worth or giving them the perks and benefits they deserve.
The degree to which your work anniversary gift is well-received is deeply rooted in your company's ability to meet your employee's core needs. If they've been asking for a raise, additional perks, or even just more recognition for years, they will be insulted by a physical gift that downplays or disregards their demands.
Before sending your work anniversary wishes, take a hard look at your company culture and employee experience by asking yourself the following questions:
- Has Employee X been asking for a raise? Is my company in a position to give it?
- What important changes has Employee X requested? Is my company in a position to make them happen?
- Can I offer any bonuses or perks to show appreciation for their work anniversary?
- What achievements, tasks, or milestones has this employee achieved during their tenure?
Remember what's most important to them before sending a heartfelt message and gift: feeling valued, respected, and appreciated.
Lame physical gifts completely dismiss the above (and come off as tone-deaf).
Put yourself in your employee's shoes. Could you imagine anything worse than walking to your desk on your fifth work anniversary after a year of asking for a raise, just to see a gift card or mug inscribed with "Happy Work Anniversary" without any tangible appreciation for your work?
We can't, either.
Take this employee who took twice the workload over the course of a year and was rewarded for their dedicated service with two slices of pizza, for example:
Or this hospital worker who was rewarded for two years as a committed employee during the COVID-19 pandemic with two at-home COVID tests:
We aren't saying you need to go crazy with your gift. But in these instances, the gifts are more of a slap in the face than a thoughtful gift for a hardworking and intelligent employee.
In general, it's best to wish employees a happy work anniversary with something they can actually use or benefit from. Doing so doesn't cost much more and makes a world of a difference.
10 Fantastic Work Anniversary Ideas That Show You Really Care
The good news about wishing your employees a happy work anniversary is that it isn't that hard. With simple automation (so you don't forget), a little thought, and a few minutes of research to personalize your message, you can make each employee feel special.
Here are ten gift ideas to get you started.
1. Implement a spot bonus program (and automate it).
Spot bonuses are cash rewards given to employees for all the success they've brought your company. They're meant to highlight happy milestones and achievements, including their work anniversary.
When your employee receives their anniversary bonus, they can use it for whatever they please—a night out, a shopping spree, or just to pay bills.
According to Payscale's 2022 Compensation Best Practices Report, nearly 80% of employers offer some sort of variable pay like spot bonuses—it's one of the best ways to show appreciation for your employees and one of the easiest to implement because it can be automated using Compt's employee bonus software.
Pro tip: Boost employee engagement by encouraging them to share their purchase with their work anniversary bonus, like so:
Why employees love spot bonuses: They give them the power to choose how to spend their bonus and the flexibility to plan for their future.
2. Give them an experience they'll never forget.
Experiential gifts always go the extra mile in making your employee feel appreciated for all their hard work. Plus, they extend your appreciation for their work past their professional life.
Here are a few ideas:
- Send them on a weekend getaway or mini-vacation.
- Gift them tickets to see their favorite artist or sports team.
- Give them a unique experience, such as skydiving or hot air ballooning.
- Gift an experience they can plan with friends or a significant other.
For a team member who has been with your organization for more than a decade, feel free to go "all out" by rewarding them with an all-expenses-paid trip. If they're newer, you can wish them a happy work anniversary and continued success with a lower-cost option like concert tickets.
If you aren't sure how to make it personal (i.e., what to get them), it doesn't hurt to ask their interests. To make gift-planning for a co-worker easier in the future, you could also set up a Slack channel where employees post their hobbies, interests, and weekend activities (which you can easily reference come time to wish them a happy job anniversary.
Why employees love unforgettable experiences: They get to experience something special and memorable, which makes them feel appreciated. Experiences can be sentimental or funny work anniversary gifts—either way, they always make a lasting impression.
3. Let them take an extra day (or two) of PTO.
Whether someone has been a valuable member of your team for one year or ten years, what better way to say "thanks for all your efforts" than to reward them with an extra day or two of PTO? According to research from Gusto, that's what 88% of employees want.
When it comes to PTO, employees love the flexibility. They can use their bonus days to relax and recharge, take a personal day for fun activities, or just stay home and catch up on sleep.
And for businesses, it's one of the lowest-cost ways to share happy work anniversary wishes.
If you're already offering an anniversary stipend as part of your employee bonus program, this will be the icing on the cake!
Why employees love extra PTO: It's a great way to thank them for their successful year and allow them to take time off and enjoy life outside of work. And it's an opportunity for them to invest in themselves — something every employee needs.
4. Send them something cute and personal.
The one time a physical product is a great idea is when there's sentimental value attached to it. This is totally dependent on the individual situation — every organization has its quirks associated with company size, industry, role, and countless other factors.
This Reddit user describes an excellent example of how this could play out in reality:
On their fifth work anniversary, their company's tradition was sending them lab coats that metaphorically represented their brilliant expertise. It turned into a funny inside joke, and each team member would coordinate to wear them.
Even though the author didn't like the job in the end, this small and thoughtful gesture was an essential part of the culture they will remember about the company forever.
Why employees love cute, personal work anniversary wishes: They're meaningful, thoughtful, and show you care beyond their duties. Plus, they make for a fun conversation starter with other team members, which helps everyone build stronger relationships in the workplace.
5. Throw a team party.
A "happy work anniversary" party is the perfect way to celebrate a loyal employee who has been at the company for a while. Five years, ten years, and a two-decade tenure are good milestones to host a work anniversary party — it wouldn't make sense to host one for every co-worker each year.
Here are a few creative ideas for work anniversary parties that go beyond pizza in the breakroom:
- Take the team out to lunch, dinner, or for drinks.
- Have a popular restaurant cater for the office.
- Have a themed party (e.g., pajama party, 80s-themed dance party).
- Host an outdoor barbecue or bonfire.
- Invite your team over for dinner (for exec and CXO roles)
- Organize a virtual game night after work.
Since longer tenures are less common, they're always worth celebrating with everyone in the office. This gives you the opportunity to plan something a little more meaningful.
Why employees love work anniversary parties: They're perfect for sharing memories and experiences with fellow employees that they may have had throughout their time at your company, and they involve the whole office in making an amazing co-worker feel special.
6. Give them something to help them grow professionally.
87% of millennials say development opportunities are critical to their job satisfaction and 76% of Gen Z agree. If you have a skilled professional who has continuously mentioned their interest in developing new skills, why not help them take that next step?
Whether it's a subscription to an online course, access to an e-learning library, or digital guides — you can give your employees the gift of knowledge. Not only will they appreciate the effort put into finding something meaningful for them but this type of gift also ensures their personal and professional growth.
If you aren't sure exactly what to offer them, a learning and development stipend is your safest bet — this gives them the freedom to choose what type of training they want or need.
Why employees love professional development gifts: They get to build skills valuable to their career progression and you get to show them you value their contribution and care about their future success.
7. Offer a special discount or access to products or services.
If your company offers tremendous value your employees might be interested in, you could offer them free or discounted access to your services.
Pavilion, a professional development and community-building platform, is the perfect example of this — employees of the company don't have to pay for valuable memberships, learning programs, and professional networking opportunities they would otherwise need to spend thousands on.
Why employees love work anniversary offers and discounts: When a company can use its own resources to develop its employees inside and outside of work, they're doing more than wishing them a very happy work anniversary — they're investing in their long-term growth and success.
8. Celebrate cohorts or hiring classes.
Sales orgs contribute so much to the bottom line, and it's not every day they hear a "Congratulations on your work." Sellers are more burned out than nearly everyone on your team, and a day they can all take a breather will be a day they won't soon forget.
To wish your team a happy anniversary and celebrate their past year with the company, consider cutting the day short and taking them to lunch or happy hour. If you really want to go above and beyond, you could even take them out for a special dinner or host a team-bonding event at a private venue
Why employees love cohort celebrations: It's a reminder that everyone is in it together — no one works alone! It creates a lasting bond between all the people who collaborate the most.
9. Acknowledge their hard work with a feature in your company newsletter or blog.
Highlighting all they ways an employee's work successfully contributed to your company's future shows them they're appreciated, but it's also a fantastic resume booster they can use to build their own personal brand.
There are numerous ways you can frame the article:
- Employee Spotlight: How Employee X helped the company achieve Y.
- Employee Feature: An Interview with Employee X about their time at the company.
- A Look Back at Employee X's Achievements This Past Year
- Time Flies: Celebrating Employee X's Work Anniversary
Why employees love being featured: A well-written article shows your employee their achievements over the past year are integral to your success, and it gives them the opportunity to promote themselves.
10. Send a personalized video message from the whole team!
If you get each co-worker to take a ten-second video talking about what makes your employee special to them and compile it into a work anniversary video, we promise it'll make their day (or week).
Especially if they've been with the company for a long time (e.g., ten years, two decades), telling them what a lovely person they are and what a past crazy decade it's been will give them a sense of community.
In the video, each employee should share one thing they appreciate about their co-worker and how great it's been to work alongside them. You can easily have everyone record with Loom and send it in a Slack channel or email thread.
Why employees love personalized videos: Sometimes, words are the most powerful form of appreciation. This is the perfect way to make them feel recognized and appreciated for their work — it's a thoughtful reminder that they're not alone and countless people support them.
Bonus: Remote Work Anniversary Ideas
Three out of every four organizations offer remote work in some capacity, so it isn't always easy to recognize employees who work from a distance.
For remote workers, it's all about the little things — although some of the abovementioned work anniversary gifts translate well to remote employees, here are a few additional ideas to keep your remote workforce engaged and appreciated:
- Host a virtual team activity.
- Send them a gift basket or box (that they'll actually use).
- Mail them company-branded apparel and accessories.
- Send a work-from-home care package.
- Give their home office a makeover (or give them the resources to do so).
- Add an extra bonus to their remote work stipend.
- Plan something with team members in their area.
Your online employees deserve happy work anniversary wishes just as much as their in-office counterparts, and it's an essential part of building a cohesive team.
Happy Work Anniversary Wishes, Messages & Quotes
Regardless of the work anniversary gift you give your team members, the most important thing is to make sure they know how much you appreciate their hard work.
In addition to a heartfelt gift, sending your employees a work anniversary card with an encouraging message is a great way to show them your appreciation for all their contributions—here are a few ways you could do that:
- Funny work anniversary messages with puns, inside jokes, and memes
- Motivational work anniversary messages that remind employees of their successes
- Your own unique work anniversary wishes to express your gratitude for their dedication and hard work
- A long-form sentiment carefully hand-written on a card
Whatever your work anniversary message, make sure it's sincere and shows that you truly value their hard work and commitment.
Work Anniversary Wishes and Gifts Are Easier With Compt
Whether it's your team member's first or tenth work anniversary, Compt makes it easier to give them your best wishes.
With Compt, you can set up an employee bonus program, assign each employee their own special anniversary gift, and send out customized work anniversary messages that are tailored to each individual team member.
Plus, Compt makes it easier for you to track employee anniversaries and gives you the ability to set up automated reminders so no one's big day gets forgotten.
And with our Slack integration, the team can celebrate together.
Click here to speak with our team and learn more.