Why long-service should be rewarded with more than a memento of time

Jacqueline Benjamin | November 7, 2016

Colleagues eagerly watching a personalised long-service award being given to an employee forming a team-moment

I remember growing up and visiting some family friends for lunch and playing in their living room. On their fireplace sat a beautiful carriage clock in a glass case with a small plaque which read “for 20 years of dedicated service”, and I thought to myself, “why on earth would anyone want a carriage clock”? 

A few decades later and the world is a different place. A job is no longer for life and people changing jobs and careers is far more commonplace. Today, according to the most recent available data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees stay at each of his or her jobs for an average of 4.4 years. Given this statistic, surely companies reward long-service commitment and loyalty with more than a carriage clock?

Well you would be surprised!

I recently heard of a company that gave one of its employees a £50 voucher for 15 years of hard work - that’s just over £3 for every year! Another gave one of their longest serving members of staff a single day off. This is not much of a reward for loyalty and could not have made each of these individuals feel very special or valued. If it was me, I would have gone home and questioned why I had stayed in the same job for the last 15 years!

This is not the case with every company and, as it goes, we have seen that lots of companies really value their loyal staff. After all it’s become less common to have long-standing staff members and these people have a real value to that organisation. They know the company inside and out and are often integral to its culture and the way it operates. 

In recent years, there has been a change in mindset. Companies are becoming far more innovative in the way they approach rewarding and recognising long-service and loyalty amongst their staff. They are starting to adopt technology solutions to help them do this, but also allowing peers to recognise each other’s contribution to the business.

But most importantly, businesses are now able to reward their long-serving members of staff with something that has far greater value than a carriage clock that reminds them of how much time they have until their retirement. There are travel options, financial and lifestyle benefits or special experiences that can be given. Not only that, but with the more innovative recognition platforms, some organisations enable their staff to contribute to or decide what the right reward should be, whilst also providing a very public platform to recognise their contribution and success. The more forward thinking companies don’t even wait for long-service and allow their staff to reward each other immediately for their work and achievements.

Thoughtfulness can be just as valuable as money 

However, companies do seem to be getting more thoughtful and innovative when it comes to employee recognition. They are looking beyond the carriage clocks and token gifts to rewarding their staff through more formal recognition programmes that deliver something aspirational and a real goal for other employees to work towards. In recent years, we have seen workers rewarded with dream family holidays, fully paid sabbaticals and even substantial contributions to pensions. 

More than ever before staff want to feel valued by their team, their employers and their peers. They want to know that the 15 or 20 years of loyal service meant something to the company and that the company has grown to know and understand them as an individual. This is not hard and companies can go the extra mile by simply looking at the benefits and discounts that each person regularly uses, or get input from friends and peers. This will help organisations not only send the right message to all its staff, but also make their long serving staff feel both rewarded, recognised and special - and not just left on the mantel piece like a carriage clock.

To learn more about how to engage employees through recognition download our free guide below.

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Topics: Employee Retention, Reward and Recognition

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