Do Long Service Awards still have value?

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The employment market has changed drastically over the last decade. Gone are the days when employees stay with one company for their entire career and that is especially true for millennial’s. As the largest generation in the workforce today, millennials have embodied the term ‘job hopper’. The general tenure for a millennial employee is two years, compared to seven years for a baby boomer.

So with all these changes in the labour market, the idea of recognising an employee’s length of service might seem rather redundant. We are extremely proud to have celebrated numerous 5 year, 10 year and 15 year Long Service Awards this year, with more to come in 2016. We have found that Long Service Awards are still considered one of the most important recognition tools for our people. So what are the benefits of Long Service Awards?

Motivating and Engaging staff

Long service awards can go a long way in motivating and engaging staff. In Mindpearl offices outside Australia where Long Service Leave is not legislated one of the Long Service benefits we offer our employees is an increase in their annual leave with every year of service. This is a benefit that we have found genuinely motivates our people, as it adds value to their lives. When a benefit adds value to an employee’s life, the reward is appreciated so much more. People want to work for a company that cares about their wellbeing.

Rewarding Loyalty and Commitment to the business

Long Service Awards might seem like a thing of the past, but I feel they still have an important role to play in rewarding loyalty and commitment to the business. We have found that symbolic value is as important as the actual value of the award itself. A personalised award, presented and received in front of senior management and peers carries a great deal of weight. It shows the company has taken the time to recognise the value the individual has added and continues to add to the business.

Retention

Previously it was common for employers to reward individuals with a Long Service Award after 25, 30 or 40 years, however such tenures are now rare. The milestones for Long Service recognition have been reduced in most industries, to adapt to the millennials. Some industries have even started rewarding from year one. This short term approach can bring with it several benefits, including retention. With the cost of recruitment and retention increasing annually, it only makes sense to invest in retaining your best talent.

Strengthens the Culture of an Organisation

Recognition of Long Service also strengthens the culture of the organisation and shows that the employer values loyalty. When employees are recognised for their years of loyal service and the value they bring to the organisation, it sends a clear message not only to the individual being celebrated, but to all staff. We have found internal brand adoption easier, as our people are more motivated to live out the values of the company when they feel a sense of pride and community within their own workplace.

While the milestones for qualification have shifted to adapt to the changes in the labour market, I firmly believe the value of Long Service Awards have increased for the individual, but also for the business as a whole. This has been affirmed through so many Long Service Award recipients within our own organisation during the past year, including myself.

D) Employee recognition is one of the most powerful employee engagement and retention tools you have at your disposal. It’s your key to leveling the playing field.

Salary isn’t the only effective means of attracting, inspiring, and retaining star employees. It’s important, but its weakness is that it’s fungible.

Your salary dollars are directly replaceable with your competitors’ salary dollars. With all other elements of the employee value proposition being equal, your competitor will have a more compelling offer if they’re offering more salary.

That’s why it’s crucial to consider the non-fungible elements of your employee value proposition — the things you can provide to employees that are unique, and have no identical replacements.

One of the least fungible assets a company has is its culture. Building an extraordinary culture of recognition and appreciation can level the playing field between companies large and small, high tech and low tech, startups and global institutions.

In a study of 834 organizations, Bersin and Associates found that “Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.”

It may be hard to believe, but that single factor really was responsible for such a dramatic reduction in turnover — and a dramatic reduction in turnover can mean the difference between a good year, and a great year.

So how do you build a recognition-rich culture of appreciation?

There are some great resources dedicated to this topic, but to get you started, here are some traits that every great employee recognition program exhibits.

Implementing them can help ensure you’re seeing the best results possible:

Frequency

For recognition to be its most effective, it must be frequent. It’s not enough to recognize contributions on a yearly, monthly, or even weekly basis.

There are countless ways each member of your team is bringing you closer to your goals each day.

Recognizing the multitude of efforts, and showing your appreciation for them is the foundation of a strong organizational culture.

Sometimes small wins can go by unnoticed and unrecognized, which leaves little incentive for employees to work towards achieving them.

Frequent recognition provides a constant reassurance that each team member’s work is valued, whether it’s a small win, or a major accomplishment.

Spontaneity

Recognition and appreciation don’t just need to be frequent. An effective recognition program is lightweight and easy enough to be spontaneous.

Giving recognition on a schedule, even if it is given frequently, inevitably rings hollow.

You need to be able to give recognition just as easily at 3:00am as you would at 3:00pm. The moment you start scheduling recognition is the moment it starts to feel gratuitous — not only to give, but also to receive.

Timeliness

Timing is crucial for building motivational inertia.

Recognition has the greatest potential for impact right in the moment that a valuable contribution was made. Hearing applause for great work weeks or months later is problematic.

If there’s a long interim, during that time you’re operating under the impression that nobody valued the work that you did. Nobody cared. It’s hard to stay motivated to achieve great things during that period. Whereas, receiving a motivational boost from your colleagues in the moment helps propel you to your next win.

Specificity

Effective recognition is tied to specific actions and achievements. Without this, there’s less value in giving it. If you tell someone ‘great job,’ and consider that good enough, you’re missing out on a couple huge opportunities. It’s important to explain exactly which job that someone did that was great, and why it was great; otherwise they’re not receiving crucial feedback that could help them achieve great things more reliably.

People need to understand which contributions they make are most valuable to their teammates, and to their organization. If an employee knows that one thing they did really helped out their co-worker, that’s valuable information–it’s equally valuable information for an employee to know when and why a contribution they’ve made is particularly valuable to their organization as a whole.

Inclusivity

If you want an employee recognition program that positively impacts employee engagement company-wide, you can’t leave out large swaths of the staff.

Include everyone. If you don’t, you’re guaranteed to be missing out on some important knowledge about your team, and some important opportunities to improve their engagement. From new hires to team leads and even executives, everyone should be participating.

Just because you don’t often talk to the people in the IT department doesn’t mean they’re not providing an absolutely vital service to your organization.

They need and deserve a show of appreciation and recognition for the work they do, just as much as anyone else. Even senior leaders need a show of appreciation from time to time.

Participation

Don’t just include everyone, encourage their participation — this doesn’t mean mandating participation — we all know how well that goes. A great recognition program is irresistible to participate in. Why is this important? The more people who participate, the more people who have a vested interest in the program’s effectiveness.

The same person who might scoff at the idea of an over-conceptualized corporate nightmare of a recognition system is the same person who will help you keep your own system grounded.

This brings us to feedback.

Feedback

Honest, constructive feedback is crucial, and your team is a priceless source for it — they’ll help you develop the most effective employee recognition program possible. You need to solicit and accept feedback from the team to ensure it’s a program they’re genuinely motivated to participate in.