Newer generations of employees entering the workplace are more likely to change jobs much more frequently. Research undertaken by KPMG reveals that UK University graduates today change companies nearly twice as often as they did 20 years ago. As the cost to replace an employee ranges from 25% to in excess of 75% of salary, companies that are able to retain their employees longer have a strong competitive advantage. Over the decades, long service award programmes have evolved, and in the last 5 years or so, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic changes in the industry.

Long Service Award Programmes are Evolving

We have been in the service awards business for a long time. Over the decades service awards have evolved, and in the last 5 years or so, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic changes in the industry. Long Service Award programmes are responding in at least 4 ways to significant changes in the workforce and business.

  • RELATE to a techno-driven generation.
  • RESPOND to recognition preferences.
  • ADAPT to new career expectations.
  • BRIDGE the gap to engage between milestones.

Employers are updating their long service award programs to meet the expectations of today’s tech-savvy generation and take advantage of software-based tools. Second, they are responding to the dynamic recognition preferences of today’s employees. Third, they’re adapting to the changing career expectations we’re seeing today. Finally, effective long service award programmes today are bridging the gap between the milestone events, so that the recognition does more to connect with employees on an ongoing basis.

Looking To The Future: Loyal Service, Not Long Service?

Over the last 20 years the number of times young people have changed jobs has nearly doubled. People who graduated between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs, and people who graduated between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly 2.85 jobs. Therefore, it may be time for organisations to move away from using the term ‘Long Service Awards’ and instead start to think of them as: ‘Loyal Service Awards.’

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Frequent Recognition Drives Engagement

Employers have realised that if they’re going to relate to employees on a broad scale through a service awards programme, they’re going to need to re-evaluate the frequency and timeline for giving recognition. In one study, Hewitt and Associates found that not only does recognition drive engagement, but the more frequent the employee receives recognition, the more significant the impact is on engagement. The scale of this study is measured on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis.

What does this mean for service awards? Clearly it doesn’t make sense to give a service award for every day on the job…that’d be a little crazy. But there are ways to incorporate day-to-day recognition into your long service awards program to multiply its impact.

Benchmark for longevity has moved: 3 is the new 10

Service awards begin much earlier than 10 years and often earlier than 5 years today. If you ask a Gen Y employee if they expect to stay in their job for a long time, they’ll probably say yes. It’s just that to him or her, “a long time” means something different than it does to someone from the Millennial generation – they are thinking of long service in terms of 12 or 18 months.

Elements of Sustainable Framework

There are 5 elements of a sustainable framework for long service award programmes:

  • Method for tracking employee milestones. In smaller organisations this can be as simple as an excel document. In enterprise organisations, it might be HRIS integration with your service awards provider.
  • Documenting achievements and contributions of employees throughout their careers – we’ll call it a recognition profile. This will provide the content when it comes time to recognise employees at significant milestones.
  • Notification system that informs managers of upcoming service anniversaries in their teams.
  • User-friendly award redemption process – how are the awards selected and fulfilled.
  • Consistent format for the way awards are presented to recipients.

When these 5 elements are in place and made to be consistent across the organisation, it ensures that milestones throughout the business are acknowledged in a consistent way.

Get in touch today if you would like to learn how we can help your organisation to effectively recognise employee milestones.