There are major benefits to staying with one company or organization and resisting the urge to job hop. But this isn’t always easy. Sometimes a work environment is toxic, and you have to get out. Sometimes you or your family need to move for personal reasons, and you have no choice but to change employers. But what about when you love your job but don’t feel connected to your colleagues, don’t look forward to spending time in the office or would be more inclined to stick around if you felt a little more appreciated?
A sense of community at work is a major contributor to employee satisfaction, and a fun way to build community and foster a climate of appreciation and recognition is celebrating work anniversaries. The benefits of recognizing colleagues for work anniversaries can be great — interpersonal bonds, lower job turnover, employee satisfaction, etc. — so be ready with some great anniversary wishes and celebration ideas up your sleeve.
Whether your colleague is your best friend, your mentor or someone you maybe say hi to in the hall if you are feeling energetic, a kind and appropriate work anniversary wish can go a long way. Consider the following starters as inspiration for you to craft the perfect wish for your colleague.
1. Pancakes. Since every employee who reaches a 6-month anniversary will warrant another morning pancake party, the company may end up having a lot of pancake parties. Which is, of course, the goal.
2. A cup of coffee. Nothing says thanks like a to-go cup from Starbucks with a nice work anniversary note written on the side from a co-worker. Tea is another good option.
3. A nice bar of chocolate. Cards are nice, but some of us feel more appreciated when chocolate is involved.
4. A card. It is nice after all, especially if the note inside is personalized and shows you know the person and what they have done since joining the company.
5. Gathering employees and recognizing what the person has accomplished in the last year.
6. Cake or pastries. Depending on the size of the company, this could be just for the person celebrating their anniversary or for everyone in the office.
7. Company merchandise. Company merchandise can make a nice gift for a work anniversary if it is accompanied by a personal note.
8. A five-year gift. Many employers give gifts every five years. An appropriate size of gift depends on the person and on the size and makeup of the company but a nice an engraved pen, mug or watch may be nice options on various years. You can also try to choose gifts that are relevant to the job, such as a tape measure for those who work in construction.
9. Flowers. A popular way to tokenize appreciation, flowers also help liven up a workspace.
10. Communal fruit bowl. A bit off the wall but a fun idea could be to have everyone bring in a piece of fruit that relates to the employee or something they have accomplished. Then everyone gathers round to share their thoughts and put the pieces of fruit together into a fruit bowl for the person celebrating their work anniversary.
11. A company calendar. Perfect for hanging up in a cubicle or making sure your colleague has somewhere to write down and plan for all their upcoming meetings.
12. Scrapbook. Gather stories, pictures and tokens from the employee’s time with the company and have everyone pitch in to make them a scrapbook.
13. Write a note on the inside cover of a second-hand book that was inspirational to you and give it to the co-worker celebrating their anniversary.
14. A certificate/plaque. At department or company meetings it is common to have an executive or manager announce who has been there for 10, 15, 20 etc. years and say a bit about each person before giving them their certificate or plaque.
15. A party! Or work-sponsored happy hour at a coffee joint. Events that incorporate coworkers and help everyone celebrate together help build a sense of community and get people excited for their own work anniversary parties.
16. Meal on the company. Treating a long-time employee to a nice meal, maybe with an executive, the employee’s family or even their whole team, is a nice way to recognize the time and work a staff member has put in over the years.
17. Choose your own adventure. Many companies and big government agencies will give employees a choice for what they would like to receive as appreciation at higher levels: from a watch to perfume to a nice picture frame.
From a one-sentence card to a party with everyone in the office: recognizing a work anniversary is meant to make the colleague in question feel good. Make sure that your token, note or surprise party fits in with what you know about your colleague and what will make them feel appreciated. This is also a good time to consider what else you can do to make one another feel recognized within the organization.
While acknowledging work anniversaries is a great start, often people feel even more appreciated if you send a note after they have completed a big assignment or achieved a personal goal. Try setting reminders on your calendar to check in with workmates after a big day and follow up when appropriate. These efforts may go a long way in fostering not only a deeper community of appreciation but potentially friendships and bonds between co-workers as well.
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