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Employee Milestones...What, Why, and How?

By Erika Miller

Illustration of a birthday cake with balloons behind it.

Dun-dun-DUUUUUUUUN! It’s 10pm on Sunday and you forgot Sheri’s 5-year work anniversary is tomorrow. You scramble before work to find a card with cute puppies on it and throw in that Chili’s gift card that’s been sitting in your desk drawer for the last 6 months.

Okay, that didn’t ACTUALLY happen, but I think we all know the pit-inducing feeling of forgetting a birthday, anniversary, and more. So, what can you do to celebrate employee milestones like a champ and become the caped party crusader of the office? This quick read will give you the knowledge and tools you need to turn your milestone celebrations from “blah” to “ahh”!

What are employee milestones?

You might be wondering “well, what are employee milestones?” We’re glad you asked! Employee milestones are anything that are important events in the lives of your employees. Traditionally, those have been birthdays and work anniversaries.

image with text - Employees want to feel like their company is invested in them as a human being, not just an asset.

But let’s be honest: the workforce is changing. The lines between personal and professional are becoming blurred, and only celebrating a 5- or 10-year work anniversary isn’t cutting it anymore. Employees want to feel like their company is invested in them as a human being, not just an asset.

So what should you be celebrating? Definitely birthdays (keep in mind that age is a sensitive topic...so make sure you ask your employees their ‘celebratory preferences’ before tooting the birthday horn), work anniversaries, retirement, promotions, new babies, adoption, marriage, and more. Knowing what personal and professional milestones your company should celebrate comes down to your culture and what you feel is important in your work family.

Why should you celebrate milestones at work?

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate employee milestones at work...and it’s not just to make them feel good. Here are some benefits to celebrating employee milestones.

image with text - Companies with highly engaged employees experienced 21% higher profitability.

Increase Engagement = Increased Profitability. When you celebrate important milestones with your employees, you tell them that they matter to you. And when your employees feel like they matter, they’re more likely to be highly engaged in the work they’re doing. On top of that? In a 2017 Gallup report, companies with an engaged workforce have 17% higher productivity than companies with disengaged employees. Not sold yet? The companies with highly engaged employees experienced 21% higher profitability.

Can’t argue with numbers!

Decreased Turnover. It’s no surprise that happy employees stick around longer. Celebrating milestones at work is a really great way to help your employees feel important, appreciated, and validated. Acknowledging and celebrating the important events in your employees’ lives builds company loyalty and you can be confident that when the time comes, the employees you’ve taken care of will take care of you. Like HR.com says, “the equation is simple.”

The Company Culture of Your Dreams. We can’t promise that celebrating employee milestones will have tiny little rainbow unicorns prancing around the office and the lounge smelling like sugar cookies, but we can promise that you will have employees that are happy to be a part of your company, proud of the work they do, and have great relationships with their peers. And if you ask us, that’s a company culture worth fighting for. Making your employees feel important and appreciated is a surefire way to hop on the train to the Best. Culture. Ever.

How can you celebrate employee milestones?

Now that you’re excited, you probably want some ideas for celebrating employee milestones, huh? It’s your lucky day! We’ve put together a list of five easy ways to celebrate milestones at work and make your employees feel like a million bucks (...without spending a million bucks).

1. Send a personal note.

It may seem like a cliche, but personal notes to your peers and employees make a difference. Take the time to wish them a happy birthday or congratulate them on their new adoption. It’s a step in the right direction to creating a great working relationship, and it will make both of you feel good. Motivosity makes it easy to track important milestones and send out personalized notes to everyone on your team.

2. Have lunch as a team.

We’re not saying everyone needs to wear party hats...but it would be awesome if you did. Celebrating milestones as a team is SO important. Getting peers involved helps them understand that every employee is important—including them. They’ll have confidence that if you’re going to lunch for Todd’s birthday, you won’t forget theirs either.

3. Decorate their workspace.

For companies that have teams in the office, decorating a workspace is a fun way to surprise your employees on their special day and set the tone for celebrations. When was the last time you walked in to see balloons and confetti on your 2-year work anniversary?

4. Create a fun video.

image with text - Get the team together and film a quick 30 second video to let your remote employees know you’re thinking of them.

Knowing how to celebrate milestones with a hybrid workforce can be hard. You can’t walk by their desk, give them a high five, and talk about their plans. But, you can send a personal video to congratulate them and share your excitement. Get the team together and film a quick 30 second video to let your remote employees know you’re thinking of them...and if you really want to have a good time with it, maybe include a wig and some cringe-worthy choreography.

5. Give them a gift voucher.

This is probably the first thing you thought of when you wondered how to celebrate employee milestones...and we love that! Giving your employees a voucher or money to celebrate the way they want to is a great way to acknowledge their milestone and give them the opportunity to ‘get down to party town’ in a way that they feel comfortable. When you use Motivosity to acknowledge milestones, you can send a few bucks and give your employees the power to choose how and when they want to celebrate.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to start celebrating your employees’ milestones like a pro, make it happen. Help your employees feel like a million bucks and don’t break the bank while you do it.

Sources:

  • https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/winter2020/pages/celebrating-employee-milestones.aspx
  • https://www.motivosity.com/recognize/
  • https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/12157/power-praise-recognition.aspx
  • https://www.hr.com/en/app/blog/2012/03/top-3-reasons-why-employee-recognition-is-so-impor_gzqy1ds1.html
  • https://news.gallup.com/poll/241649/employee-engagement-rise.aspx
  • https://www.springworks.in/blog/celebrate-employees-milestones-and-work-anniversary/