Should you ditch long service awards in your organisation?
Long service awards are often undervalued, ignored, and many younger employees don’t think they’ll stay with a company long enough to reach them. You wouldn’t be the first person to think about taking the axe to them in the face of a changing workplace.
Millennial workers now make up the largest generational portion of the workforce, and they aren’t anticipating to reach twenty years in a single organisation. A great many of them plan to leave their existing positions within five years, and they’re not moving just for higher salaries.
Young employees are saying they consider new positions because they want to work for companies selling high quality products or services where their skills are valued and they’re being developed as leaders. They’re asking for opportunity, satisfaction and development, not a trophy.
Long service also isn’t the same as exceptional service. While there’s a definite achievement in serving one company for twenty or thirty years, surely your business would like to reward great performance over simple longevity.
Moving away from young employees, older employees joining your company won’t be enticed by rewards twenty years down the road if they’re leaving the workforce completely in the next decade.
In the face of all the compelling evidence, it’s a simple decision to cut the expensive, unused, unappreciated long service awards. Well unfortunately you can’t, and there’s a few reasons why:
- Employees are conditioned to expect long service awards. A culture of employees moving between companies more frequently doesn’t mean an employee with five years under their belt won’t expect their loyalty to your brand to be recognised. No matter how quaint or unnecessary an employee says loyalty awards are, they’ll absolutely notice if those kinds of milestones aren’t recognised by their employer.
- Long service awards are motivating for staff, albeit probably only in the short-term. Making sure you appropriately demonstrate the company’s gratitude to an employee can reinvigorate their engagement with their employer and boost performance.
- They increase retention. Showing your gratitude for an employee’s loyalty reduces the chance they’ll look for a move to another company, saving you on hiring and training costs by making your employees feel valued.
So you’re stuck with this tried and tested form of recognition, but it doesn’t mean awards can’t be improved. Instead of having an old tome of long service awards occasionally dusted off when someone passes a distant milestone, make the loyalty awards part of your wider effort to reward and recognise your staff.
It might seem like yet another line on the budget or a logistical challenge, but if implemented effectively it’s neither. Rather than having two disparate schemes to reward long term loyalty and short term performance, integrate the entire system into one centralised platform.
From there you can easily set loyalty awards to be activated when you see fit. For example, two years would be a tangible length of time to start loyalty awards for employees joining your organisation at any age, especially if you’re a business with high employee turnover, while you can still set larger awards down the road for employees who reach the greater longevity milestones.
A digital platform gives you the control to administer, monitor and adjust your entire employee rewards scheme including the long service awards in one place. Digital platforms also offer flexibility to the employee to use their rewards as they see fit, meaning employers don’t have to worry about putting together bespoke packages for individual employees as they pass milestones of service.
So while the gold wristwatch, firm handshake and shove out the door are thankfully being relegated to history, new opportunities are rolling in to cultivate a system with far more value to your business and your employees than traditional long service awards.