Best Practices for Celebrating Work Anniversaries (Webinar Recap)

Anniversaries are a key moment in the employee lifecycle that can inspire pride and unity in the workplace. They’re also an opportunity to go beyond cookies or cake, and create a moment of affirmation that emphasizes how the employee’s work connects to the company’s mission, and celebrates why they–and their workmatter.

In order to unpack this topic, we partnered with Bonusly to produce a webinar expanding on our findings from last month’s two-part content series on workplace anniversaries, featuring panelists from InVision and Quartet Health who elaborated on some of things they’re doing to make these events meaningful.

Read on for a recap of some of their best practices for celebrating workplace anniversaries. You can also watch the full recording of our webinar HERE.

#1: Things to avoid 

  • Celebrating just the number – while length of tenure is important, especially in an industry where the average length of tenure is decreasing, keep the focus on what the employee has accomplished during that time, rather than “hey it’s another year and you didn’t get fired”
  • Not celebrating during the rest of the year – Employees need to be acknowledged more than just once a year. Creating a system of frequent acknowledgement and feedback helps employees connect (and stay connected) with their work and their team.
  • Not planning for distributed teams – many companies now have teams in different locations, employees working remotely, and some may be fully remote. Furthermore, even if you don’t have different locations now there might be a chance you will in the future. Creating a framework for work anniversaries that everyone can participate helps make sure your remote teams don’t get silo’d.
  • Celebrating everyone differently vs. celebrating them the exact same why – this can be tricky: even though you want consistency, you don’t want workplace anniversaries to feel like a cookie-cutter event that unfolds identically every time. If you’re a company that’s experiencing rapid growth its also important to stay flexible early on so that you’re not disappointing folks when you can’t deliver the gift or acknowledgement practice at scale.

#2 Ideas to Steal from InVision

  • One of the great things we do is storytelling. We recognize new folks at all hands. On anniversaries, we use tools like Bonusly to public call out employees. We call them “invisaveries” and celebrate them in our Slack channel, and have a story about that person and an event they were at.
  • We don’t celebrate birthdays, so an employee’s anniversary becomes their special day, and it leads to really robust conversations, especially when we pair it with a product like Donut – it becomes a trigger for those pairing conversations. It’s a laser focus on connecting with people. As we scale, it’s easy to lose sight of what has happened, and public recognition has meant a lot and had an impact on engagement. We get feedback that they like this recognition and want more oportunities to do it.

#3 Ideas to Steal from Quartet

  • For us it’s not about the number, it’s a moment to pause, think and share about why that employee is at Quartet. We’re extremely mission-driven and our people are passionate about changing the landscape of mental healthcare, and we like to pause and create a space for people to talk about why the mission is important to them
  • We give each manager $10 to spend on a team member for their anniversary so they have a level of decision-making in how they want to celebrate it.
  • Whether folks are in-office or distributed, we have a biweekly people ops newsletter that goes out, and all folks up for an anniversary in the next 2 weeks are featured.
  • We have a big whiteboard calendar with important dates by the kitchen, and our office manager adds birthdays, anniversaries, national donut day, etc. it’s become this center of attention and a time for people to see it.
  • Slacks go out into #general through Donut celebrating anniversaries, and we also send indivudals a happy anniversary
  • For distributed folks, we plan ahead and send them care packages with a champagne bottle full of confetti. We also have these wooden coins/pogs that we put our values on, and we send them to folks as a refresher on our values – here are these artifacts you can put on your  desk or take with you.

#4 More Anniversary Celebration Ideas from Bonusly

  • Tie a balloon number to the employee’s desk showing how many years they’ve been with the company
  • Give the employee a jersey with their employee number
  • Give the employee some time off
  • Make a charitable donation in the employee’s name

#5 Review, Reflect, and Re-up

  • Everyone wants to keep turnover low, but there’s no denying the fact that workplace anniversaries are a natural time for employees to review and reflect on whether their job is working for them and if they want to stay. If they decide this isn’t the path they want to be on then the question should be how can you help them get there, or if the company has grown and it’s no longer a fit, how can you help them find something else.  It’s a good time to reconnect, and do some deep thinking about your relationship with the company, which brings a lot of value.

#6 It’s Never Too Late to Celebrate

  • If you have people that have been there for 5-7 years who haven’t received as much acknowledgement as you plan to give going forward, put them on a panel at an all-hands and ask them to talk about the company’s growth, all the desks and roles they’ve had, etc. Don’t dwell on it, but start where you are and catch them up.
  • If the company is celebrating its own anniversary, bring all of the people who have been there since the beginning (or close to it), and highlight that through a t-shirt or something to make people feel included and excited