Top five long-service awards for employees

The days of carriage clocks and gold watches as long-service awards are fast disappearing, replaced by gift vouchers and electrical goods as the top gift choices for loyal employees.

 If you read nothing else, read this…

  • Long-service awards vary across different organisations.
  • The most common long-service awards tend to be gift cards or vouchers, or electrical goods.
  • Employees appreciate flexibility in being able to choose their own gift.

Long-service awards are a way of saying thank-you to employees and recognising their contribution over a period of years. But although this recognition practice continues, the awards are changing.

Employers are increasingly realising that offering the traditional clock or watch is no longer the most popular way of recognising or motivating staff. Here we look at the current top five long-service awards.

1. Gift cards or vouchers

Many employers offer gift cards or vouchers to long-serving employees because they can be given in various forms, such as a plastic card or electronic voucher. These can be loaded with a monetary value to reflect an employee’s length of service.

Gift cards give staff flexibility to choose their reward. In some cases, a card’s value can be put towards an overseas holiday or clothing. Employers can also personalise a gift card with the employee’s name and the organisation’s brand. Cards or vouchers tend to be given out, along with a framed certificate, at a recognition ceremony in front of the recipients’ peers.

Joanne Taylor, corporate sales manager at Jordan Media, which offers employers a range of promotions, incentives and gift solutions, says: “Gift vouchers are ideal because they have a monetary value, and it is a very obvious way to demonstrate how valued that employee is. It also gives them the chance to choose their gift and ensures they are not given something that may not be appropriate for them.”

2. Electrical goods

With the emergence of iPads, 3D televisions and high-tech phones, it is no surprise that when employers offer staff a flexible choice of reward, electrical goods are high on their wish-lists.

Angela Williams, HR director at Sodexo, says: “Times have changed. Clocks are no longer seen as an appropriate long-service award. Awards are now really broad, and our employees get a great sense of pride in working for the organisation by choosing which award they would like to receive.

“We have seen a surge in technical goods, such as iPads, TVs and laptops as top choices. We have had to move with the times.”

3. Extra holiday/sabbaticals

Many employers offer extra holiday to reward employees for, say, 10, 20 or 30 years’ service. In some instances, organisations offer staff a six-week paid career break, the equivalent in pay, or a mix of both. Dennis Publishing offers its staff such an option.

4. Employer’s memorabilia

Long-service awards also conjure up images of employer-branded scarves or memorabilia such as pens. A plaque is another sign of recognition that employers like to use. Despite there being a move away from using particular items to recognise long service, plaques still tend to be given alongside a more personal gift chosen by the employee.

5. Clocks and watches

These used to be the most common long-service awards presented to staff. But as technology now dominates many people’s lives, such traditional gifts are falling out of favour. Where carriage clocks and gold watches are still used, they tend to come inscribed with the organisation’s name or logo and the employee’s name.

Colin Hodgson, sales director at Edenred, says: “The days of the traditional carriage clock or watch, which was a symbol of time served, have really been replaced. Things have moved on quite significantly and what we see today is the employer really valuing the act of personalisation and providing choice to the employee.”

So, long-service awards remain a cornerstone of recognition in the workplace, helping to reinforce the relationship between employer and employee. It is just the shape of the reward itself that is changing.

Learn more about staff motivation and engagement at Employee Benefits Live 2016 on 11-12 October at Olympia National, London