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3 ways to make your service awards more relevant with millennials

In Service Awards by Lori McKnight

3 simple ways to make your service awards program more relevant with Millennials

In 2015, Millennials (those born between 1978-1998) became the largest demographic in the workforce and will make up 75% of your employees by 2030 (US Bureau of Labor).

This tech savvy generation:

  • Grew up with technology at their fingertips and can’t recall life before the Internet, mobile phones and social media. They communicate instantly with people online and on their phone
  • Are more “open” than generations before them. They share videos, pictures, posts and comments without the same privacy hang ups their parents have
  • Are likely to only stay with a company an average of 4.6 years (US Bureau of Labor statistics)
  • Are accustomed to instantly connecting with people. They expect immediate recognition and want to be recognized for their contribution publicly and more frequently than every 5, 10, or 15 years

Does your Service Anniversary program “fit” the recognition needs of the largest demographic in your workplace? You are not alone.

Service Awards are the #1 recognition program used by 89% of companies (WorldatWork 2015 report). These programs are still relevant and have significant cultural and personal value to employees BUT need to evolve with your demographics and technology.

According to HR guru Josh Bersin, “Millennials don’t want a career, they want an experience”. In fact, Millennials are likely to job hop up to 20 times in their career (Education Advisory Board) making 10, 15 and 20 years service anniversaries less important to many in this generation. Good service programs have evolved to accommodate a more transient workforce while celebrating the importance of tradition and loyalty.

Here are three ways to make your Service Awards program relevant to a Millennial workforce.

1. Blend Tradition with Social Tools

An effective Service Award program doesn’t just touch the 15% of employees celebrating milestones. It reinforces core values and behaviors and is the foundation of the organization’s entire recognition strategy.

Look for service programs such as CSISTARS that blend traditional elements with social tools that:

  • Enable managers to celebrate special events and reinforce behaviors, outside of milestone years
  • Allow colleagues and managers to easily welcome new hires and share orientation information
  • Make it easy for peers to thank each other in the manner they’re used to

These social capabilities allow everyone in the organization to show appreciation, and to express thanks at the right time, in the right way. This strengthens your team and improves culture, regardless of how long you’ve been with the organization. Service Anniversary programs like CSI STARS can even be tied to a points-based system.

2. Make every service anniversary a meaningful experience

Does your Service Awards presentation sometimes feel like a wasted opportunity?

Service anniversaries involve more than a nice gift and plaque. They are experiences you want all employees to remember. The more high-touch the program, the more meaningful it will be for the recipient, regardless of age. Genuine praise and thanks for a job well done from a manager or high-level leader is extremely motivating to Millennials.

With social tools, every service anniversary can be an opportunity to express your appreciation.

3. Publicly recognize contributions

Modernized Service Award

Modernized Service Award programs have a recognition dashboard to highlight service anniversaries, great work and other important milestones.

Millennials in particular respond well to public recognition (and tend to be more comfortable with it than older generations).

Public recognition reinforces your core values with the recipient as well as with others in the organization.

The recognition dashboard is also a great tool to stream video from a manager or President providing a consistent message to employees, wherever they are in the world.

Does your service awards program fit a millennial workforce?

Want to learn how to modernize your Service Awards program for a Millennial-Driven World? Download the one page product overview or contact us today for a short demo.

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.