It’s time to celebrate workplace wins, milestones, and anniversaries! Show your employees appreciation by honoring their achievements and commitment to the company. Celebrating milestones at work provides benefits to both employees and employers; plus, it can break up the daily grind of work for reasons well worth celebrating.
In this post, we’ll share six ways to celebrate your team when goals are met and as employees meet important work milestones throughout the year.
Reasons to Celebrate Employees at Work
Workplace celebrations provide a much-needed break from work, and when done effectively, they can boost morale and increase job satisfaction. Prioritizing milestones illustrates to employees that you care about them and value their commitment to your company. Plus, the act of celebrating together can serve as a team building activity.
A celebration at work can come in many forms and occur for many different reasons. In addition to birthdays and yearly holidays, you might celebrate an employee's work anniversary to note how long they’ve been with the company, company anniversaries, retirements, individual or business awards and achievements, workplace milestones, and major goals reached.
Whatever your reason for celebrating, the success is in the details. Personalize your celebration as much as possible, and be sure to consider the needs, preferences, and interests of individual employees.
How to Celebrate Employee Milestones
1. Personalize the Celebration
The more personalized you make the celebration of a workplace milestone, the more it shows you really put time and thought into what the employee might enjoy. What type of company celebration would they prefer? Would they enjoy a big celebration with all of the attention on them, or would they prefer a smaller, more private form of recognition?
If you are celebrating within the office with a workplace lunch, what type of meal would they prefer? If you are unsure, ask. What work anniversary wishes do they have for their own celebration? Be sure to give “let it be a surprise” as an option so they don’t feel obligated to choose. Some people hate making decisions.
If giving a gift, how can you tailor it to the individual rather than giving the same gift to every person who reaches that milestone? What interests does the employee have outside of work? Instead of giving a gift card to a place you believe is nice and worthwhile, get one from a restaurant or store you know they like. This ensures the gift will get used, and it will also show you put effort into choosing something that aligns with their interests.
2. Give Work Anniversary Gifts
Show your employees that you recognize them and value their commitment to your company. Major milestones are not a time for work anniversary eCards. A gift, especially when personalized to the individual employee, will illustrate that you planned ahead and recognize the employee's dedication.
Major anniversaries have traditional themes that might inspire the gifts you choose. Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional ideas based on anniversary milestones.
1 year work anniversary: Paper
- Handwritten card (with a thoughtful work anniversary message)
- Gift card (choose somewhere you know they like)
- Personalized notebook
- Personalized cardstock
- The choice of a paid team lunch
2 year work anniversary: Cotton
- Branded shirt
- Personalized clothing
- Spa day or gift certificate
- Laptop case
- The choice of a paid workplace or team lunch
5 year work anniversary: Wood
- Wood carving
- Customized wood pen
- Customized wood box
- Congratulatory plaque
- Wood carved jewelry or cufflinks
- A massage or day at a spa
- A fancy dinner out
10 year work anniversary: Aluminum
- Aluminum drinking mugs
- Personalized aluminum engraving
- A case of their favorite beer, drink, or non-alcoholic beverage
- Metal jewelry or cufflinks
- A night at a nice hotel
15 year work anniversary: Crystal
- Engraved crystal glasses
- Personalized crystal decanter set
- An expensive bottle of their favorite liquor
- Crystal jewelry or watch
- A paid weekend getaway
25 year work anniversary: Silver
- Silver jewelry, watch, or cufflinks
- Silver champagne flutes
- A personalized plaque hung in the workplace
- A paid vacation of their choosing
🎁 For more ideas, read our Work Anniversary Gift Ideas Guide.
3. Support Local
Whether buying a gift, purchasing a gift card, or ordering food, try to support other local businesses within your community. As a small business ourselves, we know just how hard it is to compete with larger international brands.
Consider ordering lunch from a local small business or, as a team, choose a local establishment within walking distance to hold your celebration. Plus, when you support other local businesses, they will be more likely to support you. Cooperation for the win!
4. Make a Donation in Their Name
When not carefully considered, work gifts can turn into just more stuff an employee doesn’t need or want. If you’re unsure, instead of giving a physical gift to someone that they might not use, offer to make a donation in their name.
Ask the team member(s) who is being celebrated to choose a charity that holds meaning to them. Provide ideas if they are unsure. You can correlate the amount of the donation with the gravity of the achievement or the year of the anniversary. For example, $50 for 1 year, $100 for 2 years, $250 for 5 years, and so on.
5. Give the Gift of Time
Show your employees that you value their time and work-life balance. Instead of spending money on a gift or workplace meal to celebrate a win or milestone, offer the gift of time off. This comes at a different cost to your workplace, but it’s of high value to your employees. Depending on the achievement or milestone, you can adjust the gift of time off accordingly.
For a large team goal reached, you might offer the whole team a half-day off of work, ideally, on a Friday or connected to a holiday. For a 1 or 2 year work anniversary, you might provide a half or full day off for wellness and balance. As the milestones become more significant, such as a major award or 10 year, 15 year, or 25 year anniversary, you might offer an extra long weekend or work up to a full week to recognize their commitment to your organization.
6. Help Check Off a Bucket List Item
How can you say happy work anniversary in a memorable way? Give your employee the experience of a lifetime! This is ideal for major achievements or milestones, such as a 10, 15, 20, or 25 year work anniversary.
The key to this idea is to work with the employee to choose something they have wanted to do for a long time. It’s important to have somewhat of a budget in mind, but speak to them about something they’ve always wanted to do or a place they’ve always wanted to go. What’s on their bucket list? What’s an experience they always push off for a later day? To celebrate their important milestone, you can help make that dream a reality.
Provide some ideas and examples to get them started. It could be a paid experience, lessons to learn a new skill, or support to achieve something they’ve always wanted to accomplish.
- Scuba diving
- Learning to play an instrument
- Learning another language
- Learning how to cook a type of food
- Going to a concert put on by their favorite band or artist
- Eating at a MICHELIN Restaurant
- Flying in a hot air balloon
- Setting a Guinness world record
- Getting a tattoo
- Starting a home garden
If the idea is outside of your price range, you can offer to pay a portion of the cost to help them make the dream a reality.
More Ways to Celebrate
We love a good office celebration! Here are some other holidays and occasions worth celebrating, including festive ideas for the workplace.
💜 Whether you live near a carnival celebration or not, you can bring a little bit of Mardi Gras fun to the workplace. Learn How to Celebrate Mardi Gras at Work With Our 7 Festive Ideas.
🍀 St. Patrick’s Day isn’t all green beer and college parties—it’s an occasion with deep historical roots that can be celebrated anywhere. Learn How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Work.
❤️ There are plenty of ways businesses can show appreciation to employees, give back to the community, and promote self-love for Valentine’s Day. Read our 6 Inclusive Workplace Valentine's Day Ideas.
🌿 Whether you’re honoring an upcoming Earth Day or looking for ideas to celebrate our planet any day of the year, read our Office Earth Day Ideas for Work.