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Recognizing Employee Milestones

“Please share your best practices on recognizing your employees’ company milestones including years of service, birthdays, anniversaries, top sales or highest customer service scores.”

– Linda Brown, HR Manager, Southern Acquisitions, Farmers Branch, Texas

Christina Merrick, Employee Service Manager,
MH Equipment on behalf of Scott Hennie,
President, Elite Supply Chain Solutions, Hudson, OH

Asked-Answered1At MH Equipment, we know that people are the essence of any great company and that it is our employees, working together, that establish us as a leader in our industry and set us apart from our competitors. We believe that each 5-year milestone in an employee’s career is the perfect occasion to stop and reflect on their contributions, to say thank you and to invite them to select a gift from a personalized brochure that is mailed to their homes. The brochure includes a letter from our CEO, congratulating them on celebrating their service anniversary with MH Equipment, and features our Mission, Vision and Values on the inside cover of the brochure. New in 2015, we will begin honoring employee’s one year service anniversaries with a standard award.

Our annual Presidents’ Table Leadership Award is an employee incentive program to motivate and reward outstanding employee job performance and the embodiment of the spirit of the Mission, Vision and Values of the Enterprise. There are sixteen seats at the Presidents’ Table, where the winners and their guests are joined by our CEO during an all-expense paid trip to an exotic location.

Employee’s service anniversaries and birthdays (month and day, not year) are listed on our Intranet site. Employee accolades from customers and exceptional sales are recognized in our tri-annual Company newsletter.

Sharon Cerny, VP of HR
on behalf of Jerry Weidmann,
President Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. Brookfield, WI

We do believe that our employees are our most valuable asset – and one way to acknowledge that value is through various recognition programs. Our practices include:

  • Milestone Anniversary Award Program – every year we celebrate the milestone anniversaries of our employees who are reaching their 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and even 50 years of service with our company! We have partnered with a local company that specializes in employee recognition and, through them, each employee is able to select a gift from a catalog that includes a wide variety of items. That gift is sent to our Corporate HR staff who makes sure the employee’s manager presents it to the employee along with a Certificate of Service and this presentation is done at department meetings or some similar type of setting so that the employee is recognized amongst their peers for this achievement. In addition, we include these milestones in our quarterly employee newsletter, the NewsLift, so that all employees at all locations are aware of these important milestones.
  • Major Milestone Anniversaries: For those employees who have reached their 25+ year milestones with us, we go one step further – each of our locations hosts an annual luncheon – and some prefer an annual breakfast – that honors the employees who are reaching their 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, 45th, or 50th year with us. This is an annual event at each location, so all those employees for that year are honored at the same time. We make sure each location has its own date for this so that the executive management of our company can also be there to thank these employees for their many years of loyal service. For these breakfasts or luncheons, we decorate and make a pretty big deal about it, including collage photos of these employees going back from their start to current – makes for a lot of fun reminiscing!
  • Genuine Attitude Award: Our company’s mission statement promises our customers that we will provide “superior service and quality products professionally delivered with a sense of urgency.” To that end, whenever a customer is happy enough with us that they take the time to either call us or drop us a note or email to tell us about the good service we provided, we make sure to thank the employee(s) involved. We have another gift program for that, and we make sure to spotlight it in our quarterly newsletter with photos. We encourage our employees to treat our customers as they want to be treated and when a customer feels strongly enough about our good service that they take the time to let us know, well – that’s a big deal to us and we want those employees to be recognized for being such good, living examples of our mission statement.
  • Annual Recognition Events: So that we can budget for something memorable, we have gone to cycling some major employee recognition events every 3 years, to include a large Employee Appreciation Party at every region for our employees and their spouses/significant others at a nice location with dinner, entertainment, and gifts or door prizes; the next year it will be a major trip for our Top Sales Performers and their spouses or significant others; and the 3rd year will be something for our customers like a golf outing that many of our employees will also attend.

We’ve had positive feedback from employees about these programs and I know our employees look forward to them!

Doug Carson
VP – Marketing & Sales,
Fallsway Equipment Company, Akron, OH

At Fallsway Equipment Company we recognize years of service/anniversaries in five year increments. Our recognition consists of a cash award and a presentation of the award at our annual “state of the company” meeting. For our well tenured employees (35+ years) we provide an additional recognition gift on an individual basis. All anniversaries and birthdays are posted and celebrated on our company intranet. We recognize all machine sales company wide with an internal e-blast celebrating our combined success – not only to recognize those responsible for the sale, but also to keep our employees informed of our growth. As part of the new sale e-blast we recognize if the customer is new to Fallsway. We pass along our OEM’s incentives and actively participate in their award programs for our sales, parts and service personnel.

Al Boston,
AK Material Handling Systems, Maple Grove, MN

We celebrate our employee birthdays, anniversaries, or accomplishments by recognizing them at our monthly company catered lunch. We make sure that everyone receives a personally signed card by all employees with a gift card. Everyone appreciates the once a year attention and it adds to building a positive culture.

Milestone anniversaries every five years are recognized with special gifts that are presented at company outings or parties where people are recognized with their spouse or family members present. Usually we have unique personalized gifts that convey our appreciation.

The other recognition with employees’ approval is our marketing department writing a personalized article and posting it on social media and our company’s blog.

Bill Ryan,
LiftOne, Charlotte, NC

Employee Engagement is LiftOne’s second Strategic Goal – right behind Safety. Positive and Engaged Employees is a core value for us. We recognize our people every chance we get. We recognize their years of service with the company (when we acquire another business we grandfather their employees in with the tenure); we call special attention to milestone years like 5. 10, 15 etc. with some very nice gifts selected by the employee; when you accumulate 30 years of service you get your picture taken and turned into a wall size poster and put up display (everyone says they hate this but no one ever refuses). We recognize birthdays and new births and graduations and military assignments as they happen and we capture them monthly in our newsletters (even been known to have a “B-Day cake of the month” show up!) We hold an Employee Appreciation week once a year and bring out the caterers and prizes. We have summer meetings and holiday lunches and more employee and customer cook outs than I probably know about. We invite our retired former employees to these events. When a customer calls out a particular employee or mentions their name in a survey, that employee receives a Good Job gift card. We do recognize performance measure like top sales etc. annually and there are trips for the best etc. but most of our sales people will tell you without our techs and parts people they couldn’t sell anything so they don’t want us to broadcast that kind of ”high ego” bravado very much.

We also acknowledge the passing of former employees and the parents and loved ones of our current teammates. Several of our employees have built collages of pictures of everyone’s children/grandchildren nieces and nephews and have them on display to remind us all of why we work so hard to take care of our customers. Does this sound like we are a family? We are. One big family and growing with each year. We care about each other and it shows. We hope our story will help you build yours.

Ted Springer,
Springer Equipment, Birmingham, Alabama

We feel any type of positive recognition is very important to our company family members especially on their birthdays and anniversaries! For many years we have acknowledged our employee’s years of service for those in uniform we have a “Years of Service” uniform patch that is updated each year and worn on the shoulder opposite the US flag patch. Many of our folks tell us that the customers remark or ask them if they have been working with the company the 20 plus years many of the patches indicate. It is a great morale booster and gives customers a high level of confidence in the individual who is representing the company. The CEO, President and V.P. of Operations also recognize and congratulate the member of the company on their anniversary date.

On each employee’s birthday we shame them mercilessly by sending a birthday card to their home with a note from the CEO and the President along with a $25 gift card to a local popular restaurant. This is a small gesture that is very well received by all!

Anniversaries are always recognized either in person by the President and V.P. of Operations or a call is made to let each person know how important to the company their ongoing contribution is over the years.

Buddy Smith,
Carolina Material Handling Services, Inc. Columbia, SC

Overall, I feel it is very important to cultivate a culture that celebrates milestones and victories. While receiving financial reward is important, I also believe public recognition communicates value to our associates. Some of the things we do:

1) Celebrating years of service is a big one for us. In today’s world, I believe loyalty is oftentimes overlooked as a character quality. We celebrate 5, 10, 15, 20, and up years of services. We do this usually in a branch meeting with a plaque and a gift.

2) We have contests throughout the year regarding top salesman, CSR, etc.

3) I am a believer in team goals and celebrations. We have a quarterly “Eagle Award” given to the branch in our system which has achieved certain metric goals.

4) Although more informal than other celebrations, we do recognize birthdays.

5) Finally, as the owner of our company, I believe it is important for me to personally recognize important milestones and achievements. I ask my managers to keep me informed of these events so I can jot a note, send an e-mail, or thank someone personally.