Many occasions such as birthdays or winning a new client constitute a celebration in the office. Work anniversaries should also make this list. After any number of years with a company, employees want to feel recognized and appreciated for their time and loyalty.
These hard-working people deserve more than a clichéd break room party with store-bought cookies. So get inspired by these ideas that take work anniversaries to the next level.
But first…get the go-ahead
Always ask the honorary coworker for permission to plan something special. Big parties or excessive attention can become off-putting or overwhelming for some people. Accommodate these folks with a smaller gathering or thoughtful gift instead.
While some festivity details can remain a surprise, it’s also smart to verify the exact date and time the celebration will commence. You don’t want to throw a party without the guest of honor!
You should also check with the boss to find out if the company will foot the bill for any anniversary activities. More on that later.
11 work anniversary celebration ideas
1. Plan a volunteering event
Allow the accomplished employee to pick the team’s next volunteering event. Whether it’s walking dogs at the local shelter or cleaning up a nearby park, your coworker will be happy to support the cause of their choice while the company adds to its philanthropy efforts. Win win!
2. Give them an experience voucher
Bypass the impersonal gift card and opt for a voucher for an event, like tickets to a comedy show, theatrical performance, or sporting event. Or, choose something very different, like a hot air balloon ride or indoor skydiving.
3. Craft a scrapbook
Get a tad nostalgic. Gather pictures and fun tokens from your coworker’s time at the company and compile the memories into a thoughtful scrapbook that highlights their accomplishments and good times.
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4. Fitness/field day
Exercise has proven time and time again to be one of the best stress relievers. Give your seasoned colleague a boost by hosting an in-office workout class or setting up a field day for team members to get outside and move.
5. Put together a self-care package
Ensure good vibes and stress relief at home too with a relaxing self-care package. Load it up with herbal teas, comfy socks, candles, or even a certificate for a massage to unwind.
6. Make a prize wheel
7. Plan a movie day
The best sight back in school was the rolling TV cart, signaling a movie day. Transfer that excitement to the workplace with a movie of your coworker’s choice played in the office (safe for work, obviously) Don’t forget the popcorn!
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8. Sign up for mixology lessons
Instead of your typical happy hour, have a professional bartender come mix it up for the office and teach the team some skills. Let the honorary employee choose their favorite drinks (mocktails included!) for the menu.
9. Fund a new skill
Support employees’ hobbies or interests outside of work. Provide a voucher for guitar lessons, a foreign language class, or time with a golf instructor.
10. Make a work anniversary ceremony
Throw together a small ceremony to highlight coworker’s achievements. This can be formal or simply over lunch with the team. Ask coworkers to choose a superlative to describe their colleague.
11. Create an employee highlight real
Make a short video featuring the accomplished employee (you can do this with your iPhone and simple free editing software). Interview coworkers and leaders at the company and have them applaud the employee’s performance; you might even mention the employee’s future goals with the company or milestones they've already reached.
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Common work anniversary questions
Do we have to celebrate everyone?
If a handful of people are acknowledged while others are not, you’ll wind up hurting feelings. Establish a policy and approximate budget for all work anniversaries within your smaller work team to avoid any favoritism.
Who finances the celebration?
Some organizations set aside a budget for discretionary expenses, such as anniversary gifts or celebrations, and will foot the bill. If this is not the case but you still want to show appreciation, team members can contribute.
Just remember that if you celebrate one teammate, you should be willing to celebrate all of them, so if employees have to pay for their own events, consider free activities or inexpensive activities (like going out for ice cream) where everyone pays for themselves if they choose to participate.
During or outside of work hours?
It is still a workplace, so limit anniversary celebrations to lunchtime or an hour at the end of the day. For anything outside of the office, plan it outside of work hours.
How do you differentiate milestones (one year, five years, etc.)?
Generally speaking, monetary value and significance of the gift or event should correlate with length of time. Kick off one-year celebrations with something simple and save the extravagant affairs for employees with 20 years under their belt.