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Scale Meaningful Service Award Delivery With The Anniversary Engine

When it comes to types of employee recognition, anniversary (or milestone) recognition is king. The fact that 85% of businesses have a length of service program [1] underscores the popularity of recognizing tenure.

So why is employee anniversary recognition important? Two main reasons really: employee retention and acknowledging real achievement. Millennials, now the majority of the workforce, only spend 2.3 years on average with their current employer. Gone are the days where you can wait until an employee hits their 5-year anniversary to say ‘thank you’ in a meaningful way. Thus, in order to retain employees, you must acknowledge the fact that they have remained loyal, and accept that it truly is an accomplishment to stay longer at a company these days. In today’s market, recognizing employees early and often is key to retaining their skills and fostering positive engagement around their accomplishments, enabling a culture of increased productivity.

The question then becomes how does a company, with a growing population, accomplish personal recognition efficiently, and at scale? As the need arises to recognize employees sooner and more frequently, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so in a turn-key and meaningful way. Put another way, the methods used when recognizing individual birthday celebrations for a staff of 30 are no longer realistic when that staff scales to 500; yet the need for personalized, meaningful recognition is still crucial (and we already know that gift cards and plaques don’t cut it).

When you’re able to implement meaningful anniversary recognition at scale:

  • Employees stay 2-4 years longer [2]
  • Employees become more productive since they feel celebrated more consistently [3]
  • Your costs go down since you’re not replacing top performers every 2.3 years [4]
  • In theory, your internal referrals will rise as a result of those top performers staying longer and thriving with your company  

To help companies implement a meaningful anniversary program at scale, we’re excited to introduce Anniversary Engine. We’ve married the power of personalized experiences with automation, helping you scale meaningful anniversary reward delivery and achieve higher value from your recognition efforts.

Here are the top 4 benefits of our automated Anniversary Engine product:

  • Guardrails: The automated Anniversary Engine protects your group from leaving employees out while reminding relevant parties before, during and after the experience so engagement is streamlined. The challenge with any process is consistency, if your employee recognition program is not automated then it becomes vulnerable to neglect (managers forget to reward, some go full steam and leave others scorned, some are out of office or a point person forgets to execute, etc). The unfortunate result is that the employee is not recognized or acknowledged on their anniversary. Automation guardrails programmed from the employee start date data fed from your HRIS protect you, and your employee.
  • Timeliness: With Anniversary Engine, you no longer need to send out all rewards on one day of the month because it’s most efficient. You’re now able to approve all rewards in advance, on your own timing and they will send on the specified day that matters the most (on the exact day of their anniversary, following Mondays if falling on a weekend, etc.). This is the benefit of automation.
  • More time back, and better spent: You can now focus on spending a few extra minutes talking to the employee, telling them how much they’ve meant to your company over the last year/s instead of spending hours on logistics and administering the rewards themselves (i.e. buying cakes, blowing up balloons). Instead, reminisce about your favorite moments, contributions, stories, inside jokes, whatever comes to mind, and let our platform do the rest. When they come back from their experience, you’re given another opportunity to reconnect around the new memories they’ve created.
  • Control: You specify the reward levels, messaging, timing and approving/denying rewards depending on if the employee is still active at the company. Unused budget (in case an employee leaves the company before their anniversary) rolls over yearly and does not expire like other points-based systems. The power of what, how and when is at your fingertips.

A fifth, and more subtle, benefit of experiential anniversary awards is the impact on your employer brand. Glaukos, an innovative eye surgery company, celebrates their employee tenure with Blueboard experiences and employees have taken to social media to share precious moments and produce positive brand visibility for their company. This content connects prospective candidates to their culture, and becomes a proud feature of brand association internally.

Experiential recognition is compelling and 42% of service anniversary program owners are increasing the number of experiential rewards for employees in their portfolio [5]. They understand that experiences are meaningful, shareable and personalized. The status quo (i.e. gift cards, plaques) won’t cut it, your employee base is diverse and desires inclusiveness...experiences that are personalized to an individual’s preference foster inclusion.  

If you’re interested in learning how Blueboard can support your anniversary programs, click the orange Request Demo button above ^^. Or, if you’re a current Blueboard customer and have any questions or feedback about Anniversary Engine (or would like to sign up for our Beta group), I’d love to hear from you - feel free to email me directly at

We hosted an awesome webinar walking through Anniversary Engine on 11/5/19, check out the complete recording and recap below:


  1. “Trends in Employee Recognition,” a 2017 study by WorldatWork and ITA Group
  2. OC Tanner: A Modern-Day Guide to Years of Service Awards
  3. Gallup
  4. CAP study
  5. IRF 2017 Trends Study

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