Archive for the 'years of service awards' Category

10 27th, 2015

yrs of service

Would it surprise you to learn that according research conducted by The Incentive Research Foundation almost 40% of today’s years of service programs contain some gift cards?  That’s actually up over 25% from the previous year.

Why the growth?  Why are gift cards now accepted as suitable awards in years of service programs?  For years those programs contained only traditional recognition awards like silver and crystal, plaques, jewelry, watches etc.  Then they evolved moved into useful everyday types merchandise like TVs & Barbecues.  But Gift Cards??

For years. the OC Tanners, the Terryberrys and every recognition company did everything in their power to convince HRs buyers not to use gift cards in service award programs.  Gift cards were anathema, impersonal, didn’t provide that recognition appeal that management wanted, they showed the price value of the level you were rewarding (as if the employee couldn’t find that out with about two clicks of the mouse.)

But times change.  The culture changes, those being awarded and those deciding on the awards change.  Maybe HR folks  got tired of being ripped off by the ridiculous pricing that the recognition companies were charging for their items.  Maybe someone finally did a research project that looked into how those old traditional awards were being used or displayed.  Or did they see too many of them on eBay, stuck in the back of the drawer, or in the closet?   Maybe when employees received a “$500” value item for their 15 year award, and compared the item online and saw it was worth just about half that or less, they commented to management that they weren’t getting the full value of the award.  Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt things are changing.

Should you look into incorporating some type of gift card system as options to your traditional years of service programs?

Recognizing performance is critical in any employee force.  Years of Service programs are wonderful ways to thank employees for continued long term performance.  Why not look into great ways to provide less expensive recognition items that do last and will be displayed and then give them an option of choosing a gift card that will provide something that they want.  That can be a great combination.


     oc tanner

  taj mahal

One of the buildings above is the Taj Mahal, the other is the corporate headquarters of the largest employee Years of Service award company in the industry.

Believe it or not, the latest market research conducted by Incentive Magazine showed that close to 40% of all Years of Service programs use gift cards as some of their award options.

It wasn’t too long ago that you would never see gift cards in employee anniversary programs for several reasons.  First, the major recognition companies spent millions of dollars marketing their traditional awards such as company identified jewelry items, crystal, clocks, watches and the like.  Second they used very sophisticated training programs for their salesforces as well as for clients building a mystique that only deluxe trophy type merchandise would be proper to recognize an employee who remained at a company for a period of time usually in 5 year cycles  starting at 1, 3, or 5 years.  And lastly, they created excellent software platforms that made is very easy for a client to purchase a turnkey employee service award program.

So what changed?  How did gift cards start to become an option in these programs?  It certainly wasn’t because the companies that specialized in gift card systems spent millions in advertising, or marketing or a sales force that was trained to call on the clients. And it wasn’t because they built sophisticated electronic platforms to implement them.  It came about because clients were getting tired of paying very hefty premiums over retail price and employees were asking for more choice and a better value.

With the age of the internet anyone could do a quick search to determine the value of an award, it didn’t take long for the employees to ask why the award that they understood cost $250 or $500 actually had a value of only $125 or $250.  That was the rule rather than the exception.

Gift cards are a part of Years of Service programs because it gives your employees what they want without incremental cost to you.  If you are going to spend $250 or $500 on an award, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure that your employee receives as much of that budget as possible?  The traditional recognition companies will fight long and hard to keep you from putting gift cards in program.  They know that once in, they will lose prized profit dollars year after year.  But do you really want to support their Taj Mahal corporate offices at the expense of your employees?

If you’re interested in learning about a high value, low cost gift card recognition system that is easy to implement please contact us above.


12 17th, 2013

take inventory

We’ve written many posts on employee recognition, how to do it, why it fails, how to make it successful, why you should do it, when you should do it etc., etc., etc.

It’s hard to look at a HR publication that doesn’t speak of employee recognition and the positive effects it has on employee engagement.  There also seems to be a study a week on the same subject.  There are even some people in the awards industry that feel employee recognition and employee engagement should be synonymous.  With so much being said about it, why would we even ask the question “Is Employee Recognition Scarce?” Simply because in many places it still is.

The single most used recognition system today is the ubiquitous years of service program where we recognize an employee’s longevity with the company.  These programs can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, and they are still going strong.  They are the easiest to implement, and frankly they don’t take much involvement from the management.

Does your management really believe in employee recognition?  Are they as involved as they were in the beginning (if they were)?  Do they take the time to do it and do they do it right, or do you have to remind them all along the way? Have your recognition efforts turned into employee complaining, jealously or dissatisfaction?   Does your management know how to provide recognition, or have they had bad experiences when they do?

It’s that time of the year to do an inventory of your recognition program and ask these tough questions.  Or, ask around your organization and see what your people really think.  Or, take a quick analysis of your program and see how many of your employees were truly recognized for their performance this year, and what they received for it.  What % of your employees do you think should be recognized on an annual basis?  If you are recognizing less than 40%, does that mean that 60% of your employees don’t deserve it?

In the end, you are the judge of whether or not you think that employee recognition is scarce.


Limited winner programs (person of the month, annual winners circle, etc.) were spawned by a true desire in organizations to recognize employees, but without budgets necessary to implement them properly.  These programs, or a great portion of them, are almost exclusively subjective in nature, are rarely built around a provable return on investment, and are always designed to award only a small percentage of the employees. 

While these programs are certainly appreciated by the few who are honored, how many other worthy employees in the organization go unnoticed, and if truth be known harbor ill will toward the company or fellow employees? How much animosity occurs at the water cooler the day after the gala year party to recognize the chosen few?  If you haven’t heard any, you aren’t listening. 

Years of Service programs, the first of these types of programs (and now the most prominent type of recognition program in business today) has become inbred in companies, and unfortunately often the only recognition system that exists.  Ask executives in almost any company if they have an employee recognition program in place and they will inevitably say yes.  What they are usually referring to are the years of service program that awards (at best) only a handful of your employees. 

We are often asked by clients for better ways to recognize more employees.  Obviously budget is a big piece of how many employees can be recognized and rewarded, but by no means the only criteria to examine.  There are a myriad of ways to increase the usage of recognition, but to do it takes a lot work, and that’s usually where things start to fall apart.   

While you’re thinking about it, how many employees in any given year should you actually recognize for performance?  A good question in answer to that would be how many of your employees actually show a positive performance in any given year?  It’s simple, that’s how many you should recognize! 

bell curve

We have designed programs that can reward up 90% of your employee base.  As any employee performance bell curve you’d care to review will show you that any organization will have a 10% – 80% – 10% distribution.  The bottom 10% of employees that are not and probably never will be engaged or be good performers.  In that case, recognizing the other 90% would be a good goal to use, wouldn’t it? 

If you’d like to see strategies on how to recognize more employees, and start to do away with those archaic programs that award only a few, just contact us above. 

12 13th, 2011

Consumer surveys conducted by Goldman Sachs for the International Council of Shopping centers point out that gift cards will be the most popular choice among shoppers this year.   

The ICSC released their list of top holiday gifts for the 2011 season as part of the ICSC’s holiday spending forecast, which includes predictions for Black Friday.  The items that consumers plan to purchase this year is: 

  •        Gift cards – 14.2% compared to 11.2% in 2010
  •        Clothing – 12.8% compared to 11.9% in 2010
  •        Toys or Games – 11.2% compared to 8% in 2010
  •        Music, CDs of DVDs – 9.2% compared to 8.6% in 2010
  •        Cash – 8.4% compared to 8.1% in 2010
  •        Electronics – 7.9% compared to 7.7% in 2010

 Did we ever think that gift cards, used as holiday gifts would be more than 70% higher than cash? 

The popularity of gift cards extends throughout the year and extends to your employees.  Gift cards are especially useful in any type of employee recognition or incentive program.  The same reasons that large % of folks like gift cards for the holidays are evident in employee award systems.  They have become the #1 favorite award of employees for several years running.   

For a gift card award system that will give you the ultimate in choice with over 500 of the most popular gift cards in the country check out Award of Choice.