Long Service Awards – The clock takes time into its own hands!

As the UK employment market prepares for yet another year of turmoil it is no wonder so many companies are redundant to rewarding and recognising employees for their length of service. A recent article in Employee Benefits Magazine titled ‘Long Service Awards still have value’ highlighted the current need for effective Long Service Awards (LSAs) and argued that the carriage clock does not have to die off however, it does need a makeover.

LSA’s are still considered one of the most important forms of recognition for staff loyalty, acting as the foundation for most company’s ever growing reward and recognition programmes. Many organisations have taken the opportunity to modernise their company’s image through effective use of LSA’s in order to ensure that their rewards remain current, effective and valued.

Dr Wilson Wong of The Work Foundation Research Department revealed that “LSA’s are helpful at engaging and retaining staff but only when the award carries symbolic value”. For many employees LSA’s can be a deciding factor when considering whether to stay in their current employment or to look elsewhere. Employee Benefits highlight how the office hype which surrounds long service awards (eg ‘a trip of a lifetime for employees who reach 10 years of service’) can not only encourage and incentivise employees to stay with their current employer, but it also increases the recipients’ perceived value of the reward. Employers are now realising the importance of effective reward and the impact on enabling employees to choose how and where they spend their rewards, as over 52% of employees now prefer to be rewarded with gift cards.

One company that has inputted extensive time and effort into ensuring their LSA’s are highly valued is supermarket mogul Asda. During 2011 Asda introduced recognition of length of service on name badges for employees who have worked for the organisation one year or more. This increased the amount of public and colleague recognition and worked in conjunction with Asda’s annual ‘Big Anniversary’ event. Attendees of the ‘Big Anniversary’ event are those employees who reach 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service, they additionally receive £300 each and an extra week’s holiday in their anniversary year. Kevin Trott, leader of incentive and engagement at Asda, revealed that “Long service awards have most definitely increased our colleague engagement and have a significant impact on our motivation mechanism”.

Incentive Magazine additionally supports the need for effective LSA’s, stating that employee’s want to know that they are contributing to the company’s overall vision. Despite 92% of company’s still offering years of service recognition platform’s Incentive Magazine revealed that only 17% still want their company’s traditional LSA programme. The introduction of rewarding staff for ‘months of service’ has been another increasingly popular method in trying to boost staff retention levels, as companies are trying to move away from the short-termism mentality and drive long term behaviours.

LSA opinions and examples may differ in terms of their specific methods, terminology and branding, but the underlying message stays exactly the same ‘There is still a need for effective LSA’s’. Companies should look to revitalise their long service programme instead of discarding it completely and it can be as simple as updating the rewards on offer to your workforce. With companies alike facing a year full of uncertainties, time is certainly of the essence. The clock may take time into its own hands but how you thank your employees for dedicating their time to your company is down to you… now is the time to reward staff commitment and loyalty!

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