July 6, 2022
January 20, 2021

Building Modern Employee Service Award Catalogs

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Most of you probably already know what employee service awards are. A quick overview would be that these awards are recognition rewards for employees that reach certain milestones in their tenure at the company. Or, even simpler, service awards are a gift you give to an employee for a work anniversary—a workiversary. 

You may be thinking, “yeah, we give out plaques and trophies every five years once our employees hit their five-year mark.” We’re glad you’re doing that much! However, with such a traditional model of rewarding employees, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build trust, excitement, and engagement with your workforce: choice. After all, 70% of employees feel that recognition is most meaningful when it’s personalized. And that’s where employee service awards catalogs come in.

Create a Catalog to Give Your Employees What They Really Want

An employee service awards catalog is just that—a catalog of items that your employees can choose from when their work anniversary comes around. Instead of giving out a commemorative pin one year and an acrylic plaque the next (those gifts will most likely be left behind or thrown out—one of our previous clients said 50% of their employees left behind their traditional service awards when leaving!), a catalog allows employees to choose which rewards feel the most rewarding to them. 

Think of it this way: everyone has had the experience of opening a birthday present only to find something they didn’t want or need. Do you remember that disappointment? Do you even remember the less-than-thoughtful gift in the first place? We sure don’t. But what we do remember are the gifts that truly meant something to us. The right catalog can do the same sort of thing for your company.

What Should You Include in Your Catalog?

The short answer is things that your employees actually want. That’s easier said than done, of course, so it may take some legwork to figure out. Choice is vital but only if there are things worth choosing.

The first thing you should do is ask your employees what sort of rewards they would appreciate. Do they want symbolic items such as a trophy or plaque of some kind? Put that as an option! Would they prefer more useful items such as a gift card to a restaurant or store or tickets to an event? Include those options as well! 

Here’s a list of catalog items you could consider for your catalog:

  • A range of gift cards or prepaid cards
  • Swag such as clothing or mugs
  • Entertainment options such as movie passes amusement park tickets
  • Fitness items such as shoes, a smartwatch, weights, a yoga mat, or a bicycle
  • Home tools such as a stand mixer or air fryer for the kitchen or a leaf blower or a set of power tools 
  • Travel opportunities such as plane tickets or hotel rooms
  • Events such as sporting events or concerts
  • Home electronics such as speakers, a television, or a computer

Make sure you offer enough variety to please as many people as you can. And keep in mind, you need to categorize your service awards catalog to fit the varied service milestones around your company. Someone celebrating their 20th workiversary should be able to choose rewards with greater values than after their first year (don’t stress if this sounds like a lot of work—keep reading to see how Awardco can help!).

Taxes are another consideration. As a general rule, service award gifts are considered taxable income. However, there are a few criteria that, if met, allow $400 to be excluded from income for these awards. These criteria include: the gift must be tangible property, not cash; the award isn’t disguised compensation; and the award isn’t given before five years of service.

We recommend doing something every year your employee stays at the company to show your appreciation (this can help keep employees engaged and motivated!), so keep taxes in mind as you plan your service awards program and create your catalog. And don’t let tax concerns keep you from rewarding your employees often; they give a huge chunk of their lives to you—the least you can do is give something back to them on their workiversary.

Present Service Awards How Your Employees Prefer

Have you wondered what the best way to present a service award is? Do you pull the employee in front of the company and announce their achievement while letting everyone else know what type of reward they can look forward to when they hit the same milestone? Or do you quietly provide your catalog to the employee and let them choose what they want without any fanfare?

The answer, as seems to be the case with most HR-related questions, is “it depends.” Most employees appreciate recognition of some kind, whether private or public, but others are very uncomfortable with the thought of even their name being presented in front of a group. Ask each employee as their work anniversary approaches what they prefer, and let them guide the presentation of the award. 

If they’re excited about public recognition, hold a meeting that mentions each employee with a workiversary coming up. If someone doesn’t want to be a part of that, privately thank them for their service and provide your catalog for them.

Either way, make sure that all of your employees feel noticed and valued for their last year of work.

How Awardco Can Help You Create the Perfect Employee Service Awards Catalog

If you’re worried that this sort of employee service awards catalog system will be too convoluted or difficult to set up, Awardco has the solution for you (heck, we have the solution for everybody!). The first thing we do is help you create a customized rewards catalog that fits your brand. We can help you create a catalog full of both modern gift ideas and traditional service awards.

We also offer fun additions to your service award program. From our MemoryBooks™ (digital, interactive books that allow for peer-to-peer and manager-to-peer recognition and memories) to our customizable Bonus Boxes (care packages you can fill with all sorts of themed items and swag), you can create a service awards program that suits your needs and your budget.

And now for the icing on the catalog cake. Because of our integration with Amazon Business, you don’t have to rack your brain trying to come up with the perfect selection of gifts for your employees to choose from. Simply reward them points for their workiversary on the Awardco platform, and let them choose any reward that they want from Amazon’s billions of options—all with zero markups. 

On top of Amazon’s selection (the cherry on top of the icing?), you can customize the rewards available for your employees to spend their points on, from event tickets to travel expenses to branded swag.

Plus, with our automation features and easy integration into tools like Microsoft Teams, employee service awards will be easier than ever.

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