How to Show Appreciation to Your Long Serving Staff

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As resignation rates are rising, it's a better time than ever to consider showing appreciation for your staff for their years of loyal service. You can do this by offering them a long service award.

In our 20 years of experience, we've helped some of the worlds biggest companies with employee reward and recognition programs and long service awards. These include Capita, Landsec, Nexperia, Nike, Schuh and many more.

In this guide, we'll explore some of the benefits of staff loyalty, long service awards and some creative ways to show your appreciation.

Benefits of Staff Loyalty

Loyal employees should be the backbone of your business as they are hugely beneficial to their organisations.

Benefits for employers

Loyal employees are more driven to go the extra mile when needed and are deeply invested in their work. Research has found that happy workers are 12% more productive than their less satisfied counterparts and this can promote loyalty amongst customers as well. As a result, this can make you a more profitable organisation. By keeping your best staff you can dramatically reduce your staff turnover rate. Saving you the time, costs and resources involved in recruiting, onboarding and training new staff.

"It costs about 20% of an average employee's salary to replace that employee" - GBS Corporate Training

When your staff feel valued, they have a reason to support your business goals, values and share in your vision. The positive atmosphere they create can help drive your company forward with innovative new ideas and attract the best talent. They are the advocates for your brand and can build your business reputation. This is more important now more than ever when prospective employees are likely to be attracted or deterred based on the reviews of your employee's experience on sites such as Glassdoor.

Benefits for employees

People will have different reasons for leaving a company. One study showed 89% of employees leave for better pay and another found 88% did so for other reasons. For your employees who do leave it's important to find out why. Whatever their reasons for leaving are, there's one thing they usually have in common. The belief there is a better option for them out there.

Many employees often overlook the benefits of staying loyal to a company. Whilst everyone can be tempted at times to jump ship, especially during difficult times, real growth comes from overcoming adversity. Those who do accumulate years of service for their employer naturally increase their salaries as they build their influence and position within the company hierarchy. Only by staying can they learn intimate knowledge of how your business and the people within it work. Developing these positive relationships is a key to a happy worker. That's why it's often said people leave managers, not companies. When an employee has familiarity with the company processes, values and products gained with experience it can make everything flow like a well-oiled machine and make them super confident and happy in what they are doing.

What is a Long Service Award?

A long service award is a recognition given to an employee to appreciate their years of service working within your company. These are typically given at important anniversary milestones, such as every 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years and so on, with increasing rewards based on the length of service.

Traditionally many companies would consider 20+ years as long service, however, we think this is a bit outdated in today's environment where employees change roles much more often. For many, a job for life is a thing of the past and therefore 5 years may more realistically reflect what long service is. This depends though on the context. For example, 5 years in a call centre may be considered a very long time, whereas in education this may not be the case. If you have a high turnover of staff you may want to consider recognising their efforts as early as 1 year of service to show your appreciation early on. Showing your appreciation more often can help create a positive atmosphere and make your workforce much happier and productive.

Long Service Award Gift Ideas

Choosing the right options for your long service awards gifts can be tricky as no one solution fits all. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that fairly reflects the years of loyal service of your employees. You'll want to be in no doubt that it's something your staff values and shows just how much you appreciate all they've done for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Additional holiday time.
  • Travel - such as a weekend break.
  • Experiences - such as spa breaks, track days, afternoon tea or something which is specifically relevant to the staff member.
  • A choice of vouchers or gift cards.
  • Merchandise - such as bicycles, hampers, tech, wine. Again, make sure it's something suitable for each employee.

Many employees like to receive public recognition for their work and contribution - as well as a gift. We've worked with some companies who make an event out of it where the employee receives a certificate, a personal letter of thanks as well as a big round of applause from all their peers. This can create an emotional connection which becomes much more memorable than just sending a reward. Adding that personal touch can go a long way to making your staff feel appreciated, so think carefully about personalised, bespoke rewards over the old-school standard of a watch and a handshake.

How to Show Employee Appreciation

Showing employees that you appreciate them can improve productivity, engagement, morale and employee retention whilst reducing your costs. There are many ways that you can show your appreciation for your long-serving members of staff, here are 11 ideas we've found to be effective.

Give praise

Although a thank you can go a long way, when someone has dedicated years of their life to helping your business they deserve more. To make appreciation part of your company culture you should praise them publicly to recognise their achievements. You can do this via social media, your company website or a social recognition platform.

Give a personalised gift

As an employer, you can show that you know and understand your employees by providing personalised gifts. This will help to create that emotional connection and deepen relationships with something they'll value which is specific to their interests.

Financial rewards

How much you choose to give is up to you, but as a general rule of thumb, the value should increase based on their length of service. Reward codes are a great option here as you can avoid choosing the wrong gift by letting your employees choose from hundreds of vouchers and gift cards to make sure they'll get something they want.

Increasing annual paid holiday time at key service milestones

Giving additional annual leave can be a great morale booster. After years of service, who doesn't need (and deserve) a break? This is a great employee benefit that your current employees will appreciate and may also help you attract new staff.

Have senior management take them out to dinner

Strengthen your relationships and show your gratitude by taking your employee out for their favourite meal.

Offer flexible working options

Sometimes a gift is nice but employees would much rather have a better work/life balance. Offering flexible working options can be life-changing for those who crave it. It also shows you trust your staff and can make them more dedicated in the long term.

Have a staff party to celebrate long service achievements

Company celebrations can help with team-building and bring everyone together.

Provide a long service award trophy

Providing a trophy can be a great way for the employee to show off their achievement, especially in competitive environments such as sales.

Present long-serving staff with written accolades garnered from their workmates

Personal messages from the whole team can feel special. It shows not only does management appreciate your efforts, but everyone does.

Feature long-serving loyal staff members on a ‘wall of fame’

Whether this is in your office, or online, a 'wall of fame' can help create a positive atmosphere and show a celebration of your staff.

Offer long-serving staff training opportunities to learn new skills

Learning new skills and opportunities shows you believe in your staff and want the best for them. This is a great company benefit for investing in people.


Appreciating your long-serving staff can work wonders for the stability and growth of your business. It can help boost productivity and cultivate a positive environment where your employees will want to stay and can help attract new talent. How you show your appreciation should be a carefully considered approach. Getting it wrong can with unthoughtful gifts leave a bad impression on your staff and have the opposite of the desired effect. Before starting a long service award scheme, consider what your employees will value and what kind of culture you want to foster.

If you need help or advice setting up your staff loyalty program, then get in touch with our experts or book a demo for our rewards and recognition services.