Re-frame long-service awards…make 2014 all about ‘celebrating careers’!


Yesterday we ran a great session at an organization to challenge their current thinking about long-service awards. I loved it because the group were so participative and open to ideas. Before the session, we asked the group to come up with 3 words to describe long-service awards and it was lovely to see such positive words used…


In lots of companies, people have lost sight of why they are doing it. Programmes are inherited and there is no real understanding of why it was created in the first place. Yesterday, we hope we got the thinking back on track. We hope we got everyone thinking about the objectives of ‘celebrating careers’ and brought it back to the simple truth that career celebrations give us a unique one-of-a-kind opportunity to focus on an individual and their entire history of contributions rather than any one single event.

When we listen to someone being appreciated, we internalize it. We want some of that for ourselves. Sharing stories from the workplace gives us all something to aim for, something that is easy for us to understand. It turns career achievers into role models. Last week I listened to my lovely colleague James reach his 5 year milestone and it still makes me smile now. People were invited to speak from across the business and it was lovely to see how proud James felt. It was funny, it was real and it was genuine. I want some of that too!

This is not the golden nugget to talent retention or anything else, however, as part of your overall recognition and communication strategy, it reflects the value you as an organization place on your people and the contributions they have made over the years. It reminds people that they work in a great team, that they love their company (hopefully!) and that what they do gets noticed.

Have a think about what you do for long-service and why? It may be time to challenge the legacy and re-define your own objectives…bring it back to your people and how much you value them! Get some people together from across the business today and I guarantee you will find some inspiring stories of amazing recognition moments that are happening across your business as we speak…think about how you can create more through the simple re-framing of long-service awards and the image of a carriage clock to the powerful message that ‘we celebrate you’!

Building a culture of recognition is for life…not just for Christmas! A festive tale with a case study!



How could I not exploit the festive season to talk about appreciation! I don’t know about you but I get this warm, tingly feeling in my tummy at this time of the year and embrace December and all the best things it brings out in our lives….family, friends, community, thinking about the absolute right present to put a smile on the faces of loved ones, celebrations and parties. It got me thinking (always dangerous…)

When reading one of our case studies recently about a global recognition programme for Informatica, these are some of the words I pulled out:


A recognition programme done right enables you to create these festive feelings on a daily basis not just at Christmas. It takes time, it takes effort and an on-going strategy to ensure it has longevity and impact.  How great would it be to create that tingly feeling in your tummy because you’ve reached a career milestone and your company has cared enough to recognize the individual contribution you have made, to shout out about a time when you’ve gone above and beyond individually or as a team or simply because one of your peers noticed the on-going effort you’ve been contributing to live the companies values!

So I leave you with two parting messages:

Tis the season to reward and recognize!


Building a culture of recognition is for life not just for Christmas!

Celebrate good times…and careers…come on!



That’s one of my favourite feel good songs of all time! It makes me feel happy and often leads to some very bad but extremely enthusiastic dancing! Today though it’s inspired me to share a story about celebrating careers… 

I’ve had a bit of an epiphany since joining O C Tanner two months ago. My previously held beliefs about long-service awards meant some points in my recognition account given to me via an automated email response some time near the anniversary itself. And that was Ok because I didn’t know any different!

Presentation is everything!

This week I’ve been in Salt Lake City completing my training and I had the privilege of being able to watch one of my lovely colleagues celebrate his 25th career anniversary with the company. It made me cry, it was so moving! Colleagues from across the business including our CEO stood up with him and told stories about his contributions over the years. His family were invited along to watch him receive his award including six gorgeous grandchildren! I looked around the room at people’s faces whilst the presentation took place and it was so powerful seeing the impact on everyone there. There was such warmth in the room! This emotional connection can only get you thinking. That night eating dinner with my colleague (who has also just started with the company) there was a pause in the conversation and he started to look pensive and then said to me, “I know this sounds sentimental, but this is the company I want to retire from’. This was the impact it had on him! For me, I was already thinking about what kind of contribution I could make in the next 25 years…I like to plan!

The best nomination and award ever!

I’ve got my dad as inspiration here though. My dad received the best career achievement award possible…not from the company he worked for although they did nominate him, but from the Queen in the form of an MBE. This is a quotation from his nomination… 

“He is a role model for customer care and always places the requirements of others well above his own interests. No-one else does more than Geoff to engage with the public, the residents groups, and the voluntary sector sports clubs, elected members and officer colleagues. He tackles every problem as solvable and carries a smile in the most difficult times to reflect his general good humour. He wholeheartedly believes in providing a first class public service and deals with people as he would wish to be dealt with himself; in short he is the perfect public servant.”

So I’ve got a very inspirational and rather lovely dad to live up to! Although MBE’s cannot be given out to everyone, you can inspire people by recognising their own individual contributions to your organisations success. At O C Tanner, we talk about career achievement, not long-service awards. Just a little re-positioning makes you think about celebration not survival and that’s powerful stuff!

A question… 

How do you celebrate careers within your organisation?