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Why Work Anniversaries Still Matter

I was looking at a post by Paul Hebert’s i2i about service anniversary awards and it got me thinking about the inherent ridiculousness of the whole concept. Why are we giving awards for people sticking it out? “Oh hey Jimmy, you made it through another year. Here’s your bronze pin. After that, you can get your silver, gold and then platinum pins.” Don’t get too excited Jimmy. Those pins, watches, and plaques all meant something at some point.

Getting an anniversary pin or plaque feels like getting the perfect attendance award back in school. It’s an accomplishment, yes, but it is an odd one. One where you don’t know what is exactly wrong with the perfect attendance kid. Why did they feel the need to stick it out every mind numbing day of class? Did they really never get sick?

In my cynicism, I forgot something. Anniversaries can be good! I was letting some of that negativity in there.

Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated four years of marriage bliss. As every married person will tell you, everything has always gone perfect, there’s never been any problems and we have never ever fought about anything.

I kid. It hasn’t always been perfect but our anniversary always gives me an opportunity to appreciate both how far we’ve come and how far we can continue to go. It is the instant romance maker. Even if I procrastinated with planning this year, we had a great time because I was focused on reflection and our future together.

In what is probably obvious to others, if you have a good relationship with your career and your career partner (i.e. your workplace), anniversaries can be a wonderful time to celebrate another year of engaged employment. Is it directly aligned with a business result? No, but who cares. If you are managing your workforce well, being employed for another year is a great indirect business success and one that is worthy of your celebration.

If you are in a crappy relationship with an employer (or your spouse), an anniversary can be as empty of a gesture that can be made. And I imagine many of my Gen Y compatriots haven’t had the best jobs in the world yet so it is easy to become very cynical about anniversaries and the recognition awarded to them.

Let’s not recognize survivors, let’s recognize thrivers. And let’s be sure that the number of people with empty anniversaries is minimized while maximizing the ones we can celebrate another year of success with. Because that anniversary is a beautiful thing if done right.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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