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Celebrating Milestones: How Simple Efforts Can Keep Employees Happy

Lindsay Kraus, Anders CPAs + Advisors

 
In the accounting world, it is very easy to get caught up in every deadline and the day-to-day struggles of staying on top of your work and keeping clients happy. With all of the hustle and bustle of the job, we sometimes overlook small accomplishments and milestones. According to the O.C. Tanner Company, nearly 80% of people who quit their jobs do so because of a lack of appreciation at work. Celebrating milestones helps give employees a sense of recognition, purpose, and makes them feel valued, which, in the long run, aids in retention and is priceless to your firm.

Price Waterhouse and Cooper’s Saratoga Institute found that employees choose appreciation, purpose and autonomy to feel engaged over promotions and raises. Consider implementing new programs for celebrating milestones that your firm may currently not do anything for. A little goes a long way in showing your employees that you care and doing so helps your firm keep your best people around and motivated.

Below are some strategies that can spark ideas on how to celebrate personal and professional accomplishments that will keep you and your employees happy and engaged.

1. Birthdays: Birthday celebrations are one of the easiest ways to recognize an employee. Make birthdays known daily using a SharePoint page or other internal form of communication. Decorate their desk or cube, take them to lunch, or get a small cake or personalized gift to show the employee that you care.

2. Anniversaries: Like birthdays, yearly anniversaries could be recognized with a daily email, notification or post on a SharePoint page. The more important milestone anniversaries such as five years, 10 years, 15 years and so on, are more meaningful and deserve something more than yearly recognition. Some examples to celebrate these include monetary gifts with the amount raising at every milestone, organizing a small event such as a happy hour with their closest colleagues, or giving a personal gift of their choosing.

3. Marriages: A marriage is a big deal to your employee. Show them you care by organizing a wedding shower, giving a monetary gift from the firm or purchasing gifts off the employee’s registry. If your firm is small enough to do so, a personalized card that everyone has signed is a nice touch.

4. Pregnancies: Similar to marriages, pregnancies are important milestones for employees. A firm-wide baby shower inviting the employee’s spouse is a great way to recognize pregnancies and make the employee feel special. The firm can set an amount to spend and give the employee a monetary gift or use that money to purchase some of the items from their registry.

5. Promotions: Many firms promote a large number of employees each year, so having a firm-wide personal celebration or giving personal gifts isn’t always feasible. You can still make each employee feel recognized by communicating the promotions throughout the firm, with clients, on your website and social media, and in the appropriate local media. For each promoted employee, their manager, department, or close colleagues can celebrate more personally in any way they see fit.

6. Making Partner: While celebrating each promotion is important, making partner deserves something a bit more special. You want to make sure that the new partner receives meaningful and personal recognition. A firm wide announcement should be made either at a meeting with all employees or at an event celebrating the new partner. Allow the new partner to say a few words about their journey and how they got there. The big news should be personally shared with the partner’s clients and the community as well. Sending press releases, mailing and email blasts are great ways to spread the word.

7. Partner Retirements: A partner retirement is a significant accomplishment and should be treated as such. Hosting an intimate event at a nice location could be a great way to celebrate the partner’s career. Inviting the partner’s spouse and family, giving a personalized gift, and allowing other partners to prepare speeches can help make the event special. In lieu of a gift, a donation to a charity or organization that is close to the partner’s heart is also a very meaningful way to express your thanks and gratitude for their service.

8. Other Professional Accomplishments: While there isn’t a high need for a process to celebrate smaller professional accomplishments such as passing the CPA exam or getting a new designation, joining a board, or being elected to something, it is still nice to recognize these. Anders CPAs + Advisors does this during their Firm Meetings that are held three times each year. Employees are able to submit their accomplishments since the last firm meeting and they are personally recognized in front of the entire firm.

For a client win, outstanding client service or a job well done, a note of recognition or verbal praise can help the employee feel good about their accomplishment. However you choose to celebrate these, make sure it is timely and specific. Positive reinforcement will make the employee feel valued and motivated to keep up the good work.

Want to learn more about how celebrating milestones helps keep employees engaged? This article from Entrepreneur goes into more depth on the correlation between celebrating milestones and employee engagement.