Best work anniversary gifts ideas for employees

Last updated:
July 22, 2021
December 17, 2021
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

Anniversaries are significant milestones in your employee’s journey. They can deliver feelings of pride and achievement or plant seeds of alternate possibilities and missed opportunities.

Humans operate on emotion. Feelings of gratitude, praise, love, and respect add to how we react to situations and relationships every day. That includes your work life and its daily, monthly, and yearly investment.

As a manager or HR worker, it’s your job to limit employee turnover; that means keeping the staff you have as happy and appreciated—and in your employment—as long as possible.

We’ve got all sorts of ideas for work anniversary gifts for employees—whatever role they play and how long they’ve been with the company. Plant those emotional seeds of appreciation and importance in their mind—something they can’t forget—and they’ll find it harder than ever to leave you.

Are you a tangible gifts or rewards program type company?

Rewards schemes are brilliant. If employees work on earning points for significant achievements and hitting milestones, your teams will have something specific in mind to work towards. They'll also have a prize or points total they'll work harder to achieve.

However, a gift chosen with care, one with a personal and thoughtful connection to each staff member, delivers a different message. Creating an emotional bond is easier to do when we put a little thought into a situation instead of leaving it down to a pre-determined mechanical process.

Work within your budget

Some companies will have more access to resources than others, and their budget for anniversary gifts could open up more options.

However, the cost isn't always everything. A thoughtful and well-considered gift can often out-perform an impersonal effort with a higher price tag, especially if it's something that they wouldn't use or want in the first place.

Virtual rewards for virtual workers

How to celebrate a work anniversary virtually? Well, for those on your team that operates too far afield to make it to the office for a celebration, then take the celebration to them. Organize a cupcake delivery and set up a group video call with everyone they work with.

Your gift message could provide the link and the dedicated time to hang on to that slice of cake and a single-serve bottle of wine or bubbly to share with their colleagues.

There are just as many online opportunities for gifts, experiences, and activities if that's the way they're built to operate.

What are the benefits of a work anniversary social media post?

A shout out over all of your social media channels is a superb way to thank your team for their on-going efforts. It's also an opportunity to promote your brand and company culture.

It enables clients to engage, too, allowing your simple gesture to grow into something much bigger. You can add to your post throughout the day, showing celebrations, gifts, and how much their teammates appreciate them too.

It's also an opportunity to tag yourselves into a new audience if your celebration happens outside the office, or you've given your employee a gift or experience with an associated business.

Finally, if your employee responds to your post—gratefully, of course, you did go to a lot of effort—it shows what a great business you are to work for, how well the staff is cared for, and the excellent level of company culture you operate at.

If you haven't already, you should draft a work anniversary email template. That way, you can let everyone know who the lucky employee is and what will happen to celebrate their achievements. It's also an opportunity to show new employees what they can expect as the years roll by.

Why you should organize your work anniversary gifts by year

Every passing year is an achievement for your staff. In the current environment, working tenures are getting shorter than ever. Whether it's because Gen Xers and Millennials place higher importance on achievement and work/life balance than stability and longevity or that they just get bored with routine quicker, it's hard to tell.

What is clear is that with staff staying for shorter terms, the investment into hiring and training isn't providing the ROI it once was. Making the appropriate appreciation and furthering your commitment to your staff gives you the chance to earn it back from them.

Each year will have its expectations and milestones. Rewarding those should be part of your plan. It's a way to keep your staff happy at work, and without reason to start looking for alternative opportunities.

The things you should do every year

Give your employee a hand-written note of thanks

Appreciation buys into the emotional experience. Specific areas of performance or acts that made a difference will show you notice and appreciate your teams' efforts.


It can be coffee and cake at break-time or a full-blown party at a luxury location. Either way, the memory of being the center of attention will likely last longer than the memory of a material gift.

A short and meaningful speech that details the staff member's achievements over the past year acknowledges all their efforts and hard work.

Whenever you celebrate, there should always be a cake. Come on; is it even a party if there isn't a cake?

Award a trophy of recognition

It doesn't have to be an actual trophy—but it can be—it just needs to be something that recognizes the term of their employment.

A branded and personalized mug with the number of years served is ideal. Those getting to 5 years could get a silver mug, and the special gold mug should only be held by the most deserving, long-serving staff with over 10-years of service.

Hold anniversary appraisals

As each year goes by, it's not only a fitting opportunity to say thank you, but also to find out how to make your employee's working lives better—increasing the likelihood that they'll remain loyal to the company and continue to return your investment in them.

If they were considering leaving for pastures new, it could be just the right time to nip that in the bud. Anniversaries cause pause for thought—reminders that life is passing by. Many will see this as a time to make plans, moving forward with ambitions that get forgotten during their daily challenges.

Beat those blues, and you'll maximize your ROI. Create a new career plan for your employees each year, and they'll want to stick around long enough to reap the rewards.

Give your staff the choice of what they want

A well thought through gift will leave a lasting impact. However, that’s often easier said than done. There’s always the chance you’ll get it wrong, even with the best intentions. So, how do you dodge making that mistake? You let your employees choose for themselves.

If you create a list of options they can choose from, they’re bound to pick the most appropriate one for them. You can guarantee then that they’ll get used and not shoved to the back of a drawer with the other junk we collect year-in, year-out.

It’s easy to get the wrong idea; a more outgoing member of your team might value their privacy out of the office, so sending them on a social adventure could be the last thing they want from their downtime. And who knows what they own already?

Celebrating a 1st year anniversary

With so many new hires deciding that this wasn't the job they expected it to be, a first-year anniversary fuss could be the thing that persuades them to give it another try.

It's about re-engagement, refreshed and revitalized attitudes towards opportunities, and a chance to put the problems of that first tricky year straight.

Work-related gifts and celebrations

  • Branded basics: Pens, stationery, water bottles, mugs

Experience gifts suggestions

  • Creative workshops
  • Study courses

Material gifts suggestions

  • A bottle of wine
  • Sweet treats, confectionery, cupcakes

Celebrating the 2nd anniversary

They've made it over the first year hump, and by the end of their second, a different set of questions are sneaking into their peripheral vision. After two years, employees are starting to see the job as a possible long-term commitment. Are they ready for that? And is your company the best bet for such an arrangement?

Prove to them that you are with more love, attention, and appreciation—and a gift that ups the ante from the previous year.

Work-related gifts and celebrations

  • Company merchandise: Jackets, sweaters, umbrellas, etc.

Experience gifts suggestions

  • 1-month gym pass
  • Learn a language online

Material gifts suggestions

  • A case of wine
  • Hampers and care packages

Celebrating a 3rd year anniversary

Heading into their 3rd year, and their job isn't the shiny new opportunity it once was, but a steady part of their schedule. Does steady mean dull? It doesn't have to. Remind them that coming to work can (and should be) fun, and reward them for their work by upgrading their technology, making it easier to do their job with a higher level of pride in their gadgets and equipment.

Work-related gifts and celebrations

  • Framed certificate of achievement

Experience gifts suggestions

  • Group activities: paintballing, cocktail making, cookery, art, and creativity
  • 6-month gym membership

Material gifts suggestions

  • Coffee machines
  • Personal gadgets or updated office tech

Celebrating a 4th year anniversary

Four years is a big business. Your employee has shown your loyalty—moving past the average lifespan of a working tenure. A gift at this point should be heartfelt and grateful. Push the boat out a bit further to let them know just how appreciated they are.

Work-related gifts and celebrations

  • Time off or additional days holiday
  • Improved or additional flexible working schedules

Experience gifts suggestions

  • Courses to learn an instrument or new artistic, creative outlet
  • Mindfulness and meditation sessions

Material gifts suggestions

  • A quality bottle of wine in a gift box
  • Luxury hampers

Celebrating a 5th year anniversary

5 years is the first of the big anniversaries. The notable ones to follow are a long way down the line—10, 20, and 25 year anniversaries won't roll around anywhere near as often, so they merit a superior level of thought and investment.

At 5 years, you're setting a standard of what's to come, so make it count.

Work-related gifts and celebrations

  • Personalized newspaper outlining achievements and highlights
  • The gold award personalized mug, and a trophy

Experience gifts suggestions

  • Weekend breaks
  • Luxury trips or excursions

Material gifts suggestions

  • Champagne or vintage spirits of value
  • Whisky and glasses gift set
  • Jewelry


Reward and recognition help to build the relationships that keep your teams happy at work. They'll perform better for you if they can see that their efforts are being noticed and that they'll be rewarded for them.

When your employees' anniversaries crop up, spread a little love; it'll go a long way—even it is premeditated to get more than ever from them over the following year.

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