History of Employee Service Recognition

Manager's Guide: The Start of Service Awards

service-award-history.jpgRecognizing Employees for their years of service had its beginnings in the period known as the Industrial Revolution.

Since that time, Recognition for an employee's length of service has evolved in many ways, and has become the most popular employee recognition program in use today.

Management has long ago realized the significant impact recognition can have on employees. In fact, the first recorded act of using recognition to motivate employees occurred over 2,600 years ago. Cyrus the Great used recognition to motivate his construction workers. His recognition included a shoulder pat, a beverage, and a coin featuring Cyrus’ head. (from hrotoday)

Service Recognition is a celebration for both the company and employees!

During the Industrial Revolution companies regarded their older, long term employees with great respect. Recognizing an employee after they reached 25 years of employment was a celebration for the company. It acknowledged the company had successfully retained an employee for a long time, and showed that this was a good place to work, and was deserving of an employee's long and loyal service.

Retention was very important! At that time, manufacturing companies had to invest in their new hires by providing extensive training for the mostly low-skilled employees. Therefore, it was important to keep their employees on the job for many years. To help employees feel valued and to stay longer, companies began using Service Awards, and Retirement Awards to show their appreciation to their long term employees.

service-award-watch-250.jpgFor many of those companies, it was an accepted tradition to present employees with an award after 25 years of service, which was typically a very nice gold pocket watch.

However, getting a service award after 25 years, or an award at retirement, was usually the only recognition employees ever received for their long and dedicated service to the company.

Click next to continue reading the Guide to Employee Service Awards 

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