Employee service award programs are important and should be an integral part of any large or small successful business. Considering appropriate and relevant timing and the overall significance is crucial to employee service recognition. All employees need to be valued, and valued on an ongoing basis, so that they remain dedicated and a part of the success of the company. There are essentially 10 best practices that effectively recognize length of service for an employee: 1. Ensure timely recognition and notification of service award anniversary dates 2. Involve the most meaningful leader in the recognition experience 3. Present the award with flair to make the moment memorable 4. Provide choice: a reward valued by one may not be a valued by another 5. Deliver a user-friendly process for gift selection 6. Equip managers with the right tools 7. Reflect your corporate brand and image 8. Incorporate a personal touch 9. Celebrate major milestones 10. Integrate rewards with broad recognition strategy (http://cdn2.hubspot.net) Employee service awards programs are most effective if there is specific, concrete knowledge of the employee's dedication to the company when the award is presented. If an employer fails to acknowledge the employee’s accomplishments during his or her years of service and tie them to the company’s mission and goals, then the employer essentially devalues the recognition moment and the service award. Employers should not miss valuable opportunities to engage employees and to enhance their employer brand. World at Work and Recognition Professionals International, two global associations focus on compensation, benefits and work-life and rewards programs define recognition and award as follows: • Recognition: Acknowledging or giving special attention to employee actions, efforts, behaviour or performance; offered “after the fact.” • Award: An item given to an individual or team in recognition of a specific accomplishment (usually non-cash) as a form of recognition; length-of-service recognition is the most common employee recognition award. It’s important to note that “awards” are different from rewards and incentives. A reward is an item given to an individual or team for meeting a predetermined goal. An incentive is any form of variable payment (monetary or non-monetary) tied to performance. Awards, rewards and incentives each play an important role in a total rewards or total recognition program (cdn2.hubspot.net). To truly engage employees means implementing a consistent comprehensive employee service recognition program. An effective program that can reinforce, recognize and reward behaviours that align with the company’s focus and do so on a personal and meaningful level.