Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.
Happy work anniversary!
Here’s a … Card? Company t-shirt? Golden watch?
Let’s be real.
The world of work is progressing rapidly, but our celebrations are stuck in the past.
There must be a better way.
Must, because celebrating work anniversaries isn’t just about acknowledging professional milestones. Done well, it’s about expressing appreciation for people's constant hard work and dedication.
This pays off, as a Gallup study found that individuals who get recognized properly are 20 times as likely to be engaged as employees who receive poor recognition.
Yet, finding the right words to convey your gratitude and selecting the perfect ideas and themes for these celebrations can be daunting. But worry not!
Based on research and first-hand experience, I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide below containing everything related to a happy work anniversary.
From impressive messages to modern gift ideas, I’ll discuss everything that can make these special moments memorable for everyone.
So, let's dive in to find out!
What is a Work Anniversary?
A happy work anniversary is a special day that marks a milestone in someone’s with your team or company.
It's like a birthday for your job, celebrated after 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and so on.
We can celebrate work anniversaries with recognition through gifts, awards, or messages. It’s a chance to show respect to your people and make them feel valued.
And with hybrid and remote work, this is more important than ever.
Research shows that 64% of people say appreciation is more important while working from home.
So, let’s get to recognizing and appreciating.
How to Craft a Meaningful Happy Work Anniversary Message?
When writing a work anniversary message for your colleagues, remember, "What comes from the heart goes to the heart.”
It’s not about using the most fancy glittery words or being super formal.
This is your chance to show the person that you (and maybe also on behalf of your team) genuinely acknowledge and care about them.
Not only as a high-performing team member but also as a good-hearted human being who has brightened the days of those around them.
So, I hope positive thoughts and memories about the person are overflowing in your mind by now.
And if you need a guide to put those thoughts down in words, below are some tips!
1. Start With the Milestone
How long has your coworker been a part of the team?
Whether it’s one year, five years, or 10 years, you can make the milestone sound more fun by:
- Converting years to days: A more interesting way to say “Happy 5-Year Work Anniversary” is “It’s been 1825 days since you’ve been with us”.
- Converting years to seasons: “Three springs have passed since you joined us, and every spring is more beautiful than the last” (cheesy but may make your colleague laugh).
You can use our tool to calculate the exact number of days your colleague has joined the company:
2. Highlight the Contributions
What are some hard (but not cold) facts about your coworker's contributions to the team?
Going through the team’s reports should help you gather the great work they’ve done that should be celebrated!
3. Include their Growth Journey
Has your colleague been promoted? Or did they switch roles and take on new challenges?
Make sure to include their vertical and lateral moves in your work anniversary message.
You can talk about how they have successfully adapted and grown to be where they are today.
“I still remember, that first day you joined….”
4. Name their Best Traits
What makes working with them such a pleasant experience?
Here are some nice adjectives in case you run out of words:
- As a teammate: They may be reliable, supportive, responsible, honest, innovative, creative, hard-working, smart, ambitious, driven, etc.
- As a person: They may be funny, witty, caring, down-to-earth, kind, warm-hearted, patient, cheerful, positive, resilient, etc.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can create a word cloud and ask all the other team members to submit their favorite characteristics of the person.
When finished, take a screenshot of the final result and insert it in the happy work anniversary message!
5. Tell a Personal Story
Most of the time, we all start with, “We’re so lucky to have you because you are a kind, supportive, and fun person to work with.”
But you can take the appreciation one step further by adding a personal story that highlights those positive traits of your colleague.
The magic phrase is “Remember that time when…”
This matters so much because if you’re like me, we tend not to believe the good things others say about us (thinking it’s just for the sake of politeness!) until they recall a real example.
6. Say You Appreciate
After all the praises about their contributions and personalities, your colleague will get it: you greatly appreciate them.
But trust me, it will only do good to make it even more straightforward!
Make sure you include phrases like:
- We're so lucky to have you on the team.
- We're so grateful for having you as a part of the team.
- We really appreciate your work as a coworker and your charm as a person!
7. Look Into the Future
What are some exciting projects lying ahead for your colleague?
Show that you’re confident that they are going to rock those.
And not just projects at work. Is your coworker getting married soon? Planning to have a baby? Picking up a new passion project?
If you feel like you’re close enough to your colleague also to mention their upcoming personal milestones, it’ll be nice to include them as well.
8. Add Congratulating Words from Everyone
Do you know what’s the best type of happy work anniversary message?
It's the happy work anniversary messages written by the whole team!
You can write the main message first and tell everyone else in the team to contribute a congratulatory sentence each.
Combine those sentences and put them after the main message. Your colleague will happily receive recognition and congrats from the whole team.
This works well for remote teams, too:
You can use our free Kudo Wall template to collect appreciation messages from your team!
Best Examples of Happy Work Anniversary Messages
Still stuck for words?
Here are some examples of meaningful and fun happy work anniversary messages that will surely make your colleagues' day.
It’s time to mix & match, customize your wishes, and let the good vibes flow!
Happy Work Anniversary Messages for Colleagues
There are endless types of wonderful colleagues in the world, so here are just a few suggestions. Feel free to tailor them to suit yours!
- The life-of-the-party: It’s hard to find a colleague as fun as you, mate! We knew all along that you secretly think you’re the favorite of all. Well, it’s not too far from the truth. For 5 years of laughter and more to come!
- The introvert: Thank you for sticking with us through thick and thin in the last 3 years! Don’t worry; no loud celebration party will be held, but we may sneak into your inbox today with some cheesy words about how wonderful you are.
- The kind-hearted: You’ve always left us wondering how you can be so gentle and kind to those around you, even on the most stressful days. You have inspired us all to be a bit more caring every day!
- The connector: Guess who's been bringing our team together for the last 5 years? Yes, it's you. You connect us beyond our differences and make us truly one team. Thank you!
- The calm: Real question: Where can we find another teammate as cool as you? You have calmed us down in countless heated meetings. We seriously admire your composure!
- The cheerleader: Cheers to 5 years of hard work and growth! We love how your enthusiasm is always so infectious and motivates the whole team to do our best!
- The food & drink expert: We are thankful to have you in the last 3 years because your 'emergency' snacks stash has saved us all from hunger crises (several times). Keep hoarding those chocolate bars!
- The trendsetter: In this day and age of hybrid work, your cool outfits, hairstyles, and nails (and everything) are why we come to the office / join online video meetings. Of course, your fantastic work also counts, but just to let you know, it’s so refreshing and fun to have a fashionista on the team!
- The creative: While we try to think out-of-the-box, we feel like you live out of the box! For 3 years, you never fail to surprise us with your original thinking. Keep it up!
- The hard-worker: Congratulations on 5 years of incredible dedication! Thanks for being with us through all thick and thin! May this year bring you one step closer to your goals.
- The learner: Besides your incredible work, you’re truly a living example of life-long learning! Please create a course on how to make time to read one book a month or pick up one new hobby a year; we’ll all sign up!
- The disciplined: My friend, you’re so perfect that you’re almost unreal! Never be late to work, and never miss a deadline. Your discipline is out of this world; we all learn a lot from you!
- The diplomat: No words can describe how your charm has won the hearts of our clients, our customers, and our team! That’s real magic you have there, and we’re so lucky to have you!
- The Star Wars fan: As a real Jedi Knight, you have shown us how to be calm and courageous during difficult times. May the Force be with you!
- The Lord of the Rings fan: Although we often tease you that you’re Gollum, you’re really the Frodo of our team (or at least Sam!). We really admire you for always taking up the most challenging work in the last 3 years!
Happy Work Anniversary Messages for Your Managers
Most of the time, we expect our managers to appreciate us, but do you know that the bosses also long for our acknowledgment?
A study from the University of Central Florida revealed that bosses perform better when their people appreciate them for their role.
So here is some inspiration, depending on the type of manager you have:
- The expert of the field: In the past 5 years, it's amazing how you always have the answers to our questions. Even when you don’t, you know where to find them!
- The visionary leader: We agree that when we first joined the team, we thought the goals you set out were a bit wild. But, wait for it, you have shown us how your great vision can work out in an unexpectedly amazing way!
- The laissez-faire leader: Thank you for empowering us in the last 3 years! We love how you give the directions and then trust us to do our best work.
- The listening leader: We are so lucky to have a manager who always listens like you. You make us feel like we can talk to you about anything. Congratulations on the last great 3 years and more to come!
- The workaholic boss: Your work ethic is truly admirable, boss. In the last 5 years, you never shy away from difficult jobs, even if it means working long hours. Please don’t forget to take good care of yourself along the way!
- The caring manager: To say the company is family is a bit cheesy, but you always care for us like we’re your brothers and sisters. Just to let you know, it warms our hearts every time. You’re awesome, boss!
- The coaching manager: We feel so grateful to have a manager who puts in the time and effort to coach and train us like you do properly. Thank you for helping us grow in the past 5 years!
- The fun-loving boss: A fun boss makes work one thousand times better; believe it or not, that boss is you! Thank you for making us laugh and reminding us to chill out when things get hard!
- The innovative manager: In the last 5 years, we have been inspired by how you’re never satisfied with the status quo and always find a better way to get things done!
- The work/life balance manager: Congratulations on reaching another milestone in your career! Thank you for always reminding us to manage our work/life balance. You have been a great example!
- The first-time manager: Cheers for completing your very first year as a manager! And you know what? You’ve done great (seriously). Thank you for guiding us, and we’re rooting for the manager you will become!
- The far-from-home manager: Wow, it’s been 3 years since you moved here and became our awesome manager! We’re proud of you for falling in love with our food and culture. You’re doing great!
Happy Work Anniversary Messages for Your Team Members
If you’re a manager looking for suggestions to write a work anniversary message for your team member, this section is for you.
Everyone is different, so feel free to scan through and find the words and phrases that fit your colleague best!
- The social butterfly: Wow, time flies! I can’t believe it’s been a year since you joined our team. During that time, you have brought us closer together with all the hangouts you initiated, and we’re so glad to have you!
- The wallflower: You’re truly a unique addition to our team. You don’t say much; whenever you do, you either crack us up with your dry humor or amaze us with your thinking!
- The humorous: How would our team be without the jokes and cheerful vibe you bring to us? Thank you for making us laugh in the last 3 years, even on the difficult days.
- The supportive: Thank you for always being there for each of us in the last 5 years! I don’t think it’s possible to name a person in our team who you haven’t saved their day (at least once!). You always show us what real teamwork is.
- The detail-oriented: Congratulations on the fantastic 5-year milestone! Your eyes for detail have always helped the whole team deliver top-notch work!
- The get-it-done: Cheers for 3 years of doing the impossible! I think no one in our team (including myself!) dares to tell you something can’t be done when you say it can. Your can-do attitude truly inspires us!
- The reliable: Every team and every colleague in the world would be so lucky to have a colleague like you. We can always count on your words, and that’s truly amazing. Thank you for being a part of the team in the last 3 years!
- The always-have-new-ideas: I can’t describe how much we love having you in the team in the past 5 years. How you just casually come up with super creative ideas in every meeting is so cool. Looking forward to realizing more innovative ideas together with you!
- The critical thinker: Every team needs a critical thinker like you, who’s not afraid to disagree and can point out the flaws in our logic! Thank you for being the mastermind of our team in the past 5 years!
- The negotiator: Happy 5-year anniversary! We all secretly admire your magic of turning No into Yes every time! Thank you for being the skillful negotiator of the team!
- The fast-and-furious: It’s been 3 years, and we’re still waiting for the day you reveal your secret about how to complete everything at a 2x speed! And needless to say, you’re extremely valuable to the team!
- The tech-savvy: Sometimes, I think that without you, our team would operate in the Stone Age! You introduce new apps and tech daily to us and help us do things more effectively. Thank you for being our cum IT person for the past 5 years!
- The sports lover: Besides your great work, you inspire us to stay fit and healthy! We appreciate all the times you asked us to run in the morning and swim on the weekends in the last 3 years! Please keep asking!
- The traveler: Congratulations on 3 years of working hard and traveling hard! We always love to hear your stories from the trips. May this year bring you more work well done and adventures!
- The baker: Thank you so much for all the cookies and brownies you shared with us in the last 5 years! You can get rich being a baker alone!
Why settle for a solo note when you can create a symphony of appreciation? Kudo Wall allows you to collect the team’s congratulations and make the receiver feel like a rockstar.
Happy Work Anniversary Messages to Hybrid and Remote Team
A hybrid or remote work model where pajamas meet productivity gives us the flexibility and work-life balance we all desire.
We connect talents globally and make a dream team. If you’re having a dream team of this kind, here are some suggestions:
Here are some additional happy work anniversary messages tailored for hybrid and remote teams:
- The always-on communicator: Congratulations on 3 years with the team! Even when we’re miles apart, your quick Slack comments and responses make us feel like you're right here in the office with us. You prove that distance means nothing to us!
- The meeting maestro: It's been 5 fantastic years of working together! Thanks for being our Zoom master - your prep and facilitation make our virtual meetings engaging and productive. We're lucky to have you on the team.
- The documentation whiz: Cheers to another year! Your obsession with note-taking during meetings and meticulous project documentation continues to save us when we need to recall details. You're a rockstar.
- The timezone hopper: Wow, a whole year with us already! Despite the late-night calls and early-morning meetings you power through working across timezones, you're always bringing positive energy. Something is missing in any meeting that you don't attend!
- The digital organizer: Happy work anniversary! Thanks for keeping our remote team coordinated and on track with your masterful use of project management tools. Those smart boards keep us sane!
- The virtual socializer: Congratulations on 5 years! Even when we aren't together in person, you find ways for us to bond and have fun virtually. Our online trivia and happy hours would be nothing without you.
- The remote innovator: You've been spreading great ideas for 3 years now! We love your constantly finding new techniques and tools to improve collaboration and remote work. Keep those innovations coming!
- The video star: It's been so fun working together virtually this past year! We always look forward to your creative use of video to communicate and stay connected. Keep being your vibrant self on camera!
- The online facilitator: Thank you for 3 amazing years of keeping our remote workshops and training productive and engaging! We wish we could high-five you through the screen for making virtual learning not suck.
- The watercooler chatter: Congratulations on 5 years together! We appreciate you bringing that "water cooler" social vibe to our online chats and meetings. WFH is so much better with your humor and stories.
Go beyond a single work anniversary message with Kudo Wall. Collect best wishes from the whole team in a beautifully designed template and send it on D-Day as a big surprise!
12 More Ideas to Celebrate Happy Work Anniversary
Remember the good old days when we would all go out and celebrate hard on birthdays, graduations, or any special occasion?
If your team loves parties, you may understand the vibe I’m talking about.
We care. We’re present. We’re happy for you and your achievements. And most importantly, we want you to know that and keep doing your awesome.
Here are more ideas to make one’s work anniversary truly special.
1. Brighten Their Day
We talked about heartfelt messages.
Handwritten notes, cards, or even touchy emails can go a long way in making the person feel valued.
And you can do more than just words!
Surprise them with their favorite coffee drink or sneak a sweet treat on their desk.
Those thoughtful touches will hit differently. And it’s really fun to team up and make someone’s day.
2. Introduce Milestone Awards
Tangible awards are a big pat on the back for years of commitment and hard work.
It keeps memories and milestones in a physical collection.
Depending on your team culture and style, you can get creative with:
- A cool badge designed in your team spirit.
- A certificate, plaque, or trophy engraved with the person's name and years of working.
- An award ceremony for extra praise.
3. In-Person Celebrations
The best thing about coming to the office is to meet people.
And we cannot miss having fun and building deeper bonds on such occasions.
In-office celebrations are a fantastic way to mark a milestone and create a memorable experience for people.
You can start with decorating the celebrant's workspace with balloons, streamers, or a happy work anniversary banner.
Creating a festive and visually appealing environment sets the mood for a work anniversary celebration.
Pick their favorite colors or themes, even if it's something wild! I know someone who is crazy about diving and living at the beach. Decorating their cubicle with mermaid stuff would make them laugh to tears.
Also, a visual timeline of one’s journey within the company makes it more unique. Include photos, achievements, and special moments from their time spent.
Plan a surprise party for the person, inviting the team and their work buddies to join the celebration.
This idea works best for Work Anniversary of the Month, where you can have everyone cheer on all anniversaries (and even birthdays) in the month!
During the party, share stories and anecdotes about the fellow. Encourage colleagues to offer their congratulations and best wishes.
Icebreaker questions, games, and quizzes can add extra fun.
If you need an official celebration but want to make it cozy, team lunch is great.
It’s a more intimate way to celebrate a happy work anniversary, which allows everyone to connect on a personal level while having a team bonding with food and drinks.
You can choose a nearby restaurant or order catering. To make it more special, consider incorporating the elements of surprise:
- Put the celebrant's favorite dishes on the menu
- Present them with a heartfelt group card during lunch.
- Encourage team members to express their appreciation
- Share stories showcasing the person's positive impact on the team dynamics.
4. Remote Celebrations
Just ‘cause you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t party!
Instead, you should have more Zoom parties so that no one ever feels the work-from-home loneliness.
Virtual gatherings on Zoom or Teams work great. And more virtual meeting platforms like Butter can help you host an enjoyable, engaging online party.
- You can start with a brief team meeting and then transition into the celebratory part of the event.
- During the event, encourage team members to share their congratulations and best wishes. Make it live, or prepare a Kudo Wall in advance.
- You can also prepare a short presentation highlighting the person's accomplishments. For a seamless and fun experience, complete with visuals, and share screen time for everyone to see.
- Virtual cake-cutting ceremony? It sounds funny, but it will definitely create a highlight for your virtual party, with singing and clapping.
- Consider creating a dedicated Slack channel or group chat for the work anniversary celebration. Team members can share heartfelt messages, photos, and memories throughout the day. It creates a continuous stream of appreciation and well-wishes.
If your remote team cannot attend a gathering celebration, let’s send a surprise gift or a care package to their doorstep.
It can be a bottle of wine or a personalized trophy mentioning their milestone.
Or a fun idea of special food delivery for the celebrant's lunch or dinner.
Coordinate with a local restaurant or a food delivery service to have their favorite meal delivered. It adds a touch of luxury and appreciation to their celebration.
Social Media Shoutouts
In this digital, why not give the person a shoutout publicly through your company channel on their work anniversary? It means a lot!
- Craft a heartfelt message.
- Share a photo or video, and use relevant hashtags to spread the love.
- Encourage team members to join the celebration by commenting and sharing the post. It recognizes the person's achievements and showcases a stellar reputation to the online community.
5. Professional Development
Investing in a people's professional development is a valuable way to celebrate work anniversaries.
It's not just about recognizing their past contributions but also about nurturing their future.
Let's explore the two approaches to professional development for happy work anniversary celebrations.
Work anniversaries can be a perfect occasion to offer people access to training and learning opportunities.
This investment in their professional growth shows appreciation for their dedication and aligns with your commitment to a person's development.
Consider providing access to online courses, workshops, or certifications relevant to the worker's role or career goals.
Collaborate with HR or Learning and Development teams to identify suitable training options.
These opportunities allow the team members to acquire new skills, stay informed, and advance their expertise.
Career Development Plans
Another way to celebrate work anniversaries is by outlining clear career development plans.
This approach emphasizes the organization's long-term commitment to its person's growth and advancement.
Collaborate with members to create a personalized career roadmap that aligns with their aspirations. Discuss potential career paths, skill development, and mentorship opportunities. Identify key milestones and goals to be achieved in the coming years.
This planning recognizes the person's past achievements and outlines a future filled with opportunities for advancement.
6. Flexibility and Time Off
Extra Time Off
Offering extra time off to celebrate a work anniversary is a unique way to show appreciation for their hard work.
Consider granting them additional paid time off beyond their regular vacation days.
The amount of extra time off can be proportional to the number of years they've been affiliated with you. For instance, an extra day off for each year of service.
Schedule the extra time off around the work anniversary date to make this gesture even more unique.
You can also let the individual choose when to take it.
Be flexible in accommodating their preferences to ensure they enjoy their time away from work.
For people who have reached significant work anniversaries, consider offering a sabbatical or an extended leave of absence.
Sabbaticals typically range from a few weeks to several months. It can either be paid or unpaid, based on specific policies.
To implement extended leaves, establish clear guidelines and criteria for eligibility. Work with HR and the designated person to plan the sabbatical. It ensures that projects and responsibilities are appropriately managed during their absence.
Happy Work Anniversary Gift Ideas
Recognition is great, but let’s be honest, everyone loves presents!
So we easily have in mind what are other’s tastes and wishes when it comes to selecting a gift.
- A book by their favorite author
- A subscription to hobby-related stuff
- A gift card to their favorite restaurant or services
What makes these gifts unique is the effort put into selecting them.
Pay attention to the person's hobbies, passions, or any hints they may have dropped previously.
It shows that you value them not just as colleagues but as true friends beyond work.
If the day is coming and you still don’t have any ideas, here are some safe bets for happy work anniversary gifts:
- Plant or Succulent: Bring life to their desk with a potted plant or succulent. Not only does it brighten up their space, but it also symbolizes growth and longevity in work and life.
- Customized Coffee Mug: Create a unique coffee mug featuring a memorable work-related quote or an inside joke from the team. It adds a personal touch to their morning routine.
Thoughtful Gifts for Managers
- High-Quality Pen Set: Managers often appreciate the finer things. A set of elegant pens is a classic and professional gift that adds a touch of sophistication to their desk. They'll remember your thoughtful gesture every time they use these pens.
- Desktop Organizer: Help tidy and organize their workspace with a stylish desktop organizer. It's practical and enhances their efficiency.
- Framed Team Photo: Capture memories in a frame. A framed crew photo reminds managers of the fantastic team they lead and the camaraderie they share.
- Personalized Leather Portfolio: A personalized leather portfolio is both professional and practical for a manager who frequently attends meetings and presentations.
- Heartwarming Thank You Letter: As mentioned above, don’t forget to craft a heartwarming thank you letter expressing your gratitude and admiration for their leadership. A sincere letter can profoundly impact and be admired for years to come.
Group Gift Ideas for a Team Celebration: Strength in Togetherness
- Signed Team Card: Create a heartfelt team card where everyone can write their well wishes and express their appreciation. A collective message goes a long way.
- Custom Photo Book: Compile a photo book with pictures capturing memorable moments and team achievements from the past year. It's a keepsake they can treasure.
- Customized Cake: Order a cake with a design that reflects their personality or highlights a shared team joke. It's a sweet and enjoyable way to celebrate.
Experience-Based Gifts: Ensuring Memorable Moments for them
- Spa Day: Treat your colleague to a relaxing spa day or a rejuvenating massage. It's a gift of self-care and relaxation, perfect for unwinding after work and pampering me-time.
- Restaurant Gift Cards: Provide gift cards to their favorite restaurant or a trendy dining experience they want to try. It's a delicious way to celebrate.
- Adventure Activities: Offer adventure activities such as hot-air ballooning, zip-lining, or escape room games. It’s a reminder to check out their bucket list and live the fullest life.
Time-Related Gifts: Marking the Years
- Watches: Select a stylish or luxurious look to symbolize the time spent with the squad. A watch serves as a practical accessory and carries sentimental value. It reminds the recipient of their years of dedication.
- Clocks: Gift decorative clocks suitable for their home or workplace. These clocks serve as a visual representation of time and commitment. Thus, this makes them a thoughtful and functional gift.
Wellness and Health: Nurturing Well-Being
- Fitness Equipment: Consider fitness-related gifts such as a gym membership or home exercise equipment. Promoting health and well-being is a meaningful way to show your appreciation.
- Wellness Retreats: Offer the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation with a wellness retreat or a mindfulness workshop. It's a fantastic way to encourage self-care and mental well-being.
Happy Work Anniversary to All!
In short, work anniversaries are a chance to express gratitude and inspire continued success in a collaborative environment. In this regard, happy work anniversary messages and gifts hold particular significance.
It demonstrates a deep understanding of the recipient's personality and achievements, creating a more personal and meaningful connection.
It is important to ensure each team member feels recognized and appreciated on their special day.
A little creativity and thoughtfulness at the right times bring everyone closer, strengthen team spirit, and make everyone happy working together!
A final note
As we work more distributed than ever, you may wonder how to engage remote employees.
I suggest employing employee engagement strategies to keep your team working well together regardless of location. Practices employee engagement best practices and use employee engagement tools to excel. For the best results, consider working with an employee engagement survey provider.
You can also deploy various employee engagement activities, like asking Would You Rather Questions, Icebreaker Questions, 5-Minute Team Building Activities, and Virtual Team Building Activities. (For big teams, split them with this Random Group Generator.)
Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.