Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Church employees are an extraordinary workforce because they commit their lives to do the ministry’s work.
Anyone who has ever worked on a church staff understands the unique sacrifice employees make and the effort they commit to the job.
Churches need to recognize this special group of committed people and put systems in place to acknowledge and thank them for their dedication.
Why is it important to recognize employee tenure?
Let’s be real. No one goes into ministry with a focus on earning boatloads of money. People work for churches because of a call on their life and a passion for its mission.
Church employees do a lot and often expect little. They often work with limited resources and rely on free labor (volunteers) to do the job.
It is estimated that 80 percent of organizations reported having an employee recognition program.
Among the most common programs are those that recognize the length of service. This recognition typically occurs in five-year increments.
Take the opportunity every five years to acknowledge and thank employees for their commitment and tenure.
“Organizations consistently recognized as “great places to work” are typically those that frequently recognize, validate and value outstanding work—not only by telling employees they are doing an excellent job but also by giving them cash rewards or noncash incentives.” SHRM
Tips For An Anniversary Recognition Program
Make It A Policy
Churches write policies and procedures to ensure consistency in practice.
Create a recognition program policy that outlines the program’s specifics, criteria for eligibility, and the process for delivering the recognition.
For instance, determine a month (or months) of the year that employees are recognized for tenure. Put it on the calendar and commit to holding a celebration consistently.
Designate Budget Dollars
Recognition programs cost money. Make sure you have the funding to support the efforts by allocating budget dollars.
For instance, as you go through the annual budgeting process, determine how many employees have milestone anniversaries and budget accordingly. Use the policy to allocate appropriate funds for each tier of tenure.
Think About Timing
As they say, timing is everything. Use the calendar as your guide and time the recognition thoughtfully.
Your goal is to celebrate as close to the anniversary date as possible. Yet, your goals should also be to ensure there is adequate focus and attention.
Trying to hold celebrations during hectic church seasons would dilute the effect of the celebration.
For instance, if an employee has a big anniversary in the middle of December, you may consider waiting until after the first of the year to celebrate, so that the celebration is not overshadowed by the busy Christmas season.
Make It An Event
Employee tenure is a big deal. Reinforce that premise by ensuring there is a celebration and public recognition.
The celebration can be as simple as acknowledgment at a staff meeting to a full-blown party in the office conference room.
Consider your staff culture and plan an event that reinforces the church values.
Consider Sabbaticals For Clergy Staff
Pastors, ministers, and clergy often carry the load of member spiritual development, life challenges, and heartache.
These committed church staff members often deal with heavy issues that are confidential in nature resulting in a heavy mental burden.
For pastors, a sabbatical might be a great way to recognize years of service.
If your church does not have a sabbatical policy, you might want to consider creating one that allows tenured pastoral staff to take a break to recharge.
For instance, sabbatical policies may provide a pastor with extended time away from job responsibilities to travel, take classes, or simply retreat to recharge.
A rested pastor is an effective pastor. Help your clergy staff avoid burnout by providing them with this much-needed rest.
Make It Someone’s Job
Assign the responsibility of overseeing the staff anniversary recognition to someone.
Create a job description that details expectations and write goals to ensure the program consistently recognizes all employees.
For instance, add the staff anniversary recognition responsibility to an administrative assistant responsible for the human resource function.
Keep the program fresh by regularly reevaluating its effectiveness. Consider the recognition gifts and make sure what is offered is something that employees value.
Talk to employees and gain their perspective on what they consider to be a blessing.
For instance, if your program offers employees a gift catalog for choosing a gift, make sure that the catalog offers something that an employee would value. The last thing you want is for an employee to pick out something to give away because there are no appealing choices.
Ok, I know you have a team that can brainstorm appropriate gift ideas. However, I thought I would jump-start the process and show you some examples of appreciation gifts to celebrate church staff anniversaries.
Every church is a little different, so set your budget and find a gift that shows employees how much you appreciate them.
5 Ideas To Celebrate Church Staff Anniversaries
1. Commemorative Pen
2. Generic Gift Card
Most of us shop (at least occasionally) on Amazon. Use an Amazon gift card to recognize years of service.
Increase the amount for the number of years worked. For instance, offer $50 for every 5 years of service or 5 years = $50, 10 years = $100.
3. Restaurant Gift Card
Celebrate employee tenure by sending an employee and spouse out for a nice dinner.
Find out who their favorite restaurant is and send them to a guilt-free night of dining!
4. Airbnb Gift Card
5. Air Travel Gift Card
God calls special people to ministry. Show them your appreciation by recognizing years of service. Write policy, make a plan, budget, and start showing your tenured staff that you appreciate everything they do to help your church fulfill its mission.
What kind of recognition do you do for church staff tenure.
Learn more tips for managing church staff by enrolling in our Fundamentals of Church Administration Course!