How to handle employee recognition?

Question: My company has never had an official, organized system for presenting any type of employee recognition. But now, we are recognizing two employees at the same time for their tenure.

My question is: How do I actually (physically) present a trophy and certificate to employees who have reached milestones with our company? Do I make a speech for each one separately? Do I hand each person their trophy? Do I open each presentation package and hand them their certificate of recognition, then their gift certificate? I’m at a loss.

Thank you in advance! — Jean in Kansas


This depends entirely on the relationship between the two people. If they work together, if they are close friends, for example, you could do a single presentation to both.

But your presentations should be more personal than that. In your speech, you’d highlight something from their career, etc. and each gift – altho’ of same/similar value – should be selected with the recipient in mind.

To determine the order in which the presentations are made, you can present to the more senior level person first, you can present to the longer tenured person first or you can present to the one whose presentation will be more detailed second.

Have you chosen a venue for the presentation? That is, do you plan to make the presentations at a meeting of some sort, or were you going to do it one-on-one, or one-on-two?

If at a meeting, you would give a brief description of what the first person has contributed during their tenure, with perhaps a couple of personal comments, and then call them up to receive their award(s). You would follow with a similar structure for the 2nd person.

If you plan to do it one-on-one, it can be a lot less formal. Perhaps just ask a few of the closest co-workers to “gather around” while you make the presentation.

We recognize our employee(s) of the year by having them brought to the weekly executive meeting and recognizing them there. They are presented with their aware and then also given a gift (which they can open at their leisure). They then get their picture taken and a little blurb is included. This is then made into a flyer which is distributed in the same fashion as our weekly newsletter is. It is a nice way to involve the Executives/CEO’s and also makes the employees know that their leaders do appreciate all that they do.

You didn’t mention if both employees had the same time in service. We usually make our presentations in order of seniority. Consider asking another admin or manager to assist you in the “physical” part of the presentation.

I am assuming that you plan to recognize them at a meeting with the rest of the company. If not, I would schedule a company-wide meeting. Keep in mind that recognition of an individual is as much about energizing the rest of the company as it is about rewarding an individual. So, I would start out by stating the purpose of getting together, or of the next segment of the meeting. “Today we are going to honor two of our employees for longevity of service. ” I would then launch into a brief description of the careers of the first one I choose to honor. “Bob Brown started with us as a ___ in 19__. Over the years he has … I remember one of the funniest situations….” Keep this brief. Then call Bob up and present him with the certificate, trophy, gifts, etc. “Bob, to honor your commitment and dedication to our company, we’d like to present you with this certificate and ….” Thank you for all that you have done.” People will applaud and then launch into the next individual. “Mary Smith is our head of ___. She started with the company in ___.” Follow the same script, keeping the total time to about 2 minutes per person.

Doing this shows everyone else that this is indeed a special occasion. Celebrating success is something many companies do all too infrequently.