The Ultimate Employee Anniversary Gift

It’s one of your top performer’s anniversaries with your organization. Perhaps you’ll be giving them a plaque, certificate, card, or even gift in recognition of their tenure and contributions with your organization.  A thank you may follow or possibly a mention in the company newsletter or on the HR bulletin board. But has your organization given your top performer the gift of a conversation – an opportunity to voice concerns, desires, or simply the chance to hear sincere words of appreciation? Odds are, it will be their best gift yet.

The employment anniversary is an ideal time to explore where your top performer is at – how satisfied or engaged they are, where they see themselves long-term in the organization, and issues preventing them from being fully successful and happy in their role and the business. Naturally, anniversaries are a time of reflection for many employees – to celebrate or reevaluate – their employment with the organization, and employers can use this time to have conversations with these employees to…

  • open lines of communication
  • gather information to customize retention/engagement efforts
  • solve problems influencing the employee’s job satisfaction or level of engagement
  • show a proactive interest in the employee and their future with the organization
  • thank employees for their contributions

Some term these conversations anniversary interviews.  Others refer to them as “stay” interviews or retention interviews. While they can be conducted at any time, the employment anniversary provides a reason and opportunity to talk to employees one-on-one. Setting up this feedback program is easy, virtually cost-free, and just requires a few decisions and coordination within your organization:

1. Determine the key people that will conduct the interviews

As a best practice, it’s recommended that either immediate supervisors or leaders (possibly even the CEO, if it’s feasible) conduct the interviews. HR can also conduct interviews; however, it’s usually more meaningful when they are conducted at the most local or highest level in the organization. This helps build and nurture trusting and supportive relationships with supervisors and leaders.

 2. Decide to interview all employees or just top performers

The decision to conduct interviews with all employees or top performers depends on who your organization desires most to retain or with whom you feel is most critical to interview. Because interviews can be lengthier to conduct than other feedback forms, most organizations that use them don’t tend to focus on low-performing and low-potential employees.

3. Create a general format for the interview

Though termed “interviews,” these discussions can take a structured or unstructured approach. As a general rule, however, they should be informal, conversational, and relaxed. This will help the employee feel comfortable providing candid and honest feedback. For purposes of helping supervisors or leaders lead the conversation, it’s helpful to provide them a list of questions or issues to talk about or create a brief discussion guide, such as the one below (Kaye & Jordan-Evans, 2010).

  • Communicate to the employee how much they are valued.
  • Ask the employee about their work experience (i.e. work environment, job tasks, development opportunities, etc.)
  • Inquire about at least one thing the employee would like that would improve job.
  • Communicate honestly about obstacles the organization faces in helping the employee meet their needs/goals.
  • Look into any questions or concerns the employee has and follow up with the employee.

4. Address the details

Address the logistical details such as timing of the interviews (how long and when they will occur), where they will occur, and how and when employees will be notified of the meeting. It’s also important to determine if the conversation will be documented.

Most importantly, even if your organization can’t put together an anniversary interview program, such as the one outlined above, the key is to have a conversation. Encourage supervisors and leaders in your organization to take initiative in retaining your top people. The employment anniversary is the best day to start.

Additional Resources

  • HR Help Desk (members only) – For additional information or guidance related to interviewing employees and/or collecting employee feedback or regarding top performer retention programs, please contact
  • HR Consulting – For assistance and project support in setting up an anniversary interview program, please contact


  • Kaye B. & Jordan-Evans, S. (2010). Prevent Exit Interviews. Talent Management Magazine.
This entry was posted in Communication, General HR and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s