Beyond the gold watch

Employees seeking recognition say ‘no thanks’ to outdated years of service awards
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/30/2009

Years of service awards were invented in the early 1900s in textile and automotive factories across North America and Europe to solve a prevalent business challenge — high turnover rates due to the monotonous and tedious work employees experienced on an assembly line. This created a major problem because a well-run assembly line was a company’s number one competitive advantage.

Businesses, therefore, created reward systems that offered highly valued gifts of that era, such as gold watches and grandfather clocks, to encourage employees to stay on the job.

Over the last century, business and employee needs have undergone significant changes. In a knowledge-based economy, innovation and information give organizations a competitive edge.