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Celebrating moments that matter

Written by: Jenni Coronato and Kurt Muchow
(View Author Bio)

Most companies celebrate work anniversaries, but what about all the other moments that are worthy of a celebration?

Here's IBM's story of how they have evolved to recognize the whole employee.

It’s traditional to celebrate service anniversaries. In the past, companies formally congratulated employees on their 5-year milestone and then celebrated key work anniversaries after that —10 years, 20 years and so on. With employees making more frequent job changes, first- and third-year celebrations have become more common and, in some industries, even first and sixth-month anniversaries receive deserved recognition. But what about all of the other celebrations in employees’ lives? How are we recognizing those key moments that happen in both their work and personal journeys?

The lines between work and personal have blurred, with many of us working from home and giving our co-workers glimpses of our pets, children and dining rooms that double as desks. Those lines continue to intersect as many companies have a work-from-anywhere policy or an established hybrid model. And when we’re not together, it can become more difficult to stay connected and feel inspired.

We know from BI WORLDWIDE’s New Rules of Engagement® 2022 research that milestone award recipients feel more belonging and commitment.


The research also shows those who receive multiple types of recognition are happier, more engaged, committed and intensely performing.


In addition to this research, IBM surveyed their employee audience to find out what more they could do to connect and recognize employees from around the world. They discovered a gap in that the traditional service anniversary shout-out was only part of the employee story. IBM leverages technology to enable digital celebrations for teammates and co-workers, but they found employees wanted the ability to recognize additional moments that matter. As a result, IBM took this feedback and considered how to expand the program to:

1. Integrate into their existing employee recognition program to make it easy to set up and deliver celebration moments

2. Recommend names of colleagues worldwide to invite to share words of congratulations

3. Include social channel sharing capabilities so employees could share their moment on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

4. Create a celebratory timeline so employees have a roadmap of their journey

This framework provides a modernized approach to both Years of Service and Celebrations, giving IBMers the choice to celebrate personal milestones such as birthdays, weddings or closing on a house, or special work-related milestones like onboarding or retirement.

Though this is a new approach, IBMers around the globe are busy connecting and high-fiving! They have already launched 34,000 social pages with 164,000 total contributions. As a result of the evolution of its Years of Service and Celebrations programs, IBM has seen a 5% increase in their Net Promoter Score (NPS).


Both the research and IBM’s celebrations show that recognizing the whole employee by highlighting key moments in their work and life journeys is making a difference. To hear the whole story, listen to this webinar:

WEBINAR: Celebrating moments that matter | Recognizing personal and professional milestones (


Watch now

Jenni Coronato

Jenni Coronato

Global Compensation, Recognition Specialist, HR Leadership Program, IBM

Jenni Coronato specializes in the delivery of IBM’s market-leading portfolio of recognition offerings. Having graduated with a Master’s in Human Resource Management from Rutgers University, Jenni is now a member of IBM’s HR Leadership Development Program, a 3-year rotational program dedicated to developing select individuals into HR leadership positions. Jenni’s passions lie in employee engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and talent management.
Kurt Muchow

Kurt Muchow

Managing Director, Technology Vertical Team, BI WORLDWIDE

During his 10 years with BI WORLDWIDE, Kurt has worked in a variety of strategic design roles, leveraging his thought leadership to create programs that inspire employees across the globe. Kurt proactively leads and fosters a collaborative team of design and delivery professionals responsible for the creation, implementation, and management of programs that drive measurable business results. Kurt specializes in working with the account team and key client stakeholders to identify business objectives, develop strategies, and drive innovative solutions to support the overall vision.

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